Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Good, The Bacteria, and The Ugly

I am now back at base camp. The first question everyone wants to know is if I summited. I did not.

The Good:
My client reached the summit at 6:26 am with the help of a great team of Sherpas. She is the second Bangledeshi woman to summit, the first summiting just 7 days before her. I had sent Wasfia out ahead of me by about 2 hours because i have generally faster then her on all parts of the mountain and wanted us to reach the summit at the approximate same time. She left at at about 8 pm and was moving up with a line of about 30 climbers who left at that same time. I left at 9:45 pm with Phurba who was carrying extra oxygen to cache at the Balcony for the descent. As I started to climb I was not feeling 100%, at first I thought it was just the fact that I was now approaching 36 hours at the South Col, most of that time without using supplemental O2. I had decided upon recieving an updated forecast on the 24th that the better summit window was on the 26th with substantially less wind and therefore less danger for the team. My original plan was for,the 25th. The extra day at the South Col required us to scramble and negotiate with other teams to make sure we had enough O2 for the team to have for the rest day at South Col. It was a blessing in a way because our Camp 3 was at the lower end and we had covered almost 1100m in reaching the Col(camp4). it required a lot of effort and would have given Wasfia only about 6 hours rest before heading for the summit. Doable, but less wind is always better.

The Bacteria:
I have never been to Nepal or on a major mountain when I have not had,what for a lack of a better term, I would call gastronomical distress. Unfortunately that happened while waiting at the South Col. If you have ever had to run to the bathroom with urgency, imagine doing that with a down suit on and gasping for breath at 8000m. It came upon me on the morning of the 25th. To be honest I did not think it was a big deal. At first I thought it was just nerves, by the 4th time I realized I might have a problem and realizing that the summit push was in about 6 hours I decided to be proactive and take an Imodium. I am not a big fan of drugs but I was thinking about the added consequence of having to use the facilities on the summit push with a harness on and steep angles. I always tell people when they have a G.I. Issue to,let it run for the first 24-36 hours. It is unpleasant but the nasty bugs want to get out and they will do it one
way or another. Not following my own strategy of letting your system run when something nasty wants to get out backfired on me. As I was moving up the mountain I started to having a gagging feeling and quickly took off my mask. I vomited, which was a direct result of the Bactria wanting out. This started me coughing for the next hour, and I was moving slow. I was not catching up to the rest of the team and not feeling well. The vomiting and coughing continued as I continued up towards the balcony. I think I will call it voughmiting. I estimate I was about 20 minutes below the balcony and I had very large voughmiting spell where I spit up some blood most likely from a blood vessel in my throat. But this voughmitting spell also left me feeling dizzy and faint. It was at this point I recognized the Bacteria had won the day and was going to come out of me one way or another. I made decision to turn around and descend so that I did not become a statistic. i had passed four dead climbers on the way, which reinforced my thought process of objective versus subjective hazards. Objective hazards being those that you cannot control. I could not control the Bactria raging through my system and had to give way to it in much the same way as giving way to an avalanche. The climbers that had died on the way had at some point passed a threshold of what they could control. I did not want to reach that point. I had told the team prior to us leaving my definition of a mountaineer. "It is someone who has the strength and ability to climb the mountain safely to the top and return with your team without outside assistance and have enough in reserve to help others if needed". I was not fitting that criteria and that guided my decision. It sucks, to have the one 24 hour period when you want to be absolutely healthy and have it go wrong, but shit happens. :-)

The Ugly:

You would think that being in the Death Zone, that nothing would really survive. Apparently that is not true.The South Col is littered with trash (although it is cleaner then it used to be). There is feces everywhere. I always say climbers talk about three things on expedition, what goes in, what goes out, and what goes in/out. On the South Col there is a lot of what comes out. The place where you get your snow and ice(what goes in) to make water is always in the path of some wind. You can boil your water but even that is no guarantee that will purify all the wind blown particles. Apparently this is what happened to me and a few others this year. The only real long term solution is for everyone to use WAG bags like on Denali but that is not a process that is being enforced yet here in Nepal.

I thought about staying another day and trying again but I realized I would not have been able to recover enough or have the bacteria get out of my system quickly enough to be able to do it safely. Still visiting the facilities on a regular basis here at BC(too much information?)

I am incredibly happy for Wasfia and I know the happiness she is feeing right now on accomplishing an incredibly tough goal. This climbing season has taught me a lot about teamwork, trusting your judgement, and recognizing the contributions of everyone on the mountain. The rescues that have been done are amazing and getting someone who is injured off the mountain in hours rather then days is incredible.

Thanks to everyone for your support!

Chris Klinke
Everest BC

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tent Living

Hey Everyone,

This is Amy, Chris's sister again.  I heard from Chris this morning.  They are waiting one more day for a summit due to high winds (25 mph) and crowds.   Winds at 25mph can really zap energy and put you at risk for frost bite, so they are going to hang out in their tents and attempt a summit early on Saturday morning (May 26th).  Another factor is that there are about 140 people up at camp 4 (south col) and about 100 are attempting tonight.   Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit less crowded.

Please send safe thoughts his way and I will post when I hear from him again, which may not be until Monday the 28th.

be well,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Camp 4

Hi Everyone,

This is Amy, Chris's sister again.  I heard from Chris this morning and he sounded really good.   They are on their way to Camp 4 which is also known as south col.  The plan is to summit in the early morning of Friday May 25th.   He said that the weather window looked good so please keep your good thoughts coming for more good weather!  He said that there are only 70 people trying to summit this time, so hopefully that will help with some of the traffic issues you may have read about earlier this week when over 200 people were attempting a summit.    

Please send safe thoughts to all who are attempting and I will post when I hear more.  It could be a couple days, so not to worry if you don't hear anything in the next couple days.

Be well,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On their way to camp 3

Hello Everyone,

This is Amy, Chris's sister with a quick update.   He called today from camp 2 and was on his way to Camp 3.   The goal is to depart for the summit around 9pm on May 24th and to summit by 7am on May 25th.   He sounded good!   Send him and everyone else safe thoughts!

Be well,

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summit Plan

We are heading on up the mountain. We are trying to take advantage of the summit window from the 24 th to the 27th. The winds are predicted to be low and a balmy temp of -22.

We will leave Base camp tonight and ascend to C2. We will take a rest day there and then move up to camp 3 early, then onto South Col(24th) the next morning. We will rest and hydrate at the south col until approx 7-9 pm then leave for the summit to try and watch the sunrise as we ascend to the summit.

After summiting we will descend to the South Col rest and the next morning descend to C2. we will clean the mountain of our equipment on the way down. We will rest at C2 and then leave early in the morning for BC. If all goes according to plan we should be back in Base camp on the 27th or 28th. Which is when you will hear from me. Although i will call my family from the camps after safely descending.

Please keep us in your thoughts

Climb hard, Climb High, Come Home,

Chris Klinke
Everest BC

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Waiting and weather

Our initial summit window has detoriated into a morass of unstable winds with shifting degrees of accuracy for the forecast. For this reason we are pushing back our summit bid until May 26-27, when it appears there is a consistent drop in winds speeds. It also brings a projected warmer weather. This presents problems in the ice fall but hopefully that can be mitigated by the departure time.

We are working on keeping our acclimatization intact by hiking up to Pumori BC and heading to the Shep for email. We are running out movies to watch at BC and I have depleted my store of books to read.

It was a tough call to make to postpone going for the summit. I had to weigh multiple factors, weather, speed of clients, crowding (there were over 200 people on the lines to Camp 3 this morning), rope fixing (the lines are not into the summit yet, although reported,to have reached the balcony) all of those things have contributed to the decision.

This brings me to the sad fact that a post climb Thailand Trip will not happen for the first time ever for me onager an 8000m attempt...Although my office still firmly believes that I am on a beach there rather then actually climbing a mountain. Or maybe that is just Adam.....

Chris Klinke
Everest BC (really)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rest and Recovery

I am sitting in Dingoboche (4350m) to rest and recover. We spent four nights up at Camp 2 that were kind of tough due to the team all having the Khumbu Cough. It is a dry, hacking cough you get from being exposed to the cold and winds.(not wearing the Cold Avenger Mask)

 Our climb to Camp 2 from base camp was done in some very nasty weather. The weather report had stated that there would be the usual afternoon convection and nothing really else of note. Unfortunately it was completely wrong. We left at 3 am in the morning, when I got out of my tent at 2:15 am it was  clear night with the stars showing and the moon hanging over Pumori. I went into the dining tent to eat and get suited up for the climb. When I cam back out at 3 am it was snowing, I thought no big deal just a brief flurry. We started climbing up through the ice fall and it was nice having the snow fall and visibility was still good. I got up to C1 and started brewing up some hot water for the rest the team coming in behind me. They arrived a couple of hours later and the conditions were still acceptable. We started off after giving them a rest at about 10:30 am. We got through the ladder section of the snowfield above C1 and I noticied that none you could no longer see the sides of the Western Cwm and that we were walking in a cloud of white. I started breaking trail through the new snow fall and trying to ensure that we were on the trail. The rest of the team following behind. As I looked back at them I realized the snow was playing optical illusions with my eyes and that they seemed to be floating above the snow Then it would get really interesting with a wind gust and they would appear to move 20-30 feet in either direction based on the wind and snow being blown. I can see how pilots can easily get confused flying through the clouds and mistake up for down. 

We made it safely to C2 but it took us a looooong time to do so. We rested the next day to allow our bodies to adjust. The following day we took a hike up the mountain to about 6600 m then the next day we went up to 6900m to get our bodies adjusting to the altitude. We then descended to BC and then onto Dingoboche to allow our coughs to heal. It is working. I slept last nite without coughing and feel super strong. 

Our plan right now is to return to BC slowly over the next 2-3 days. Rest at Base Camp for 2 days and if the weather gods continue to be kind to us shoot for a summit day between the 21-25th of May. 

Our Sherpa Team has made 2 carries to Camp 4 over the last 4 days carrying tents, oxygen, and food to enable us to be in a position to take advantage of the the weather window. I have to salute the hard work that they do day in and day out to make climbing a mountain like Everest possible.

Climb Hard, Climb High, Come Home,

Chris Klinke
Dingoboche, Nepal

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Heading Back Up

Having spent the last 6 days recovering from a mild chest infection, we are finally ready to start going back up to Camp 2 for our second rotation on the mountain to get operated for a possible summit bid.

We are going to head directly to Camp 2 leaving at 3 am in the morning. the goal is to get through the ice fall by 7:30 am and be in Camp 1 by 8:30 am. Then we will continue onto Camp 2
The goal is to be there by 11 am. The reason for leaving that early is that is the time the ice fall is the most stable.

The weather has been windy the last 5 days stripping most of the snow off the upper mountain. That appears to be changing over the next 5 days with higher level convection coming in from the Jet stream causing snow to fall on the upper mountain which makes the Lhotse face a little more stable and less subject to rock fall. The route to C3 has been changed in the last two days because of the winds and rock fall. The new route is a little longer in distance but it is much safer given the condition of the mountain. the route to the South Col has not been established yet for this year. The goal is to have it established by May 7th, then If possible the route to the summit by May 11th. The route fixing is done by a collaboration of the teams on Everest with each team committing man power for carrying ropes, fixing the route (rope guns), and other supplies like oxygen, tents and food. It is really amazing how the teams work together at this phase of the expedition.

Our plan will have us at C2 for two nights,then ascend the Lhotse face to C3 for one summit by night. Descend to C2 for 1 more night then descend to BC. After that we might goo down to Dingoboche for a recovery rest for 2-3 nights depending on how we are feeling after this rotation.

Climb arid, Climb High, Come Home,

Chris Klinke
Everest BC

Sunday, April 29, 2012

First Trip through the ice fall completed

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the delay in getting updates out, the internet via the cell network is touchy at best. Right now I have hiked about an hour out of base camp to get a strong enough signal to be able to send this update.

We spent 5 days above Base Camp working on acclimatization. With two nights  spent at Camp 1 and and 3 at Camp 2. We also took a little time to hike to the base of the Lhotse face. As of two days ago the route was fixed through to  Camp 3 It is expected that the route to Camp 4 (South Col) will be fixed in the next few days. The weather remains cyclonic in that mornings are nice and bright, almost warm enough to wear short sleeves and by 1 pm the clouds have come in the winds have picked up and you are headed into the dinning tent.

Right now we are planning to  go up for our second rotation on the mountain on May 2nd. The plan will be to head directly to Camp 2 and spend two nights there, ascend to Camp 3 for 1 or two nights, return to to Camp 2, then descend to BC after that. We tend to travel in the middle of the night through the ice fall because that is when it is most stable. 

I hope everyone is having a great spring. 

Chris Klinke
Everest BC

PS. I apologize for any typos but I am  sitting on rock typing this….

Friday, April 20, 2012

Training and Altitude

Hi Everyone, 

Sorry for the delay in blog entries but our internet is not very stable nor very reliable in any sense of the word.

We arrived in Base Camp on April 15th and have spent the time since then acclimatizing to the new altitude and doing technical training in the ice fall. This has meant that the team have been climbing up and down ice walls, traversing steep ice slopes, practicing walking on ladders with crampons, abseiling, working carabiners with mittens. You get the idea we have been busy. The team is doing well and we have been watching movies on a regular basis. The best so far was CHE, which actually turned out to be a 3/4 length version of Before the devil knows your Dead. It is just what you get for 100 rupees in Kathmandu.

Everyone is healthy. I am eating better then I normally do at home, except for Cassana Cuisine. 

We will be going through to Camp 1 starting next week. We will send an update when we are down with our first rotation through the ice fall.

Chris Klinke
Gorek Shep, Nepal

Team Photo after Puja

Thursday, April 12, 2012

On the Trek

The days start to blend together as we are trekking into base camp. We spent one night in Phakding, and then continued onto Namache Bazaar. Namache always reminds me of Kathmandu on a micro Level. It is tucked into a hillside valley with varying levels of shops and hotels. You can get great coffee, fresh baked goods, and a wide selection of mountaineering gear. It also has a great pharmacy that came in quite handy since Sam and I both had a small chest infection after our time in Kathmandu.

We spent three nights there and lived in relatively luxury. A hotel with an attached bath.

We are now in Degoboche spending a night and from here on in we will be trekking everyday with no rest days until we hit Base Camp. The weather today was cooperative and we had sun and high clouds on our trek and when we got to our lodge it decided that it had enough of being nice to us and started raining. This could present some challenges as we head higher up with snow levels but we have some time for it to clear itself out.

Chris Klinke
Degoboche, Nepal

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Getting ready to Go

I arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday and it is now Saturday and I am not sure where the days went.

My priorities have been helping Sam and Raffi get there gear sorted, getting the "nice to have" food items for base camp, making sure our power system is in place, and generally trying to get organized for taking a group of three people up the the south side of Mt. Everest.

I am excited to fly to Lukla tomorrow and escape the craziness that is Kathmandu. I am positive that if someone dropped me into Kathmandu blindfolded i could identify it by the noise and smell. There is a uniqueness to the city that I have not found any where else on the planet, patchouli mingled with rubbish, dust, and diesel exhaust. The sounds create their own rhythm that is either jarring to the senses or you embrace it for what it is. It is the launch pad for major expeditions all over Nepal and Tibet, and truly unique.

Climb Hard, Climb High, Come Home,

Chris Klinke
Kathmandu, Nepal

Friday, March 23, 2012

Heading Back to Everest

A quick update to let those who follow this blog know that I am heading to Everest South Side in about 10 days. I am departing on April 2. Right now I am trying to balance the demands of getting all the equipment and necessary supplies with work needs. It is a relatively short turn around time for me. I found out on March 2 that I was going for sure and started working with the expedition organizer to ensure that we have everything covered. Our schedule is below for those of you who want to follow it.

4-Apr Wed arrive Kathmandu
5-Apr Thu Kathmandu
6-Apr Fri Kathmandu
7-Apr Sat 1 Kathmandu
8-Apr Sun 2 fly Lukla, trek Phakding
9-Apr Mon 3 trek Namche
10-Apr Tue 4 Namche
11-Apr Wed 5 Trek Tengboche
12-Apr Thu 6 Trek Dingboche
13-Apr Fri 7 Dingboche
14-Apr Sat 8 Trek Lobuche
15-Apr Sun 9 Trek Gorak Shep
16-Apr Mon 10 Trek Everest BC
17-Apr Tue 11 Rest
18-Apr Wed 12 Rest
19-Apr Thu 13 Lobuche East acclimatize
20-Apr Fri 14 Lobuche East acclimatize
21-Apr Sat 15 Skills practice on Lobuche
22-Apr Sun 16 Skills Practice on Lobuche
23-Apr Mon 17 Trek BC
24-Apr Tue 18 Rest
25-Apr Wed 19 Rest
26-Apr Thu 20 BC-C1
27-Apr Fri 21 C1-C2
28-Apr Sat 22 C2
29-Apr Sun 23 C2-BC
30-Apr Mon 24 Rest
1-May Tue 25 Rest
2-May Wed 26 BC-C1
3-May Thu 27 C1-C2
4-May Fri 28 C2-C3
5-May Sat 29 C3-C1
6-May Sun 30 C1-BC
7-May Mon 31 Rest
8-May Tue 32 Rest
9-May Wed 33 Summit Window
10-May Thu 34 Summit Window
11-May Fri 35 Summit Window
12-May Sat 36 Summit Window
13-May Sun 37 Summit Window
14-May Mon 38 Summit Window
15-May Tue 39 Summit Window
16-May Wed 40 Summit Window
17-May Thu 41 Summit Window
18-May Fri 42 Summit Window
19-May Sat 43 Summit Window
20-May Sun 44 Summit Window
21-May Mon 45 Summit Window
22-May Tue 46 Summit Window
23-May Wed 47 Summit Window
24-May Thu 48 Summit Window
25-May Fri 49 Summit Window
26-May Sat 50 Summit Window
27-May Sun 51 Summit Window
28-May Mon 52 BC- Pack
29-May Tue 53 BC-Namache
30-May Wed 54 Namche-Lukla
31-May Thu 55 Flight Lukla-KTM
1-Jun Fri 56 KTM
2-Jun Sat 57 Flight Home

This is the first time in a long time that I am leaving for a climb while gainfully employed, and balancing the needs of the organization with my personal goals has been a challenge, but I have to hand it to my work team. Everyone is supportive and I am thankful for that support.  The support they have shown is simply outstanding. It is great to work where people recognize the need for following your passion.