Everest-Route Testing: Base Camp to Camp 3
April 27th: I decided Tuesday would be a good day for a trial run from Base Camp to Camp 3. I put together a small pack with water, clothing, food, cameras and gloves. The weather was supposed to be marginal, but below the South Col it should not be too extreme.
I woke up at 5 am and gathered my belongings. The winds were gusty down low and made me question whether I should call it off. I do stand by the decision that you have to try to really find out. So I went to the kitchen and Baburam made me some eggs. I also got a juice box and an apple for lunch.
At 6:30 am I headed into the Khumbu and toward the Icefall. There were very few folks in the Icefall so I was able to make it to Camp 1 in 2:15 hrs. Moving on, I ran into my friends Seth and Dave between Camp 1 and 2. I rolled into Camp 2 and found that our cook tent was unoccupied so I went to the RMI camp and got 2 cups of water from the cook. We share the same operator, High Altitude Dreams (HAD), so there is no conflict of interest.
I ate the apple and a Raw Revolution bar to refuel. Moving on I headed to the base of the Lhotse Face where I ran into a friend I had not seen in a decade. Kenton Cool was guiding a group of clients to the Lhotse Face. We talked briefly and I checked with him on the time. I made it to the base of the face in 5 hrs. I was glad to reach the fixed lines so I could switch up muscle groups from lower to upper body.
The change of pace was welcome! I could move the jumar up 15 strokes before I had to take a literal breather. About 20 anchors up I passed lower Camp 3 and reach my previous highpoint. Two Russian climbers were out of their tents and watching my progress. As I passed their camp, I saw them clip into the fixed lines behind me. The weather began to change rapidly. The snow began to fly and the winds kicked up. I continued on for another 7 anchors topping out on a bulge above the lower camp and above the base of the Geneva Spur. I believe my high point was around 7300 meters.
I switched from up to down mode in moments. The temps had exceeded the warmth of the clothing I had carried. I soon passed the Russians still heading up. Asking the time I realized it had taken me 7.5 hours from Base Camp 6,000 feet below. I could see Sherpa's above in one piece down suits and goggles. In the future, I will be wearing the same outfit at this elevation during the night on my summit bid.
I descended as quickly as possible knowing that it would be much warmer on the glacier below the face. I walked toward Camp 2 knowing that I had four hours to make it back to Base Camp. The RMI cook welcomed me in for another cup of hot water. Then I was back into the wind and snow toward Camp 1. Usually I do not wear crampons between 2 and 1 but the new snow and the lack of a defined trail warranted wearing them.
When I walked past the 40 tents in Camp 1 there was not a soul. The place was a ghost town. I was weaving through the crevasses and fixed lines to reach the top of the Khumbu Icefall. I could see the tents of Base Camp 2,000 ft below. Now I just had to navigate the icefall without incident. I zipped through the 45 fixed ladders and into the dry glacial ribs of the "flats". I had promised Baburam I would be back in time for dinner at 6:30 pm. I popped off the crampons and made it to the cook tent in less than 11.5 hours.
I was pleased with the effort, but I know that I need to improve on a few of the segments. Now I will take a couple of days of rest. I am headed down to Tengboche to recover from the effort so far. It is important not to get too depleted as you cannot fully recover at Base Camp (17,400 ft). I am feeling healthy and strong at this point. Next week I plan to climb to Camp 2 and then go for a burn from Camp 2 to the South Col.