Location: Camp 3
Local Time: 4:30pm, Sun 21st May
Weather: Overcast and a little windy, snowing -11C
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here.
With a continuing good weather forecast for 22nd-23rd, Paul and I have now
climbed up to Camp 3 - hopefully the beginning of our summit attempt.
The Weather Forecast
Last night we waited with our radio tuned in until about 10:30 when base camp
received the new weather forecast by email. It's quite surreal lying in a
small tent, trying to sleep, and then hearing a voice come on the otherwise
silent radio with the "weather report". Almost thought we'd move into sports
news and the financial report afterwards!
Anyway, we were very excited
to hear that the weather is now looking even better for the night of the 22nd
and day of the 23rd. The predicted wind speeds have lowered (although it's
still a big range at 10-30 knots), and there is now less chance of snow.
This news firmed up our plans
to leave early this morning and suddenly made our summit attempt very close
and very real. I don't think that either of us got a lot of sleep last night.
For the whole trip, I've been trying to keep focused on the next milestone -
and have avoided thinking too much about the enormity of the whole
undertaking. But last night, I couldn't help but be a little overwhelmed with
the task ahead for the next three days. Amazingly, that's all it is from here
- three days of really hard work. And now that we've climbed back up to C3,
it's only 2 days - but I imagine they'll be the hardest days of our lives, and
hopefully also the most memorable and satisfying.
Of course it's a very
exciting time as well - finally we might have the chance to see whether we can
climb this mountain - a goal we've been working towards for 2 years now. And
after welcoming back two more successful summiters yesterday, we were starting
to get a little antsy.
Climbing up to C3 Again
We started our climb today just after 5am and were lucky to have almost
perfect climbing weather - well for the Western Cwm anyway. Although it
started out clear, after a couple of hours it clouded over - keeping the
temperature nice and manageable (we were wearing our massive down suits again
which can easily get too hot). We had about an hour of cold winds, which had
us pulling out the hand warmers and tightening our hoods around our faces. But
thankfully, this didn't last too long.
The climb up starts out with
a fairly gradual snow slope, punctuated with small rolling hills as the track
swings around to avoid crevasses. We found that our acclimatisation now allows
us to trudge slowly through this part with the need for breathing breaks now
only after particularly big hills. Doesn't sound like much but it's a big
The second and more lengthy
part of the climb starts when we hit the Lhotse face. Here's where the fixed
line also starts as most of the face is very steep, I'd guess ranging from
30-80 degrees. This is where the hard work really begins. It's a pattern
something like; step, breath, slide jumar up, breath, breath, step, breath,
slide jumar up, breath, breath...repeat. Although usually I can only repeat
this maybe 10 times and then you find yourself doubled over and gasping for
breath. But despite feeling like not moving, you somehow will yourself into
the next 10 steps. And that's how you climb around 650 metres of elevation up
the Lhotse face!
Despite this painfully slow
movement, we did reach C3 faster than last time - another good sign.
Sucking down the O2
Once we arrived at Camp, we settled into our tent after mopping out the pools
of ice and water we found in it. Unlike last time we were at C3, this time
we're using oxygen to rest and sleep on. This is the first time we've used
oxygen (aside from testing) and so far, it's great. We initially bumped the
flow rate up quite high (3 litres a minute each) to help us recover quicker
from the climb up. Now we're down to a resting rate of 1 litre a minute.
We're also continuously
melting snow (well Paul is!) so that we can fully hydrate ourselves before
tomorrow - we're aiming to drink at least 4 litres each this afternoon /
evening. We've got plenty of food here and fortunately have still got good
appetites - this is pretty important as when we're actually attempting the
summit, we'll hardly eat anything and we may be climbing hard for up to 20
Tomorrow morning we'll head off early for Camp 4 - so that we get lots of time
to rest there. This will be the first time we'll be climbing on oxygen so
it'll be interesting to see how we go.
Once at C4, we'll bunker down
in a tent and again, try to drink and eat a lot to stock up our stores. We'll
rest here until around 9pm, when we'll leave for the actual summit - hoping to
arrive on top sometime in the morning of the 23rd. After we leave for the
summit, Mary will be able to give regular progress reports as we radio in our
We hope to bring you an
update from Camp 4 (8000m) tomorrow before we leave for the summit, Fiona