Friday, April 30

Day 17 Camp I to Camp II

Good sleep, which included a 2:00am Camomile & Lavender tea – fabulous
Hive of activity as German, US & Spanish groups alos going up to Camp II.
Route full of crevasses – ot so good. At one stage while I'm prodding and procrastinating, Spanish 3 let me hook onto their rope while they hold it firm. Thank you!

Busy Mountain!

Further up some old fix rope just leaves one in the middle of new crevasses- not much fun.
By now I'm utterly exhausted. Having plenty of stops as well as down to 5 steps rest...but makes no difference. At last the views are new when looking down. Weather staying relatively stable so thats a blessing.

Looking upwards

Nearing the ridge line
Think of my Lances – they know the feeling, they carry on...Oh boy – quitting lasts forever...Somehow, and I really don't know how, start to see signs of what looks like the crest...I'm miles behind everybody at this stage. Obviously my body is not ready for two days on the trot at this altitude.


Scott and Nicole appear through the wind driven snow after having just dropped off a load at Camp II location. They encourage me to continue the couple of minutes further...
I stop at the first tent I find (later found out that it's Kono's). Now to find some energy to put up the Gemini.

Arrival at Camp II

Wind just manageable – rush the platform and ram some bamboo stakes in to hold it fast. Climb in with all gear - Break my rule of not sleeping during the day – no choice, just pass out. Never in the field of human endeavour has Hoseman been so stuffed...

6hours 7 mins,max heart rate 138, average heart rate 117 – interestingly how low HR was, must be showing although was ridiculously low in comparison to any other sporting event I would normally do, other factors playing their part (altitude) and the reason why I had absolutely nothing in me...

So here I am- new altitude record for me – approximately 6,800m. But no time to celebrate have to:
(Point A) Squat, scrape snow, warm hands, fill jetboil, change legs, scrape, fill, watch, check, repeat...
Eventually get some boiling water – coffee, hot water bottles then for food. I am eating which is good, not enough liquids though even though getting Major's text's “shouting” at me to do so.

Wake up 2:00ish – tent a real mess now – freezing and full of falling frost. Find the head torch – Gromit sitting there with raised eyebrows wondering what this is all about. Go back to Point A above, repeat for coffee and hot water bottle. Sometimes the “P” bottle can be used as an interim warming measure for hands. Sleep then wake up 6:00ish.

So achieved in carrying all my gear unaided to Camp II and then slept well without any altitude ailments – think even Jamie will be pleased – have come a long way from my first attempt in 2006.
Now can skedaddle back to rest at ABC (in preparation for doing it all again for Camp III) – Gromit now shaking his head!

Have been departing camp around 8:15 ish – always a lot to do before this, but this time including unfreezing my contact lenses...
Thought I had lost my jetboil stove as had been battling with it during the 2:00am session – but thankfully found I had been using it as my pillow – adapt or die

GPS on the blink so can anyone Google (Earth) these Camp II coordinates and tell me (via comment) what height is returned?
N28 22 05.8
E85 45 09.5
Be interesting as actually camp is on a bucket of ice...
Another point re the impact of the altitude is that at this height the relative oxygen level is about 45% (sea level = 100%) - so quite a bit for the body to adapt too

Camp II view left

Camp II view middle

Camp II view right

Thursday, April 29

Competition – ha ha

“We hope you catch the drift...because now is not the time for words...
Now is the time for rest, relaxation and calming down before, during and after a demanding day”

Any ideas of where this quotation comes from – please add your answer here by way of a comment...
First Prize: Abbreviated 1 hour slide show of trip, Second Prize: 2 hour slide show of trip etc...

Day 16 Penitentes Camp – Camp I

Beautiful clear calm morning. Pack up load (CII) for Camp I. Load a little big! I'm going to be first up, but some trail visible. Have to prod a lot to find these freshly hidden crevasses – from recent wind...
Slowly surely ascend, but energy and concentration levels drop – 15 steps, rest...

Route upwards

Miss seeing a clearly visible wide crevasse
Drive my axe into thankfully firm snow (holds me firm as attached to harness I'm wearing)
...again that feeling of calm control...
Even take a photo...

By using Leki stick and ice axe, slowly lever myself out and swing legs back onto firm ground...
Its at least a meter wide, don't want to get too close to see how deep!

Looking over shoulder

Crime scene....

Looking left, crevasse clearly visible

Onwards and upwards, hey Major....

Looking below see Dav Summit group through Penitentes – they seem late

Last section a grind, but soon see Camp I. First up today, this section of the mountain was mine. Magic weather all morning...but changing ....again...

Camp I in sight

Chuffed to be here

Settle in, all required comforts here – windy 1:00 to 5:00pm – bit of a snooze...
Wind stops in night – two fabulous days in a row, both completely different.

It's certinly worth pushing through!

Wednesday, April 28

Day 15 ABC – Penitentes Camp

Great sleep, up early to try sort out bloging – get content but no pics
Prepare for Camp II carry. Only bamboo stakes a little short as some fell off yak that was bringing them up from BC. Take about 1h 48mins to ABC so fitness at his height improving.

Contrast of Penitentes

Camp I visible from "Birdie" rock

Snow starts at Depot, so rest to see what happens. Stops so get ready to cross Penitentes. Really enjoyed the “crossing” - its about trusting your crampons, ice screws and ice axe. Weather gets worse, but I'm in such a good mood does not really matter. I'm alone in the crossing and having to follow faint trail underneath the fresh snow. What an amazing world! Gromit says that I'm experiencing another paradigm shift!. Then out we pop and there is my Gemini tent waiting for me. All gear is in the tent – tad full but cozy. Dinner have spag bol and then custard – never eaten so well on the mountain. Still windy at 7:30, but less snow. Hopefully I won't need to make trail to Camp I.Very good chat to Mrs H – she is my star – keeps telling me about big rocks on other side of the Penitentes. I love her to bits - “simple”...

My Penitentes Camp & load to Camp I

Tuesday, April 27

Matured, Camp I, Crevasse pop (on day 13!) & Aged

Updates to follow subject to power – no the power outage is not due to incompetence (note rulers of Nepal & South Africa), but due to nature - clouds

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday – Those Magical Middle Ages! After a Lifetime of Learning, finding a Way, searching for a Purpose and gaining in Experience, finally you can afford to Expand yourself to cover the whole Canvas, fill the Voids and enrich your Personal Relationships – and enjoy life without the need to push more Boundaries! We love you.

Day 14 ABC – Rest

Slept well, Kono (Chizuko) spills the beans re my birthday – had dates from Chinese visa's
Rest, charge, treat, clean, write, update plan, rest...
See on Explorers Web that Miss Oh Eun-Sun (Korean) becomes first lady to complete all 14 8,000m peaks, having just climbed Annapurna.. Also see that unfortunately Abbey Sunderland has to put in for repairs and hence end her solo quest to sail around the world.

Sera & team “baked” me a cake – fabulous and the entire group sang happy birthday.

Discussed some climbs in Bolivia and Peru with Scott & Nicole – will be taking Claire to a few of their spots. If Scott & Nicole read this, I've just taken the “breakfast shot” for them – sorry Scott that we had to exclude you – just a bad hair day.

So resting over for the time being, will be going back up to Penitentes camp on Wednesday. Objective of this trip to establish camp II as high as possible – some tents have already been set up at approximately 6,850m, so likely that I will follow suit there...

THANK YOU for your messages and DONATIONS
I will respond individually on my return!

Monday, April 26

Day 13 Camp I to ABC - Slurp

Tempted to go up, but nothing with me for Camp II, therefore down I go. Also legs have definitely timed-out. Could also stay at 6,350m and soak up the altitude, but as I'm feeling so good better to get back down to ABC to rest, build and collect last load (from there). It was a key point for me to get here – is that hill too much for me? So very chuffed as now just have to repeat it twice more – that's the simplified version!

So first down – not the greatest idea. Follow wind blown boot/crampon scaring's. A little tentative, but no choice that I'm now up here. Feel that the steepness of the slope will allow me to fall forward enough to allow me to get my ice axe into the other side. Then the exit from the crevasses can be planned a little more leisurely. I move down in the ready position. What are the odds? I'm in the game already. I have a small chance to be ok...

SLURP, I'm in. Just up to my waste. Everything stops. Is there more? Will the bit holding me up collapse? It feels sticky.. I'm surprisingly calm and relaxed. My ice axe is pegged into the ice – a good sign, as at least that came naturally. I think of Claire, Keep Calm & Carry On. Has become a sort of mantra for me on this trip. No wonder it was so successful in the war. Well as easily as I went in, I got out. I had only pushed through half the width, it was quite stable and compact around me. Legs were dangling, how does that work – empty pack providing support. I just pulled myself out – again as Claire's meercat says “Simple” - will also adopt that expression for the trip – keep it simple, uncomplicated, basic, as nature intended. Its very easy to overcomplicate everything...
So now its Crevasses 1 – Hoseman 0. Not ever sure how I can change those statistics to go in my favour – start filling up the crevasses...? Perhaps 1 hour counting my Lama beads.

But I'm only halfway down, it does though get better lower down. Again no choice (reminder due to my objectives!) Are the odds better now?

... There's my red Penitentes Camp tent. Not sure if my legs are tired from the “slurp” or from yesterdays carry, but I'm glad to be down!

Cross Penitentes, rest for a short while at Depot camp (warm, no wind) and then back down to ABC. Meet a very nice Basque guy on the trail – new Jamie and Inaki. Another lady Basque friend of his is trying to become the first female to complete all 14 8,000m peaks. She will be on her way here soon. So there will definitely be someone going for the true summit this season. Everyone else intentions remain unclear or guarded at this stage.

Some of you will know that 13 is one of my lucky numbers – in-fact any combination of 1 or 3 is good for me. Today is day 13!

Sunday, April 25

Day 12 Penitentes Camp - Camp I (Important target achieved)

3h 53 slog up to Camp I.

Approximately 6,000m looking back

Looking upwards (glacier) towards Camp I

Crevasse fields start...

Crumbling ice walls to the right

Looking down - slowly but surely gaining height

Last grind up to Camp I

My icy view from Camp I

My Camp I - really chuffed to have chased the negatives away

Location: 6,352m N28 22 57.8 E85 44 57.6
Very happy, as this is the first time in a long time that I've been up at 6,300m with a full load. Approach: 20 steps rest, if steeper 10 steps then rest.....for about 500m vertical. See many crevasses and luckily no punch thru's! Conditions have been difficult so this years camp I is lower than when I was here in 2007. Camp III is in a fixed location on the North ridge, so one really needs to spread the height and distances gained (Camp I & II) out as equally as possible.
Conditions are just ok to get tent up, but very changeable. Good to be back and to have beaten the negatives...
3 sets of sleeps during the night. Temp drops to -15 Celsius. The inside of tent has its own “environment” of snow/frost forming from my breathing. Boil water for hot water bottle during each awake “session”. Plan for summit night/day. Notice soon that no wind! Look outside – would be a perfect pre-summit night! Start to build a checklist for the occasion!
On forth awakening, find a beautiful day.

Saturday, April 24

Day 11 ABC - Penitentes Camp

Decide to ignore the negatives, get off my butt and stop bleating. What did I expect? It to be easy? Of course moving to higher altitudes puts the body into new environments which it has to then adapt to.

Extra layer of clothes (still a head wind) and set off to make another intermediate camp the mountain (other) side of the Penitentes. This will reduce the time & effort to reach Camp I. As Camp I is a new camp don't want to get there too late as till have to dig platform, build some wind barriers and set the tent up. If late in the day the weather seems to be much worse, therefore making the job very difficult, if not impossible. Stop at Depot camp for coffee and snickers and pack load for Camp I.

See climber on rock horizon - good perspective of size of things up here

Climbers in Penitentes

See the different heights within the Penitentes

Exhausted climber crossing high point

Good crossing through Penitentes. Three of the steep sections now have protection – ropes attached to ice screws, which means that one can reduce the risk of falling down them by “clipping in”. One other group also pitching tent – one of them offers to help, which I decline as although windy good to practise as much as possible. Just succeed! Strong wind and snowing all afternoon. Note to self – matches/lighter and build better vestibule.
Location: N28 23 54.8 E85 45 6.2

Penitentes high point

Penitentes Camp set, onwards to Camp I

Friday, April 23

Day 10 ABC – Psychological Wrestlemania

You must be getting bored of all this bleating by now – I mean really
I'm not at work
I'm on leave
I'm where I want to be
...therefore all should be good?!

I'll let you know later how my delightful mind is playing up

Enjoy your week-ends!

Almost came into my tent for tea

Thursday, April 22

Day 9 – Depot – Penitentes – ABC

Yep the weather cleared,what a shame for the 20cm of new snow on the route. Pack my load including some long bamboo stakes (used to secure the tent in the snow – short stakes no good, and no rocks around) and commence working my way through the Penitentes. Although it has snowed, a previous group had already marked the general direction with wands. I can also still vaguely see some boot markings in the snow so I'm not completely finding the way through the icy maze.

Although I have done this in the past (2006, 2007) it is still an amazing experience. Clambering around these tall icy pyramids, with heavy boots, crampons, large backpack and long bamboo sticks all add to the experience. Some sections require you to down (or up) climb 4m vertical sections. This would be fine in normal ice climbing, but with all the malarkey of above and only one ice axe, it gets a little more interesting. With the new snow small frozen lakes are hidden, which sometimes can hold your weight, other times not! They are not deep, but a drenched boot is not ideal in this environment, especially later in camp when you are trying to dry/warm it/them up!

In the Penitentes

Italians coming down from C1

It's about a one hours “trip”. I eventually encounter a team of Italians who are returning from a night at Camp I. They have come down a direct route and one not really scouring out for crevasses They advise me not to go up the same way and I have little choice but to heed their warning. A more important factor is that any new snow requires more energy when ascending. I'm not ready for that yet – perhaps 2 to 3 hours but not 5 to 6 as what is required to get to Camp I from the Penitentes. I end up stashing all that is required for a night at Camp I in hopefully a safe place – worried about the wind, and return back over the penitentes with an empty pack – 45 minutes and dry feet! Thereafter a quick stop at Depo and make my way back to ABC for a hot shower and a 500g fillet steak – ha ha

See below for some of the fantastic views

Looking back to Depot Camp

Some are mighty high!

Scott & Nicole on their way to Camp I - exiting Penitentes

Wednesday, April 21

Day 8 – ABC – Depot

Hooray a good night sleep!
Kami leaves for Depot camp early with extra supplies and I follow with a load at about 9:00. I enjoyed the trek but continual wind in face does take a little out of one. Sherpa's from the other groups are intending to set up camp I for their clients today. So for some of them it entails an early start from ABC, pass through Depot, carry on to Camp I, setup tents and then return the whole way back to ABC. They are amazing people who do the most enduring work but always with a smile. I rely on all sorts of triggers or stimulants and blah blah,but they just get up and do it! It would be interesting to see the statistics of those who have climbed without Sherpa support... They have provided people/clients with experiences, visuals and achievements that would not have been possible with them.

Departing ABC - Shisha ever present

Met Kami along the way

Rest stop not strop

Penitentes road

Sort out Depot camp with the mound of gear that is now building up. Other than the wind, weather remained clear until mid afternoon. Spend my time watching climbers on their way up to Camp I. It looks a peaceful journey as they wind their way through seracs and crevasses but they have to keep their eyes open for any signs of danger lurking below the snow.

Good weather on arrival at Depot Camp - view up to Camp I

Unfortunately the weather turns – windy and starts to snow! This affects the climbers on the route as they now establish Camp I much earlier – probably at about 6,400m. The bad news for me is that its likely that their tracks will be covered up, and I won't be able to take advantage of their hard work, route finding and of any crevasses they may have found. Its a real shame as I was right on target... By the end of the day conditions are not pleasant, so I snuggle into my tent to enjoy my new expeditionfoods stock. If the weather clears, I can at least cross the Penitentes and leave a load on the other side – that will be my plan...

Depot kitchen view

Depot kitchen in action - Another Best of British Tasty, light and I was really full afterwards!

Creature of the night, hmmm, I'll let you guess what it is...

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