The South Col – well not quite…

Dear Family & Friends,

I was hoping to be able to share some photos and a story of my successful round trip to the South Col, but unfortunately I didn’t quite make it.

After an uncomfortable night in camp 3 I donned my big red Everest Hardwear down suit and set out at 5.30am on May 5th with my load of 3 oxygen bottles destined for the South Col. The weather was great with little to no wind, but it was very cold and I struggled to keep my toes warm. It was tough going from the start and I found it hard to get a rhythm going; foot placement was awkward on the steep terrain and so after 3½ hours of huffing and puffing I finally hit the proverbial wall @ around 7650m (a large one in the form of the Lhotse Face) and decided to turn around and return to C3 and later that afternoon all the way down to base camp.

A view 'out of this world' - a few hundred meters higher and that statement would in fact be true....

Having fun at 7500m

Sherpas carrying loads just below the rock formation known as the 'Yellow Band'.

Everest from the Lhotse Face

Looking across at Everest and the South Col

Of course I’m disappointed, but I have to accept I need a little help and will pay a Sherpa to carry my oxygen bottles to the South Col. The timing for my summit attempt rests with the weather gods and I now relax at BC while waiting for a suitable window to appear.

Camp 2 with the Lhotse Face in the background

The trail on the Lhotse Face - just below the sharp left that begins the traverse to the 'Yellow Band' is where I turned back on May 5th

Coming up through the icefall to C2 on May 2nd we discovered that part of the upper trail had been obliterated by a huge avalanche; standing next to the remains of a ladder was an ‘icefall doctor’ – wearing a bright fluoro jacket he was directing traffic and the only thing missing was him holding a lollipop!

Crossing a ladder in the icefall

Did you know that altitude promotes youthful looks, hair and nail growth? 2 out of 3 ain't bad...!

I smuggled 2 bottles of coke from BC to C2 thinking an occasional mouthful of black magic would be a nice treat @ 6450m. Well it certainly is, but it turns out that leaving the bottles in the tent during the day will transform the drink to a flaccid near boiling liquid one minute or a frozen, slushy like ice concoction the next. What you’ve got to do is sit there and wait, forget about climbing Everest for a while, and then when the temperature is just right – pounce!

Nothing up here is easy.


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