Friday, 20 April 2012

Descent from Camp One

As my Twitter of yesterday afternoon said - the weather changed! By 4.00 pm local time we were in a thick blizzard very reminiscent of a white out on the Cairngorm plateau but even colder. It passed after about two hours and after boiling some more water and eating some food Brett and I said good night at 6.45pm. It was a very long evening helped partially by listening to my iPod.

Well at 4.30 this morning it was completely pitch black when the alarm went off. Switching on the head torch revealed the whole of the inner tent covered in ice crystals from our breath. We quickly stuffed our damp sleeping bags and insulating mats away (unfortunately this won't do the down any good but I'm sure it'll dry when we are back up there in three days time).

I managed to get cold fingers again this morning (you can tell I'm a slow learner). By the time I'd put my crampons on they were numb. Thankfully I always carry some big mitts and after half a hour they were nice and toastie ( I think I can hear my parents tut tutting even from here!).

After such a good trip up yesterday I struggled today. I was able to keep up but I just felt exetremely lethargic. Whether it was the altitude, a poor nights sleep or dehydration I'm not sure. I suspect it's certainly the latter two as I've crtainly got signs of dehydration which I plan to attend to during the day. Also last night wasn't the most comfortable of nights sleep. As for the altitude I was short of breath during the evening so I had my first Azetazolomide of the trip (is this the start of a slippery slope?). This kicked in after about an hour and certainly helped. Unfortunately one side effect of the drug is an increase in urine production - not what you want when you are in a sleeping bag! There is a way around this of course, you have to have a suitable recepticle. Obviously it's got to have a wide mouth but also an adequate capacity. Unfortunately a litre isn't prooving sufficient!

We set off down through the ice fall at 5.45 am and wthout incident made it to BC three hours later as David had predicted. Once again I stopped and picked up my emails/twitter/Facebook updates. I know this is starting to sound like a stuck record but I do really appreciate all of your comments and good wishes.

After a full English breakfast (well almost if you like salami as opposed to bacon and tinned sausages - to be fair it was very tasty) David gave us a debrief: he was very pleased with our time up to camp one so much so we can have an extra half hour in bed so that when we go in three days time we will arrive just as the sun hits the tents! We will then progress the following day up to camp two for around four days.

After breakfast I collapsed back in my tent hoping to get some sleep before lunch but it was just too hot and stifling. I decided to do some washing and to get some more fluids down me. The best bit of the day is that we were due to be going back up in 40 hours time but David's decided to give us another rest day which is reflected in the timings I've already given. I'm so pleased!! After lunch I'm looking toward to an afternoon siesta as the clouds are already starting to bubble up lower down the valley.

Now the news you've all been waiting for: David says that if everything continues to go as it is and the weather is ok we could be looking at a summit bid of mid May. I can't give the exact date yet as we would like the summit to ourselves!


  1. How does it work with the summit bid? Is it a case of once you've been given permission to climb the mountain you can summit when you are ready and there's a window in the weather, or do you have to apply for a"slot" so to speak to limit numbers on the summit ridge to a manageable number? Otherwise it could be like the Cullin Ridge on a sunny June Saturday!

    Enjoy the extra rest day.

    1. Hi Al,

      All those hoping to summit will have been issued with a permit before they leave Kathmandu. The Nepalese government aren't stupid they want our money upfront!

      Also a certain percentage will drop out.

      As for summit day this will vary amongst the teams and how they are placed logistically upon the mountain. Thankfully we got here about a week earlier than most teams so should be well placed for an early summit bid if the weather is kind to us.
      As for the Cuilins yes the Hilary Step could be like waiting to climb out of the TD gap!