I made my safe return to base camp early this morning Everest time. My first rotation on the mountain went well and I’m safely back in the warmer climes and thicker air of base camp at 17,500′. The GI issue was just a minor setback and I had my power back in my legs for the moves up to Camps I and II. I was able to move quickly through the icefall, always a good idea, and made it to Camp I (19,600′) last Wednesday in 3 1/2 hours, which is a fast time for an ascent up that jumbled mass. The hanging seracs, fallen ice blocks, and ominous groans and creaks provide all the incentive necessary to keep moving.
I spent 2 uneventful nights at Camp I acclimatizing, although we did experience 100+ degree swings in our tents at that camp, as the sun reflects off the glaciers on Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest to form a veritable convection oven. I noted 113 degrees in my tent one blazing afternoon and then a low in the single digits that night. Tough place to hang out.
The move to Camp II (21,200′) up the Western Cwm only took 2 hours from Camp I. We left early in the AM for both moves to climb when things were good and frozen/solid. We left at 3:30am for the move up the icefall and at 6am for the move to Camp II. Apparently, as soon as we arrived Camp II at 8am there was an enormous avalanche that ripped off the face of Nuptse that swept a Sherpa into a huge crevasse just behind us above Camp I and decimated our path. Miraculously, he was pulled out and stabilized at IMG’s Camp I and evacuated to Kathmandu for further evaluation. That was to be followed the next day, while we were in Camp II, where Cory Richards of the North Face/National Geographic team was having some health issues. 2 of my teammates, who are both doctors, provided the initial assessment and the IMG Sherpas played a big role in evacuating him to Camp I via a sled and then helping him down to base camp on oxygen where he was then flown to Kathmandu for further assessment. A crazy couple of days up in the Western Cwm and good reminders of just how serious an endeavor this is. Wishing good health to those that have been evacuated recently and for my team moving forward. Check out the National Geographic and/or North Face blogs for more details on Cory’s condition.
Otherwise, I’m doing well and feeling strong after a good first rotation on the mountain. The fixed lines up the Lhotse Face are in up to the yellow band with additional fixing to the South Col/Camp IV to occur soon. Camp III is being dug into the Lhotse Face today, so I’m looking forward to a little R&R here in base camp the next few days and then heading up for rotation number two where we sleep at Camp III (24,500′) without supplemental oxygen. Ought to be rough and essential to our success on the third and final summit rotation.
The rest of the team seems to be doing well. It was great to catch-up with Bob, Craig, David and the rest of the crew back in base camp this AM after my quick descent from 21,200′ to 17,500′ in less than 3 hours. Also, I returned to a generous care package sent to Bob and me from his lovely wife Di and my incredible girlfriend Carla. Thanks ladies! Very much appreciated. The group already destroyed the Oreos, but I’m hoarding the Via Coffee. Shhh!