Location: Everest Base Camp
Local Time: Fri 7th April, 5:30pm
Weather: Sunny, 5C
Hi everyone, it’s Fiona here.
Paul and I are relaxing now with Chris and Bridget after our first experience with the Icefall.
The Khumbu Icefall
After breakfast this morning, Paul and I set out with our Sherpas (Dasona and Mingma) towards the icefall. After about 15 minutes scrambling through rock and some other campsites, we hit the “crampon point”, and sat down to put on our climbing harnesses, helmets and crampons.
As we headed on, the terrain became a mixture of snowy valleys and hills, small lakes, ice walls and increasingly bigger cracks and crevasses. It is an incredibly beautiful landscape and surprisingly, we didn’t find this section of it to be too frightening. Nothing big was overhanging near the trail and the only ladder crossing we did do was not as bad as I’d thought it might be – slow and steady was definitely the way for me. Somehow even though you need to look down at the ladder rungs to place your crampons properly, your focus is just on the ladder and not on the gaping crevasse beneath you.
Our goal today was to go to the first ladder crossing but this year, it is apparently a fair bit higher than usual. So we climbed for about 1.5 hours and our Sherpas said that we were almost one third of the way through.
It felt great to actually get out there with our climbing gear again. And great to see what the icefall is actually like. Before today, it seemed to loom dauntingly in front of us – both literally and figuratively. But the actual climbing we did today was no more technical than we had done previously – although we both found it to be pretty hard work aerobically. Alongside our Sherpas we both felt a bit inadequate. But on getting back to camp later we found that everyone had the same experience. Dennis Kellner joked that he was infuriated as his Sherpa was consistently whistling while he was gasping for air. Someone else commented that climbing with a Sherpa is like driving at full speed next to an idling Ferrari.
We arrived back at camp just in time for lunch – exhausted but elated to have started the climbing. However, the next sections of the icefall are steeper with more crevasses – so we don’t want to get too confident!
Another lazy afternoon around base camp
After lunch we spent the afternoon sitting around in the dining tent, drinking lots of tea, and eating snacks (biscuits with Vegemite we brought from home, popcorn, and nuts).
Bridget and Chris did some washing this morning and spent a lot of time reading and resting. They’re also looking forward to logging on and seeing the responses to their engagement news from yesterday (which we’ll be doing as soon as I finish writing this post).
Answers to some questions
We have not seen anyone suffering from either HAPE or HACE however when we visited the medical clinic in Pheriche a few days ago, they had already seen a local Nepalese porter die from HAPE this season. They are trying to educate the locals about high altitude sickness and how to avoid it (apparently there are some misconceptions around that locals are immune or less vulnerable to these conditions).
For us at this altitude (5350m), we’re not suffering any particular altitude sicknesses – most likely because of our slow ascent, as well as a focus on keeping well hydrated and breathing more heavily than usual.
However, we’re only just now getting a good night’s sleep and doing anything strenuous is a whole lot harder than it is at low altitudes. Everyone tends to walk around camp very slowly and just lifting a few bags or rocks can make us so out of breath that we need to sit down. Hopefully this should improve as we go higher and get better acclimatised.
In terms of the food here, we have an amazing kitchen staff who cook up all kinds of things for us. Breakfast is usually some type of cereal (Cornflakes, muesli, oat porridge or rice porridge), followed by either pancakes or Tibetan bread and some bacon and eggs. Lunch and dinner are usually some combination of meat, potatoes (sometimes chips), green beans, rice and momos. These staples are put together in an amazing array of different dishes. We generally have a soup with dinner and a small dessert – often canned fruit but sometimes freshly baked dishes (today we’re told they’re making chocolate brownies for dessert – yum!). We also have an afternoon tea – so it feels like we are eating all the time. They say that most climbers lose weight when climbing Everest but I’m pretty sure we haven’t lost any yet. We did bring some food from home – mainly for use while climbing (muesli bars, nuts, dried fruit, Gu gels, etc) but we may not need nearly as much as we brought as there are heaps of snack foods here as well. The Sherpas seem to eat the same foods as us – but perhaps with more emphasis on the rice (with Dahl Baht) and noodles.
For anyone interested in seeing a visual on where we are on the mountain, please check our page “Key Facts About Mt Everest”. There is a picture here showing the route and the position of each camp.
Thanks everyone for your messages – they continue to be a highlight of our day. Thanks as well for all the advice on Paul’s throat – he’s doing everything he can for it and seems to be slowly getting better.
That’s all for now,