At Camp 4 and Getting Ready for our Summit Attempt
The tents at the South Col. Everest is to the left. Photo Paul Adler.
Fiona ontop of the Geneva Spur. She climbed this with only one crampon. Photo Paul Adler.
In our tent at C3 last night, wearing down suits inside our sleeping bags, and oxygen masks. The oxygen bottle is between us. Photo Paul Adler.
Location: Camp 4`
Local Time: 4:30pm, Monday 22nd May
Weather: Fine most of the day with late cloud
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here.
Well we're now at Camp 4 and providing the weather holds out, we'll be heading for the summit tonight - hopefully to reach the top sometime tomorrow morning.
A Night on Oxygen
The oxygen sure does make a difference and we both had a pretty good night's sleep last night at C3. At first it felt very strange lying with two oxygen bottles between us and wearing a mask that nearly covers your whole face and it makes it very difficult to turn from side to side given the tube connections. We felt like some kind of astronauts - especially given we were sleeping in our down suits as well. With the oxygen on, a lot of what you can hear is the sound of the air flowing in and out - much like when you're scuba diving - so it's a very surreal feeling.
Climbing up to C4
We started the climb today at around 6am and headed slowly upwards continuing up the Lhotse face. After an hour or so the route traverses over to cross the Yellow Band. On getting to this outcrop, it seems as though it's actually sandstone - giving it its yellowish colour and name. In fact, during our climbing on Everest we seemed to have passed through areas with granite, quartz, limestone, and shale / slate - a pretty interesting combination. Not remembering much from any geology I may have learnt, I have no idea how these combinations come to exist here together. Any ideas?
Anyway, we continued up and over this rocky outrop and traversed through another large snowy section, stopping for a break in the middle - Gu Gels all round. The next obstacle was the Geneva Spur - a rocky and snowy ridge to climb up. With the fixed line, none of this was too difficult - but still pretty hard work. However, the oxygen made a huge difference - although we'd still be gasping for breath after a steep section, our recovery was much faster and after a couple of deep breaths, we were ready to go again.
Near the top of the Geneva Spur one of my crampons somehow came off. This could have been a disaster but luckily the safety strap caught it before it had a chance to go sliding down to Camp 2. So Paul strapped it onto my pack and I (very carefully) climbed up to the top of the ridge where there was a safe spot to reattach it. From here it was a pretty flat traverse around to the South Col where Camp 4 is located.
The South Col is a very large saddle between Lhotse and Everest. It's very different from Camp 3 where you can barely walk out of your tent, here the site is flat and as big as a couple of sports ovals. There are probably around 15 tents here from all the different groups. IMG has 4 up at the moment.
There are a couple of others from our group and then a couple of other groups which are planning to attempt the summit tonight as well. I'd guess around 30 people all up. This seems like a good number, because if anything goes wrong we're not alone on the mountain, but it doesn't seem like it will be too many so as to cause conjestion.
From Camp 4 we have a head on view of the route up Everest. It looks magnificent but it's a bit disappointing and intimidating to know that we are at Camp 4 and still have all that way to go. Even from up here, Everest looks absolutely massive.
The Preparation and Anticipation
Now that we're here, we're drying boots out, loading new batteries into torches, sorting out our gear to wear and take, and later when it gets cold, we'll be heating various items in our sleeping bags before we head off. But most importantly, we're trying to drink and eat plenty so that we don't crash and burn on what will probably be a very long night and day. (Many people leave around 9pm and don't get back to camp until very late afternoon the next day - hopefully we'll be earlier but who knows.)
As my pace is slower than Paul's, we're planning for Mingma and I to leave sometime between 8pm and 9pm tonight, while Dasona and Paul will probably leave sometime between 10pm and 11pm. If all the stars align, we might hit the summit at the same time, but in reality, Paul will probably pass me somewhere along the way - it will probably be too cold for him to slow down for long.
So now it's crunch time. Time to see whether we're strong enough to do it. There are only 850 vertical metres that separate us from our goal. At home, that would be a strenuous but pleasant day-walk. But up at nealy 8000m, it's bound to be a different story.
Biggest concerns? Getting cold hands (for me), and for Paul, cold feet. We both have a tendency for these parts to get cold easily and the night spent climbing on Everest will put us to the test. We're both clear that if we get too cold and can't warm up quickly, we'll turn around.
Otherwise, I'm worried about being too slow and having to turn around before we reach the summit. After the 1996 disaster almost everyone will be making sure they are heading down by midday-early afternoon to ensure they're back at camp while it's still light. I'm certainly not known for my speed and would be disappointed if I was travelling well but couldn't make it in time. (But not disappointed enough to keep plugging on regardless.)
Anyway, we'll just do our best and see what happens. There is still a chance that we won't be going anywhere if the winds are too high tonight. It's just got a little breezy now but the forecast is for decreasing winds tonight and lower winds tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Thanks so much for everyone's messages. If encouragement and support could get us there, well, we'd be there already! It really means a lot to us though - hopefully we'll be able to remember some of your wisdom and inspiration while we're slogging it out up there!
In answer to some questions...
Tim - we've brought enough supplies up here to wait out a day if need be. It's too high to spend any more time than that as this altitude anyway. At other camps, fortunately IMG has a lot of stocks and is able to resupply various camps at short notice - via our wonderful Sherpa team.
Jill - I don't believe there are wands there now but a fellow climber has plans to plant them tomorrow. The recent snow falls have not been significant enough to get anyone (extra) worried about avalanches - although certain areas require constant worry!
Reynold - we have solar panels to keep the satellite phone charged so that we can send out these updates while we are at the high camps. Plus we have a few extra batteries, so we can charge up when the sun shines and have plenty of power for quite a while.
Uncle Bruce - Paul was thrilled to hear from you and be updated on your news. Sounds like you're living life well. We hope that we can visit you some time in the future (we now have some new friends in Florida, so this is another excuse to get there!)
A Special Message for our Families
Please don't worry too much! In a lot of ways, this will be just another day of climbing - nothing different. We'll always be with our wonderful Sherpas and in radio contact with Mary at base camp, so there's not much room for error. Remember, we love you and can't wait to see you all when we get back (except for those OS who we'll have to make do with speaking to!)
Well, that's it for now - back to the hydration and rest program.
If everything goes to plan, Mary will be sending out updates on our progress throughout the night and tomorrow.
Keep your fingers crossed for us!
Fiona & Paul
Posted by: Dad A on May 22, 2006 10:14 PM AEST
Good luck and good safe climbing to both of you. Doubt if I will get much sleep tonight. Do take care, your very proud Dad
Posted by: barbaraphelan on May 22, 2006 10:17 PM AEST
I remain in awe of your achievements to date go for it and good lick Barb
Posted by: Liz - Upper Montclair, NJ USA on May 22, 2006 10:24 PM AEST
Dear Paul & Fiona,
I want to congratulate you for getting as far as you have and wish you the best for the balance of your climb and even as important, your descent.
Job well done on your dispatches. You have made me feel like i have been there with you (well not nearly as cold!) and after coming so close myself in 2004, this means the world to me.
Cherish that view from the top of the world!
Looking forward to your new updates,
Posted by: Phil Stammers > Melb > Australia on May 22, 2006 10:25 PM AEST
Hi Paul & Fiona,
Have a strong safe climb! Not long to go now...
Enjoy! It's your dream... Go for it!
Best wishes to all.
Posted by: Anne Munro on May 22, 2006 10:26 PM AEST
Dear Fiona and Paul,
I am very excited for both of you. As I have already said you have both thoroughly earned the right to make it to the summit. I have been thinking of you a lot in the past few days and will be especially in the next 24hours. Just do your best - as I know you both will.
Anne and PP
Posted by: Sammie and Nick Melb Aus on May 22, 2006 10:28 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fi,
We have our fingers AND toes crossed for you. Good luck!! Enjoy the view. Keep safe
Lots of love, Sammie and Nick
Posted by: Jane Barrow on May 22, 2006 10:33 PM AEST
Wow Paul & Fiona,
Enjoy the awesome view. God speed your safe descent and return to BC.
Posted by: Marc and Em (Lausanne, Switzerland) on May 22, 2006 10:36 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
Wow, it is so exciting, stay safe and enjoy the climb...
Love Marc and Em
Posted by: Mum & Dad H on May 22, 2006 10:37 PM AEST
Hi Fiona & Paul,
It's a great achievement to get as far as you have. We're not sure how you had the stamina to prepare your last report. Hope conditions are good for you tonight & tomorrow. No matter how far you get tomorrow we are very proud of what you've done. Take care on the way down.
Good luck, love you heaps, Mum & Dad
Posted by: Max and Judy darwin on May 22, 2006 10:40 PM AEST
as John said your aunt and Uncle are also very proud of your achievement.
Max and Judy
Posted by: Amanda Friels on May 22, 2006 10:43 PM AEST
Go guys! Woody and I have loved receiving every one of your updates, and cant believe you are nearly there. We wish you all the luck in the world, we are so amazed by what you have achieved. Cant wait to wake up tomorrow morning and see where you are. Lots of love Amanda & Woody xx
Posted by: Tim K on May 22, 2006 10:49 PM AEST
Hi Paul & Fiona,
Can't wait to read the next update which will hopefully be news of your success! Best of luck and take care.
Posted by: Valerie & Rummy Apollo Bay Victoria Australia on May 22, 2006 10:54 PM AEST
Dear Paul & Fiona. We hope you are able to go from strength to strength. No matter what lies ahead you know you have done your absolute best. A huge part of that is using your heads!! We hope you are able to summit, but, like your family, we are proud of you regardless of the outcome. Ascend safely, enjoy the top of the world and please make a safe descent. We can't wait to hear from you again.
Cheers and safe climbing--Valerie & Rummy
Posted by: Lorilee, Lantana, FL on May 22, 2006 10:59 PM AEST
Paul, Fiona and Dennis,
Stay safe and be strong! Can't wait to get the updates throughout the day on your amazing journey. Take care...
Posted by: Lea Lea on May 22, 2006 11:02 PM AEST
You are to be admired by all Paul and Fiona. I hope the final leg goes well. Everyone is in awe of your achievements and stamina. Love to you both and all my best wishes, Lea Lea xoxo
Posted by: Philippa and Rob on May 22, 2006 11:06 PM AEST
Hi Paul & Fi,
Good luck. Hope all goes well.
Philippa and Rob
Posted by: Greg Every on May 22, 2006 11:08 PM AEST
Best wishes to Fiona and Paul.
Hoping you’ll soon be on top of it all.
With Mary at Base.
And you close to Space.
The Adlers are sure standing tall.
Wishing you all a safe up and back.
Best wishes from Greg Every.
Posted by: Mark R -- Mountville PA USA on May 22, 2006 11:16 PM AEST
Hi Fi & Paul
On the South Col -- way to go!!
You guys are absolutely awesome.
Wish I were there right now with you all to enjoy the amazing views!
Rest and relax, get ready for the strong challenge ahead.
You can do it!!
Praying for strength and safety,
Posted by: Tom Sears Wentworth, New Hampshire USA on May 22, 2006 11:27 PM AEST
Paul and Fiona,
I think I need an oxygen bottle too. I keep holding my breath anticipating your next step. When you hit the top and tell us listen hard... you'll hear the "HOORAYS" all the way from New Hampshire.
Please give my encouragement and prayers to Jim when your paths cross, and THANKS for your words and pics. I check for your emails all day (and until your back at BC. most of the night).
Posted by: Chris Salisbury on May 22, 2006 11:28 PM AEST
From all at Ringwood Secondary College hope the final climb goes well. Take care.
Posted by: Tam - Florida Key, USA on May 22, 2006 11:35 PM AEST
Paul & Fiona:
I have so many thoughts and so few words............
There are no unimportant steps,
goin' up or comin' down..........
My heart is smiling! You are already a hero to all of us.
Climb safe, climb strong!
Posted by: Jody & Stuart Cray, Melbourne, Australia on May 22, 2006 11:41 PM AEST
Hi Paul & Fi,
Best wishes to you both.. Beck has told me how well you are doing and we all have faith in you. We know that with all the training you have done and determination you have, You will definatly make the top. I think ive barely moved from my computer today, just keeping up to date with your adventures!
Jody & Stu.
Posted by: Chris & Bridget (Flam, Norway) on May 22, 2006 11:43 PM AEST
We know your summit bid will be behind you by the time you read this, and we will have been thinking of you the whole time. It's awesome that you're up there and so excited for you. Looking forward to talking to you about it all - not that we could ever really understand! Climb safely down.
Chris and Bridget
Posted by: Jo on May 22, 2006 11:54 PM AEST
You were the first post I checked on when logging on this morning - I went to bed thinking of you two and praying you are safe and well. Sounds like you are - I have to commend you. Even though I am just an 'armchair mountaineer' (for now, anyway), I have read 20+ some books on climbing stories and I think yours is the best thus far - you know just what you are doing and are doing it SO WELL. You are doing this so smartly, and it's a true pleasure to read about how something so grand as THIS can be achieved without taking unnecessary risks - you almost make it sound easy, even though I do know that indeed, it's not. I wish you the very best with your summit push - Fiona, extra climbing vibes to you so that you feel you can make it in top speed. Prayers to you both -- I will be checking your site every few hours today and tomorrow, till you are safe back down!
Jo, new reader and fan in WI, USA
Posted by: Jo on May 23, 2006 12:01 AM AEST
Hey - a quick question that just dawned on me: are the 'high camps' up on Everest the same for those who climb via Tibet and those who climb via Nepal? In other words, at Camp 4, do you run into people who have been climbing on opposite sides of the mountain? Everest geography has somewhat baffled me, because as you both duly note, it's so massive. Feel free to answer this when you GET BACK! Thanks!
Posted by: Juan C. (Caracas, Venezuela) on May 23, 2006 12:10 AM AEST
Best wishes for you and the sherpas. Sure you're going to make it to the top... you're living my dreams... i'll be stand by waiting for more reports on your way up. Go go go!!!
Posted by: Jov on May 23, 2006 12:43 AM AEST
Hey guys, just came across your site off a link on melb uni site....
I saw the movie 'Into Thin Air' a few months back, and boy does an Everest climb seems tough! Just want to say good luck, and congrats for getting this far...not many people have that kind of determination and persistence, so good onya's!
- Jov....Eng student @ RMIT
Posted by: Ram A. on May 23, 2006 12:49 AM AEST
Hi guys, all the best for your summit climb. Paul, do you carry spare glasses? How do you juggle with sunglasses that are essential up there?
Posted by: Beck Adler on May 23, 2006 12:54 AM AEST
The geology up there must be an awsome sight!
Yes the geology of Mt Everest is pretty messed up. About 50 million years ago the Himalayan ranges were thrust upward as the Indian-Australian plate moved northward and then was forced downward under the Eurasian Plate.
Since then there have been numerous tectonic events where some of the layers of rock have been melted and then folded.
I believe that the sedimentary outcrops (the limestone) that you are seeing higher up may actually remnants of an ancient sea floor.
It is believed that Mt Everest actually continues to move north and rises a little each year.
I plan to be glued to the computer unitil you guys are safely back at BC.
Your very proud sister. Beck
Posted by: Larry and Marianne Benvenuti on May 23, 2006 12:56 AM AEST
Paul and Fiona and all climbers,
It's Showtime ! May God give you all the strength and resolve to stand on the top of the world and return safely to your loved ones and friends.
Dennis K., OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU. Can't wait to see you again. Almost as much as TAM. Incredibly proud of you.
Larry and Marianne B
Posted by: Jill from Dallas, TX, USA on May 23, 2006 01:00 AM AEST
Wow! To receive a personal answer to a question from Camp 4, Everest, is like my own "souvenir". Thank you so much! I'm "climbing" with you with Ed Viesturs' motto ringing in my ears - basically that success is getting back safely - so that is my wish for you! God Speed!
Posted by: Lori & Curtis J . Monticello, MN on May 23, 2006 01:26 AM AEST
At this time, Fiona must be getting ready for her attempt. We were out of "communication" this past weekend so the first thing I did once home was to get your updates. Go figure you can climb Everest and be in constant communication:) You may not receive this before you leave, but best of luck to both of you. May the weather hold and you climb safely to the top of the world!! We are cheering you on from Minnesota!!
Lori & Curtis
Posted by: Richard Taylor (Melbourne, Australia) on May 23, 2006 01:36 AM AEST
I landed in the US last night and just read the last few updates all in one go with a huge lump in my throat! Good luck tonight, my thoughts are with you. I think by now you are already on your way. Can't wait for the next updates (thanks Mary just love the frequent updates!). My thoughts are with you all.
Hope you can embrace at the summit.
Posted by: Jim and Jane Madden, Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles on May 23, 2006 02:06 AM AEST
Paul, Fiona and Dennis: As the sun sets down here on Bonaire tonight you will all be watching the sunrise at the top of the world...our candles are lit and as we watch the sunset our thoughts and prayers are with you. Be safe, be strong....safe summit and safe return!
Jim, Jane, Meade, Franc, Alex, Pete, Joe, Sue, Amado, et al.
Posted by: June Nye, Delray Beach, FL USA on May 23, 2006 04:08 AM AEST
Fiona, Paul and Dennis: Haven't been able to leave my computer all day waiting for news. May you continue to have good weather, a good climb and safe return. The Gods are smiling on you. Special love to Dennis from his Aunt. We're so proud of your achievements! June
Posted by: MC - Vancouver, Washington, USA on May 23, 2006 06:39 AM AEST
Fiona, Paul, Dennis, Dasona, Mingma Ongel and Phinjo,
You are "living the dream" and inspiring people of all ages from around the world.
"If you find yourself dreaming during your waking hours, either you are preparing to set out for your dreams or you are just day dreaming." mc
p.s. To Beck Adler: Phenomenal information on the geology of Mt. Everest! Very interesting...thank you!
Posted by: MC (cont.) on May 23, 2006 06:54 AM AEST
As usual, great photos. My favorite: In your tent at C3, wearing down suits inside your sleeping bags and oxygen masks in place. MC