8000 Meters Facts
Everest 2005: Dirk Stephan and Keith Woodhouse:
We all knew it was going to
be tough challenge moving from BC to ABC skipping C1. I was late setting off
from BC due various faffing but this was ok as I had already decided that my
approach was going to be slow and steady within a non oxygen debt strategy.
Expected time without breaks was 7 to 8 hours. My first problem was my
camelback froze within minutes of leaving despite the new harness but once I'd
settled down to this fact, progress up the icefall was almost pleasant. Moving
on my own about 30 mins behind the rest I was able to focus on an efficient
pace which did not either stress my breathing or muscles. Using legs for power
and not arms I got into a smooth rhythm and ultimately caught up with all but
Serge before the final hideous ladder section that takes you onto the heavily
crevassed western cwm. Now the sun was up and the warmth almost instantly
thawed my drinking tube. I felt really good and decided to press on past camp
1. Slowly things changed and I found I really need to concentrate to keep
going. Manuel and I changed position several times before we finally made C2.
Total elapsed time for me 6 hours. At least the Sherpa's were impressed.
Actually Serge had made it in just over 5 hours but he paid the price and
looked dreadful. Later he confessed to vomiting and diarrhea, he actually did
not eat again until BC. Both Manuel and I were very tired but otherwise in
good shape. Next arrived Ludmilla, her extensive experience showing through,
she was exhausted but otherwise good. Dirk was next and clearly in bad shape.
He later confessed to being close to giving up at the top of the icefall.
Finally half an hour later Klaus arrived also speechless with exhaustion. We
had all made it but it had taken its toll on our bodies and our state of mind.
We ate, drank gallons of warm lemon juice Sherpa milk tea and went of to bed
at 7.30. By now it was freezing and windy. The tents were bolted down as per
C1 which was just as well. What followed was one of the coldest nights I've
ever experienced even on Denali. My sleeping bag has a comfort rating of -40
yet at times it felt like I was naked despite, thermal, buffalo top and
sallopets, down jacket, hat, gloves, two pairs of thick socks in my booties
and my camelback filled with hot lemon tea. Just getting into the sleeping bag
is a small logistical miracle. Eventually I got warm and tried to concentrate
on something other than the mild headache that had developed not long after I
arrived. It was not bad but it was worrying me a little. The following morning
Serge was up and gone, everyone else followed as quickly as possible driven by
the pain and discomfort of the night. That is except me. I had made it clear
that I was going for two nights to see how my body reacted at this altitude
and my headache has just reinforced that. I watched Dirk disappear and
suddenly felt quite alone and content. The day passed quite quickly, me
messing around trying various combinations of gear. I'm still not happy about
the camelback on summit day. Last thing I want is to be carrying 2 liters of
ice to the summit and back. The two Sherpa at ABC fed me a fairly nice lunch
and then Dinner which was very spicy and I paid the usual price!!!!!! Not
great at -40+ in driving snow, still it stops you hanging around. One of the
most worrying aspects of the first night had been what's called chanye stoke
breathing. From an observers point of view it sounds like somebody is drawing
their last breath before dying. From the sleepers point of view it's like a
last desperate gasp as you finally suffocate. Either way its not nice!!!
Fortunately this all but disappeared on the second night. It snowed very
heavily during the night and I began thinking I might get stuck up at 65000m
for a few days but it cleared temporarily just before dawn. I'm pleased I
stayed the extra night. I can see roughly where we will establish C3 on the
Lhotse face and I'm sure I can make it. From there we will be on Oxygen .
Today I thought I would have a nice walk back down to BC but first I forgot
the PDA Leads and had to hike back up some 200m which was exhausting and then
suffer a windless decent through the cwm and icefall. It's weird because the
air temperature is below freezing but the radiated heat from the sun makes it
feel in the eighties and you just cook. Arrived back at BC for about 2 just as
the sun went in and the snow started. We have moved up a pace and only one
more trip up to C3 before we complete our acclimatisation programme and then
its down to the valley to recuperate prior to the final ascent weather
permitting. For the time being however, we are expecting a storm for a few
days so it's time to build back the strength lost over the last few days.
Dirk Stephan and Keith Woodhouse, a small German/English team of two will
attempt Everest in Spring of 2005 via the normal southeast ridge route. Keith
is in his fifties, Dirk 39. "Both of us have extensive mountaineering
experience, I am in a lifetime project of the seven summits, already started
with Kilimanjaro, 20 years ago. My expeditions have been self organized
whenever possible. I soloed Aconcagua and Elbrus - if you can call it this way
on this beaten tracks. Everest and Carstensz are still missing. Keith and me
climbed Denali together the year before. Keith works for British Telecom as
Manager Global Solutions. I am Pilot for a German Charter Company. My aim is
to support a cancer charity. This has a personal background, as my wife has
cancer herself and I am greatly involved in researching things and supporting
people with the same fate. Everest is a good opportunity to raise funds things
like this. Every support is welcome!"
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