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Sherpa route fixers finsh job, summit Everest

 

The associated press is reporting that a team of Sherpa guides have summited Everest! The commercial expeditions on Mt. Everest work together to hire a team of Sherpas to fix ropes to the summit of Mt. Everest. This is the first year that helicopters were used as part of this process. Every year the rope and anchors leading to the summit must be leapfrogged from camp to camp. This year the expeditions saved 75 trips through the Khumbu icefall by flying rope and anchoring equipment to Camp 1, making the task safer for the Sherpa guides doing this dangerous work.

Maintenance and preparation

The in between time can be challenging. Right now, the team's job is to eat well, sleep well, and stay healthy so they can take advantage of the weather window when it opens. Meanwhile the Sherpa crew works hard to keep the climbers fed and comfortable. Sherpa Lakpa makes several trips every day to gather water for the team. He walks off to the edge of the glacier in the afternoon and finds clean, flowing water to bring back to camp.

Everybody climbs their own mountain...

Sunday was a day of arrivals and departures. Bill and Amit arrived back in basecamp on Saturday after sending TA off to Kathmandu in a helicopter. Ade arrived back in Basecamp after his rotation through camps 1,2 and two nights at camp 3. Finally, TA was released from the hospital in Kathmandu and will spend a couple days recuperating at 800 meters to see if they can get her cough under control. Everybody climbs their own mountain, at their own pace. The entire High Altitude Expedition team will spend the next day recovering and looking for a good weather window.

Between Camp 2 and Kathmandu

The High Adventures Expedition team had an eventful Saturday on the mountain. On Friday, Ade decided to spend a second night in Camp 3 while TA and Bill descended to Camp2. On Saturday, Ade descended to Camp 2 where he’ll spend Saturday night before continuing back to basecamp. At the same time, TA, Amit, and Bill left Camp 2 for basecamp. TA’s headache and cough continued through the night on Friday and did not improve as they descended on Saturday. By the time they reached the top of the icefall TA was not improving.

Camp 3 has been established!

High Adventure Expeditions established a new high point at 23,500 feet. Under the expert guidance of Nima, the group made a significant psychological step by climbing most of the Lhotse Face. Bill, Ade and TA have officially occupied the tents at Camp 3. Amit opted to return to Camp 2 for further rest and recuperation. At this stage of the climb, it is imperative to be in tune with your body and maintain health for the summit push. Weather conditions and team energy levels will determine Friday’s course of action. 

A pivotal step on their ascent

There is a yawning crevasse at the top of the Khumbu glacier called a bergschrund. Crossing the ladders onto the Lhotse face is a pivotal step in every expedition’s ascent. The climbers will test their will against a steep wall of solid ice and packed snow. Climbers need to be clipped into fixed lines as they ascend over 2500 feet from camp 2 to camp 3. Much of that time is spent on 50-60 degree ice of the Lhotse face. The HAEX team plans to ascend this face on Friday and spend a night at camp 3 to help them acclimatize before returning to basecamp the following day.

What goes up... must come down

Everest expeditions are working hard to take responsibility for the waste. Climbers pay a deposit tied to a promise they’ll bring everything out with them. It has become common for Sherpa porters to earn a bonus for carrying garbage down from upper camps. HAEX is committed to their impact on Everest and the climbers even use WAG bags to personally reduce the amount of human waste deposited on the mountain.

The comforts of Camp 2

The team is safely ensconced in the relative comfort of Camp 2.The route from Camp 1 to 2 zig zags across the Khumbu glacier which can move up to 3 feet a day keeping climbers alert as they negotiate the crevasses and icewalls commonly found on a massive, moving glacier. After arriving at 21,000 feet, they will spend a couple days here allowing their bodies to adjust to the new altitude. At Camp 2, the HAEX team will enjoy the comforts of a cook and dining tent to make the difficult job of eating at altitude easier. 

Prioirities in camp 1:

The HAEX tents in camp one are situated on a wide bench between crevasses and the team rested for a full day there to make the most of this rotation up the hill. Their spirits are strong as they find ways to occupy the hours in the tents including 'down-feather volley ball.' TA Loeffler provides an apt description of the team priorities while in camp 1: “We sleep, we eat, we drink, we pee…”  If the weather holds, they will move up the Western Cwm to Camp 2 at 21,000 feet tomorrow.

Basecamp management

Hugo will remain in basecamp for the remainder of the climb.  While descending through the icefall on Friday, he tore his calf muscle. From now on he’ll be directing the climb from basecamp and facing his new challenge of keeping himself occupied for the many hours between radio calls.

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