Hey everyone, I am putting down all that has happened in the last two weeks. It’s 0600 am and am huddled in the comforts of my sleeping bag in the base camp after returning from camp 2 6550 mts yesterday. I have had the best sleep in years after many days! I am right now overlooking the Khumbu icefall and can’t believe I have made 4 trips through it already.
Last two weeks have been one of the most challenging in my life. It’s not that I haven’t been on Everest before like last year but for the simple fact that this year I have come back with a more determined mindset and better prepared. Also, don’t forget I am a year older too.
My first rotation was going through the icefall, up to camp 1 6100 mts on 21st night at 0400 am and it took me 8 hours navigating the treacherous 8 spots where SPCC has marked candidly saying it’s dangerous. Well, icefall is Dangerous. Period.
Navigating the icefall is like stepping on a mine every second as it may just give way to a crevasse or you may slip if not attached to a safety carabiner or if you are not watchful, may have a big crack and fall on you. Khumbu icefall is the most dangerous in the world and once you are in it, you have to quickly keep walking.
Coming back to Camp 1, I reminisced about last year when it took me nearly 12 hours and here the first time around I was already 4 hours ahead of that comparison. Mind you, there are many many less ladders this time around and the route is slightly easier too. There were sections where the steps were so icy that one moment if you didn’t pay attention, it could be fatal. My biggest support system have been Ngaa Tenji and Lakpa nurbu the two inseparable Sherpas Who are with me always. I’ll be talking about them more later.
We shared the tent in camp 1 simply because of the cold, logistics and constant care.
Camp 1 is positioned on snow and ice and there’s hardly any rock anywhere which is why it is COLD. It is windy like hell because of it being in a basin with mountains surrounding it, it is full of crevasses and huge ones this year with deeper and wider indentations. There are marked areas where the red flags forbid u to delve further should you dive into one crevasse.
Every year for the first rotations, companies and expeditions make a foray for the first time to camp 1 to acclimatise, sleep at altitude to see how your body is adjusting. I did the same , spent one night and came down the next day again through the icefall back to base camp.
A few days of rest here at base camp, shower, washing clothes, walking around did me good. Socialising in the Base camp is something else. I have been bumping into Ben jones from alpine ascents, Jacob Schmitz from mountain trip , Ryan waters from mountain Professionals and had lunch with Mike Hamill from Climbing the Seven Summits. Met His Lovely wife from australia Caroline too. There are are lots of Indian guys Saurav, Sameer, kuntal Joishier from the satori team just next door and we are constantly running into each other.
I left for my second rotation on 27 th early morning, just knowing what to expect. I was faster this time around and cut my time into the camp 1 by one and a half hour. Met the satori team on the way and then briefly at camp 1. It snowed all day and night. Some excitement with a heli evacuation of a Spanish climber amidst the bad weather kept us in the news. The heli made so many attempts to land before finally being successful and lifting the climber suffering from Hape.
On 28th I had to cross one of the most challenging tasks that I have ever done on high altitude. There a huge wall where all the climbers have to overhaul themselves from getting on to the ladder and then jhumaaring all the way up to the top all of about 90 feet on 90 degree vertical wall. It requires enormous upper body strength and of course footwork. It looked daunting at first but when you feel you have no choice, you just get on with it. I did !
The western CMb is a long stretch from camp 1 to camp 2 and never ending on the vast sheet of white snow. It’s a gradual walk up after this massive wall and took about 5 hours after leaving camp 1. The same wave of nostalgia took over . I had been there last year and was evacuated from camp 2. I took extra energy breaths to walk towards my goal today . Believe me , a unexpected sense of excitement overtook me as I completed my last leg towards my camp in the falling snow.
Camp 2 6550mts
It was snowy white , icy and cold in camp 2 as soon as I reached. Hot Dal Bhat lunch was waiting along with the veggie soup and which not only smelt delicious but was tasty too. I was dying to get into the tent and change my socks a trick I have learnt since I started climbing , so as not to get frostbite as wet socks as a result of dampness in the feet .
I just snuggled in and refused to get out for early dinner and slept through till next morning.
Rest day just rest day and that was it at camp 2 on 29thapril. I ate slept. And rested . Many short naps in the tent.
30 th April was a day post breakfast to head up the lhotse wall , which I managed to get up to 6900mts from where I was. It was a white out day with winds and traffic jam at the jhumaaring point. Lhotse wall looked as it did last year but more daunting as its blue ice had not been tread in and there were hardly any steps made.
Evening was a surprise at Madison camp. Met Garret and was invited to stay for dinner where Conan and Sid too were present. Kenton cool was also there and I was the only lady amongst a dozen men. Movie time awaits at base camp with them .
On 1st May I returned in 4.5 hours from camp 2 after finishing my rotations.
Weather for summit now is awaiting at base camp
Until then rest, recover, recharge