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  Mt. Everest 2005: Dirk Stephan and Keith Woodhouse: Camp 2

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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