Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The trip to and from Camp 3

I have completed the acclimatisation part of my climb and now have to wait for the right weather forecast before we can go for the summit. I also need at least 4 or 5 days rest after my recent trip to camp 3. Last Wednesday we left Everest BC at 2:30am. We walked in almost complete silence through Base Camp to Crampon Point where we attached our crampons and set off into the infamous Ice fall at just after 3am. It was pitch black and you could only see the area immediately in front lit by the narrow beam of the head torch. The sun was rising as we progressed through the Ice Fall, and we could see for the first time the real dangers all around us - from the towering pillars of ice that could come crashing down at any moment to the yawning crevasses hundreds of metres deep. Looking further up we could also see the huge hanging seracs above us that regularly come crashing down onto the Ice Fall. Thankfully because of our acclimatisation on Lobuche we all moved fairly quickly and by 7am were through it to camp 1. After a cup of tea most decided to remain at Camp 1 but a few, including me, decided to push onto Camp 2. The biggest problem believe it or not in the Western Cym is the intense heat which can reach 40C during the day and drain what strength you have left from you very quickly. I reached Camp 2 after another 3hrs and thankfully due to a very slight breeze the temperature never became overwhelming. I was very pleased to know that I now had 2 whole days at Camp 2 to relax before we tackled the famous Lhotse face at the end of the Western Cym, a climb of nearly 1,000m to Camp 3 at 7,350m.

Camp 3 was, as expected, miserable. You just feel awful, not wanting to do anything. Literally, getting up from a lying position to a sitting position to put another layer on or take a drink can sometimes take 30minutes to summon up the strength or willpower to do it. You just want to stay still and do nothing - I now understand why some people on summit day just sit down and give up! Anyway, we spent most of the time melting ice to drink or cook with. Each bowl of water take ages to melt and when it does it takes another age to boil and then it only boils at significantly below 100C so everything (even soup) takes ages to cook. After almost 6hrs of melting ice and trying to force some drink and food down me, I tried to sleep. This is where the real horror of extreme altitude gets me with little sleep and what sleep I did get coming in only 10min chunks and with weird repeating dreams. You just lie there waiting and praying for the cold dawn. Temperatures fell to -20C when we were there and we woke to winds of 40km/hr. Humans are not meant to be at this altitude for very long!

Returning to Camp 2 was a great relief and from there the following day down to Base Camp was even better. The air at base camp and the ease at which I can move around is amazing compared to just a few weeks ago when I arrived. I have picked up a bit of a cough but apart from that I feel strong and hopefully after a few days rest I get the opportunity to go for the summit!

Pictures 1 & 2 The infamous Ice fall
Picture 3 - Camp 1
Picture 4 - Edward in my tent at camp 2 6500m
Picture 5 - The Lhotse face going from around 6700m to 8000m. Bigger than it looks in the photos!
Picture 6 - picture of the summit of Everest from camp 3. Geneva spur can be seen on the right hand side followed by the South Col which is around 8000m and where camp 4 is.
Picture 7 - Edward at camp 3 with a harness and his own carabena.
Picture 8 - Me holding Edward at camp 3 in front of Everest.
Picture 9 - Edward on top of my tent at sunrise at camp 3.
Picture 10 - Me crossing one of the many crevasses
Picture 11 - Picture of 2 of the many ladders across the cravasses in the Ice Fall
Picture 12 - Picture of me in the Ice Fall. The block of ice in the top left hand of the photo will fall soon - thankfully not while I was there.
Picture 13 - A new ladder has been put in place as you can see the old one hanging below has been smashed by a serac fall.
Picture 14 - I have just got through the Ice fall and was having a drink when a serac fell causing an ice averlanche that covered the Ice Fall. My friends who were behind me got covered in a little ice but no-one was hurt.....just a little shaken!

Hope you enjoy the pictures and please keep the comments coming.

PS: Today some of our Sherpas and Sherpas from another team fixed ropes to the summit. It is the first time ropes have been fixed this early for 10yrs and so I hope it bodes well for an early season. Also David Tate, (has submitted twice before with Russ) went with the Sherpa team and summited today at about 12:30 after setting off at 3:00am. He is still on his way down as I write this blog.


nancy said...

Great to see that you and Edward are doing so well! Wishing you a very safe journey to the summit and back. Would you please give my best wishes to Jim, Adrian and Shaun on their summit journeys and say hello to Russ for me?
Take care,
Nancy (from the 2007 Cho Oyo ABC Trek)

jdovell said...

Hey Chris so camp 3 done and dusted..great news!Sounds as though u are in the lead group but don't carried away and think u are superman.Remember u are older than me still and on last count i don't remember ever having problems tying my shoe/boot laces up or drinking a glass of water ! Ok i was at sea level and u were at 7500m ...but still ! Pictures are incredible great work and be safe...lets hope u summit on your birthday may 15th [ 42 years old for those who don't know!!]
be safe - brother-john

Anne P Smith said...

Just read the latest. All I can say is rather you than me! You are doing wonderfully well. Keep clear of those seracs on your summit day and come back safe. Hope cough clears. Lots love from your very proud MUM

Anne P Smith said...

By the way - let me know if the package from Blizzard arrives in time. Love MUM

huwbie said...

Chris, great to hear things are going so well, though 10min chunks of sleep interupted by weird dreams sounds like the after effects of a typical Dovell night out!! Weather looks fantastic, though presumably you stay in the tent when its rubbish, and that ice avalanche looks too close even on camera!! Best of luck with the attempted summit and look forward to catching up when you're back in Blightly! all the best Huw

pscott said...

Chris, looks like you and the bear are almost there. Stay safe for that final push. One step at a time and you'll soon be on top of the world! Easy for me to say from my desk in London. Best wishes - Pete, Nikki, Alex and Luke x

Linh said...

OMG Chris...WELL DONE! Pics and writing are fantastic.
Melting ice for 6 hours....AAAAHHHH. Pics of crossing crevasses on ladders...puke and faint. So glad you're safe and hope that you will be able to recover, bulk up before summit. I need to get more rice and flour to throw.
A little news from boring sea level, I am nearly 13 weeks pregnant. I have been very busy chanting for the wee one in my belly and for your safety.
Take care. P, L and J xx

Linh said...

Hello, me again. Just read your last installment again...crazy amazing! Great writing Chris. Hope you've managed to catch up on sleep and to eat lots and lots.
So Proud, excited and anxious for you. C'mon weather gods, Edward needs clear passage to summit. Step by step, we're with you mate but don't push to the point of silly. ;o) Stay strong, be safe. Hugs from P, L, J

Tamsin Dovell said...

great to see your progress. well done. I'm so glad it doesn't take me 6 hours to get a cup of Tea in the mornings - I'd never get to work...! lots and lots of good luck, strength and courage for your final 'assault'...its all pointing to a '42nd' birthday top-out!!... but tread carefully, we all want you back at sea level.
/lots love

Alain said...

Hello Mr,
Good to see you're firing - keep strong and safe. Looking forward to taking a few points off you in the gym!!


mark'o said...

Hi Chris, great to hear camp 3's under your belt , really enjoying the blog , feels like i'm there but glad i'm not! Hope the "sounds" are getting you through and helping you relax , remember to listen to first track on green ipod when you need to chill... works for me. Good luck with the summit , be safe and listen to Russ!

Tamsin Dovell said...

Good luck
Goooooooood luck!!!!!

You must be almost about to set off or are already just started on your way to the summit !!

lots love

Catherine and Phil said...

Hi Chris
Wow amazing, fantastic blog. Its great to see your photos and hear your stories. Your a brave man. We got as high as 5000m in Bolivia and I thought that was hard, what you must be going through ...
Keep safe and have a fantastic time. Your constantly in our thoughts. Mum and Dad send their love also. Love Catherine and Phil