Summit bound – Friday the 13th?
Short version: hope to be heading for the summit from Camp IV at the
South Col all day long on Thursday (PST or EST – doesn’t matter, I
should be moving). Hope to summit around 8pm Thursday the 12th PST. 9am
the 13th in Nepal. Tune in if you’re having a slow Thurs and please send
positive vibes my way.
Long version is below. A little dry! Cheers, Seth
Just finished running through gear with Damai, Kami and Pasang. Also
taught them how to use the Epi pen, and administer various meds
including injectable dexamethasone for high altitude cerebral edema. I
never thought I’d be filling a syringe at Everest Base Camp! Hopefully
none of us will need to stick each other. But good stuff to know. We
also covered a communication protocol with Pasang keeping his sat phone
on at all times at base camp. We’ll try to call him each evening with
our VHF radio, and if that does not work then I’ll try three different
cell numbers with my sat phone culminating with me calling his sat phone
directly (sat to sat is really expensive). Fun.
It’s too complicated to always write other time zones. Basically, I am
13hrs (close enough) ahead of the West Coast and 9 hours ahead of the
East. All times below are Nepalese. I hear the top of Everest has its
own unique time zone but I’m not going to bother changing my watch there…
Looks like I am heading up about 8hrs from now – at 3:30 Tuesday morning
for Camp II. I’m counting on about 5-6 hours to get past the Ice Fall
and to Camp I, and then another 2-3 to Camp II. Just like last time. My
pack is pretty light as my -40 bag and down suit are already up at Camp
II. We should get there around mid-morning and will rest for the
remainder of the day. I’m going to save the batteries on my GPS
transmitter and only send a ‘check-in’ message once at Camp II.
My kindle sadly bit the dust on the last trip through the Ice Fall (It’s
my second, this time I bought an extended warranty so I will get it
replaced when I get home). But I have a junky paper back to while away
Tuesday afternoon at Camp II. I’m no longer interested in spending a
full day of rest there (two nights) like the last two trips. It’s just
too much time to sit around and I’m not sure you really get much
rest/recovery at that altitude. Plus – it would make us miss the weather
window which is already pretty narrow. And…I’ll still have a lot of
downtime there tomorrow since we will arrive mid-morning.
Wednesday should find us heading up the Cwm and a good way up the Lhotse
face to Camp III at approx 24,000ft, hopefully we will also arrive there
mid-morning. I didn’t time it last trip up, maybe another 6-8 hours
total? Kami is going to stay at Camp II and meet us at Camp III the next
morning as we head out for the South Col/Camp IV. It seems like a lot of
Sherpas would rather skip Camp III and go direct from Camp II to Camp
IV. I don’t have the energy for that and need to take it camp by camp
(with the exception of skipping Camp I). Damai isn’t skipping Camp III,
in part to keep an eye on me (thanks!). We’ll get a weather report from
base camp in the evening.
On Thursday morning, hopefully around 5:30am, Kami should come jumaring
on our door and we’ll leave Camp III. We’ll continue up the Lhotse face
and cross the yellow band at ~25,000ft and hopefully get to the South
Col (~26,000 ft) by mid-morning (notice the trend?). We’ll rest there on
a low flow of oxygen until about 7-8pm before heading for the summit.
So the summit push will be about 8am Thursday for people on the West
Coast. If you are having a slow Thursday, please check out the ‘Where’s
Seth’ tab. I should have the tracking turned on by the time we leave the
South Col. I’ll post ‘ok’ messages from the lower camps and will likely
check-in with Kelly via Sat phone. I’m guess it will take me 11-12
hours to reach the summit from the South Col. Most likely 5 hours to
reach the balcony, another 2-3 to reach the South Summit, and another
2-3 for the Summit. Should be fun! If you are looking at the GPS reports
from the tracker, please assume that no news is good news. It is a flaky
device and should not be trusted. And I will be moving verrry slooooow.
If all goes well, I should be summiting on the morning of Friday the
13th here (go figure) and around 8pm on Thursday the 12th on the West
Coast. That’s half the battle, we’ll try to make it back down to Camp
III, or maybe even Camp II, as you really can’t sleep at Camp IV, no
idea right now how long that might take.
The weather is supposed to be good on the 12th and the morning of the
13th and then slowly deteriorate throughout the day, with winds over
35mph after noon, so we will do our best to get down early and fast. A
lot of teams are going for the summit on the 12th, we can’t do this
because Damai and Kami just got down and need three solid days of rest.
A few teams are going on the 13th including IMG and friends Robin and
Christine from Peak Promotions. There should be no problems with traffic
jams at the step.
The other option was to try to summit on the 17th or the 23rd, two
weather windows that people are talking about. These will be our backup
days in case the weather turns sour.
In all likelihood, if we leave Camp III for the South Col it will be my
only shot. If I turn back b/c of fatigue, I will not try again on the
23rd as the likelihood of being stronger is tiny and restocking oxygen
will cost 7k+. So this is probably it. If there is a mechanical failure
(like a broken crampon) and we haven’t used too much oxygen, another
summit attempt is possible but still unlikely.
Thanks for all the positive emails. I promise to be safe and to
turn-around if conditions are not good. I’m in this for the adventure
and experience, not the summit. That would just be icing on the cake at
this point. A huge thanks to Kelly for all her support and for answering
the phone late at night and posting blog updates while I am on the
mountain (and a whole lot more).
So – if a black cat crosses your path, please ask the cat for good luck
for me on the 13th! It’s not an unlucky day here and technically I’m not
shooting for the summit on that day in the States – so I think all is good.