Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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A New High

Everest 2016  •  April 22

I slept fine, though I was constantly aware of a distant roaring sound.  A jet engine… but, odd, we have never seen an aircraft contrail once on this whole expedition.  Sure enough, that low roar you hear is the sound of the jet stream slamming into the summit of everest, just over one horizontal mile away.  Creepy….

Today’s goal was to move a bit higher than Camp 2, both to stretch our legs and to inspect the potential route above.  No ropes have been fixed higher than our position here, and because the mountain’s icy surface is dynamic, there are always decisions to make about the route each year.  Some high-res telephoto pictures could be helpful in the planning process.

A bit of a breeze, but overall a perfect day.

View of the summit from Camp 2. At this position, we are closer to the top than to Camp 1 as the crow flies.
View of the summit from Camp 2. At this position, we are closer to the top than to Camp 1 as the crow flies.
The wind is rippin' up high this morning, but not bad down where we are.
The wind is rippin’ up high this morning, but not bad down where we are.
Beautiful ice formations on the west shoulder, just across from our camp.
Beautiful ice formations on the west shoulder, just across from our camp.
The summit in telephoto... that is not snow, but rather a constant cloud plume forming in the lee of the mountain. From our camp, the jet stream sounds literally like a jet engine.
The summit in telephoto… that is not snow, but rather a constant cloud plume forming in the lee of the mountain. From our camp, the jet stream sounds literally like a jet engine.
Nicky is raring to go for a hike.
Nicky is raring to go for a hike.
So is Cristiano.
So is Cristiano.
Leaving Camp 2 via the lateral moraine, littered with stones. (GoPro Screenshot)
Leaving Camp 2 via the lateral moraine, littered with stones. (GoPro Screenshot)
Perfect skies greet us. (GoPro Screenshot)
Perfect skies greet us. (GoPro Screenshot)
Justin inspects an old aluminum oxygen cylinder, abandoned on the glacier. Different from what we use today... and also totally unacceptable in modern era, when every cylinder must be removed and accounted for. (GoPro Screenshot)
Justin inspects an old aluminum oxygen cylinder, abandoned on the glacier. Different from what we use today… and also totally unacceptable in modern era, when every cylinder must be removed and accounted for. (GoPro Screenshot)
Justin leads us onto the high plateau of ice. We travel in traditional roped glacier style here. (GoPro Screenshot)
Justin leads us onto the high plateau of ice. We travel in traditional roped glacier style here. (GoPro Screenshot)
Ice formations up hign can be incredibly beautiful.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ice formations up high can be incredibly beautiful. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Panorama looking at the end of the cwm from Camp 2.
Panorama looking at the end of the cwm from Camp 2.
At a break during our hike.
At a break during our hike.
At a break during our hike.
At a break during our hike.
Looking back down at Camp 2 from our high point near the Lhotse Face. Can you see the camp?
Looking back down at Camp 2 from our high point near the Lhotse Face. Can you see the camp?
There it is.
There it is.
Gnarly, impossible hanging ice on Nuptse. Note the debris field from falling ice recently. We stay well away from this stuff.
Gnarly, impossible hanging ice on Nuptse. Note the debris field from falling ice recently. We stay well away from this stuff.
Our entry point to the Lhotse Face will be the snow ramp you see at bottom center, spanning the big bergschrund.
Our entry point to the Lhotse Face will be the snow ramp you see at bottom center, spanning the big bergschrund.
Telephoto of Lhotse summit, also with some of the Face... our Camp 3 will probably lie where the ruffled snow meets the smooth ice at mid-photo.
Telephoto of Lhotse summit, also with some of the Face… our Camp 3 will probably lie where the ruffled snow meets the smooth ice at mid-photo.
Beautiful rock formations at Lhotse transitions to Nuptse. These layers used to be the bottom of the Tethys Sea, millions of years ago.
Beautiful rock formations at Lhotse transitions to Nuptse. These layers used to be the bottom of the Tethys Sea, millions of years ago.
This is lots of fun.
This is lots of fun.
Forced to remove my buff for the photo.
Forced to remove my buff for the photo.
Can you see the face of a Yeti in the snow formations atop Pumori? Almost looks like the Alaska Airlines mascot / logo.
Can you see the face of a Yeti in the snow formations atop Pumori? Almost looks like the Alaska Airlines mascot / logo.

This is the highest I have been on this mountain… last year we had to turn around at Camp 2 because of the quake.  Progress!  The upper cwm feels like a big fishbowl… and we are some mighty small guppies.

It has been a good rotation, though I feel tired, hungry, dirty, smelly, etc.  EBC seems to be full of wondrous luxuries, such as hot showers and BBQ sauce and the internet.  Our plan is to leave early tomorrow, and walk all the way to EBC, arriving before lunch.  Winds are predicted to be an issue… this may be spicy.

Concept of the day: Amazed to be here.

21 thoughts on “A New High

    1. Yep. Your dad is a yeti. Which makes you half yeti. Which makes me married to a half yeti. This is awesome.

  1. Hey, Paul. I have to say, without any reservations, your reports and images are the very best coming out from Everest now. Your generosity in sharing the energy, time, and damn good photography is much appreciated all around the world. I wish you well, godspeed, one solid step at a time. Remember to try and think like Ed Viesturs if things happen to get hairy. We all want plenty more good writing and photos from you, wherever you might go, for many decades to come. Keep posting when you have time and bandwidth. It matters. I remember when the Director of the Royal Geographical Society before proposing me as a Fellow and just before my Tibet research exped in ’87 looked me dead in the eye and said, “If you don’t document it, detail it, bring it back and share it, it’s not an expedition, it’s just a vacation.” I’ve never forgotten that. Big hugs to IMG Team I, especially to all the diligent, solid Sherpa team members up there beside you all, come thick or thin. Lots of love, from the very hot and sweltering Island of Bali. You’re all welcome here anytime you feel like warming your toes. Standing invitation. x x x

  2. Pictures and your blog are wonderful and I look forward to them each day. Take care of yourself so that you will continue this maganificent quest with the same zeal! Love and prayers.

  3. Hi Paul – Random old lady from upstate NY – couch mountaineer – stumbled on the you tube from last years attempt and earthquake.

    I been enjoying the blog photos (exceptional) … Thank for sharing, tracking you daily … I can only imagine how difficult and how magical, the pics enchanting

    ? Tracking you through the icefall seems you are taking different tracks on each trip, I would have thought there would be only one path laid out, not sure my question is clear …. None the less … The lady in upstate wishing you safety and awe on summit …Godspeed -Ann

    1. Thanks Ann. The icefall route changes a little each day as it collapses etc. But, most variability you see is due to cloud cover interfering with the GPS signal. Appreciate your interest!

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