Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Camp 3 and Back.....

Well we have had a few fun action packed days getting up to establish Camp 3. Eric and I left base camp on the 15th of July to head directly to camp 1 We had both found that going directly to camp 2 from Base Camp left us a little tuckered out for any activities beyond that point. On our way up we passed Mike F, Chris W, and Paul on their descent from Camp 2. Where they stayed in miserable weather for two nites.

Eric and I spent the night at Camp 1 awoke in the morning refreshed and ready to go up to camp 2. We started up at about 8 am arriving in Camp 2 at about noon. Where we started brewing up and getting the camp site ready for Fred and Chirring who were coming directly from Base Camp. The winds were increasing to the point where one of our tents was uninhabitable for two people. The reason being that the winds were coming directly into the vestibule of the tent and did not allow us to cook. We would have to used the hanging kit inside the tent that was supplied by Jetboil, but the tent was not big enough to hold two of us and cook inside safely. So we jumped into the Italian tent where we could sleep and eat. In payment, I gave the Italians one of the salami's that Annette procurred for me.

In the morning we awoke to a beautiful calm morning, and we started moving at around 4 am to take full advantage of the day. Keep in mind that once you start moving at 4 am you are lucky to be on the trail by 7 am. First you have to start melting snow to make water to make your first hot drink. Usually I leave a pot full of water at night so that the first pot is already in a semi liquid state. Most of the time it is just a block of ice that needs to be melted. Once you have your first pot of hot water, you have your morning tea. Then you start your next pot so you can make your oatmeal, or what have you. Then you have to start melting water to fill your camel back or nalgene bottle. Hopefully one of them is already full from the nite before. If not you have to figure you have to melt 2-3 liters of additional water for each person going up that day to avoid dehydration. So it is about 3 hours of melting snow and getting ready to go before you are out the door. Then you have to dry out your sleeping bag from all the hoar frost that forms inside the tent and starts to drip and snow on you as you move about in the morning. Then you have to dump your pee bottle, get dressed, put on your harness, your boots, your crampons, and make sure that everyone else in your party is ready to go. Standing outside waiting on other members is one of the biggest drags you can have, because you are bound to be cold and frustrated by the time the last person is ready to go. That is why it has been great travelling with Eric, Fred, and Chirring. We all seem to get ready at the right moment and start off at the same time.

The climb to camp 3 was definitely difficult. The first thing that made it hard is that it is a long day. Meaning it took us on avg 8.5 hours of consistent and constant climbing to arrive at camp 3. Second the difficulty of the climbing was harder then anything I have experienced at altitude yet. There were numerous rock pitches that needed to be climbed in crampons, and they were harder then anything I experienced on Everest. Then there were long snow couloir's that had to be waded through with pitches up to 70 degrees Then when you finally thought you had arrived at what should be Camp 3, you realize you are still two hours away from actually reaching camp 3. And you had to keep climbing a long snow slope to reach it.

Once you arrived at Camp 3 though, the views were amazing. You could see deep into China, and all around the Karakorum. We had a calm beautiful day, with Norwegians coming up in our fresh tracks and dropping a load off. We chose to stay 4 people in a three person tent. One of the worst nites sleeps of my entire life. Between Fred snoring, Chirring trying to get comfortable, Eric rolling over which would cause me to wake up, and I am sure I added to everyone elses discomfort in some way it was a horrible nite experience by all. When we awoke in the morning it was cloudy and snowy and we made the decision to go down rather then try and make it to camp 4. It was a great decision on our part, because as we started to descend the winds were getting stronger, and by mid afternoon it was really quite nasty out.

We arrived into Basecamp after descending all the way from Camp 3 which was at about 7400m. Base camp is at 5040m. So we descended almost 7500 feet in a day which is really quite tiring. Now we are enjoying a rest in Base Camp, with nasty weather happening on the mountain. Based on the forecasts we will probably not be going anywhere real soon.

Hope all is well for you!



Carole said...
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Shaun said...

All looks and sounds fantastic. I love getting the dispatches. I crank the a/c down as low as it will go and imagine I'm there with you all!