It is snowing in Base Camp today May 5 as we write this. After spending several days sleeping up high we are safely back to rest and recuperate. We started off on schedule on April 28 and moved straight up to Camp 2 at 6495m/21,309′. Our plan was to rest a day, then take a couple day hikes, followed by a move up to Camp 3 at 7406m/24,300′ to sleep.
We acclimatized well at C2 and after three nights we were ready to move up to C3. We nixed that plan when we got to the base of the Lhotse Face, which is the next portion of our route. It turns out the Everest region is very dry right now. It hasn’t received much snow from the past winter. Normally the face would be solid firm snow but instead it is hard ice. Additionally, rock faces above that are usually frozen and covered in snow are now exposed with loose rock. Rocks are coming down the slick icy Lhotse Face at high speeds. We didn’t think it safe to ascend it in these conditions so we didn’t. Concerns were shared among several guides who were at C2. A bunch of us got together for a meeting to discuss route conditions and options. We decided a few people who were still fresh would explore a different way up to C3. The good news is a route was found to the lower end of C3 and a small party anchored fixed line into that area. We spent one more night at C2 then returned to Base Camp.
Our four nights we spent in total at C2 were productive. We got noticeably stronger each day and stayed healthy the entire time living at 6495m/21,309′ and above. In spite of falling short of reaching C3 we feel that after our time up high followed by a few days rest at Base Camp we will be ready to make a summit attempt. Before trying for the summit though we also need a big change in the weather pattern. The upper reaches of Mt. Everest have been pummeled by 120+ mph winds for several weeks now. With conditions like this a summit bid isn’t realistic. We also need some fresh snowfall; preferably 1′-2′. This would offer some anchoring of the slopes containing loose rocks. Fortunately our forecast over the next dew days is calling for just that; decreased winds and snowfall through May 10. Let’s hope the weather forecast is correct!
Up until this point our expedition has gone according to plans almost as smooth as clockwork. This is the first time we have encountered any amount of resistance from the mountain. In mountaineering there are things you can control and others you can’t. Our strategy now is to take care of the things we can control and set ourselves up for success should Mt. Everest present an opportunity to climb it. We are back at Base Camp resting, hydrating, recuperating, getting strong after spending time up high, staying healthy, and are preparing ourselves physically and mentally for a summit attempt. In spite of the conditions we recently encountered we are optimistic we will have an opportunity make a summit attempt soon! Thanks to everybody for your continued prayers and support. Your comments on the blog are awesome too! We will try to update you as soon as conditions on the mountain shake out over the coming days and we have our next plans in place.
Here are a few pictures from the last few days: