Location: Camp 4
Local Time: 4:30pm, Monday 22nd May
Weather: Fine most of the day with late cloud
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here.
Well we're now at Camp 4 and providing the weather holds out, we'll be heading
for the summit tonight - hopefully to reach the top sometime tomorrow morning.
A Night on Oxygen
The oxygen sure does make a difference and we both had a pretty good night's
sleep last night at C3. At first it felt very strange lying with two oxygen
bottles between us and wearing a mask that nearly covers your whole face and
it makes it very difficult to turn from side to side given the tube
connections. We felt like some kind of astronauts - especially given we were
sleeping in our down suits as well. With the oxygen on, a lot of what you can
hear is the sound of the air flowing in and out - much like when you're scuba
diving - so it's a very surreal feeling.
Climbing up to C4
We started the climb today at around 6am and headed slowly upwards continuing
up the Lhotse face. After an hour or so the route traverses over to cross the
Yellow Band. On getting to this outcrop, it seems as though it's actually
sandstone - giving it its yellowish colour and name. In fact, during our
climbing on Everest we seemed to have passed through areas with granite,
quartz, limestone, and shale / slate - a pretty interesting combination. Not
remembering much from any geology I may have learnt, I have no idea how these
combinations come to exist here together. Any ideas?
Anyway, we continued up and
over this rocky outrop and traversed through another large snowy section,
stopping for a break in the middle - Gu Gels all round. The next obstacle was
the Geneva Spur - a rocky and snowy ridge to climb up. With the fixed line,
none of this was too difficult - but still pretty hard work. However, the
oxygen made a huge difference - although we'd still be gasping for breath
after a steep section, our recovery was much faster and after a couple of deep
breaths, we were ready to go again.
Near the top of the Geneva
Spur one of my crampons somehow came off. This could have been a disaster but
luckily the safety strap caught it before it had a chance to go sliding down
to Camp 2. So Paul strapped it onto my pack and I (very carefully) climbed up
to the top of the ridge where there was a safe spot to reattach it. From here
it was a pretty flat traverse around to the South Col where Camp 4 is located.
The South Col is a very large saddle between Lhotse and Everest. It's very
different from Camp 3 where you can barely walk out of your tent, here the
site is flat and as big as a couple of sports ovals. There are probably around
15 tents here from all the different groups. IMG has 4 up at the moment.
Another great thing about this camp is that IMG provide extra Sherpa support
so that we don't have to melt our own snow for water.
There are a couple of others
from our group and then a couple of other groups which are planning to attempt
the summit tonight as well. I'd guess around 30 people all up. This seems like
a good number, because if anything goes wrong we're not alone on the mountain,
but it doesn't seem like it will be too many so as to cause congestion.
From Camp 4 we have a head on
view of the route up Everest. It looks magnificent but it's a bit
disappointing and intimidating to know that we are at Camp 4 and still have
all that way to go. Even from up here, Everest looks absolutely massive.
The Preparation and
Now that we're here, we're drying boots out, loading new batteries into
torches, sorting out our gear to wear and take, and later when it gets cold,
we'll be heating various items in our sleeping bags before we head off. But
most importantly, we're trying to drink and eat plenty so that we don't crash
and burn on what will probably be a very long night and day. (Many people
leave around 9pm and don't get back to camp until very late afternoon the next
day - hopefully we'll be earlier but who knows.)
As my pace is slower than
Paul's, we're planning for Mingma and I to leave sometime between 8pm and 9pm
tonight, while Dasona and Paul will probably leave sometime between 10pm and
11pm. If all the stars align, we might hit the summit at the same time, but in
reality, Paul will probably pass me somewhere along the way - it will probably
be too cold for him to slow down for long.
So now it's crunch time. Time
to see whether we're strong enough to do it. There are only 950 vertical
meters that separate us from our goal. At home, that would be a strenuous but
pleasant day-walk. But up at 8000m, it's bound to be a different story.
Biggest concerns? Getting
cold hands (for me), and for Paul, cold feet. We both have a tendency for
these parts to get cold easily and the night spent climbing on Everest will
put us to the test. We're both clear that if we get too cold and can’t warm up
quickly, we'll turn around.
Otherwise, I'm worried about
being too slow and having to turn around before we reach the summit. After the
1996 disaster almost everyone will be making sure they are heading down by
midday-early afternoon to ensure they're back at camp while it's still light.
I'm certainly not known for my speed and would be disappointed if I was
traveling well but couldn't make it in time. (But not disappointed enough to
keep plugging on regardless.)
Anyway, we'll just do our
best and see what happens. There is still a chance that we won't be going
anywhere if the winds are too high tonight. It's just got a little breezy now
but the forecast is for decreasing winds tonight and lower winds tomorrow.
A Special Message for our
Please don't worry too much! In a lot of ways, this will be just another day
of climbing - nothing different. We'll always be with our wonderful Sherpas
and in radio contact with Mary at base camp, so there's not much room for
error. Remember, we love you and can't wait to see you all when we get back
(except for those OS who we'll have to make do with speaking to!)
Well, that's it for now -
back to the hydration and rest program.
If everything goes to plan,
Mary will be sending out updates on our progress throughout the night and
Keep your fingers crossed for
Fiona & Paul
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