Dispatch 14 from Everest / April 19, 2012

O’Neill: Back at Base Camp

Two Ascents, Both Seek Summit — Southeast Ridge Team to Focus on Education and Science; West Ridge Team of Anker and Cory Richards to Retrace Route of First American Ascent on West Ridge.

Climb to Be Covered Online Starting March 16 at natgeo.com/oneverest and www.thenorthface.com/everest. Real-time Updates from West Ridge Team to Start April 16 on National Geographic Magazine App for iPad

It’s a crazy thing to finally walk a path I’ve heard about for so many years- the Khumbu ice fall.  We headed up on Friday the 13th and, all I can say is, I’m glad I didn’t realize the significance of the date until we had safely passed through to Camp 1.  Without a doubt, the icefall has an incredibly high level of subjective hazard. So much so, that upon our return, Kris and Cory went to speak with one of the head Sirdahrs of Everest Basecamp to see if, as a group, we could get the icefall doctors to change the route.

On a more positive note, our group has been the first to venture up the mountain. What that means is that we have had the unbelievable pleasure of experiencing camp 1 and camp 2 with no other climbers. On Friday it took us about 5 hours to reach Camp 1. Another hour or so to set up our tents and then the rest of the day to chill and soak up our surroundings. I got my first glimpse of the Lhotse face and was psyched to see how snowy it looked. We spent the night and then had a casual morning and hiked to camp 2. From there, things got a little dicier- weather came in and the wind was cranking. We had to pick axe platforms out of the rock and ice. At 6440 meters, swinging a pick axe and throwing rocks hurts like hell. We spent 3 nights at camp 2 and came down this morning all the way to Basecamp in less than 4 hours.

Camp 2 is beautiful, we were nestled in the cirque of Everest, lhotse and Nuptse. Truly incredible. The mountains here are, obviously, the biggest in the world and, therefore, very powerful. Laying in the tent, we could hear the constant thrum, like a train, of the jet stream as it blew above our heads on the ridge tops. Intimidating to say the least.

At any rate, I am glad to be at Basecamp and looking forward to 5 or 6 days of rest before heading back up. A coke and Pringles for lunch never tasted so good!

Photo 1

Our first foray through the Khumbu icefall.

Photo 2

Emily and Anjin arriving at Camp 1 in good spirits!

Photo 3

A view of Camp 2 from the flank of the west ridge of Everest.

Photo 4

Cory and Conrad looking for their route to the west ridge, Lhotse face in the background.

Photo 5

Sam Elias crossing one of the first ladders in the ice fall.




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