Hi guys: I returned yesterday
from C1. Going up the day before (9/25) was pretty horrible. I ascended alone.
Two hours to the moraine, then wasted a full hour looking for the cache that
wasn't there. Finally found it in another place, and got on my Koflachs,
headed through the penitentes, and stood below the low-angle face.
The low face was mellow, but
the higher I went go the worse the weather was. In a 30-50 mph wind, blowing
snow, up the huge face, I was nearly alone. No worries of falling, just an
incredible drag of energy. Curiously, the timing was good, as I did it this
time with a heavier pack in the same time, and solo. I had to break trail for
most of the face.
Val and Monty were there at
C1 in Monty's huge tent, and said "yay, you made it!" which felt great. We sat
and chatted for awhile, then I went to the other tent of ours - nice! A tent
to myself. Unfortunately as the day wore on, the weather worsened, and it
remained very windy with blowing snow. C1 is on a huge plain, there are no
snow walls, so the tents are at the winds' mercy.
That night was pretty
horrible. I was not hungry, so I ate only a cup of soup and a hot chocolate
and some water, then went to bed. Since the snow was still blowing madly, and
my tent was situated in a bad position, it was necessary for me to get up and
shovel out the vestibule. For those of you not experienced in this, the
vestibule protects the tent from the winds, but also has a zip-open panel
acting as a door. If this gets plugged with snow - no air in the tent.
The snow just kept building
and building. I had to do the routine of getting up, get dressed, and shovel
around the tent, three times throughout the night. Needless to say I got
hardly any sleep after a long day.
The next morning, breakfast
that next morning was two packs of oatmeal with nuts and cranberries, apple
cider and tea.
Monty and Val left at near
noon in this raging windstorm. They were truly small specks against the second
big wall going up to C2. I just relaxed, got up again to shovel.
After not long, another
climber who I had come to know, yelled "hey, my Sherpa is going down, you
wanna go with him?" I was not sure, then he added "you really look bad, man.
If I was you I would go down and rest." So I did. The Sherpa clearly wanted to
get the hell outta there, pointing several times to the big looming clouds
sitting on the pass and starting to pour over them. I nearly ran myself
breathless getting what gear I would need jammed into a pack, then finally
headed down the slope. About 100m down, realized I had no crampons. Back up to
get them, then nearly ran down, jump-crossing several small crevasses. The
Sherpa waited for me to get through the penitentes. Even though we have been
through them numerous times, it is a maze and I would really hate to get lost
The final moraine stretch,
which usually takes about two hours, took 3.3. I was wasted. Dropping my pack
at the bright-blue dining tent, Dorje appeared. He looked a little puzzled,
Today (9/26) is a rest day
for Val and Monty at C2, and Bemba (starting from ABC) will be taking a final
load to C3 for the summit push.
Now you may be wondering why
I was a day behind. All along I have been developing a respiratory condition
that I tend to get and usually do my best to ignore, but has been slowly
worsening. I was foolish and thought only one rest day in ABC would help.
Clearly not enough time. This condition will probably severely limit any
further attempts on the mountain for me.
That's OK, I have already
fulfilled some of my personal objectives. In the meantime I have the excellent
care of our always-smiling camp cook Dorje. We will see what happens next.
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