It was a successful rotation, but I was still very eager to return to the luxuries of EBC.
Showers. Single tents. Thicker atmosphere. Warmer temperatures. All we had to do was walk from Camp 2….
Blustery, cold, and windy at the start of the day.
This makes everything tougher. We also had to separate our gear into three groups: That which we would take down to EBC, that which we wanted to send to Camp 1 for our next rotation, and that which we wanted to leave at Camp 2. In the cold and dark, at 21,300 feet, this seems complicated.
The only shot taken with my camera today: Kim snapped this view down the cwm from Camp 2 before the battery died (although it was 60% charged). If you really want to take photos up here, keep the battery in your pocket! Today it was too windy to be bothered.
But, at least the skies were clear.
We made good time to Camp 1, took a break, and then headed to the bottom of the cwm and into the icefall. I’ll let the head cam screen shots do the talking:
Winds are blazing: Let’s get out of here. (GoPro Screenshot)
This ladder had worked its way loose overnight… Siva kindly stabilized it with his boot. (GoPro Screenshot)
Thanks, mate. (GoPro Screenshot)
Looking down at the bottom of the cwm, as the route approaches the headwall. (GoPro Screenshot)
Looking back at the cwm as we approach the headwall. You can see the spindrift ripping off Nuptse… it was WINDY up there! (GoPro Screenshot)
Plenty of traffic on the route today. (GoPro Screenshot)
Monster crevasses form at the bottom of the cwm. (GoPro Screenshot)
Some snow bridges are stouter than others. (GoPro Screenshot)
Ang Pemba negotiates an incomplete snow bridge with ease. (GoPro Screenshot)
Justin directs traffic at the top of the headwall. Cristiano in position to rap, Siva next in line. (GoPro Screenshot)
I call this section below the headwall the Sea of Destruction. Feature on the left looks like the Great Wave painting by Hokusai, no? (GoPro Screenshot)
The Sea of Destruction is a jumbled mess. (GoPro Screenshot)
Looking back at the headwall from the Sea.
Swells in the Sea of Destruction. (GoPro Screenshot)
The Sea of Destruction is really just a pile of popcorn, here still in deep blue shadow. (GoPro Screenshot)
Clipping that safety line… (GoPro Screenshot)
Ang Pemba descending the popcorn below the Sea of Destruction. Sunshine nipping at our heels… (GoPro Screenshot)
I cannot get over the size of the load being carried by the climber at left. (GoPro Screenshot)
Often our route goes directly over popcorn formations, which feel remarkably solid. (GoPro Screenshot)
Friction-rapping some near-vertical ice. Nice. (GoPro Screenshot)
Pounding with Ang Pemba: Welcome to the Football Field. (GoPro Screenshot)
Ang Pemba waits patiently as I gird my loins after a break at the Football Field. (GoPro Screenshot)
This ice fin looks sturdy enough. (GoPro Screenshot)
Seems bottomless… (GoPro Screenshot)
Easy steppin’ onto an ice fin. (GoPro Screenshot)
This crevasse is a real monster. (GoPro Screenshot)
Descending from the ladder crossing towards the Pit of Despair. (GoPro Screenshot)
Ang Pemba prepares to descend into the Pit. (GoPro Screenshot)
A pair of climbers on the route below the Football Field, seen from the top of the Pit.
Overview of the route from just below the football field to the rim of the Pit of Despair (photo taken from that position). We still use the horizontal ladder at top center, but avoid the double-side at bottom right. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ang Pemba surveys the Pit of Despair. Only way down is via ladder…. (GoPro Screenshot)
Mounting the ladder into the Pit of Despair. (GoPro Screenshot)
A bit tedious, and less secure than rapping. But… no rap line available here…. (GoPro Screenshot)
The ladders are lashed together with the same Korean static twisted rope that forms the safety line. (GoPro Screenshot)
This guy could not wait for me to clear the ladder before hopping on. No worries. (GoPro Screenshot)
Looking back at the ladder as we hustle out of the Pit. (GoPro Screenshot)
Ang Pemba looks back at the Pit after our exit. Someone is on the way out, and another person is about to mount the ladder. (GoPro Screenshot)
Bit of a steep traverse, but no worries. (GoPro Screenshot)
Moving below the Pit of Despair. Sometimes I switch rope position from one side of my body to the other by ducking underneath, as you see here. Other times it’s easier to just step over. (GoPro Screenshot)
Friction-rapping a steep section. (GoPro Screenshot)
Glancing back over my shoulder as we descend. (GoPro Screenshot)
Pulling into a short break behind Siva. He expressed concern at my appearance… but I assured him I was doing fine, just exhausted. (GoPro Screenshot)
Once in a while the line rides high, but is always in reach. Extra SPCC ladders seen in the background, (GoPro Screenshot)
Making progress in the lower icefall. (GoPro Screenshot)
Nicky and her Sherpa guide begin to descend the Toilet Bowl… note the completely different features at bottom of the bowl, where huge ice chunks have calved off since our ascent, exactly as Justin predicted. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Me at crampon point… totally spent. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Amazing journey, and happy to be home.
Bottom line from today: exhaustion and sub-optimal pacing and hydration / nutrition for me. Next time I will slow down a bit and make sure there’s plenty of gas in the tank. We have four rest days to recover, regroup, and reignite our energy stores.
Soundtrack for the day:
Cool the Engines.
posted: April 27, 2016