April 18th Yesterday I carried my third load through the Khumbu Icefall. I began at 4:15 am and was carrying a 35 lb pack. There were literally two hundred porters and I headed out within an hour and a half's start time. So the adrenaline race began. In front of me were 80 porters and behind were another 100 plus. All of us are trying to get our payloads to the destination before the sun gets too hot and the icefall begins to do just that.
There were trains of faster porters with lighter loads and others moving slower. I was probably moving at 90% of my max and breathing hard as I got in the faster stream of climbers moving up through the icefall. The effort was worth it as I arrived at Camp 1 in 2 hours 45 mins. with a moderate load. This was 45 mins. faster than the previous carry. At Camp 1 I picked up some of the cache I had left there on Tuesday. An added 15 lbs of ice tools, shovel and tent felt much more difficult to carry on the second half of the uphill effort! My pace decreased a bit, but I still pushed my pace in the air above 20,000 ft. I set my intention before I began and was following through with "joyous effort". I had a great time meeting porters, climbing Sherpa's and other international climbers acclimatizing up to Camp 2.
I found the Altitude Junkies camp close to where the High Altitude Dreams camp was supposed to be set up soon. Since they were with the same outfitter I was using, they let me cache my equipment in their kitchen tent. I walked back down the glacier to locate my duffel bag I had cached on Thursday lower down at Camp 2. I found it and nothing seemed to be missing so I carried it 20 minutes back up to the Altitude Junkies camp. It had taken me less than 5 hours to arrive with all of my gear to the kitchen. This was still 30 minutes quicker than my last carry.
When I combined the load I had just carried with the duffel contents, the total weight was about 80 lbs. You may be wondering why I had carried a 45 lb load and a 50 lb load and the contents of the cache only weighed 80 lbs. The reason is that pack weight, water, camera, essentials etc. are carried both ways.
I ate my lunch of eggs, apple and cheese washed down with Nuun and headed down. I ran across a Sherpa, with whom I had shared some water, and we headed to Camp 1 together. There were some great shots of the summit of Everest so I had to stop a few times for some pictures. I also ran across my friends from Columbia, one of them with an artificial leg. We exchanged high fives and kept at our prospective goals.
At Camp 1 I put my crampons back on and checked the rest of my cache there. At the cache there was my clothes, OR gloves, my one piece down suit and my Olympus Mons with crampons. I would pick the rest of the cache up on my next carry on the way to move to Camp 2.
I left Camp 1 at 11 am and was acutely aware that the sun was high overhead. I got on a train of three other porters and ran the gauntlet as quickly as possible. If you passed people as a group it went much better than three or four disparate passes. I roasted away for the next two hours and made it to base camp right at 1 pm. The cook, Baburam, was grateful that I was back right on time with no incident since I was the only person from the outfitter up on the mountain.
I was glad that Camp 2 is now established and stocked with all the provisions for Camp 3. I will take two days to rest and recover from this week's workout. On Tuesday, I intend to move to Camp 2 for a couple of nights. If there is action up to Camp 3, I may do a light carry and acclimatize higher. We still have over a month until the typical summit window, but I want to be as acclimatized as possible!