Camp I

26-01-dawa-nuru-camp-iOn April 15th we got up at 2:45 am to get ready to climb by gearing up and eating.  We were moving in the icefall by a little after 4:00 am.  Sometimes it is better to climb in the dark as you can only see what your headlamp allows you to see; you just keep moving, blissfully unaware of the enormous challenge ahead of you.

By first light we arrived at our first ladder. I love climbing, but climbing rickety aluminum ladders over crevasses that are up to 150 feet deep is not my idea of fun.   The vertical ladders or nearly vertical ladders are pretty easy to rip up and down on.  The horizontal ladders spanning the deep crevasses are crossings that I curse and become religious about.

26-02-lhotse-faceJust before Camp I there is one last horizontal crevasse to cross.  This crevasse for fun is both wide and deep.  Two ladders are lashed together in order to span the gap.  With trepidation I grabbed the ropes and clipped in to start to cross.  The ropes are loose so you tighten them up by leaning forward.  You cross the ladders by stepping on two rungs at a time with your crampon.  Step, balance, tighten the ropes, and step with the next foot, balance…repeat until crossed.  In the middle of the span the ladders are lashed together and overlap.  You need to step up onto the second ladder, it is only inches but it is a big step.

26-03-packing-camp-iI stepped up, balanced, placed my right foot and began to step forward onto the second ladder with my left foot but I could not move my foot. My crampon somehow had locked itself into the aluminum rungs.  I was stuck, in the middle of a bouncing ladder bridge over a deep gaping crevasse just waiting for me to lose my balance and be swallowed by its depths.

I will not repeat the curses, people that climb with me know that when things push me to the edge I tend not panic but push back with flurry of swears that would make a sailor blush.  I wriggled my left foot gently, the ladders bounced and swayed.  I cursed some more, wriggled harder,  and in my mind the ladders were now a trampoline bouncing up and down as I wriggled with greater intensity .  I began to wonder if the slim safety rope that I was clipped into would hold my fall.

26-04-daniel-readyMy foot came free!  I scurried across the remaining half of the ladder bridge.  What felt like 30 minutes was most likely 30 seconds, I bent over and sucked in thin air, clipped into the fixed line and continued my way to camp.

Camp I serves as an acclimatization stop on climbers first rotation into the Western Cwm.  We were the first climbing team to arrive.  There was only one tent up which was serving as a gear cache for another team.   Dowa (our lead climbing Sherpa) was waiting for me at our gear cache (19,000 ish feet).   Together we starting hacking tent platforms out of the hard snow and setting up the tents.  Daniel and Todd showed up as we were finishing setting up the tents.  They were exhausted, so Dowa and I made some hot orange to drink and some soup.  The boys gratefully guzzled the liquids.

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1 Comment

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    May 16, 2013

    Very good written information. It will be valuable to everyone who usess it, including me. Keep up the good work – looking forward to more posts.

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