Most/all 8,000m expeditions require waiting for the right weather window when we can climb as safely as possible into the “death zone” above 26,250′. At this phase of the expedition it is a mental grind and a test of one’s patience as one’s body continues to deteriorate while living on a glacier at 18,500′, eating the same foods day-after-day in limited portions, and the physical weight-loss mounts to 20 lbs and increases with each passing day.
Having been through this before helps, but the grind is on. Here’s a post I wrote from Everest base camp in mid-May 2012, which gives you an idea of what it’s like being here at this phase of the expedition:
The jet stream has parked itself over Cho Oyu and the other high peaks in the region, which is typical for this time of year but is also frustrating. So, we wait. Typically, the forming monsoon in the Indian Ocean atmospherically pushes the jet stream to the north (and off these peaks) before its arrival, which is what creates the summit windows of mid-late May
In order to stay strong as we stretch the limits of our patience, we continue to do long pushes to remain fit and acclimatized. Today’s outing took us to Camp I at 20,500′ and back to ABC (18,200′) over many miles of rocky moraine and steep scree. We’re now doing this round-trip in a spritely 5 hours instead of the 7-8 hours it took us a week+ ago. Therefore, the team is acclimatized and ready to go as soon as the weather cooperates. Our best estimate at this point may entail a blustery summit attempt around the 15th. Here’s a picture from today’s outing looking toward Shishapangma (14th tallest peak in the world).