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Prayer flags above Dingboche. Lhotse and Island Peak in the background.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Weather Factor

May 9, 2013

The weather here seems to be getting a little better every day.  I thought I would describe what will (hopefully) happen on the summit push once we get going.  We will walk from BC at 17,000' to ABC at 21,000'.  The 10.4 mile walk is much harder than it first appears due to the elevation change.  I expect the walk will take me 8 hours.

Once at ABC we will spend two nights there. This gives us the best chance to recover from this uphill walk without spending unnecessary time at extreme altitude.  After the second night we will then climb 2,000' to Camp 1 on the North Col where we will sleep.  Phil has warned us that this will be a terrible night because of the extreme elevation and the fact that we won't be on oxygen.

The following morning we climb about 3,000' feet up the Northeast Ridge to Camp 2.  Our Sherpas will be watching us and will turn on our oxygen when they feel we need it.  This will be a big day and fortunately we will be sleeping with oxygen so we should get some sleep at C2. We will be three to a tent here and at C3 to stay warmer and reduce the amount of stuff the Sherpas need to carry up for us.  There will be at least one Sherpa in every tent. He will melt snow and do all the little things that need to be done when trying to camp at 26,000'

Day three will be a shorter day as we only climb about 1,200' to C3. This is the highest campsite in the world and is on a steep slope.  Even the Sherpas are at their limit so they don't try to build flat platforms for us; we just deal with it.  We should arrive here some time in the middle of the day. Sleep is pretty much impossible at this elevation so we just lounge around and rest as much as we can.

Later that same evening (maybe 11 pm) we emerge from the tents and head for the summit.  I am planning on this last 1,800 vertical feet taking me around 8 hours.  We will hopefully summit in beautiful conditions and then quickly return to C3 taking another 4 to 6 hours to go down.

Phil says to plan on spending a second night there as not many people have the strength to keep on descending.  (There will be not be a C2 as those tents had been moved up to C3.)  We either stay at C3 or drop another 4,200' to C1. The next morning we then downhill all the way to ABC where Phil mandates a full rest day before going down to BC.

While these rest stops are taking place, yak handlers and their yaks are summoned to come to ABC. When we are finished with ABC they will pack the equipment and head down to BC. The drivers with a fleet of trucks and Land Cruisers are requested to drive up to BC so that we can load gear and equipment for travel back to Kathmandu.

The biggest challenges during all this time are to eat (virtually impossible), sleep (ditto), to stay warm and hopefully be out of the wind.  The mountain can make its own weather so in spite of all the latest high-tech weather forecasting,  one can be surprised by a storm while up high.

Note:  I am well. Today I climbed 2,800' up the big hill next to camp, reaching 19,800'.  It is crazy - a day hike here takes one to almost the summit of Denali and higher than Kilimanjaro.  I am going quite fast and feel very strong.  My weight is holding steady.

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