WITH WEATHER NOW CALM AFTER LAST WEEK’S STORM, OUR TEAM HEAD FOR OVERNIGHTS AT C2 AND AIM TO TOUCH C3
We’re delighted to have received a message from the group having breakfast this morning at crack of dawn, before they head up the ice fall for what we hope could be the last time before their summit push. One advantage of having a small team is the relationship between staff and members- having a proper family meal is so important at BBE!
There are a huge number of informative books and articles on the South Col route, but here’s a brief snapshot of this spectacular ascent:
BBE Base Camp is situated at 5,350 meters at the foot of the Khumbu Ice Fall, from camp we can enter the Ice Fall after just five minutes hiking. Above lies the infamous Ice Fall, fixed with ropes and ladders by the legendary “Ice Fall Doctors”.
Camp 1 is located at the top of the Ice Fall at about 6,100 meters. From here, the Western Cwm opens out in front of us, with the South West Face of Everest and Lhotse coming completely and magnificently into view for the first time. It is an easy but long walk up into the Western Cwm to Camp 2, winding our way around various crevasses.
At 6,400 meters, Camp 2 sits on a patch of moraine, under the imposing South West Face. This is our fully-equipped Advanced Base Camp, where members can stay for more extended periods. Another gentle slope leads to the huge Lhotse face, an ice wall of approximately 30 – 40 degrees in angle. Rope will fixed here for our ascent to Camp 3.
Camp 3 is placed at approximately 7,400 meters. From here, we continue up the Lhotse Face, passing the rocks of the Yellow Band to traverse left towards the South Col, at just under 8000 meters.
Here, at just under 8000 meters, we finally place Camp 4; resting and refueling, and preparing to make our bid for the summit.
Summit day follows the lower slopes of the South East Ridge, climbing long snow slopes to reach the Balcony, a prominent feature on the route. Above this, the route climbs the flank of the ridge to the South Summit, up occasional short rock steps. From the South Summit, the ridge is traversed to the foot of the Hillary Step. This infamous obstacle must be overcome before the final, gentle slope to the summit.
We’ll expect this rotation to take up to a week. Camp 1 is a sensible stop off today, but, being very strong, the team may go on up straight to C2. However, if the icefall takes a long time due to traffic or any fixing of the route, or if it’s very hot, they can make the choice to rest a night at C1. They will then settle into the much more comfortable C2, for 3-4 nights. Static acclimatiazion there will be followed by the hard push to touch C3. Hard because it is hard to explain how hard it is to breath whilst climbing at this altitude! We won’t be using O2 yet, as we want our bodies to feel and adjust. After this gruelling day we’ll rest some more before heading to BC and resting for the summit. Meanwhile our Sherpa team will be starting to stock C4 with supplies and O2.
Below are some wonderful shots from Rotation 1 sent by Damian. Regarding the last few pictures, he mentions:
“Having gone through the icefall dozens and dozens of times in the last 15 years- I have created a relationship with it. I believed that I feel it and understand it.
Every time I run into the icefall doctors, they talk to me and we both rely on each other experience. Damian Sai, what you think; we should fix here or there?
On our last rotation, whilst way up the icefall, a ladder bridge collapsed and with dozens of high altitude workers trying to head down, from Camps one and two, with expedition members trying to head up at the same time a traffic jam was created.
Very rapidly and efficiently, the doctors on one side and me on the other, we managed to re-establish the Khumbu highway. Yaaa I spent half of my life on this mountain and feels good to be part of it.”