Oct 22, 2012

The route to the summit...

Camp 1 on Ama Dablam is perched high up on a rocky ridge offering just enough of a view of the route to the summit to conjure up a range of emotions fluctuating on a sliding scale between excitement and awe to a touch of intimidation and sense of “what the hell have I gotten myself into…??”  You really get the sense you’re no longer ‘trekking’ and that you are well and truly on a very big mountain and that you are definitely "on expedition…."  

Our basic but comfortable camp was high enough on the rocky, slabby ridge to allow us to overlook the other teams perched on narrow rocky tent platforms - high altitude voyeurism. Whilst it isn’t the most comfortable camping spot in the world, the fact that the sun rounds the crest of the mountain and hits the tents at 6.15 AM is a huge plus particularly when everything seems to freeze solid overnight and getting out of the deep, dark depths of a sleeping bags to embrace the day is made somewhat more lucrative (but definitely still difficult!!)!

We arrived at Camp 1 in good time after a walk up from Base Camp – a walk that generally takes about 2.5 hours over gradual, straightforward terrain – most of which can be navigated by nimble-footed yaks. The final section (un-yak-accessable) which can be slightly precarious over giant bouldery terrain is relatively straight forward with a bit of dexterity (however wouldn’t be recommended after a few gin & tonics…) it always is a welcome to see the camp perched about 100m above, a view framed by colourful red, blue, yellow and white prayer-flags fluttering in the breeze.

For me, the start of a “summit push” can be intimidating experience. I’m a chronic worrier (something that I need to learn to manage!) so the opportunity to take time out to reflect and mentally prepare for the four days ahead was most welcome. Looking up at the route that evening in the alpenglow I knew that I was in for quite a challenge... which made me both nervous and excited. 

Our schedule is:
Day 1: Base Camp to Camp 1 (5400m)
Day 2: Camp 1 – Camp 2 (5750m)
Day 3: Rest Day – and breathe!
Day 4: Camp 1 – Camp 2.7 (6300m)
Day 5: Camp 2.7  (6300m) – Summit  (6800m)– Base Camp (hurrah!!)

That evening I dined on Nepal’s finest “raman noodles” with the decadent kit-kat chocolate for dessert and did my best to rehydrate and stay warm by wearing nearly every layer of clothing that I’d brought up. With about 40% of Harry Potter on my kindle, my sleeping bag offered a lucrative and warm hideaway and I had no problems falling asleep..! Big day ahead...!!!


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