Location: Camp 2
Local Time: 5pm, 9th May
Weather: Fine at first, afternoon snow, -13C at C3
Hi everyone, it’s Fiona here.
Glad to be sending this to you from Camp 2.
A Night at Camp 3
As this is the highest altitude we’ve ever been to, let alone slept at, we were both pleasantly surprised to find that spending the night at Camp 3 was not as difficult as we thought it would be. Of course, every movement is a huge effort and you need to catch your breath after a simple act like taking a drink, but aside from that and a mild headache each, it was fine. We were fortunate to have good weather and even more fortunate that we both got a reasonable night’s sleep. I slept in my down suit which wasn’t bad at all (and makes it easy to get ready in the morning). Paul used 2 sleeping bags – so we were both warm.
Even the campsite was not as bad as we’d thought. Although it is steep, our position is such that if you slipped off the ledge where our camp is built on, you’d land on some tents not far below.
Practising our Space Walk
We woke early today and by around 5am, we’d put on our climbing gear and set up our oxygen for a test run. We used a flow rate of 2 litres per minute and started heading upwards towards the Yellow Band.
We only walked for about 15 minutes on the oxygen and we have differing views on how much of a difference it made. Paul believes it made a huge (positive) difference to how he felt – saying that it felt equivalent to the climb between C1 and C2. I thought that the climbing was as difficult as ever – still take a few steps then stop to catch your breath style.
We also realised that you really need to think about the order in which you do things. We were outside putting our crampons on without oxygen. This is not a good thing as we’d tire just doing that and should really be on oxygen the whole time once we are on our summit push. We also realised just how many things we’re going to have on our head that need thinking about – warm hat, goggles, head lamp, oxygen mask, and down suit hood. We were very pleased that our goggles did not seem to fog not matter how hard we breathed.
With all this stuff on your face, it does make it a little more difficult to see your feet – which is pretty important when climbing. However, it’s not impossible – just need to bend your head a bit more than usual so hopefully this won’t be a problem.
The Climb Down
After we finished our little space walk, we returned to Camp 3 to leave the oxygen and pack up our gear. After a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, we were on our way.
On the climb down we met over a hundred Sherpas on their way up. As of yesterday, the lines to Camp 4 (The South Col) are now fixed so all the teams are now doing massive load carries to C4 – setting up camps and getting their stocks of oxygen cylinders in place. IMG alone moved 40 oxygen cylinders to camp 4 today. This made the climb down a little cumbersome at times – every time you meet another climber, one of you has to unclip from the rope and re-clip on the other side of the climber.
Fortunately by the time we got down to the base of the Lhotse face, we’d passed the traffic. By this time my arms were getting pretty tired from lowering myself down the rope so on this steep section, I was able to abseil down (something you can’t do if there are people climbing up the rope, because it’s too tight). After that we had an easy walk down the rest of the way to Camp 2.
Relaxing at C2
It took us about 2 hours to go from C3 to C2. We arrived back at Camp 2 in time for breakfast (bacon and pancakes) and enjoyed the comforts of being able to sit in a kind of chair (made from rock) and drink tea without having to find snow to melt ourselves.
Although it didn’t take long to get down, we all (Dennis, Paul and I) feel a bit weary today. Maybe that sleep we got up at C3 wasn’t very good quality? We’ve all been spending most of the day in our tents sleeping or reading.
Just before lunchtime, Dave arrived having climbed up from basecamp. We chatted with him awhile – trying to source some gossip from basecamp but of course, there wasn’t much!
Tomorrow our Sherpas are carrying their own oxygen supply up to C4 so we will spend another day resting and acclimatising here. On Thursday, we’ll head back down to basecamp.
Paul spoke to Mary on the radio this afternoon and she’s doing well. A little tired but fine. She’s done her washing today and said that that was enough activity for the day – a shower will have to wait until tomorrow!
Hi Liz – so far the chemical hand and toe warmers are working fine. The higher we go, the more time they need to heat (at C3 it was nearly an hour before they were properly warm due to the reduced amount of O2).
Deb – Dan headed up to C1 today and I believe he will join us here at C2 tomorrow. If he’s not too tired, we’ll see if he can write a message then.
Donovan – we haven’t really thought about souvenirs yet. Will probably depend on our state of mind when we finish. Any ideas?
Roger – thanks for your message. When we’re actually climbing, the only thing we eat are Gu gels and occasionally some very light cereal bars that we brought from home. The gels are good because they’re fast and easy to digest – we never feel like stopping for too long. When we’re at camp, we basically eat whatever we feel we can stomach. I find sweet biscuits pretty good, while Paul finds cheese sticks and beef jerky to be good. In regards to hydration, it is extremely difficult to do this properly. For instance, yesterday we had a 6 hour climb and only drank a litre each. We try to compensate by drinking plenty before and after but I still don’t think it’s enough. All the water we have here starts of hot as it needs to be boiled. When you’re cold this is great as it helps warm you up, but when you’re hot (like yesterday in our tent), it’s a pain and we bury the bottles in snow to get them to cool down. Because collecting snow, melting it, boiling it, and then cooling it is such a long process, it makes it difficult to drink enough.
With the ropes, we’re pretty religious about clipping in. There are occasionally ropes put in place only to help you haul up a section (only anchored at one end) so these ones we don’t worry about when descending but other than that we figure it safer to clip than to increase speed by a fraction.
Rosemary & Dave – Hi and thanks for your message. There is a lot of exposed rock up here. If there’s been a recent snowfall it gets hidden but a lot of the climbing up higher will be on rock. And yes, all the climbers from our team share tents.
Hi to Maddi, DP, Zac and Sienna, Meals and Danny (we can’t pass your message to Mary until we see her in a couple of days), MC, Sandy & John, Cuskelly family, John A, Trennery family, Karlyne, and Jan.
Messages for others – these will be passed on when we get back down to BC (probably Thursday)
We love reading your messages and enjoy feeling you are climbing with us.
It really does help when we’re getting up in the pitch dark and sub-zero
temperatures. But we sometimes wonder if there are any aspects you’d like to hear more about, or angles that we haven’t mentioned. If you think of anything, please write and tell us.
Well, that’s all for now.