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Downclimbing the cliffs above basecamp

Hector climbing to c2 makalu

Walking beside the beautiful ice seracs

Camp 2 established.

May 8, 2008

Makalu base camp

Since the last despatch we’ve been busy and enjoying the mountain.

The day after the Puja ceremony we made our first foray up the hill to camp 1. The route is very direct, climbing steeply up some lateral moraine beside a stunning frozen river of ice seracs before putting us at the foot of a rising glacier. An hour or so up the glacier brings us to a steep ice headwall of 80 metres or so which leads to a snow plateau at 6250 metres on which we sited our camp 1.
Some expeditions have put their C1 below the headwall but we preferred to gain the extra altitude of the plateau.

A worsening chest cold kept me in basecamp for the next few days but on the 5th May, Hector, Neil and I again carried to camp 1 and spent our first night there. Next morning we packed up and moved our equipment to 6650 metres below some sheltering seracs, to site our camp 2, approximately 1000 metres above basecamp. We slept well, so our acclimatisation programme is working well, although it is very frustrating to still be acclimatising so late in the season after all the earlier delays, and therefore potentially missing summit opportunities. Yesterday we climbed above camp 2 to 7000 metres, to push our bodies into the thinner atmosphere, before descending all the way to basecamp to rest and allow Hector to recover from his turn at a bout of flu/cold. It is vital to nip these infections in the bud before they develop into something much worse like pneumonia or pulmonary oedema.

We plan to rest today and tomorrow and then, if the weather and our health allow, climb directly to camp 2, overnight there, and then ascend the steep rocky face above, to the Makalu La at 7400 metres, site of our intended camp 3. Following that final acclimatisation climb, a few rest days should then prepare us for a summit attempt.

The best laid plans…..