Sunday, September 13, 2015

Back at base camp :(

On the afternoon of the 10th, we left sunny base camp and headed for camp 1, carrying extra clothes and food and hoping that the weather would allow us to spend a night at camp 2.  I made the now-familiar climb to camp 1 in good time, even with the heavy pack, proof that I am acclimatizing.  At camp 1 we had an early dinner of soup and semi-appetizing ready-to-eat meals.  Just as the sun set over the jagged peaks surrounding camp, snow began to fall lightly, creating comforting pitter-patter sounds on the nylon tent.

We hit the trail early, headed for camp 2, 2,000 feet above.  My toes and hands were chilled, but I knew that would soon change as the sun rose.  The route meandered for a while and eventually I could see a daunting headwall in the distance, with tiny black dots representing people moving up and down the ropes affixed to it.  Soon enough it was my turn to climb the snow/ice wall.  At sea level this would have been fun, but in an oxygen-deprived environment, it was very challenging.  About this time the sun stopped being my friend as my skin started to sizzle under its heat.  I focused on kicking the front points of each crampon into the snow and ice, taking 3 or 4 deep breaths, then sliding the jumar up the rope and breathing again.  Kick, kick, breathe, breathe, breathe, slide, breathe, breathe, breathe, kick, kick ...

The route continued to meander around crevasses and menacing seracs, punctuated by four more steep walls and one ladder.  Thankfully the clouds shielded the sun for part of the day.  Eventually I rounded a corner and could see a handful of tents perched on flat-ish ground.

Carefully moving up the vertical ladder among the seracs

Sadly, though this would not be our home for the night, the clouds were increasing and we made the right decision to descend and avoid deep, wet, avalanche-prone snow.

I'll be at base camp for at least the next two days "enjoying" Seattle-like weather: 40 degrees and rainy!

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