Back down to C2
Looking down the Western Cwm from our perch at C3 before sunrise this morning. Pumori is the lower conical snow covered mountain in the centre and Cho Oyu is behind & slightly to the left. Photo Paul Adler.
Location: Camp 2
Local Time: 5pm, 9th May
Weather: Fine at first, afternoon snow, -13C at C3
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here.
Glad to be sending this to you from Camp 2.
A Night at Camp 3
As this is the highest altitude we've ever been to, let alone slept at, we were both pleasantly surprised to find that spending the night at Camp 3 was not as difficult as we thought it would be. Of course, every movement is a huge effort and you need to catch your breath after a simple act like taking a drink, but aside from that and a mild headache each, it was fine. We were fortunate to have good weather and even more fortunate that we both got a reasonable night's sleep. I slept in my down suit which wasn't bad at all (and makes it easy to get ready in the morning). Paul used 2 sleeping bags - so we were both warm.
Even the campsite was not as bad as we'd thought. Although it is steep, our position is such that if you slipped off the ledge where our camp is built on, you'd land on some tents not far below.
Practising our Space Walk
We woke early today and by around 5am, we'd put on our climbing gear and set up our oxygen for a test run. We used a flow rate of 2 litres per minute and started heading upwards towards the Yellow Band.
We only walked for about 15 minutes on the oxygen and we have differing views on how much of a difference it made. Paul believes it made a huge (positive) difference to how he felt - saying that it felt equivalent to the climb between C1 and C2. I thought that the climbing was as difficult as ever - still take a few steps then stop to catch your breath style.
We also realised that you really need to think about the order in which you do things. We were outside putting our crampons on without oxygen. This is not a good thing as we'd tire just doing that and should really be on oxygen the whole time once we are on our summit push. We also realised just how many things we're going to have on our head that need thinking about - warm hat, goggles, head lamp, oxygen mask, and down suit hood. We were very pleased that our goggles did not seem to fog not matter how hard we breathed.
With all this stuff on your face, it does make it a little more difficult to see your feet - which is pretty important when climbing. However, it's not impossible - just need to bend your head a bit more than usual so hopefully this won't be a problem.
The Climb Down
After we finished our little space walk, we returned to Camp 3 to leave the oxygen and pack up our gear. After a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits, we were on our way.
On the climb down we met over a hundred Sherpas on their way up. As of yesterday, the lines to Camp 4 (The South Col) are now fixed so all the teams are now doing massive load carries to C4 - setting up camps and getting their stocks of oxygen cylinders in place. IMG alone moved 40 oxygen cylinders to camp 4 today. This made the climb down a little cumbersome at times - every time you meet another climber, one of you has to unclip from the rope and reclip on the other side of the climber.
Fortunately by the time we got down to the base of the Lhotse face, we'd passed the traffic. By this time my arms were getting pretty tired from lowering myself down the rope so on this steep section, I was able to abseil down (something you can't do if there are people climbing up the rope, because its too tight). After that we had an easy walk down the rest of the way to Camp 2.
Relaxing at C2
It took us about 2 hours to go from C3 to C2. We arrived back at Camp 2 in time for breakfast (bacon and pancakes) and enjoyed the comforts of being able to sit in a kind of chair (made from rock) and drink tea without having to find snow to melt ourselves.
Although it didn't take long to get down, we all (Dennis, Paul and I) feel a bit weary today. Maybe that sleep we got up at C3 wasn't very good quality? We've all been spending most of the day in our tents sleeping or reading.
Just before lunchtime, Dave arrived having climbed up from basecamp. We chatted with him awhile - trying to source some gossip from basecamp but of course, there wasn't much!
Tomorrow our Sherpas are carrying their own oxygen supply up to C4 so we will spend another day resting and acclimatising here. On Thursday, we'll head back down to basecamp.
Paul spoke to Mary on the radio this afternoon and she's doing well. A little tired but fine. She's done her washing today and said that that was enough activity for the day - a shower will have to wait until tomorrow!
Hi Liz - so far the chemical hand and toe warmers are working fine. The higher we go, the more time they need to heat (at C3 it was nearly an hour before they were properly warm due to the reduced amount of O2).
Deb - Dan headed up to C1 today and I believe he will join us here at C2 tomorrow. If he's not too tired, we'll see if he can write a message then.
Donovan - we haven't really thought about souveneirs yet. Will probably depend on our state of mind when we finish. Any ideas?
Roger - thanks for your message. When we're actually climbing, the only thing we eat are Gu gels and occasionally some very light cereal bars that we brought from home. The gels are good because they're fast and easy to digest - we never feel like stopping for too long. When we're at camp, we basically eat whatever we feel we can stomach. I find sweet biscuits pretty good, while Paul finds cheese sticks and beef jerky to be good. In regards to hydration, it is extremely difficult to do this properly. For instance, yesterday we had a 6 hour climb and only drank a litre each. We try to compensate by drinking plenty before and after but I still don't think it's enough. All the water we have here starts of hot as it needs to be boiled. When you're cold this is great as it helps warm you up, but when you're hot (like yesterday in our tent), it's a pain and we bury the bottles in snow to get them to cool down. Because collecting snow, melting it, boiling it, and then cooling it is such a long process, it makes it difficult to drink enough.
With the ropes, we're pretty religious about clipping in. There are occasionally ropes put in place only to help you haul up a section (only anchored at one end) so these ones we don’t worry about when descending but other than that we figure it safer to clip than to increase speed by a fraction.
Rosemary & Dave - Hi and thanks for your message. There is a lot of exposed rock up here. If there's been a recent snowfall it gets hidden but a lot of the climbing up higher will be on rock. And yes, all the climbers from our team share tents.
Hi to Maddi, DP, Zac and Sienna, Meals and Danny (we can't pass your message to Mary until we see her in a couple of days), MC, Sandy & John, Cuskelly family, John A, Trennery family, Karlyne, and Jan.
Messages for others - these will be passed on when we get back down to BC (probably Thursday)
We love reading your messages and enjoy feeling you are climbing with us.
It really does help when we're getting up in the pitch dark and subzero
temperatures. But we sometimes wonder if there are any aspects you'd like to hear more about, or angles that we haven't mentioned. If you think of anything, please write and tell us.
Well, that's all for now.
Posted by: J on May 9, 2006 10:48 PM AEST
have you spotted any individual climbers trying to summit alpine style this season?
last year followed gavin bates.he was very much self sufficient and was quite happy even not to reach right at top as there was several hours delay just to reach to the top.
hope the weather holds out and you get
an early window unlike last year.
Have heard the window is coming up this weekend..will make a nice mother's day present !!!
please pay my regards to sagarmatha or chomolungma whatever you prefer to call it when you @ the top.
Posted by: Mum & Dad H on May 9, 2006 10:52 PM AEST
Great to know that you're back to Camp 2! I had finished sending you a message and then your new update came through - earlier than usual. You're doing so well. On Thursday Bec & John are coming for dinner and we are having some access time - Bec said that both Zoe & Zack are excited about their visit (not too sure about Dad though!!) Say HI to Mary from us, love you Mum & Dad xx
Posted by: John C.(TN Fan) on May 9, 2006 10:55 PM AEST
Are there many people in the different camps and it sounds like a busy street going between camps? You mentioned 100 sherpas yesterday, which may be an unique situation, but that sounds like a lot of people in itself to have on the mountain, in the camps, in those conditions along with the climbers. This may be an unfair question, but how is this climb different from others, taking in condsideration that it is "Everest"? Is this a more technical climb given the conditions? Finally, I guess you are getting close to getting ready for the summit climb, any ideas on a time frame?
Thanks again and take care. John C.
Posted by: Liz - Upper Montclair, NJ USA on May 9, 2006 10:57 PM AEST
Glad to hear the warmers are working for you :-)
Posted by: jan laing melbourne australia on May 9, 2006 11:14 PM AEST
Gee, Fiona, I can't imagine why you'd be tired!!! Sounds like a walk in the park from where we're sitting. Talk about understating things - I get tired just reading your updates. If two people ever deserved to reach the summit, it's you two. Keep up the good work and we all wish you well.
Posted by: Kennette Hayter - Gainesville, Florida on May 9, 2006 11:49 PM AEST
You guys are amazing!!! You are almost there!!! It must be so exciting knowing that you are so close to the top and fairing so well!!! Keep up the good (GREAT) work and the VICTORY end will be here soon!!!
You shall stand tall and proud on the summit of Chomolungma and think you are walking on air when you get back to Base Camp!! I never realized that "lung" was a part of the great mountain's name, (wonder who planned that??)
Posted by: Tom Sears on May 9, 2006 11:49 PM AEST
For years I've read every book I could find about climbing Mt.Everest, but the ending is always known in advance as the climb is long since over. Living it with you on a daily basis as the climb progresses is a real treat... a different perspective... a "work in progress". Thanks for putting in all the effort it must take to share your experiences with all of us. Continue to "climb safe" and please say "Hi" to Jim for me. Thanks.
Posted by: Allan Menotti on May 10, 2006 12:33 AM AEST
From Texarkan Texas, USA. Just a hello from a few of us at work that have been following your trip. Thanks for all the great pictures and details as you climb. It's become a daily habit to log on and see how you guys are doing. It's great for those of us stuck in an office. Take care and make it back safe.
Posted by: Liane and the QECVI students (Ontario, Canada) on May 10, 2006 01:03 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona!
Congratulations on all your accomplishments so far! We have been following your climb with great interest every day. We wondered if you had to pass anyone going the other direction on the Lhotse Face and how you felt having to unclip your jumars? Also, we realize this is slightly macabre, but have you come across any bodies of dead climbers from former expeditions? Does this weigh heavily on your mind? How do you cope with the psychological strain of climbing? These are the BIG questions that are dominating our thoughts these days, especially since there have been a couple of deaths in our Everest novel. Answer if you feel up to it!! Otherwise, just know that we are cheering you on every day! Good luck getting used to your oxygen rigs. We hope your next sleep at Camp 3 is better. Cheers from Canada!!
Posted by: Jon and Ro Cares on May 10, 2006 03:16 AM AEST
Hi.. Message for Jim Gagne when you see him. Tell him we said not to give up. We are behind him, and remind him we adventure vicariously through him! He did the right thing helping his fellow climber, but he needs to get to the top. We are counting on him. Ro says he needs to complete his goal. Send him our love. Jon
Posted by: Don McAllister on May 10, 2006 04:24 AM AEST
Jim, NHPR got in contact with me today regarding your climb. I can hear you know describing your adventure on "The Front Porch".
Posted by: MC - Vancouver, Washington, USA on May 10, 2006 04:33 AM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul
The view from C-3 is stunning. I guess my previous comment to enjoy the view was an understatement!
Nice to hear that you had good weather and a decent night's sleep at C-3. Hopefully, the oxygen will be a bit better for you, Fiona, on the "real deal". Fingers crossed!
Quick question for you both...after all the ladders and fixed lines are in place, are they continually monitored? Or from Dennis's perspective, is there an inspector on site? I know the ice and rock can shift and things tend to move on the mountain.
Wishing you a safe descent back to BC...Cheers MC
Posted by: Tam - Florida Keys, USA on May 10, 2006 06:41 AM AEST
Paul & Fiona:
Thank you for "taking us along" on the climb to C3! Spectacular pictures and postings. We are all glad to know you are back in C2 with thicker air and a few more comforts. BC will be like returning to the comforts of home!
With C4 now being established, how large (# of tents) will the IMG campsite be in comparison to C3?
To repeat the thoughts of MC.........
Wishing you a safe descent to BC.
With special thoughts to Den,
Posted by: Valerie & Rummy Apollo Bay Victoria Australia on May 10, 2006 07:24 AM AEST
Your reports are excellent just as they are. I'm sure you're reporting on what is nearest and dearest to your hearts. I only have one question. Is there a proper climbing "etiquette" for who unclips while passing another climber? Is it the downhill trekker or uphill trekker? The photo from C3 is beyond stunning. And, like Tom Sears, I have read so very many books on climbing Everest, but there is nothing like reading about the REAL climb as it is happening. Stay Safe--Valerie & Rummy
Posted by: Dad A. Melbourne on May 10, 2006 09:05 AM AEST
Paul and Fiona congratulations on such a good rotation.Awesome!Two things I would like to ask. Firstly, your photos are just so vivid and spectacular .. do you have to wait for the weather to give you a "Kodak Moment" or do most days have this brilliant blue sky. The other is about your heart rate monitors,do you wear them when climbing? and for example what would your monitors be reading if you were cycling say up a steep hill.Give Mary a big cuddle from me, love Dad
Posted by: Daryl on May 10, 2006 09:11 AM AEST
Melb, Vic Aus. Well done guys - super strong. Not long now. How are everybody's hands and feet
Posted by: Mark B., Melbourne, Australia on May 10, 2006 09:15 AM AEST
Hi PAul & Fiona,
Congrats on reaching C3 and doing it so well ! This is my first post to you, however I have been following your adventure and achievements since well before you left Melbourne. It's now an entrenched and enjoyable ritual for me to check your updates each day when I get into work, and from home each weekend. Fantastic work.
I've read a few books on Everest climbs, including John Krakauer's. From what I can tell you're both approaching the climb so well I have every confidence that you will summit successfully and safely.
I work over winter as a Ski Patroller at Mt. Buller, love the mountains and am looking forward to our coming season (with more snow on the ground in our mountains - hills ! - a few days back). Love to see you up there one day after your return.
Good luck and climb safely.
Posted by: Sandy and John McCarthy. Melbourne . Aust on May 10, 2006 12:03 PM AEST
It's interestng to read that as you climb higher,and daily tasks become more difficult,you need fewer things to satisfy you when you descend. A chair(of sorts) to sit in and ready made water available for tea when back in C2, while earlier it was a shower and real food on return to BC from C2.You are learning a lot about climbing metaphorical mountains too!
So my question is a philosophic one .
Any of your personal perspectives changed with this experience so far ?
Or is it simply a matter of managing the conditions and the reflection comes later?
Love and warm thoughts from Sandy and John
Posted by: Rosemary & Dave Abbott (Gippsland Lakes, Australia) on May 10, 2006 12:27 PM AEST
While you've been abseiling, sucking Gu and having a fun time in the snow and ice, I've checked out Everest birds on the web. Watch out for the bar-headed goose which migrates over Everest in Spring on their way to Tibet, then again in Autumn when they head back to winter feeding in India. Powerful flappers with huge wings, in tailwinds they can fly at 100 mph (50 mph without tailwind). The flapping generates enough body heat to stop ice build-up. Apparently birds are particularly efficient at oxygen uptake, circulating inhaled air through their lungs twice. Black birds with yellow bills around BC are Chingmas, also Sparrows, cadging scraps and sometimes are seen at C1 and C2. A rarer chicken-size bird is the Chombo which has also been seen flying near the summit. So with all these birds and climbers - what size is the summit? How many climbers at a time can stand and gaze out on the world and how long do you stay up there? Watch out for speeding superbirds knocking you off your perch or pooping on you! Enjoy your BC reunion - Rosemary & Dave
Posted by: Carissa O"Gara, New Hampshire on May 10, 2006 12:28 PM AEST
Dear Paul and Fiona,
Please send this message to Jim Gagne. We are tucked in his back pocket (light as can be) and are sending him love and energy to reach his dream (wearing his DREAM BIG t-shirt often). Jim, you have all that is needed to summit-heart, courage, strength, intelligence, and the dam strongest legs and lungs we have ever known. The summit is there for you and your day to reach it is near.
Carissa and Mick
Posted by: robbin adams on May 10, 2006 01:27 PM AEST
Dear Jim, you are an awesome person for where you have gotten too. Many of us at home are living vicariously through you, with the help of Paul and Fiona. The picture from camp 3 was very awe inspiring I can not imagine what it must be like to actually be there, it just so happened that a piece of classical music came on the radio when I put Paul's photo up on the computer and it was awesome together!! We look forward to having you home and hearing all about it. Our thoughts are with you daily, lots of love Robbin, Peter and Ben
Posted by: Donavan on May 10, 2006 02:01 PM AEST
Ideas for souveniers? Hmmm... Something small...not too heavy. A small rock? Prayer flag? It would probably have to be something that really meant a lot to you; something you could keep on the mantle when you got home...something friends and family could hold in their hand? It's probably not ecologically kosher for every climber to take a rock home, though. (Man, if there were any loose rocks at the summit, that's what I'd want on my mantle!
Posted by: Donavan on May 10, 2006 02:04 PM AEST
You know what you haven't mentioned that I'd be curious to hear about?
What are your dreams like on the mountain?
Are they any different than anywhere else you've been? Do you dream about the climb? Do you dream about being home? Food?
Posted by: Lenny Stevens, New Hampshire on May 10, 2006 03:03 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul,
Congratulations on reaching C3 and thanks again for your great website.Please pass this message on to Jim.Thank you.
Jim, Once again you have gone to the mountains not only to summit, but also with an unknown purpose to assist a fellow climber.We could not be more proud of you for your unselfish acts of putting the health of others ahead of your personal goals. Your expedition is already a success. Draw from what you have accomplished. Relax, refocus and recommit to your summit bid. Our thoughts and prayers are with you every step of the way to the top. Now it is your time to reach your dream.
Love, Lenny and Donna
Posted by: Paul & Michael on May 10, 2006 03:51 PM AEST
My sister Michelle sent me an e-mail regarding your partner, I’m sadden that it happen and so is your hiking buddy Michael, however, God has given you the strength to what it takes to accomplish your mission , When you reach your goal, you have accomplish what you wanted to do. If you decide to come down from the mountain, you have still accomplished your mission. It took the Red Sox 84 years to win a world series, they did win and no one can take it away, you have reached your goal, and no person or persons---- can take it away from you. You have dignity and you have honor, you are a World Champ.
Paul & Michael
Posted by: Sammie and Nick Melb Aus on May 10, 2006 04:12 PM AEST
Hi Fi and Paul,
I'm really enjoying reading your messages every day, and every time I check my emails, whoever is around at work gets shown your latest update! And I can just imagine the two of you with all that gear on!
It's great to hear that you are both safe and well. Thanks for replying to my message. I'm intrigued to hear that your friend was able to maintain a GF diet on the mountain AND impressed he has been able to summit so many times.
You asked if there was anything else we would like to know more of...I am really curious to know, what do you think about when your climbing?
Take care and thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
xx Sammie and Nick
Posted by: Johanna - Melbourne on May 10, 2006 07:01 PM AEST
Please read message posted on yesterday's site by mistake! Sorry
Love, hugs and kisses to you all
Jo & Leo
Posted by: Donald Tacewicz on May 11, 2006 02:30 AM AEST
For Jim Gagne,
We are cheering for you everyday here in NH, everybody loves you here,you are in our prayers as well as the prayers of Anastasia's family in Russia, they know about your journey. You shall not even begin to doubt yourself, this is the job of someone else. Now is the time to dig, dig deep into reserves, I know you have them,you have a third wind, more energy than two of me. Find that inner source of power and couple it with your dreams and goals.
Now get thyself to the summit.
love Donald & Anastasia........
Posted by: DAN "BIRD" UHLMAN on May 13, 2006 12:10 AM AEST
MESSAGE FOR JIM GAGNE:
JIM, ALL OF US HERE AT ASHLAND LUMBER COMPANY WISH YOU THE BEST. WE ARE TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH YOUR PROGRESS. IT IS INCREDIBLE AS TO HOW FAR YOU HAVE GONE AND TO KEEP YOUR SPIRIT AND DETERMINATION UP FOR WHAT IS LEFT. WE ARE VERY PROUD OF OUR HOMETOWN HERO.
GOOD LUCK AND GOD BLESS,
DAN "BIRD" UHLMAN
Posted by: Tim and Ariane on May 13, 2006 11:24 AM AEST
Jim, We are thinking of you every day and wishing you to the top! We look so forward to hearing all about your adventures. You make us so proud to be part of your circle of friends. Keep up your strength, courage, and vision. Love ya! Ariane and Tim
Posted by: Stephen Humphries on May 13, 2006 02:17 PM AEST
Hello from Boston! I'm not a mountain climber, but I've recently become fascinated with Everest and that's how I stumbled across your website. Just spent the past hour or two reading all your posts from Kathmandu to C3 -- and I'll be logging on every day from here on to follow your progress to the summit and back. Allow me one quick question: What's playing on your iPod(s) and what are you guys reading?