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climbing to the north col

ice pinnacles en route to abc

in basecamp, leaving basecamp

May 4, 2011

basecamp Everest north side

Have been in basecamp for a few days but unable to get onto the net, as bad weather has kept the power Gods hidden until now.

Had a good acclimatisation trip to the lower slopes of the hill as proposed in the last despatch. Followed the general yak route to advanced basecamp (abc) which wanders a short distance up the Rongbuk glacier before diverting up the East Rongbuk glacier and around Everest’s north peak, Changtse. The jump from bc to abc is headache material (about 1300 metres) so I spent a couple of nights at a halfway point at 5700 metres before finishing the hike to the relative comfort of abc.

[ Infommercial – The north side of the big E is quite different from the south, allowing one to hike on moraine to abc (at 6350 metres) in walking boots instead of mountaineering boots, whereas on the south side this is nearly the height of camp 2, well up the mountain. With the north side camp 1 at 7000 metres (on the north col), most expeditions only put in 3 camps above that point (the highest around 8300 metres), whereas south side expeditons generally use four camps above bc with the highest on the south col at 8000 metres.]

At abc I took a lay day to let the headaches pass, then did a carry of food and equipment to camp 1 (North col, 7000 metres), before returning to ABC same day. On the 30th, I lugged another load to the col, including tent and sleeping bag and spent the night in fairly cold, windy and sleepless conditions. On May 1st, I descended from the col to abc, then walked the 22 kms back to basecamp; quite a long day but worth it to get the thicker air at this lower altitude. Since then its been r&r, with fried eggs and proper coffee (have to keep one’s priorities) but tomorrow I’ll head back up to progress the progress.

A few inches of snow most days but overall the conditions are pretty good at the moment. Strong winds and some snow forecast for the next week but hopefully the gales will restrict themselves to the upper parts of the hill as I wouldn’t want my coffee to get cold too quickly!

The plan now is to walk direct to abc tomorrow, rest one day, then up to the col again and the following day make an acclimatisation carry to around 7800 metres. That will be the site of my camp 2, when I make a summit attempt. Then back to bc for more eggs and to await a suitable summit weather window.