Sunday, May 3, 2009

First Trip up Everest

7300 m Camp 3 Lhotse Face - The past 30 hours has taken us from Camp 2 at ~6400 meters to Camp 3 high on the Lhotse face, ~7300 m, and back down again to Camp 2. A vertical climb of close to 3,000 feet! A mild headache at that elevation was no surprise. Nor was the fatigue as we crawled into our tents so carefully perched on an ice shelf created by our wonderful sherpas. Unfortunately the weather brought in snow showers and gusty winds throughout the afternoon and evening so I was only able to take this one photo from the tent vestibule during a short weather break (you can see Everest's south summit tantalizingly close yet so far away, along with the well known Geneva Spur or rocky ridge with the yellow band to the right).

After intermittent sleep, mainly due the fact that gravity kept sucking me into my wonderful tent partner Eugene Constant, and not so much due to the minor headache and/or flapping tent walls, we once again strapped on the harnesses over our downsuits, tightened the crampons over our high altitude boots, and set off down the fixed ropes leading us towards Camp 2. At times we were in white-out conditions, along with the occasional bottleneck of climbers either coming up the fixed lines or sherpas wanting to pass on the way down. For a brief moment while standing near an anchor I was able to take a picture to give you a sense of what climbing the Lhotse face was like. Let's just say I am glad to be typing this dispatch on my pda vs. still arm wrapping or rappelling down the face at 45 degrees or greater at times.

I carry my Father's ashes with me everyday along with some other personal effects from family and friends. I also carry an Alpharma Animal Health flag so thought an additional photo would be appropriate to post (note the south summit high above) Tomorrow our team will descend all the way to Everest BC for much needed rest. Some of Team 2 will be on their way up the Lhotse face to Camp 3.