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Base Camp, Kala Patar, and Lobuche Peak

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition

It has been a whirlwind week since my last post, and finding time on a computer has been near the bottom of my list of prioirities. Apologies for that! Our complete team has been in Base Camp for a week now, and basecamp (for us) is an incredible place. While most teams this year have been squeezed into a small and quickly melting area below the Icefall, Russell’s forethought and planning has us basking on an open plain 15 minutes away from the main camp. With more sun, clean water, lots of space, and the glacier moving more slowly in this location, our camp is incredible. Highlights I am probably not meant to share because they will make you think us Everest climbers are soft include – a full size oven for baking bread, brownies, pies, and pizzas; a fully functioning espresso machine; a plasma tv with dvd player and full surround sound system, and a fully stocked bar. All of these treats are parked within a massive “tent” called the white-pod. The white-pod has chaise loungers, heating, a massive window looking out onto the icefall, and even tigerskin rugs! It holds 20 or so people sitting in the lounges and couches, or 40+ sitting and standing. The tent is the only of its kind and massively changes our experience. Every night is cards, a movie, or just socializing in what feels like a chill apre-ski lounge in your favorite ski town. And of course, immediately outside is the icefall, fantastic penitentes for two tool ice climbing, and countless 18,000-20,000 hills to hike up for acclimatization.

So that is wyhat we have been doing – eating great food, resting lots, exploring our surroundings, hanging out with friends from other teams, and going on hikes. Today we begin the next phase of our acclimatization. We are on the way down to Lobuche peak, a 20,000 foot glaciated peak just down the valley from Everest. It gives us the opportunity to sleep higher and practice a number of important skills (crampon and ice axe work, fixed line ascents, and campcraft) while still avoiding the dangerous icefall for a bit longer. We will each climb Lobuche at least twice, and plan on sleeping on the summit for at least one night (enabling us to skip nights at Camp 1 on Everest, which is somewhat exposed to serac avalanches.

All in all, Russ’s plan seems to be working great so far. Our team is healthy and excited and loving our time under Everest.

And meanwhile, our sherpas have been making incredible progress. Over the past 3 days since the Icefall officially opened (meaning all the ladders and fixed lines are in place), our team of 30 Sherpas have already carried almost a ton of gear through the Icefall, and past Camp 1 to Camp 2 ad 21, 300 feet. This camp will provide our next base of operations and will have everything from sleeping tents to dining tents to all the supplies for the upper mountain (oxygen, fixed rope, anchors, food, tents, stoves, etc.). Our sherpas have been quite happy with the status of the Icefall and are already jonesing to begin fixing lines on the upper mountain. But for now our priority will be carrying loads and establishing ourselves well as high as C2.

We will be on Lobuche for the next 3 days or so. Look for an update of our climb, and further updates from the big hill in a few days!

-Adrian Ballinger
Himalayan Experience & Alpenglow Expeditions