Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Initial Icefall Foray

Today started slow enough, with another beautiful morning cresting over Base Camp. The team spent several hours relaxing and talking about what the day holds. Then a little after noon, Willie told us to go grab our gear, and we were off into the Khumbu Icefall.

The intent of today wasn’t to complete this leg of the climb; it was to gain some elevation and familiarization with the Icefall itself. Over the next few hours the group moved through undulating glacial towers and across frozen lakes, further and further from Base Camp.

After some time, the route became steeper and we began to ascend fixed lines, passing tons and tons of gear from previous expeditions along the way. We were able to identify some items; some were barely recognizable thanks to years on and in the glacier. It was staggering to see all of these items though, knowing full well that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Rumor has it that there are only another 600m of lines to be fixed to reach Camp 1 by the Icefall Doctors (a group of Sherpas employed by the National Park who fix all of the ropes and ladders in the Icefall) and that they may make their objective tomorrow. With any luck we should be making our way to the top of the Icefall in the next couple of days, but today still proved to be a challenging and physical effort for us. Interestingly, we were told that despite how tired we were upon return that in a few weeks, once properly acclimatized the Icefall would take us no more than two to three hours to navigate from start to finish. Man, I can't wait for that day.

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