Friday, 6 May 2011
The Lhotse Face
Well we are back at Base Camp and so it's time for an update.
We set off back up the hill 4 days ago and went straight to Camp 2. Our previous journey had been broken by a couple of nights at C1 but we decided to miss that out this time and go straight to C2. What a big day. We set off in the early(ish) hours to avoid being in the heat of the day too much. But even just getting to C1 is a reasonable outing. So we stopped for a while there and had a brew and then set off again for C2.
Thankfully later in the afternoon it clouded over somewhat and made the trip in to the Western Cwm a bit more tolerable. But even so it's the best part of 5 to 8 hours of walking at altitudes in excess of 6,000m and so is inevitably quite tiring.
After a rest day we then made our way over to The Lhotse Face to gain some more altitude and touch Camp 3. It's quite a way and it's a lot of effort to go and sleep there so generally people touch C3 (7,100m to 7,300m depending on where your tents are pitched) and then drop down again to C2, and then on down to EBC.
The Lhotse Face ... another of those names steeped in the history of Everest and the pioneers of old. It's amazing. From C2 we could clearly see the line of little dots making their way up the slopes to C3 and then on to the beginning of the diagonal traverse over to The Geneva Spur which leads onto The South Col. It took around 2 hours to even get to the bottom of the Face from C2 and then suddenly the angle changed quite dramatically and it was time for the jumar (a device with teeth which grips the rope) to be called in to action. By now it was quite warm and we were all in the intense light and heat of the day but there's not a lot you can do about it. So ... move the jumar, step up, jumar, step, jumar, pant, pant, cough, pant, breathe, don't look down, jumar, step, jumar, step .... and so it went on for the best part of 2 hours. Relentless but absolutely exhilarating.
And that's about it - we've done our rotations at altitude and are now ready for the green light. Obviously there are all the logistics to make sure are in place, and that everyone is still fit and healthy, the Climbing Sherpas are rested, there's enough tents and oxygen in the right places on the hill, and the winds are low, the temperature is acceptable etc etc. But intrinsically the next time we go to C3 will be to sleep there, and then make our way on towards the South Col and so on to the summit. How exciting.