Sunday, September 30

Ruminating at Camp 1

[Message received Saturday 29 SEP 15h30 our time]
Hoseman still at Jamie’s Camp 1.
The storm is still raging outside and it has not been possible to get out of tent. Has had about 20 hours of continuous driving winds at 20 to 30 knots, creating lots of noise – a big racket! Forecast shows the wind should drop soon but that’s all it says, there are no long-term indications.

His thoughts are now that he might leave his Camp 2 stuff here, await a window of opportunity and then to return to ABC. Here he will wait for the next weather forecast before making final decisions regarding his future plans. Hoseman felt that unfortunately, the ideal conditions required for an ascent are not present under the current weather conditions – which is a pity. Already the British Military team are cutting their losses and calling it quits. After 8 weeks on the mountain, they are now running out of time and are preparing to go back. Hoseman too will have to think of his looming return departure dates.

In reply to our question, he says his tummy doesn’t quite feel like food and he is surviving on packets of soup and coffee. Still has enough supplies here for another five nights.

In reply to another question, he said his Camp 1 is really only another 150 m away (about 70 metres vertical climb) but at present is just impossible to reach. It would not be dangerous but certainly not much fun taking his big load through the waist-deep soft snow. Once he got there, he expected he would find only about one foot of his tent showing through the snow. He would have reached approximately the same altitude as last year which is a pity because he still feels strong and his setup is good and 7000m looks so tantalisingly close.

Morale seems to be bouncing around, sometimes picking a high, sometimes a low. He has found a book (probably left behind by one of the guides) and spent most of today reading Maurice Herzog’s account of his expedition up Annapurna (The First 8000m Peak). It is interesting in that the conditions he describes coming down the mountain after summiting closely corresponds to the conditions Hoseman is now experiencing himself.

Those who have read this book, will recall that on summiting. Maurice Herzog and his partner Louis Lachenal spent precious moments photographing the scene and taking aneroid readings. They decided against building a cairn because there were no stones and everything was frozen. Moreover, the weather was no longer as ‘gloriously fine as it had been in the morning’. Lachenal was becoming impatient. “We must go down.” This they did until they reached the foot of a rock-band. Herzog explains the next few fateful moments:
“I had hurried and I was out of breath. I undid my sack. What had I been going to do? I could not say. ‘My gloves!’ Before I had time to bend over, I saw them slide and roll. They went further and further straight down the slope. I remained where I was, quite stunned. I watched them rolling down slowly, with no appearance of stopping. The movement of those gloves was engraved in my sight as something ineluctable, irremediable, against which I was powerless. The consequences might be most serious. What was I to do? ‘Quickly, down to Camp V’.
“Might be most serious” in fact, turned out to be an understatement. Not only did he suffer severe frostbite to his hands, Lachenal too suffered serious frostbitten feet and both barely made it back. The story of their descent and return journey became a classic - a nightmare few people should have to experience. [END]

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