May 5 - Pheriche :
Hello friends, family and loved ones,
Ah the first day of R&R. As part of our acclimatization program, we
traditionally drop down real low after we climb up to camp III. And today was
the first day of the process and it feels great. We had a leisurely rise this
morning with most of us succumbing to “Bag Suck”, the inability to leave our
sleeping bags. With all the oxygen at base camp we felt compelled to sleep as
long as possible. Most of the team has not had a full night of sleep for over a
week so hence the “bag suck”. All that said, we hit the trail down to Pheriche
well rested and rearing to go.
Over glacier and across moraine (glacial rubble piles of rock) we move quickly
toward even thicker atmosphere and the world of the living. We could smell the
vegetation before we got to it. First there was mosses and occasional lichens,
then grasses and prostrate dwarf Juniper. Pink flowers (family Primulacae) and
vocal little birds welcomed us back from the heights. Babbling brooks and
freshly born yaks frolicking amidst the stone villages reminded James of his
Scottish highlands. Proud Chortans (memorials to fallen climbers) etched against
the swirling mist humbled our passage. Yet each step was a step into the world
of life and joy.
Join us tomorrow when we eat the Teahouse!
Earlier: Base Camp : Back in the
thick air of 17,300’! The return to BC today was a bit of a homecoming. It
was a return to better tasting food due to more oxygen here. It was a return
to warm showers… a return to modern communications like email… a return to
clean clothes… and a return to our homes away from home- our BC tents. It
really does feel like we’ve come back to a luxurious setting compared with
the thin air of C3.
The experience up high on the Lhotse face was dramatic for everyone. Many of
our climbers had not slept at that altitude ever before, let alone climbed
at that altitude. It was an accomplishment in it’s own right despite our
expectations for the next couple of weeks. The three nights we spent at C2
readying ourselves for the trip up to C3 were well worth the patience. A
couple of the climbers were able to recuperate from a bit of the generalized
altitude ‘yuks’ by spending a third night instead of the expected two.
Everyone who was already feeling on top of it were able to do a bit more
reading, napping, and music listening. By the time we set out on May 2
towards C3 on the Lhotse face everyone was ready for the journey.
Camp 3 is set on chopped ledges in the Lhotse face at the head of the
Western Cwm. It’s a commanding spot with views down the Western Cwm towards
Pumori, Cho Oyu, Gyachung Kang, Lingtren and Khumbutse. There really is
nothing to compare the views to… unless it’s Camp 4 but we’ll get there
later. The late afternoon and evening we spent at C3 was spectacular because
of the combination of snow flurries and late clearing up high. The entire
Cwm and lower valley where BC sits was covered by thick clouds and as the
sun set it also was obscured. It made for a wonderfully surreal sunset.
The following a.m. the gang descended the fixed lines which string together
the route from C3 back to the flats of the Western Cwm. This year much of
the route is bare ice rather than snow coated blue ice. It makes for a bit
more excitement really. The team handled it well. Lakpa and I added a few
hundred meters of needed fixed line in spots where only one line was fixed.
Having an up and down line in those spots is essential to keep teams moving.
This morning as we sputtered out of C2 after a brilliantly restful sleep we
heard that the Korean team next to us had two members within a couple hours
of the summit of Lhotse. A couple of us were able to use their spotting
scope to check out their tracks leading into the couloir which leads to the
summit. We assume that they did summit later in the morning and we send our
congrats. It was the first summit of the season on this side of the mountain
though there were north side Everest summits earlier in the week.
Tomorrow we head down valley for some needed rest and relaxation. We’ll be
bringing the computer so we can send dispatches and the team can email
family and friends.
We’ll be in touch soon.
All the best, Dave
Earlier: Camp 3 : We arrived at Camp
3 at about 4:00 yesterday afternoon and got right into the tents. We were
tired after a nine hour climb. We went right to work making pots of water
for our water bottles and ramen noodle soup, garlic shells, fruit cups, and
all the various accoutrements that go with dinner at Camp 3. The evening was
very beautiful with the full moon. We could see all the way out through the
Cwm. Then it started snowing through the night. I thought it was snowing
pretty hard all night, but when we woke up in the morning there really
wasn’t any accumulation. It was just a flurry of snow crystals hitting the
tent all night long. The temperature went down to about -10 F.
We all slept pretty well, although restless. Everybody did very well
throughout the night. We were impressed. This morning we got up when the sun
hit the tents at 8:40 and started the stoves. At 10:30 we made our way down
to Camp 2. It was very hot. We wanted to take all our clothes off it was so
hot. It took us four hours to get down to Camp 2. Dave and Lakpa (after
Lakpa carried a load to Camp 3) fixed a down rope most of the way from Camp
3 down to the bottom of the Lhotse Face.
We spent the afternoon resting in our tents enjoying some fresh beautiful
snow at Camp 2, and now we’re getting ready for another delicious meal.
Tomorrow we head down to the luxuries of Base Camp.
Amy Bullard from Camp 2
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