Monday, May 7

Day 14 - 7 May - Shishapangma Camp I

Fantastic day, no one initially on the trail (hopefully it’s not soft!)
Packed load for Camp I – has to be done right as no real second chances if forget something.
Through Penitentes in approx. 40 minutes. A good route this year, have to follow the markers through the teeth maze that the earlier teams have placed. In some cases there are some steep long drops, so one has to rappel down these. Eventually pop out onto the icy glacier.
Looking back to Penitentes

Even though had not really eaten for dinner last night or breakfast this am did feel good – result of eating so well at BC & ABC

Now although its only 3.5km in distance, it’s the climb from 5,850m to 6,387m that’s the real killer. I’m also not acclimatised for this altitude yet – that’s the main reason for the struggle.
20 to 30 steps then rest –yep head on ski pole, trying to get ones breath back. Pick next target point and carry on. Three and a half hours later I’m getting close to the crest. Have past some tents that are really too low for a Camp I (must have had bad weather hence needed to stop). Will make their day to Camp II impossibly long. So although it’s tempting to stop, no worth it in the long run – better to suffer a bit more.
By this stage, Luke’s three Sherpa’s, Ngima, Kaji & Gyalzen, have caught up to me. They will be establishing Camp I for Luke’s team. Nice now to have someone ahead of me on the trail.

Sherpas catching up with me

It always seems to blow an icy headwind at the crest to the plateau of Camp I.
Imagine if they had my tent with them…hmmm can’t change the rules now!

4h34mins since exiting the Penitentes arrive at the place where other teams Camp I has been established. Luckily for me some climbers have already left so could use their tent platform that they had cut into the snow. Just a quick scrape with my Grivel Spade, and ready to put up my Mountain Hardware EV2, single skin, hence light. Wind just ok, so not too difficult.

Camp I. My tent bottom right

Collect some icy snow and place at tent door – easy access for stove. But lighters did not work, you may ask, why will they work higher up???
Confession time: Ngima brought up two rolls of toilet paper (yep forgot to take those to Depot) and a “special” lighter from Luke for me. So I have had Sherpa support on the climb!

So got stove to light but noticed that my (new) gas canister seemed be a little weak – hmmm buying gas in Kathmandu…..
Long short, could only “boil” enough water for three quarters of a litre for soup and another luke warm water bottle…
Luckily weather good and hence not too cold (ABC had range from 33 plus to minus 6 Celsius the other day)
Problem though is that this did not help with me eating one of my mountain food packets! Another day with no real food. Yep only had one canister – trying to go light – but really on the edge now. Also decision that would have to go down tomorrow made for me -  this instead of one extra night acclimatising at 6,387m.

Crevasse note: Much better snow bridges over the slots than in 2010 and in fact did not see any holes on the way up…
But next morning when leaving and just at the crest, did pop a meter or so wide hole – luckily behind me, so must had had enough forward momentum to carry me over. There were some fixed lines which I used after that, but none in that particular section. “There’s nothing like the feeling of crevasse adrenaline in the morning” – like the smell of napalm quote….

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