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Archive for March 4th, 2021

Reading through this information, I’m left thinking that some people need their heads read!! I know I push myself and I’ve done some crazy shit when on my long-distance walks, but I would not want to do any of this. Thank the lord it’s a virtual climb and I don’t ACTUALLY have to do this πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜„ instead I was whizzing around Salisbury

Exploring Salisbury – far more my style ☺

Starting out with an easy hike, I nearly missed the iconic yellow and red sign against a huge boulder simply stating “Way to Everest B.C.” with a big red arrow beneath the words pointing towards base camp. At least I was certain I was on the right path.

After what felt like hours of trekking, the treacherous Khumbu Icefall loomed into view spilling its way down the valley between Everest and Nuptse. Khumbu Icefall sits at the head of Khumbu Glacier, a constantly moving sheet of compacted ice. As the glacier makes its way down the valley it fractures, creating deep crevasses that are always in motion and large towers of ice called seracs that are known to suddenly collapse.
Making the final ascent I arrived at the cairn adorned in prayer flags with its rudimentary sign signalling that I have arrived at Everest Base Camp (17,477ft/5,327m). It was located on a scree-covered section (loose broken stones) at the foot of Khumbu Icefall. I settled into one of the yellow tents and mentally prepared for the high altitude acclimatisation process I would begin to endure.

As sea-level dwellers our bodies are not designed to live at high altitude but we are certainly capable of adapting to it through appropriate acclimatisation. The higher we go, our bodies go through physiological changes by producing more red blood cells in order to carry more oxygen to our muscles and organs whilst combating the thinner air.

The acclimatisation process on Everest is lengthy taking up to a month and done by exposing the body to higher and higher altitude then descending to sleep, recover and overcome any signs of acute mountain sickness due to sudden changes in altitude.

High altitude sickness can affect any person regardless of fitness or age. Ignored or left untreated altitude sickness can have serious consequences including fatality by developing either into cerebral oedema or pulmonary oedema which is fluid build-up in the brain or lungs. Some of the immediate ways to treat altitude sickness is by taking specific medication, supplemental oxygen and/or descending.

During that month I climbed and returned to base camp three times with each climb going higher. It looked something like this:
1. Base camp to icefall, return to base camp. Have a day of rest.
2. Base camp across icefall to Camp 1 and stay; then Camp 2 return to Camp 1 for sleep; then Lohtse Face return to Camp 2 for sleep; and descend back to base camp. Have four days of rest.
3. Climb to Camp 1 and stay; then Camp 2 and rest the next day; then Camp 3 return to sleep at Camp 2; and descend back to base camp. Have five days of rest and wait for the right weather to summit.

The anticipation was over and the much awaited good-weather window presented itself for the final part of the expedition: Summitting Everest.

Starting in the wee hours of the morning, geared up and harness on I negotiated my way through the camp under the light of my headlamp to Crampon Point and attached my crampons to my boots.

Staring out at Khumbu Icefall with a good dose of mixed emotions I began the perilous yet now more familiar climb across. Crevasses were crossed on horizontal ladders and towering ice blocks on vertical ones. Some crevasses were so wide that more than one ladder had to be tied together to bridge the gap. For safety I was clipped into fixed lines. If I was to lose my footing on the ladders and fall the fixed lines would help break my fall. Climbs in some areas fluctuated between 20 to 60 degree angles but there was no time to dwell as the ongoing shifting and settling of the glacier and icefall was a constant reminder how unsafe the area was and moving quickly was necessary.

Several hours passed crossing the icefall till I made it to a large flat expanse of snow with more ladders to climb all the way to Camp 1. Situated at 19,390ft (5,910m), Camp 1 was in the middle of the Western Cwm (Cwm is Welsh for valley), a broad and flat glacial valley. From here I could see the Pumo Ri Mountain to the west and Lhotse Face straight up the valley. I then climbed on to Camp 2 about 1.74mi (2.8km) further up from Camp 1. Located at the base of a gully on scree, Camp 2 was well provisioned and is often considered as Advanced Base Camp. I stopped for a day of rest.

Early next morning I began making my way across the Western Cwm to the base of Lhotse Face where I had to cross a short ladder over a bergschrund (a deep crevasse where the steep slope meets the glacier). Lhotse Face is a 3,690ft (1,125m) glacial wall of blue ice. Sections of Lhotse Face average 40 degrees incline thereby needing to kick my crampon points into the ice to secure my footing. Throughout this climb I was clipped into a fixed line which was attached to the face with ice screws and anchors. I could feel the altitude change, my breathing labouring as I slowly and steadily climbed my way into Camp 3. I was now at 24,015ft (7,320m) gaining an elevation of 6,538ft (1,993m) from base camp. There were several camping spots here, essentially wherever one could find a flat spot to pitch a tent. I remained fixed to my safety line. The sun was up bestowing me with glorious views of the valley below, the peak of Pumo Ri and the others beyond.

Quite honestly, that all just sounds like a lot of hard work – so for me, its a no thanks. I’ll stick with my virtual journey and leave this to someone else. Seriously?? Why would anyone want to do this??

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