The Alpenglow Ama Dablam group is lapping at the flanks of the mountain in separate waves as we had planned. Some are already flirting with the upper slopes, others are slowly gathering momentum on the fringes of her friendlier, lower angled approaches.
Chad, Heather, Valdis and Sergey are on their way up to Camp 2.7 as I write. The day from C1 to C2.7 is arduous to say the least. It encompasses almost every genre of climbing and is spectacular from start to finish…notwithstanding, it is also incredibly physically demanding. Shortly after leaving C1, the climbers negotiate long sections of traversing over steep, slabby rock. The route winds up and around the last of the clean, snow-free rock on the mountain. The views are phenomenal, the climbing fun and the quality of the rock, exquisite. The first part of this journey culminates with the famous “Yellow Tower”: a gymnastic 25m of almost vertical rock which can be tackled either with careful, meticulous rock climbing technique, or brute force and physically exhausting jumar technique! Thankfully, from the top of the Yellow Tower to C2 and a rest, is just a short distance.
Beyond C2, the terrain becomes less benevolent. There are sections of snow, snow on rock, rock with no snow, vertical mixed climbing spiced up by some loose rock that occasionally whistles by, and finally, leading in to C2.7, the jaw droppingly beautiful and simultaneously terrifying (with it’s gargantuan abysses either side) Mushroom Ridge. All in all the day is a dream for anyone who enjoys alpine climbing. There are moments of unsurpassable beauty, fun and fear…and all of this on the slopes and ridges of the Khumbu’s most beautiful peak. Altitude is not the be all and end all of Himalayan climbing, and although Ama is dwarfed by the neighbouring giants, she stands tall and proud in her unrivalled aesthetic lines and challenging terrain.
When Chad and his team arrive at C2.7, they will begin the endless task of melting snow in order to ensure they are as well hydrated as possible for their summit attempt tomorrow. They will be awake by 4am preparing themselves to be on the move with first light at 5. Our weather forecast for tomorrow promises light winds and cold temperatures in keeping with the time of year, and from base camp I shall be watching them inch their way up the final snowy face that leads to the summit ridge and the summit.
Dorji, Dan Nuru and Palden left base camp at 4am this morning and are already with the team on their way between C2 and 2.7. These three monstrously strong Sherpa will be with the members on their way up and down Ama Dablam tomorrow. If all goes well, I expect to see the Sherpa and at least some of the team back in base camp late tomorrow night. The descent is long and no less arduous than the way up, requiring maximum concentration, meticulous rope work and delicate footwork. It’s an exhausting day but hopefully it will hold the sweet reward of a successful summit. The rest of the team wishes our satellite advanced group the very best of luck!
Speaking of the rest of the team…let me update you on them as well. Everybody left base camp yesterday and made their way to Yak camp for their first night in a high camp since their arrival on the mountain. It was a cold walk up through a biting wind, but having talked to Brian and Adrian on the radio this morning, it seems that everyone survived both the exertion of the walk and the toll of a night at a new altitude (5400m).
Today they have all made the move to Camp 1. Adrian and Ephi plan to stay there, whereas Brian and the others will drop off some equipment and then head back to Yak Camp for a second night. The terrain between Yak Camp and Camp 1 gently leaves what can be considered hiking, and ventures into the realm of “technical walking”, rock-hopping through large talus boulders, and then onto a section of fixed rope that secures the final 100m up some rock slabs to C1.
The team made the move well and are currently sitting enjoying the sunshine and acclimatising before heading back down, leaving Ephi and Adrian to their own devices at C1 for the night.
The final member of this year’s Ama Dablam group is Jennifer, our Norwegian trekker who walked in from Lukla to Dingboche with the main group before splitting off on her own adventure to climb Lobuche peak. She successfully summitted Lobuche East with Pasang Sherpa yesterday, and today is on her way to Ama Dablam base camp where she will stay until the main group finishes their climb. Our hearty congratulations go to Jennifer on her first Himalayan summit…the first of many we hope!
Sooooo….I think I have covered the news from here. Tomorrow will be an exciting day, hopefully seeing our first summits of the season so as soon as I have news I shall update you all.