After a fairly taxing four and a half days above base camp, the team arrived back down in the (now seemingly) thick air of base camp yesterday morning. Thus ended our first (out of three) rotation above base camp. The goal of the rotation was to gain some elevation for a few days and allow our bodies to acclimatize. It also allowed us to familiarize ourselves with the terrain above base camp (particularly with the Khumbu Icefall) so that we can be quicker and more efficient over these sections during the summit push.
On the first day, we woke up EARLY to have breakfast at 2 am and leave by 3 am. It was very cold as we set out, but thankfully not as bad as we expected. We passed by the Puja Altar on our way out to give an offering of rice, breathe a bit of the juniper smoke, and ask for safe passage on the rotation as is traditional in the Sherpa culture. Afterwards, we set out into the Icefall.
We made pretty good time through the lower portion, reaching the
Next came the most dangerous section of the Icefall, where ice falling from the glaciers on the West Shoulder of Everest was a risk. Here we really needed to hurry, and were constantly encouraged to move as quickly as possible. The ground throughout the whole section was littered with chunks of ice that had fallen from the West Shoulder, but I didn’t stop to take any pictures. I just tried to follow Lhakpa Rita as quickly as possible and in about an hour we made it through. Afterwards, it was fairly easy walking to camp 1, where we spent the rest of the day and the next day resting.
After the rest day, we set out to move to camp 2 at 21,300’. The walk took us through the Western Cwm (pronounced “coom”) which is the valley formed by Everest,
We took a rest day at camp 2, during which we hiked briefly up a rock moraine towards the West Shoulder where we got some very nice views of the valley and the Lhotse face (the next section of the climb above camp 2) which looked very steep and imposing from that perspective (and I imagine any other). The next day we woke up early and left at 5:00 am to descend to base camp. We moved very quickly downhill and reached camp 1 in an hour and 15 minutes. We took a short rest, and cached a few items at camp 1 and then descended through the Icefall. In order to maximize our own safety, we practically ran through the entire Icefall, and reached base camp around 9:20 am. I included a few photos that I took on the way down to give you a sense of the climbing through the Khumbu Icefall. One shows a section where two ladders bridged some crevasses and it got a bit congested by traffic, and the other shows my dad descending through a portion of the ‘popcorn’ section. When we got down, we all enjoyed a nice shower and changed clothes. All in all, it was a successful first rotation, and we will all enjoy a few days of rest at base camp before heading up again for the second rotation.
Also, for anyone interested in e-mailing myself or my dad during our time at base camp, feel free to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to include the appropriate name (Rob Sobecki or Chris Sobecki) in the subject line so that the e-mail gets sorted appropriately. I hope everyone is enjoying the blog so far and we will continue to keep you updated as the climb progresses.
-Rob + Chris