Camp II

26-06-todd-keeps-down-handyJust below the Lhotse face on a tortured jumbled moraine, at around 21,500 feet, sits a collection of tents that climbers in the Western Cwm refer to as Camp II.  To get there you march up the valley of silence 2000 feet from Camp I, crossing several crevasses bridged by narrow aluminum ladders.

If you do not leave early in the morning by 9:00 am you are marching through a reflector oven of high altitude rays.  To combat the sun we slathered on SPF 110, but my nose still burnt.   Our team is on the front end of the climb so we had the Western Cwm to ourselves.  The entire morning we saw no Western Climbers and only two groups of Sherpa’s coming down after carrying to Camp II.

We were carrying as well.  My 50 liter pack has never been so abused.  The morning we were moving from Camp I to Camp II the icefall below us was moving too.  As a result no teams went through the icefall that day, including our Sherpa team, so we moved the camp.

26-05-moving-out-for-camp-iiThe trek from Camp I to Camp II is not difficult even considering our loads, but we were not prepared for the effect of the heat and the altitude gain.  Every step the air got thinner and it seemed the heat intensified. After a four hour march we reached our camp exhausted.

We stayed in Camp II for three nights to acclimatize and rest after several hard days of climbing and living in the thin air.  Besides the lack of O2 the temperatures were not polite, in our tent every night it was below – 20 Celsius, one night dipping to -24, or at least that is the coldest I read my thermometer during the night before prudently retreating deeper into my sleeping bag.

26-07-steve-holds-line-taughtThe second day at camp our Sherpa team showed up early in the morning.  I was up a 7:00 am with Dowa having tea when they marched into camp.  Together the four of us set up the dinning and cooking tent for the camp.  Having set up many a tent I began sorting poles but with the language barrier and their attack task style I stood out of the way until they needed me to hold up one corner and help drag the tent over the metal frame (I am generally taller than Sherpa’s if you can believe that!).  With that done camp was complete.

The next day was the first day I could move more than ten steps without having to stop and gasp for air. So I walked around the camp checking out the other teams (there were none we were the only climbers in camp) and climbed high above the moraine to take pictures.  We prepped our bags and gear because the next morning we were heading back to base camp having completed our first rotation in the Western Cwm….but that is another story….

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4 Comments

  1. dion
    Apr 22, 2013

    good luck steve

  2. gary milne
    Apr 23, 2013

    To infinity and beyond…..steady on

  3. akb48 dvd
    May 16, 2013

    I really like your writing style, excellent info , regards for posting : D.

  4. Brayde
    May 17, 2013

    He made it to the summit at about 8:30 (pm or am don’t know sorry) Thursday the 16th! I’m proud to say I met him personally; he’s my teacher’s friend!

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