We're on our way
Paul, Mingma, Fiona & Dasona at C2 this morning setting off for C3. Photo Brenda Walsh.
Fiona climbing up the Lhotse face today. Photo Paul Adler.
Paul waits in the cold outside our tent while Fiona removes the ice out of it. Photo Dennis Kellner.
A photo sent to us by "the Dells and Aunt D". Their kids made a sand Everest with us on top!
Location: Camp 3
Local Time: 4:30pm, Sun 21st May
Weather: Overcast and a little windy, snowing -11C
Hi everyone, it's Fiona here.
With a continuing good weather forecast for 22nd-23rd, Paul and I have now climbed up to Camp 3 - hopefully the beginning of our summit attempt.
The Weather Forecast
Last night we waited with our radio tuned in until about 10:30 when base camp received the new weather forecast by email. It's quite surreal lying in a small tent, trying to sleep, and then hearing a voice come on the otherwise silent radio with the "weather report". Almost thought we'd move into sports news and the financial report afterwards!
Anyway, we were very excited to hear that the weather is now looking even better for the night of the 22nd and day of the 23rd. The predicted wind speeds have lowered (although it's still a big range at 10-30 knots), and there is now less chance of snow. Yeah!!
This news firmed up our plans to leave early this morning and suddenly made our summit attempt very close and very real. I don't think that either of us got a lot of sleep last night. For the whole trip, I've been trying to keep focused on the next milestone - and have avoided thinking too much about the enormity of the whole undertaking. But last night, I couldn't help but be a little overwhelmed with the task ahead for the next three days. Amazingly, that's all it is from here - three days of really hard work. And now that we've climbed back up to C3, it's only 2 days - but I imagine they'll be the hardest days of our lives, and hopefully also the most memorable and satisfying.
Of course it's a very exciting time as well - finally we might have the chance to see whether we can climb this mountain - a goal we've been working towards for 2 years now. And after welcoming back two more successful summiters yesterday, we were starting to get a little antsy.
Climbing up to C3 Again
We started our climb today just after 5am and were lucky to have almost perfect climbing weather - well for the Western Cwm anyway. Although it started out clear, after a couple of hours it clouded over - keeping the temperature nice and manageable (we were wearing our massive down suits again which can easily get too hot). We had about an hour of cold winds, which had us pulling out the hand warmers and tightening our hoods around our faces. But thankfully, this didn't last too long.
The climb up starts out with a fairly gradual snow slope, punctuated with small rolling hills as the track swings around to avoid crevasses. We found that our acclimatisation now allows us to trudge slowly through this part with the need for breathing breaks now only after particularly big hills. Doesn't sound like much but it's a big improvement.
The second and more lengthy part of the climb starts when we hit the Lhotse face. Here's where the fixed line also starts as most of the face is very steep, I'd guess ranging from 30-80 degrees. This is where the hard work really begins. It's a pattern something like; step, breath, slide jumar up, breath, breath, step, breath, slide jumar up, breath, breath...repeat. Although usually I can only repeat this maybe 10 times and then you find yourself doubled over and gasping for breath. But despite feeling like not moving, you somehow will yourself into the next 10 steps. And that's how you climb around 650 metres of elevation up the Lhotse face!
Despite this painfully slow movement, we did reach C3 faster than last time - another good sign.
Sucking down the O2
Once we arrived at Camp, we settled into our tent after mopping out the pools of ice and water we found in it. Unlike last time we were at C3, this time we're using oxygen to rest and sleep on. This is the first time we've used oxygen (aside from testing) and so far, it's great. We initially bumped the flow rate up quite high (3 litres a minute each) to help us recover quicker from the climb up. Now we're down to a resting rate of 1 litre a minute.
We're also continuously melting snow (well Paul is!) so that we can fully hydrate ourselves before tomorrow - we're aiming to drink at least 4 litres each this afternoon / evening. We've got plenty of food here and fortunately have still got good appetites - this is pretty important as when we're actually attempting the summit, we'll hardly eat anything and we may be climbing hard for up to 20 hours.
Tomorrow morning we'll head off early for Camp 4 - so that we get lots of time to rest there. This will be the first time we'll be climbing on oxygen so it'll be interesting to see how we go.
Once at C4, we'll bunker down in a tent and again, try to drink and eat a lot to stock up our stores. We'll rest here until around 9pm, when we'll leave for the actual summit - hoping to arrive on top sometime in the morning of the 23rd. After we leave for the summit, Mary will be able to give regular progress reports as we radio in our position.
Rebecca - thanks for your lovely message. You've got a very interesting story. Unfortunately we won't be visiting Tibet - but will hopefully get a good view of it from the top.
Hi Liv, great to hear from you. Sorry but we haven't met any Mallorquin climbers (although may have crossed paths when climbing with a quick hi). Hope things are going well with you.
Hi Jack - thanks for the vote of confidence. It's always great to hear from you. A holiday in the Keys also sounds fantastic.
Dame - thanks for your voicemail. Paul and I were stoked to hear your voice.
Karlyne - thanks for all the hen's info. Sounds perfect. And of course I'm a positive rsvp (unless I'm still sitting here in 2 weeks waiting for weather)! But I don't think that will happen. Thanks for organising everything. Can't wait.
Alan A - Hi and thanks very much for your messages. Always nice to hear some wisdom from someone who's been here and knows as much about this challenge as anyone. Your perspective is much appreciated.
Kerry - your description of Carlton and yoga sounds like a million years away from here. Love the reminder of home. Great news on your big trip as well - can't wait to hear the details.
Well, that's all for now - we have some serious resting and hydration to do tonight.
We hope to bring you an update from Camp 4 (8000m) tomorrow before we leave for the summit, Fiona
Posted by: Peter Nolle on May 21, 2006 10:21 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul, best of luck for the final assault. Sounds like you are going to be part of the elite few who make it to the roof of the world. I am inspired by your determination and effort. Us mere mortals are heading back to classes at MBS next week. I am looking forward to hearing the details of how you managed to stay so focused when even breathing is such a chore. Peter
Posted by: MC - Vancouver - Washington - USA on May 21, 2006 10:33 PM AEST
Hello Fiona and Paul
I feel so excited for you! Thank you for the description of what it is like to actually climb the Lhotse face. This challenge in front of you is tremendous and yet it will be the most rewarding achievement. Btw, the photos of C-2 to C-3 are spectacular! And the sand castle with the two of you on top of Everest...too cool!
Climb safe, climb strong. MC
As you are striving for your goal, remember that the challenges, the difficulties and the struggles will make your success all the more rewarding.
Posted by: MC - cont. on May 21, 2006 10:49 PM AEST
The photo of Fiona climbing up the Lhotse face reminded me of the Interlude of the song "Climb On":
Now all the preparation they had done. It had truly paid off for the time had finally come. And even though this journey under the sun. Was everything they'd hoped for, the real challenge had begun.
The steps that would take them high. Beyond where the eagles fly. To the top, near the deep blue sky. MC
Posted by: Mum & Dad H on May 21, 2006 10:57 PM AEST
Hi Fiona & Paul,
Fantastic news that you've reached C3!! Sounds like a very hard climb but hopefully you can catch some shuteye while using O2 to sleep. As you say, it will be interesting to see how the next stage of the climb goes on O2. Let's hope for the most favourable of conditions. Keep focussed and with any luck, we're sure you will make it. You know we'll be with you in spirit.
All our love,
Mum & Dad
Posted by: Liz James, Melbourne on May 21, 2006 11:02 PM AEST
Fiona and Paul, excellent to hear that you are at C3 and with the last bits of the puzzle left to fit in. At least the forecast is better than Melbourne for the next few days (rain, showers, drizzle, you know the stuff!). Hoping you have time to gaze out from the top and enjoy what you have done. Safe climbing. Liz.
Posted by: Phyllis Bennett on May 21, 2006 11:29 PM AEST
GOOD LUCK, may all go well for you on your push for the summit.
I've never climbed anything in my life and found your site when I was surfing the web for news of a friend (Paul, climbing with Adventure Comsultants).
Your dispatches have brought all the excitement, effort and risk alive for me sitting at home in Hampshire and I enjoy sense of humour. You feel like friends and I'm rooting for you all the way.
Go for it!
Posted by: Beck Adler Melbourne- Australia on May 21, 2006 11:31 PM AEST
I know together you guys can achieve anything you put your minds to! My heart is racing just thinking about your summit. Good luck!
PS I have added extra credit onto your phone.
Posted by: Mark B. on May 21, 2006 11:31 PM AEST
Hi Paul & Fiona,
Fantastic effort on reaching C3 ! It must be such an exciting point for you in this journey. Best of luck in the next few days and I hope it goes as well as possible with a safe summit and return.
Posted by: Jac on May 21, 2006 11:52 PM AEST
"You're heading for the summit tomorrow...where are you going Paul? ...*distant cry* "the summit tomorrow!"
"You're heading for the summit tomorrow...where are you going Fiz?" ...*distant cry* "the summit tomorrow!"
....ohhh the good ol' days.....far cry from me vanuatu me thinkum....
Posted by: Marg & Col: Glen Waverley on May 22, 2006 12:00 AM AEST
Great weather news for you at C3.Smooth & safe climbing to the summit & back.Thrilled for you both that all your planning & preparation is coming to an end but sad for us as we will miss our daily "adventure fixes". As two of the many "silent" but avid followers thank you for the journey so far.
Posted by: Monette, Delray Beach, FL on May 22, 2006 12:13 AM AEST
Hi Fi and Paul,
Your dreams are becoming a reality. Stay safe, confident and secure. Best regards, Monette
Posted by: beverly on May 22, 2006 12:30 AM AEST
I am battling osteoarthritis and just trying to get motivated to change this downward spiral I feel on. Your motivation, stamina and strength encourages, inspires, and excites me. Thank you for sharing this. Can't wait to hear you have arrived! What a beautiful day!
Posted by: Chris, Bridget & Marc (Norway) on May 22, 2006 02:17 AM AEST
Hi guys, everything sounds like it's falling into place which is awesome to hear. Hope the climb to C4 has been good, and that the climb to the top of the world is everything you hoped it would be (except maybe a little bit easier... ;-) )...we will be thinking of you...Cheers, Chris, Bridge and Marc
Posted by: Tim & Inna on May 22, 2006 02:42 AM AEST
Go for it guys!! It sounds like you finally have your chance. Enjoy it - you are in our thoughts 100% of the time. If anyone can do it. it is the two of you. Tim & Inna
Posted by: Jack on May 22, 2006 03:18 AM AEST
helllo Paul, FI FIand Dennis,you are most likely at C4 and i am with you, can feel the excitement. we were on the same rotation, it is killing me not being there to share in the summit attempt. Go get and i look forwarrd to hearing about the emotion of standing on top. Be safe Jack
Posted by: Em (Switzerland) on May 22, 2006 03:44 AM AEST
Great to hear that the weather is going to be clear for your summit attempt. I spoke to Marc, Chris and Bridge in Norway last night and they were very excited to hear about the good weather predictions!
Have a restful sleep at C4 with the O2.
Thinking of you both,
Posted by: Donavan on May 22, 2006 04:48 AM AEST
Don't forget to take the camera!! ;-)
Here's to good weather, good luck, and good climbing!
Posted by: Mark R -- Mountville PA USA on May 22, 2006 06:56 AM AEST
Hi Fi & Paul
You two rock!
Great climb up to C3, those photos are just stunning.
I send my best wishes and fervent prayers for a grand, glorious, and safe climb from here. I find myself checking your website many, many times a day, just hoping for more news. I know Mary will keep the Adler Army updated out here! We're all with you, every tough step of the way.
Looking forward to that update from the South Col....
Posted by: Valerie & Rummy Apollo Bay Victoria Australia on May 22, 2006 07:45 AM AEST
It seems all your hard work is paying off more each day. You deserve good weather to go along with your amazing attitude. Your smiles say it all. We wish you a safe ascent and descent. The "sea level dwellers" are in awe of your achievements. You have already won the challenge, merely by being where you are at the moment. Stay safe and climb well.
Cheers---Valerie & Rummy
Posted by: Jo and Scott Brimelow on May 22, 2006 09:30 AM AEST
Congratulations on your amazing climb! We are thinking of you both and wish you a safe journey every step to the top of the world and home again. May the days ahead exceed all your dreams. Jo and Scott –xx-
Posted by: Maddi, Melbourne Australia on May 22, 2006 10:06 AM AEST
Go for gold guys! We truly hope all your hard work, planning and patience pays off today/tomorrow. Good luck and we can't wait to get your next update(s).
Love Maddi, DP, Zac and Sienna xxx
Posted by: Katrina Cuskelly - Sheridan Crt Melbourne on May 22, 2006 10:18 AM AEST
Camp 4 here we come, I'm so nervous yet very excited for you both. Stay focussed and keep up your communication with each other! Everyone sends their love, prayers and best wishes - Katrina
Posted by: Gareth Holmes on May 22, 2006 10:49 AM AEST
Hi guys. All the best to you both over the next few days and congratulations for making it so far. Hopefully those Daylesford winter mornings will have prepared you for the summit cold! Cheers,
Posted by: Debbie Skelton on May 22, 2006 11:11 AM AEST
Dear Paul and Fiona, thinking of you and hope the next few days go well for everyone, looking forward to the next update - best wishes to Mary, Debbie (Melbourne)
Posted by: Jacqueline Melbourne Australia on May 22, 2006 11:45 AM AEST
Ok...so you're off!! Here's hoping all of your patience has paid off. All my thoughts and wishes for you both during the next 2 days. Zoe and Zac are both well but missing you and send their love - Zac: "woof", Zoe "grr". Keep well and safe, Jacqueline.
Posted by: Penelope Hopper in Chicago, Illinois, USA on May 22, 2006 11:48 AM AEST
Paul and Fiona- We are thinking of you and cheering you on from here, best wishes and thank you so much for sharing your amazing journey with us mere mortals who admire your resolve to see your huge goal come to pass. Cannot wait to see the amazing photos of your summit trip, sending you all the energy and warmth we can muster. -Penelope
Posted by: meals and danny (melb) on May 22, 2006 12:05 PM AEST
we were out to dinner in stkilda with some friends on sat night and were talking about how close you are to the top. everyone is so interested in your challenge! we are thinking of you lots.
love meals and danny
ps how do you pronounce the word "Cwm" - every time i read it i wonder so i thought i'd just ask!
Posted by: Glenda Mickleburgh-Melbourne,Australia on May 22, 2006 01:43 PM AEST
Paul and Fiona- Our very best wishes to you both on this step of your courageous,fantastic journey.
Thinking of you, Glenda and Colin