Update: The Icefall
After having celebrated the Puja ceremony, we feel ready to our first
excursion up through the Khumbu icefall. The Sherpas bring us the classic
morning tea while we are finishing getting ready. It is possible to note a
little bit of anxiety on the faces of our team mates in the mess tent, which
is easy to understand, this labyrinth of unstable ice has taken the lives of
more than twenty people in the past. We might think that it has a menacing
We have divided the group in two smaller ones to avoid creating a traffic
jammed in the exposed areas. Speed is synonymous of safety in this particular
It is a spectacular day, no wind and a wonderful deep blue sky above us.
Looking up at it, my thoughts fly to a very distant place; the clinking sounds
of the climbing hardware that we are carrying on the harnesses wake me up to
reality. It is nine in the morning and we are good to go.
A short distance from basecamp, we have to put our crampons on and not too far
away we find the beginning of the fixed lines. It is getting hot, I feel a few
drops of sweat sliding down my forehead. We are overheating. We take a break
to have a few sips of water and take a layer off to cool down a bit. Not long
after having reassumed the climb, we face the first aluminum ladder. All the
hours practicing ladder crossing paid off and everybody do it with safety and
efficiency. We have lost our innocence according to Kent. The anxiety gives
way to confidence and the objective dangers are eclipsed a little bit by the
focused agility of our progress. This is what we were preparing for since a
long time ago. There are always contradictory feelings up there in the
mountains: you can feel exhilarating and energized but at the same time
overwhelmed and vulnerable.
After crossing three more aluminum ladders, the last one placed above a
seemingly bottomless crevasse, we reach the base of a very unstable area of
the icefall known as the popcorn because it is formed by a huge pile of ice
blocks of all sizes that covers a big area. As you can imagine, under the
influence of glacier movement it can act likewise. The altitude in my
altimeter says 18.220 feet. This was the goal for today. The group lead by
Dave and Lakpa has caught up with us and we started our descent back down to
basecamp. We get back on time to have lunch. Everybody is safe and sound.
Tomorrow is a day to rest, recover and prepare to move all the way up to Camp
1 (19.500 feet) where we will spend two nights. Then we will move to Camp 2
(21.300 feet) to spend another couple of nights up there before descending all
the way down to basecamp.
We will keep you informed of our progress.
All the best,
Jose Luis and crew.
Vern Tejas, Willi Prittie, Dave
Morton, Jose Luis Peralvo, and Lakpa Rita Sherpa will lead the Alpine Ascent
team on Everest this Spring. They will attempt the standard South East ridge
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