Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

Jump to helpful navigation →

Ice Capades

Everest 2015  •  April 9

Tough sleeping at our new elevation of 17,200 feet.  Even walking to the latrine or shower makes me breathless!  This is standard, and should be expected… For whatever reason, I did not have this issue when at the same elevation on Aconcagua, but who knows what other factors may be at play here. I certainly “feel” well, and there are no warning signs.

Blake captures the view from his tent vestibule.  (Photo: Blake Penson)
Blake captures the view from his tent vestibule. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Tents of IMG Team Hybrid 2015.  (Mine is the one with laundry on the roof.)
Tents of IMG Team Hybrid 2015. (Mine is the one with laundry on the roof.)
Our dining tent, the Google Cam tent, and Communications tent of IMG.
Our dining tent, the Google Cam tent, and Communications tent of IMG.  Pumori looms above.
EBC, looking north from IMG's position (our camp is located at the bottom of the site, everyone else is "up valley" from us.)
EBC, looking north from IMG’s position (our camp is located at the bottom of the site, everyone else is “up valley” from us.)
The trail to EBC goes just past IMG's site.  We see everyone who arrives.
The trail to EBC goes just past IMG’s site. We see everyone who arrives.  (Photo: Blake Penson)

Today we played on the ice.  The Khumbu glacier falls steeply down from the great Western Cwm (where it is properly called the “icefall”) and then consolidates into great waves of solid blue ice that flow down valley for miles.  This moraine is a lovely training ground for us, because it is totally safe and right next to camp.

Our trusty guides—western and Sherpa—showed us some fine points of technique that will make us both safe and efficient when ascending the icefall and the Lhotse face above that.  All of that is at least a week away, but we wanted to get ready for our next training experience on Lobuche peak in a few days from now.  Ascending and rappelling fixed lines in the ice is always fun—and tiring.

Gearing up for our training exercises.
Gearing up for our training exercises.
Our tiny playground for the day.
Our tiny playground for the day.
Justin and Andy show us the ropes--literally.
Justin and Andy show us the ropes–literally.
Justin's rapelling technique reveals his best side.
Justin’s rappelling technique reveals his best side.
This finally feels like climbing....
This finally feels like climbing….
Fatima goes first....
Fatima goes first….
Kara knows her ascender well.
Kara knows her ascender well.
Kara raps down under Andy's watchful eye.
Kara raps down under Andy’s watchful eye.
LC goes up...
LC goes up…
... and LC comes down.
… and LC comes down.
Fun to finally clip in.
Fun to finally clip in.
Everyone looks so small from up here....
Everyone looks so small from up here….
View from the top of our little hill.
View from the top of our little hill.
Freezing cold, but close to 90F in the reflection of direct sun.
Freezing cold, but close to 90F in the reflection of direct sun.
I head down while Kim heads up.
I head down while Kim heads up.
Rapelling the ice with figure-of-8 device.
Rappelling the ice with figure-of-8 device.
Kim raps like a pro.
Kim raps like a pro.
Blake tops out while Kara gets set to rap.
Blake tops out while Kara gets set to rap.
Most of the time we use a friction belay, rather than figure 8, because our exposure is low and speed is a key safety factor.  Here I practice gripping the line with my leather gloves.  I LOVE THIS TECHNIQUE and plan to use it often in the icefall.
Most of the time we use a friction belay, rather than figure 8, because our exposure is low and speed is a key safety factor. Here I practice gripping the line with my leather gloves. I LOVE THIS TECHNIQUE and plan to use it often in the icefall.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Returning to EBC after a fun day in the office.
Returning to EBC after a fun day in the office.

BUT, before any further mountaineering happens, we first need the blessing of a Buddhist Lama in an elaborate ceremony called a Puja, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *