Second Trip Up – Heading to Camp III on Everest South Side

I’m in the midst of packing and charging electronic items – trying to
get ready for another trip up the mountain. Hopefully the second out of
three. It’s turned into a beautiful day at base camp. Two days worth of
snow is slowly melting and it is sunny. Clouds are building up in the
end of the valley near Gorak Shep – but we can ignore those for now.

The current plan is to leave tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at about 4am.
This would be around 3:15pm PST or 6:15pm EST on Monday, so if you are
having a slow day please feel free to fire up the “Where’s Seth” Tab. I
will try to remember to turn on my SPOT tracker which should send GPS
location updates every 10 minutes. Last time it took me 5 1/2 hours to
get through the ice fall and reach Camp II. I’m not planning on trying
to shave any time off this because we are heading directly to Camp II
and staying there for the night. I simply don’t want to burn myself out
– it should be 9-10 hours of steady movement overall and I’m not looking
to set any speed records.

After two nights at Camp II, I will head up to Camp III on the Lhotse
Face. This would mean bedding down Thursday night (or Thursday morning
back in the States). I’m hoping enough people have been up the face that
there are footsteps worn in the ice and that it is more like stair
climbing than front-pointing with crampons. We’ll try to sleep in a
single tent at Camp III for the night at 7,200m (23,625ft) without
oxygen (though we will have one bottle there for emergencies). Camp III
is the most precarious camp of all. In the morning, I might try to head
a little higher to ‘tag’ the yellow band which is a geological feature
on the Lhotse face and then descend to Camp II for another night before
sliding our way back to base camp Saturday morning – arriving back at BC
sometime around Friday midnight PST. I’ll be with Damai the whole time
and Kami much of the time as well.

My plan is to bring my down suit up to at least Camp II as well as my
high altitude mittens (gloves are already there) and a few other items.
It will be less stuff to haul up on the final trip. This would be a good
time to thank Kami and Damai who are doing the truly heavy hauling of
supplies to higher camps. ‘Thanks’ seems insufficient though and I know
I will return to a better expression of gratitude in a later post. I’ll
be spending a lot of time sitting in the tent and this time I will bring
a bunch of digital audio, cards, a pen, and a fully charged kindle with
lots of books on it. I will have my satellite phone but the laptop is
going to stay behind. Thanks in advance to the executive members of the
SWEET Fan Club (Kelly – President, Robin – Treasurer, James – Secretary)
as I am sure I’ll phone one of them at an ungodly hour just to chat and
to ask one of them to update this blog. Thanks!

If all goes well – we’ll basically be resting at Base Camp after this
trip until a weather window opens and we can go for the summit. This
could stretch out for a couple weeks. A lot of other teams will descend
to Namche for the relative high oxygen there (at 12,000ft) and the beer,
internet cafe, green vegetation, and soft beds etc, but right now I am
thinking that base camp will be a fine place to rest and wait, I also
don’t want to miss any potential weather window or catch a super
expensive cold from a trekker in Namche.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with various folks about other
acclimatization schedules. Some teams are spending 5-7 days at Camp II
and above. Others are just tagging Camp III and then coming all the way
down. I was told by a guide from another team that I should tag Camp
III, return to Camp II, then go back up and sleep at Camp III before
coming back to Camp II. I’ve consulted with the docs at Everest ER who
have become friends. I even consulted a world class pulmonalogist (sp?
from the University of Washington Medical center who has helped conduct
studies on Everest. This morning, after some truly awkward attempts at
jump roping, Robin, Jenny, and Christine (who is an ER physician) and I
sat around the table debating the pros and cons of extended stays at the
higher camps. The bottom line is that there have been no controlled
studies on what works best, and there will likely never be any studies
considering all of the potential variables etc. I think the itinerary
we’ve developed is a good middle-ground and I’m pretty pumped to get
going. I hope you enjoy to the ride too.

-Seth

4 Responses to “Second Trip Up – Heading to Camp III on Everest South Side

  • Following with great interest Seth. Pictures have been beautiful. Good luck with Camp III. (Does it get any higher if you use Roman numerals? Hope not.)

  • I certainly am glad to hear you are thinking of controlled studies while you are there – cognition intact! I will not be having a slow day tomorrow but have put in my calendar to spend some time focused on your well-being. I’ve been avoiding talking to you about work, but yesterday I thought maybe you need some news or distraction from time to time; so here’s some….My big day is this Saturday; I receive the Distinguished Researcher Award and then we PARTEE. My daughters are all flying in and my sister coming from NYC on the train; plus of course all the colleagues at the ONS Congress. Your name will be mentioned several times during my talk. Then the roller coaster stalled when I received the (not a surprise) rejection from JAMA for the P3P paper; but hey they actually reviewed it! I’m so honored; honestly when I can look at the reviews, I’m sure it will be a (f[]cking) learning experience. I’m optimistic for the Mazzone grant and looking forward to you coming to Boston for the training ect. Anyway, enough distraction….best, best, best for you! Donna

  • Oh right, so I went to put on my calendar and realized that was 2 hrs ago. SO thinking stronger now!!

  • It is 5:30 am and I (Sister Robin) just heard from Seth who is safely at Camp II. Yey!!!! It took him 9.5 hrs and he said it was his toughest physical challenge yet. It took them about 6 hours to reach Camp I where they rested for only about a half an hour. He said it was extremely hot in the direct sunlight. The next 3.5 hours were the most difficult as they climbed to Camp II. The wind was very strong and blowing sideways. The last 50 steps took him 15 minutes. Now there, he is sacked out in his sleeping bag and planning to spend the next two nights curled up with his Kindle. After that, he will go up and “tag” Camp III, back down to Camp II for a night, and then back to Base Camp. Go Seth!!!

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