There has been some debate about whether it is easier to climb rock and scree, or hike ploddingly up the glacier to Camp 1. I prefer the rock ands scree because it allows me to put off putting on my heavy mountaineering boots until almost 6200m (high depot camp) versus at about 5900m (low depot camp). The time differential is not that significant, but energy savings is the debate. I like hiking on the rock and jumping from one rock to the next, other prefer to french step up the glacier. I think my preference is ingrained in me from spending my summers in northern michigan at my cabin, which is surrounded by rock.
As we climbed up the mountain yesterday we saw the weather changoing with a sun dog and high mares tails lining the sky. We left AC about 8:15am in the morning and after a leisurely stroll up reached Camp 1 at about 12:15pm. The wind had started to pick up and some light snow was blowing across the top of the Barun glacier and we decided to push on to Camp 2. The route up to Camp 2 takes you up a moderate ice fall, with ice ramps and glacial walls all around you. As we were ascending up to Camp 2 the winds really started to pick up with grapple blowiing and hitting us. Grapple is similar to hail, but it is snow. I can speak from personal experience and say that it hurts when it hits you.
We reached Camp 2 at about 2:30pm and dropped our loads in preparation of spending two nights there when the weather clears. This is a big part of our acclimitization plan that includes us climbing the Makalu La and returning to Camp 2. After that we will decide if we will spend a night above Camp 2 prior to going to the summit. Our French teammates spent two nights at Camp 1 and returned this morning.
We returned to ABC at about 6:30pm last nite, exhausted and happy. We had a fantastic dinner with spaghetti, french fries, veggies, and a fruit cup for desert. This morning I woke up at about 5:30am, went in to the mess tent, and switched the tanks on the heater. Yes, Klinke and Klimek fixed the heater. What an amazing addition to our lives. I made a cup of espresso and wrote in my journal until 7 am, when I did the radio call with the French who were still up at Camp 1. The snow we were expecting did not materialize, although they got about 10cm at Camp 1 and we got about 3 cm at ABC. Then I opened the Espresso bar and made Café Latte's for my teammates in bed. Then since it is a rest day we took a leisurely brunch when the French arrived into ABC. It was then clean up time. The sun was out and there was no wind, so we lined up for showers. It is amazing how a little thing like a shower can make such a difference in your personal attittude. Some people did their laundry others read, then we had lunch. With Sandrine from the French Team providing Foie Gras for the team. What a treat.
Life is great at ABC and we are waiting on the weather gods to provide us with a clear picture of what will happen next.
Chris Klinke, Makalu ABC