Heading to Camp I, maybe Camp II

I’m finally getting ready to climb. Tomorrow morning at about 4am
(Sunday ~3:15pm PST and ~6:15pmEST) Damai and I will head across the
glacier and then up the ice fall. The reason for the early start is that
when it is cold there is less danger of avalanches and movement in the
ice fall. If all goes well we should be at Camp I (~19,734ft) after 6-8
hrs. We’ll spend the day there resting and the night. The views should
be incredible. If I’m not doing well, we’ll come back Tuesday morning
(Monday night PST). But if all is well, we’ll head to Camp II Tuesday
morning and either ‘tag it’ and return to Camp I for Tuesday night or
possibly stay at Camp II Tuesday night and come all the way back to EBC
Wednesday morning. I’m hoping for the latter. Even just making it across
the ice fall and to Camp II would make everything worthwhile. I don’t
think any other team clients have been up to Camp I yet, but I’ve heard
clients from Alpine Ascents are also going tomorrow. And I’ve made
friends with Christine and Robin, both with Peak Promotions, and
understand they have roughly the same game plan. I also met an Iranian
team and it sounds like they will be enjoying the same ride.

This will hopefully be 1 of 3 trips across the ice fall. The second one
will involve more days sleeping at Camp II and ‘touching’, or possibly
sleeping at, Camp III on the Lhotse face. The third trip will likely be
the summit bid with sleeping at Camp III and a brief rest at Camp IV on
the South Col before the summit push. But a lot depends on how well I
acclimate, health in general, weather, etc. It’s possible there will be
four trips across the ice fall. One thing that has been made very clear
is that there is only one summit shot. A second shot at the summit
requires thousands of dollars of extra oxygen, another weather window,
and a week or two of resting at base camp. All luxuries that I won’t have.

Today has just been a beautiful sunny day at base camp. We dragged
chairs out into the sun and everyone just soaked it in. I went to Robin
and Christine’s Puja ceremony this morning – really fun with lots of
laughter, dancing, wheat thrown around, and beer. Both are with Peak
Promotions which also provides tents and dining services for HRA. It’s
nice to meet another small team and they are both pretty psyched to
climb. Christine is an ER physician from Quebec and Robin is from
Sweden. At 24, if he makes it he will become the youngest Swede to
summit. A TV company in Sweden is doing a documentary and he even has
his own T-shirt (wish I could post a picture!).

We also attended the leaders meeting at Adventure Consultants (the
company founded by Rob Hall). It’s too bad it wasn’t held outside as we
couldn’t all fit inside the dining tent – but I still managed to squeeze
my way inside. It was really something to be sitting at a table with
some of the biggest names in expeditions. Incredibly nice people and
just an amazing amount of cooperation. Many of the larger teams quickly
volunteered to help carry 53 20kg loads of fixed ropes (advance
purchased by Russel Bryce) and ice screws/protection (advance purchased
by the Pategonia Brothers) up to Camp II. Tentative dates were set for
trying to get the route up to the South Col fixed (April 30th). We
talked about what VHF frequency to use for emergencies, where rescue
gear was stashed, how to borrow O2 in an emergency, the need to clean up
Camp II, rescue skill training for Sherpas, and even some of the
graffiti around base camp on the large boulders. From what I’ve heard,
the North side doesn’t even have close to this level of collaboration.
An amazing process to watch and partake in…

One thing I didn’t mention in my post yesterday about a ‘mundane day at
EBC’ are the avalanches. There are usually 2-3 everyday that are
anything but mundane. EBC is ringed on three sides by these huge
mountains which are just laden with incredible amounts of snow. The
avalanches (so far) haven’t come close to base camp – but the sound of
them often bring us out of our tents and they are simply incredible to
watch. Hopefully, I will only be on the watching end of these monsters.

That’s enough for today. If you are having a slow day on Saturday –
please check out the ‘Where’s Seth’ tab on my blog. I might turn on the
continuous tracking feature on my SPOT GPS messenger. This should show
my location in almost real-time. About every 10 minutes. Cheers, Seth

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