Location: Camp 2
Local Time: 5pm, 9th May
Weather: Fine at first, afternoon snow, -13C at C3
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here.
Glad to be sending this to you from Camp 2.
A Night at Camp 3
As this is the highest altitude we've ever been to, let alone slept at, we
were both pleasantly surprised to find that spending the night at Camp 3 was
not as difficult as we thought it would be. Of course, every movement is a
huge effort and you need to catch your breath after a simple act like taking a
drink, but aside from that and a mild headache each, it was fine. We were
fortunate to have good weather and even more fortunate that we both got a
reasonable night's sleep. I slept in my down suit which wasn't bad at all (and
makes it easy to get ready in the morning). Paul used 2 sleeping bags - so we
were both warm.
Even the campsite was not as
bad as we'd thought. Although it is steep, our position is such that if you
slipped off the ledge where our camp is built on, you'd land on some tents not
Practising our Space Walk
We woke early today and by around 5am, we'd put on our climbing gear and set
up our oxygen for a test run. We used a flow rate of 2 litres per minute and
started heading upwards towards the Yellow Band.
We only walked for about 15
minutes on the oxygen and we have differing views on how much of a difference
it made. Paul believes it made a huge (positive) difference to how he felt -
saying that it felt equivalent to the climb between C1 and C2. I thought that
the climbing was as difficult as ever - still take a few steps then stop to
catch your breath style.
We also realised that you
really need to think about the order in which you do things. We were outside
putting our crampons on without oxygen. This is not a good thing as we'd tire
just doing that and should really be on oxygen the whole time once we are on
our summit push. We also realised just how many things we're going to have on
our head that need thinking about - warm hat, goggles, head lamp, oxygen mask,
and down suit hood. We were very pleased that our goggles did not seem to fog
not matter how hard we breathed.
With all this stuff on your
face, it does make it a little more difficult to see your feet - which is
pretty important when climbing. However, it's not impossible - just need to
bend your head a bit more than usual so hopefully this won't be a problem.
The Climb Down
After we finished our little space walk, we returned to Camp 3 to leave the
oxygen and pack up our gear. After a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, we
were on our way.
On the climb down we met over
a hundred Sherpas on their way up. As of yesterday, the lines to Camp 4 (The
South Col) are now fixed so all the teams are now doing massive load carries
to C4 - setting up camps and getting their stocks of oxygen cylinders in
place. IMG alone moved 40 oxygen cylinders to camp 4 today. This made the
climb down a little cumbersome at times - every time you meet another climber,
one of you has to unclip from the rope and reclip on the other side of the
Fortunately by the time we
got down to the base of the Lhotse face, we'd passed the traffic. By this time
my arms were getting pretty tired from lowering myself down the rope so on
this steep section, I was able to abseil down (something you can't do if there
are people climbing up the rope, because its too tight). After that we had an
easy walk down the rest of the way to Camp 2.
Relaxing at C2
It took us about 2 hours to go from C3 to C2. We arrived back at Camp 2 in
time for breakfast (bacon and pancakes) and enjoyed the comforts of being able
to sit in a kind of chair (made from rock) and drink tea without having to
find snow to melt ourselves.
Although it didn't take long
to get down, we all (Dennis, Paul and I) feel a bit weary today. Maybe that
sleep we got up at C3 wasn't very good quality? We've all been spending most
of the day in our tents sleeping or reading.
Just before lunchtime, Dave
arrived having climbed up from basecamp. We chatted with him awhile - trying
to source some gossip from basecamp but of course, there wasn't much!
Tomorrow our Sherpas are carrying their own oxygen supply up to C4 so we will
spend another day resting and acclimatising here. On Thursday, we'll head back
down to basecamp.
Paul spoke to Mary on the radio this afternoon and she's doing well. A little
tired but fine. She's done her washing today and said that that was enough
activity for the day - a shower will have to wait until tomorrow!
Well, that's all for now.