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  Mt. Everest 2005: Czech Expedition to attempt the Hornbein Couloir: Now this is climbing

Like many expeditions they are using a Regional BGAN to send updates with a laptop

Update: And we have a rest day again, and that gives us the time to write our logs. Today we washed ourselves and our clothing. It seems one could not do anything the whole day long, just eat and read...

Monday 04.25: We went to sleep on Sunday, not knowing what's going to happen next day, but the morning sun melted the snow in BC and we got ready. Kumar made us breakfast and around 10am we departed for C0. We are all in good condition, so it took about 2-2.5 hours on the moraine, glacier and debris. In our supply camp (made of 3 tents), we have stored our gear. We load it in and continue about 500m higher to the C0. Kumar baked "Chapati" local bread and we eat it for lunch. Ivan also cooked Knorr noodle soup for lunch ( we take it everywhere with us). As the last course of our lunch we have a coffee "Nescafe 3v1" It is so good, that even Simon is drinking it, and he doesn't drink coffee at all. Last time when we found the place for C0, we built one tent. Today we have to bring our sleeping stuff, food, cooking items and one more tent. We will spend the night, so tomorrow the boys will start to work the mountain face. In order to do that we also have to bring ropes, hooks, screws and snow anchors. Each of us has to carry one 100m rope and either a tent or food and cooking items. On the top of that, we carry personal items. Fully loaded like this, we are snorting and making our way up to C0. We marked the route on the glacier well last time, but we did not have enough bamboo sticks, so some parts we have to go based on our memory. We have already told you that it is snowing every day and it is visible on the glacier. Meanwhile, in the Base Camp under the classic route there are about 400 people (some ready to attempt the summit, others are sherpas and porters), we are completely alone here. One day of rest and the route we have marked is no longer visible. There are countless cracks on the glacier and some places are even ghostly. There is a lot of work to do to finish the markings of the route to C0. The ascent takes us about 3 hours, during which we discover a lots of cracks. We build a second tent, separate the food and cook. We are getting ready to get into the tents. But the sun comes out and gives an opportunity for some great evening photographs. All together, we go to assess the beginnings of the climb to the face, but it gets really cold, and we have to return to our tents.

Tuesday 04.26: We separate into 2 groups. Attack group - Ivan, Simon and Pepino - will fix the way to C1. The Supporting Group - Petr, Lucka, Sona - will make one more turn around with a load from the supply camp. Our task did not take as much time as fixing the route did, so we all go to the base of the mountain face. Everyone takes at least one rope and snow anchors etc. The boys drag it onto the face far enough, so that we can at least help out a bit. 2m from the face we realize that one of the choices to start the ascent is unrealistic. We had not seen the deep rip off. The second variant had an overhang accession. Based on the maps and drawings from previous expeditions, they chose to start even more to the left. But that spot is very dangerous, it is an accumulating channel for all the stones falling down the face. The boys start to climb and the supporting group gets back to carefully mark the big cracks, turns and changes of direction, to make our route as clear and secure as possible. We expect that as spring progresses, the cracks will get bigger. Simply, nobody will walk alone on the glacier. This helps to prevent people from slipping into the cracks, where nobody would know about it. Normally the descent would take about 70min, but we are so thorough with our work that it takes us about 3 hours. The sun is shinning on the drum created by the north face of Everest, the pillars of the North saddle, and the ChangTse wall, and it is hot like a sauna. Sometimes we look back to see if the boys are on the face, but so far nothing. According to the plan we should see them by now. It is weird, and we get to know what is happening on the radio set.

We finally marked all the way to supply camp. We pack one tent, so there will be only one left here and we change our skelet boots for the trek boots. We cook some tea and soup. The route from C0 to BC is about 5 hours and the way back takes us at least 3 hours. And if you have done all the work on the mountain, you will not have much energy left.

We put tea into thermoses, since we can get water here from the glacier and cooking is faster. In C0 we have to melt the snow for water. We add all the dishes and everything we need in C1. We are loaded like a yak's caravan. Those 500 elevation meters in front of us will be painful. We are ready to start to ascent at about 3 pm. We progress very slowly, due to the loads on our backs. We still watch the markings, and if need to we adjust them again, even if it is quiet an ordeal to kneel down with the load to correct the marking and then get back up....

During this trip we get sunshine, but also wind and snow- the weather is showing what it can do. In 3 hours we are arrive at our tents. The boys are already in. We found out that to climb during the sunny weather is quiet dangerous. The sun melting the snow/ice releases boulders in the north face (and we did not expect this). Boys made it over the overhanging ascent, fixed it and continued to climb. Then several falling boulders passed them very closely. If these would hit someone, even a helmet would not be useful. So they left with a plan that early morning would be better to continue. We built the 3rd tent to have more living space. We cooked some food and got into our sleeping bags.

Wednesday 04.27: The boys (attack group) got up at 4:30 am and cooked some mush or soup to get some energy. Hot tea gets cold here even if it is stored in the best thermos. They dressed up as warm as possible and they were on their way by 5:30am. The supporting group did a lot of work yesterday, so they have a break today and get up with sun (sleep in). In the meantime, the boys made progress on the mountain. Progress didn't go as fast as they thought it would, the face is not giving it a way this year. We have read descriptions from previous ascents, when the whole channel was pleasantly firm and climbers could slide down on their butts. This year it is pure water ice, so the whole day the boys are standing on the front of their crampons. Kicking a step in the ice to be able to rest is 10 min work. Even under these conditions they manage to fix about 400m of the route. Then the heat starts again and they have to get off the wall. We have tea and soup ready for them. All of us go back to BC. Even if it is far from the wall, it is the last place where there is any grass and it is worth it for us to get there to relax. Our other camps are on the glacier and one has to be in constant movement. We get back to the BC in about 3-4 hours.




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