Sep 23, 2012

Rocks, Glaciers, Snow Walls and Seracs - our journey to Camp 1

Must. Take. One. More. Step. Gasp. Gasp. Gasp. 

Yes, sadly, despite the comforts of Advanced Base Camp the time has come for us to make the hot slog up to Camp 1… Our initial round of acclimatization up to ‘Crampon Corner’ did prepare our bodies for the initial part of the push up to the Camp but the real fun began (eg. High altitude reality check) when we strapped on our spikey ice-walking crampons and began our move across a giant dry glacier. It’s easy to be distracted by the views and clearly impossible to forget why we’re ‘there’ – eg. Makalu couldn’t be more prominent in our view..! But it’s hard to concentrate on enjoying the view AND walking at the same time… So, I kept my head down, focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  

It was an enjoyable climb up and we took it nice and slow on account of the searing heat which bounced off of the snow. A tan can be charming but not especially becoming on the underside of your tongue and nostrils..!!!

If you don't count the effects of altitude, the route up to Camp 1 is relatively straight forward – an initial climb over the huge bouldery moraine up to "Crampon Corner" where simple walking attire eg. sturdy shoes is replaced with some more 'hardcore boots' and crampons, our climbing harnesses and helmets.  Then we cross a dry glacier and move up to a headwall of snow. Up to this point we are moving together on straight forward terrain using fixed lines when crossing a few open crevasses. Upon reaching the headwall at around 6200m, we don our ‘jumars’ which allow us to ‘pull’ (am sure that is not the technical term!!) up a 60-degree wall of snow up to a snowy plateau. Here you’re met with the most amazing views framed by some icy-blue seracs and deep crevasses. The terrain is once again made safe thanks to the amazing work of the Sherpas. After moving through some undulating terrain of ice and snow you get the first views of Camp 1 perched high on a snowy plateau overlooking the Barun valley and providing a spectacular view of Baruntse and Ama Dablam... 

It was a fun but challenging climb  - made even more enjoyable thanks to the company of Valdiz, Corbin and Chad plus the entertainment provided by Adrian and Sergey with their skis. Needless to say, arriving at Camp was a welcome event as we dove into our tents, turned on our stoves and bunkered down for a chilly night..! It was the first of many above 6000m and a reminder of all that needed to be done to focus the mind (and body) on the tremendous challenges ahead.


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