Safely through the Icefall
Fiona stepping over a small crevasse just above the icefall. Photo Paul Adler
Location: Camp 1
Local Time: 5pm, 5th May
Weather: Fine at first, then snowy in afternoon
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here,
We've now moved up to Camp 1 for our second acclimatisation rotation. It's a good feeling to be above the icefall. No matter how many times we end up going through it, I don't think I'll ever get used to it.
The Trip Up
We left base camp this morning at around 5:30am - so that we could be through the icefall before the heat of the day hit. It seemed to be just as hard as last time - lots of ups and downs, making it hard to find a rhythm. However, we were pleased to find that we are moving faster now - having reduced our time from around 6 hours to 4.5 hours (although Paul was under the weather last time). This is still not considered especially fast, but is at least about average.
On the way up, my hands started getting very cold - and because we were in a position that did not seem a good place to stop and pull out warmer gloves (given there were big ice structures towering above us), and also because I could see that the sun was going to hit us soon, I foolishly left it until I had dangerously cold hands. Fortunately we found a rest spot and Mingma and Dasona helped me warm them up. Luckily no damage done, but it sure was a good lesson.
We arrived at C1 at around 10am - giving us plenty of time to relax and recover from the climb up. Ironically, with the sun shining on the tents, it gets unbelievably hot - in fact the thermometer on our watches read 45C! We were constantly trying to adjust the tent ventilation to get a breeze blowing through, and then piling snow into a bandana to cool ourselves down. Around mid-afternoon, the clouds came in and the temperature plumetted - leaving us scrambling to close up the tent and put layers of clothes on. We have left our good sleeping bags up at C2 so will be using IMG's tonight - along with a lot of clothes I imagine. At the moment I have 3 sets of thermals on and a down vest and it's only 4pm. It's expect it to be around -12C here tonight - and that's inside the tent!
After we send this off, we'll be heading over to the cooking tent where we'll cook up one of those instant pasta meals and possibly some 2 minute noodles for dinner. Will have to collect some snow for melting water first so we're hoping the weather outside eases off a little. As we're the only ones at C1 at the moment, there'll be plenty of room for cooking.
C1 has Moved
Since we were here last time, our Sherpas have moved the location of this camp. Last time there had recently been a lot of new snowfall and everyone staying at C1 had witnessed several reasonably close avalanches coming off the West shoulder. With this feedback, IMG arranged for the camp to be moved a little further across the valley towards Nuptse. It's not really clear cut whether it's safer or not as there could just as easily by avalanches off Nuptse but most people (including our Sherpas) are happier about its new position.
We've heard from Mary that today she hiked to Dugla and is staying there tonight. Yesterday, while on a rest day at Dingboche, she hiked over to Pheriche and attended the daily lecture on altitude sickness put on by the Himalayan Rescue Association. As that altitude (around 4000m) is often where people start having trouble acclimatising, they strongly encourage trekkers to break up their journey and stop overnight at Dugla rather than going straight to Lobuche. This makes it a pretty short day, but there is no hurry for Mary to get here - especially now that we are up the hill again for a few days. We'd much rather her arrive feeling well.
Hey Kyna - thanks for your message. Great to hear that everything appears to be going along well - despite the toilet troubles, cracked lips, disturbed sleep, aversion to food. I hope that Womblebat is kind to you - make sure you let us know when you have news. In the meantime, give Jemimah a big kiss from us.
Don McComb - Thanks for your message. In answer to your question, after coming down from C1 and C2, base camp no longer feels like high altitude. It doesn't exactly feel like sea level yet (maybe after this rotation???), but the air certainly feels quite thick, we sleep really well, and hardly get out of breath walking around anymore.
MC - The dog was reportedly running around quite a lot at camp 2 and even up to the base of the Lhotse face. Doesn't seem like the altitude affected it as much as it does us. Not sure why this would be though. We heard late yesterday that the dog is back down in base camp, although we didn't see it.
Hey Kennette - great to hear from you. Hope your throat thing is all better by now. I'm not too sure about your idea of a reality TV show though - don't think it's quite up our alley! By the way, Dave is still the undisputed Scrabble champion, with Justin and Brenda at his heels. Have passed on your message to some of the team - will continue to pass on as we see the rest of them. (Kennette trekked into basecamp with the IMG team.)
Mark R - Thanks for your message. I also believe that in past years there have been ladder crossings or climbs of many, many ladders. Fortunately for us though, the longest ladders this year are just 2 lashed together - whether vertically or horizontally. This may change over the season as crevasses open up and the route changes but I doubt it will get to as many as 8 (thank goodness).
Valerie & Rummie - Hi again guys, good to hear from you. In answer to your question about the books, most of us bought around 5-10 books each and as we read them they get deposited in the "library box" in the dining tent for others to read. Thanks to my mum and Karlyne, we brought quite a stash and are still making our way through these. I am a bit concerned about the genre of the books already in the library though. Most of them seem to be of the murder mystery variety with titles such as "Kill", "Secret Murders", etc. I'm wondering what that says about our team members??!! Enjoy your golf guys.
Hi Ron, I'm sure your golf handicap would put most of these players to shame - if only you could make it up here! In answer to your question, all the rubbish from the mountain (including the high camps) is removed. This is a continual process with Sherpas taking down rubbish after they bring up loads (eg. of oxygen). I believe that many years ago, this wasn't standard practise but now all expeditions have to put down a substantial garbage deposit and if they don't bring out enough garbage (based on the number of people and the time they stay), then they don't get their deposit back. A good system I think.
Rosemary & Dave - Nice to hear from you. We haven't seen any cockroaches around at all (thankfully). This only insects I have seen at BC are a couple of blowflys and spiders. Unfortunately we didn't read up on the local wildlife before we left so I can't tell you exactly what types of birds are here. There are some that look like sparrows, and others that look like crows (in fact, on most climbs we've done there have been crows hanging around the camps - I guess they scavange up some of the scraps). I also saw some type of eagle when climbing Kala Patar which is not far from here. Paul has had no problems with his glasses fogging - I guess it depends on the shape and how much air they allow to circulate. We are all quite concerned with our goggles and sunglasses fogging up once we are using oxygen. Most of us have brought some type of anti-fog wipe but hopefully the design of the new masks we are using will mean that this is not an issue. In regards to Mary's nail polish (which I hope she hasn't brought because it really is not necessary up here!), I think there is a pretty good chance that it could freeze overnight in her tent - water certainly does so I guess it depends how much alcohol is in it. Even if it did freeze though, it would certainly thaw out during the day. Interesting questions!
Barb - loved your message - very funny! Hope you had success with the trolleys!
Philip - thanks for your post. Although we didn't see the dog cross the ladders ourselves, apparently this is what happened - amazing but true. The other posts from people seem to suggest that it is not all that uncommon for dogs to climb ladders. We'll keep an eye out for your friends and pass on your message if we come across them. Cheers.
Hi as well to Jane Barrow and family, TN Fan, James (and the other Gardiners), BJ, Bev, Dave and Stephanie. Thanks so much for all your lovely messages.
Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we plan to head up to C2.
Cheers to all, Fi.
Posted by: Anne Marshall on May 5, 2006 11:07 PM AEST
Thanks for all the detail you continue to provide each day for we interested readers you guys! How much time do you set aside for your daily dispatches plus responses to a sampling of individual messages? Whatever it is, we appreciate it!! Keep those fingers warm Fi! Love from Anne & Ron in coolish Melbourne
Posted by: John (the vet) Parncutt on May 5, 2006 11:28 PM AEST
Congratulations on getting safely above the icefall again! Couldn't resist writing about the dog - what a shame that it got led off the mountain, like some adventurous kid who had strayed out of bounds. Maybe the dog wanted to make a summit attempt as well!
Physiologically, the dog would go through the same acclimatisation as people do. In this regard, there are two kinds of people: sherpas and lowlanders, and the physiological responses of each are quite different. (The American Research Expidition to Everest in the 1980s makes interesting reading for those that want to follow this up.) The dog is most likely to be a local, therefore "sherpa" dog, so he will have fewer problems acclimatising than you lowland adventurers do!
High altitude physiology bears some resemblance to what happens in bodies suffering from cardio-vascular disease - one way or the other there is less oxygen per breath getting where it is supposed to go. You say "The dog was reportedly running around quite a lot at camp 2 and even up to the base of the Lhotse face. Doesn't seem like the altitude affected it as much as it does us". To this I would say that I have seen a few human heart patients puffing and panting and giving up the ghost, and many many canine heart patients who, whilst obviously challenged, are still prepared to pick up a ball and invite you to play with them, right up until nearly their last. That's just dogs! Good luck on the next leg of the climb. I am loving the armchair experience.
Posted by: Valerie & Rummy on May 5, 2006 11:54 PM AEST
CONGRATULATIONS on reaching BC1. I can't believe I was complaining that our outside air temp. at 9:30pm tonight was a (very warm, indeed) 12 degrees. I was so happy to sit by the Coonarra fire in our lounge room and feel totally comfortable. We wish you continued success and safety. Cheers--Valerie & Rummy, Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia
Posted by: Paul Robdau on May 6, 2006 12:02 AM AEST
Hello Paul and Fiona,
I have been following your climb and Jim Gagne's as well for awhile now and very impressed with the information you are providing to interested people. It's quite amazing to get "real time" reports from the Mt. Everest. I really appreciate the updates. ZI was wondering if you could offer words of encouragement, advice, etc. to students graduating from High School and moving on to post-secondary pursuits whether that be the workforce or colleges. I know in previous emails you provided a metaphor of the experience climbing Everest to embracing the challenges in one's life. Maybe during one of your down times you could send something back (some wisdom from the top) and I'll be sure to relay the advice to some of my students. Regards and stay safe..
Paul Robdau, New Hampshire USA
Laconia High School
Huot Technical Center
A hello to Jim Gagne who knows me. Tell him I wish him the best and to stay safe.:)
Posted by: Damien and Beck on May 6, 2006 12:11 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
Just a quick note to say hello. Great to hear you are through the icefall safely again. We asked Sam if she would like to join the dog on the mountain - she doen't seem too motivated or interested as she sleeps in front of the fire! Great to hear the interview from the ABC. Well done Fiona. Have fun and stay warm, Love dame and Beck.
Posted by: Aunt Gaye and Jess from Rochester NH on May 6, 2006 02:04 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fi
We are enjoying the updates and are praying for you guys while you are up there. Please send a message to Jim Gagne saying that we love him and to keep safe. We cant wait until he comes home.
Posted by: Dennis's Dad The Ozarks, Arkansas, USA on May 6, 2006 02:32 AM AEST
Good going group. P&F thanks much for all your updates and mention of other people in the group. Much appreciated. Want to pass on a message from my friend:
Whew! i am glad today --- at this moment, that i am NOT someone's parent....i admire you for being that person........my thoughts and my sources of light will be centered on your son as he makes this journey.......my heart will be centered on you ---- as you watch the scene........
love you, su
Thanks and stay warm all.
Posted by: Gavin Turner, Kathmandu on May 6, 2006 02:42 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
I met Mary while she was walking towards base camp, just past Tengboche. She actually stopped me to ask how to get her ipod working again, which was suffering from an altitude-related illness it seems. However, unlike her ipod, she was doing really well and I admired her spirit in spending several weeks at base camp supporting you on your climb.
I was very interested to hear about what you are doing together as I have trekked in the Khumbu a few times and am planning a climb on ama dablam for later this year, and hopefully one day Everest (from the north) as well. So it is really great to see your website, to follow your experiences on the mountain, and most of all, I wish you both a safe and successful climb on Everest this year.
Take care and I will be thinking of you both as you work towards climbing Chomolungma.
Posted by: MC - Vancouver, Washington, USA on May 6, 2006 06:10 AM AEST
Hello Fiona and Paul
Fiona, amazing photo of you crossing that small crevasse.
"Each and every step you take will ultimately lead you to a final destination. Choose your steps wisely." MC
And you most certainly do! The athletic skills required on a climb such as this are tremendous. You both must feel so good about all the hard work, training and preparation you put into this adventure.
Fiona, it seems like a good thing that you had the experience of "cold hands" lower on the mountain as it was a lesson learned. So many things to consider in mountaineering at this level. The two of you astound me regarding how well you are doing at this stage. Keep up the GREAT work! MC
Posted by: Dad A. on May 6, 2006 11:50 AM AEST
Gavin, thank you for the up-date on Mary's (my wife)progress. As she may have told you she has not been able to get a connection from her phone to SMS messages back home, so I rely on the updates that she sends to Paul and Fiona. Also very dissapointing to hear of the continuing problems with her ipod. I have been in contact with Apple here in Australia about the problems that in fact started well before she got into any altitude. However they do not seem at all interested and I perhaps should not put in print the on going saga with "Customer Relations". I would expect her to arrive at BC late this weekend and are looking forward to catching up on her news. Gavin,thanks again for posting her update, and safe climbing. John Adler
Posted by: Jan Laing Melbourne Australia on May 6, 2006 12:57 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul,
Well done on your interview Fiona. It was great. I was highly amused when she asked you if Paul was there just to support you. How amused were you Paul???? Fiona, you must be very happy to have your husband there to carry your bags while you take on this dangerous climb!!! Does he make the bed too?
Posted by: Rosemary & Dave Abbott (Gippsland Lakes, Australia) on May 6, 2006 04:15 PM AEST
Loved hearing your voice Fiona and interesting that the 'puff' is part of normal reduced oxygen BC chat. The photo of you crossing the 'small' (ha ha) crevace reminds me of an IT support person who used to counter my frustration with computers not working with: 'inch by inch it's a cinch' - a good mantra when the goal seems beyond grasp. John's coming down this weekend, we'll toast your climbing success tonight and send good climbing weather vibes!
Posted by: Jacqueline and Mark Melbourne Australia on May 6, 2006 04:46 PM AEST
Hi to you both, Great to hear you are making good progress on each journey up. But.....your hands Fiona!!! Take care!!! Leah gets back from Bali tonight so at least mum and dad can stop worrying about THAT daughter. Take care and good luck for C3. Love from J & M
Posted by: sue fraser on May 6, 2006 06:19 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul
I am a teacher at Heathmont EAst Primary school and heard from Margaret Lithgow (Prep Teacher for 30 years at HEPS)about your climb. What a great adventure. I hope to get the current students interested in following your progress. What an inspiration for them. All the best
Sue Fraser (Japanese teacher at HEPS 2006)
Posted by: Nick Grainger (Melbourne, Australia) on May 6, 2006 06:54 PM AEST
Thanks Tam and others. I'm just delighted that so many people are following Paul and Fi's Everest Climb, and getting so much enjoyment from it. I'm committed to keeping the comms channel going and enabling people to feel they are almost there. But the effort would all be for nothing without Paul and Fi's own commitment to it, which they are demonstrating so capably. And they are climbing Everest as well. They are the stars.
Nick Grainger, on behalf of Paul and Fi's site admin team.
Posted by: Phil - Sydney on May 6, 2006 08:52 PM AEST
This is my idea of heaven. After being enthralled by Everest for so many years your reports are just so great that it is almost like being there. (well not quite but realistic!) Just listened to the interview as MP3 on Melbourne radio. Loved the description. I hope to get to BC one day but guess time, business etc will tell.
A question? You were talking about the O2 cylinders weighing 7kg and you take 2 on summit day. What is the total weight that you start your summit climb with including every thing you carry. Another question. How tall are you both?
Thanks again for your insightful reports - a winner for many.
Posted by: Chris Salisbury on May 8, 2006 10:19 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul,
It's been a long time since you were at Ringwood Secondary College Fiona and after talking to your Mum today I thought I would let the staff and students know of your progress. All the best from the staff and students of Ringwood SC.
Posted by: Les Smith on May 9, 2006 09:00 PM AEST
This one is for Jim G.
Jim, we heard about your teammate, Jack, and you helping him back to BC. That was “true to form” for you! We’re with you all the way…Les
Posted by: Veronica and Michael Crymble on May 22, 2006 11:43 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
Met Mary just before she left Australia on one of her training rides from Hampton to Brighton. (Michael taught with Mary at Brighton Primary). Caught up with the exciting news of your Mount Everest climb and her trek to base camp to be part of the support team. All the best and good luck.
Veronica and Michael Crymble.