C2 & the Western Cwm

Dear Family & Friends,

Our 2nd load carry through the Khumbu Icefall on April 15th went well.

Early morning in the icefall

Knowing the route, when to stop and when to speed up through a particularly dangerous area, like the 50m sprint beneath a huge leaning tower of blue ice midway through an area known as the ‘Popcorn Field’ (this tower had collapsed and large chunks of ice was strewn all over the track by the time we returned yesterday) meant for a comfortable and relatively easy 5hrs to C1.

Matt in C1

We did a load carry of 8 oxygen bottles and a tent to C2 @ approx 6500m on the 16th and were excited to cover new ground, but distance was deceptive and although we could see the site for C2 on the moraine beneath Everest, for a while it never seemed to get any closer.

Matt in Western Cwm with C1 & Pumori in background

The Western Cwm is, well, absolutely huge and almost defies description.

Sherpas carrying loads to C2 beneath Nuptse

The altitude gain between C1 and C2 is about 400m and for the most part up an easy angled glacier. The trail weaves in between cavernous and seemingly bottomless crevasses and to your right the gigantic frozen north face of Nuptse stands impassively and as you pant your way past you silently wonder when the next avalanche might come thundering down.

Matt looking at the Lhotse face

When the sun is out, living and working in this place is a lot like being inside a giant solar disc; light and heat is reflected of every surface and when combined with physical exertion you soon feel incredibly hot. In desperation you shed some layers until you’re just wearing a t-shirt and a pair of light pants/thermal long johns, but you’re still carrying 20kgs in your backpack.Then suddenly the sun disappears behind a cloud and you feel cold; you start layering up only for the sun to reappear and once again you begin to undress…

Not that we’re complaining; being in this awesome place is a dream come true and lets face it – a bit of suffering and deprivation is part and parcel of climbing a mountain like Everest.

The Lhotse Face. The site for C3 is just to the left of the middle.... (and the South Col is out of picture in the top left)

Looking at Lhotse and the traverse from C3 to the South Col was exciting, but after returning to yesterday’s BC meeting with most of the expedition leaders + sirdars (head sherpas) present, it looks like the fixed ropes to the South Col wont be in place until the end of the month and the ropes to the summit not until the first week of May.

That’s Everest for you – a game of patience.

We’ll be resting here at BC for the next 3 days before heading back up to C2 where we hopefully can do some load carries to C3 and C4.

Until then – here’s to sleep-ins, good food and loads of movies on the iTouch.

Matt & Soren

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