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Moving on Up!

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition


Thanks to Monica for the following blog:
Hello again, from a beautifully sunny, dry and fully established ABC. We are now officially settled in here at what is to be our home for the next 20 days or so, AND we are making camps on the mountain…but more about that later.
Chad updated you all on our walk to and arrival at Advanced Base Camp. We’ve now had 4 nights here and all of our equipment has arrived. All the expedition members are doing incredibly well with only minimal health issues and they have been settling in to their personal tents and making them as homey as possible. Wet gear has been dried and we have done our best at making our hang out tent comfortable and cosy with carpets, cushions, blankets and one very big, very pink, blow up arm chair…which we fight over each evening when it comes to movie time! Yes, movie time…we have the unbelievable luxury of being able to watch films projected onto a 50″ white screen via a cute little digital projector that is the coolest thing ever! 
Movie time is usually straight after dinner, which has also reached a whole new level. All of our expedition food has arrived, including our staple Serrano ham and Manchego cheese appetisers, nuts and snacks from Trader Joe’s and Tashi’s tremendous creations from his now fully-stocked kitchen…steak, salmon, pizza, baked apples and so much more.
The long and short of it is that we may well be at 5600m, but we are living the high life in the lap of luxury!
Aaaand….the monsoon has officially finished! HURRAY!!!! The Sherpa calendar confirms it, our weather forecasts from Switzerland confirm it and what we are seeing and feeling confirms it. It hasn’t snowed for a couple of days and this morning we all ate breakfast outside in the sunshine. Hurray for the sun is all I can say….let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Yesterday we had our Puja. This is a Buddhist ceremony performed for the Sherpa to ensure their safe passage on the mountain. Pasang Sherpa from Phortse, performed the ceremony for us yesterday and it was perfect in every way. The sun shone, it wasn’t too long (I have sat through Pujas lasting in excess of 4 hours!) but long enough for everyone to focus on the significant task ahead.  Our altar looks up towards the mountain, with the route to Camp 1 visible in the background. Sitting, listening to our Sherpa chanting whilst looking up at the now tangible colossus whose slopes and ridges we have chosen to come and try to scale, is the prefect way in which to switch gears and move into the intense psychological and physical zone required to undertake a challenge of this nature. 
The Puja marked the next chapter for us all and the transition was seamless. At around 10am after the Puja had finished, we all got ready to go for a short walk to Crampon Point. Crampon Point is an arbitrary spot next to the glacier where the climbing members will store their technical equipment in barrels in order to avoid hauling it up and down to ABC each time they make a trip up the mountain. The walk from ABC to crampon point goes along the moraine wall hugging the side of the glacier with huge penitentes towering above the route. It is truly spectacular, and, almost mystical, to be walking amongst towers of ice with streaks of sunlight breaking through creating incredible light shows that take your breath away…or …wait a minute..maybe that’s just the altitude!
On our way up we crossed paths with members from Kobbler and Partners expedition team on their way down from Camp 2. Some of them are very close friends of ours so it was a treat to see them and catch up. It seems crazy to think that there are only 4 teams on the mountain but schedules and logistics make spending time together almost impossible!  
Our team moved efficiently up the unstable scree and loose rock and was at crampon point within an hour and forty five minutes after leaving ABC. The sherpa of course, stormed past us despite the 20kg loads of equipment that they were carrying to deposit at Camp 1. Guide Chad Peele continued on up with the Sherpa to Camp 1;  Adrian and Sergey ventured up the glacier for an hour in the hope of finding some skiable snow, and the rest of us called it good at Crampon Point before wandering back down to ABC for the afternoon. I was very pleased to see all of our climbing members in great form. The walk up and 300m gain didn’t take undue toll on anyone and I feel a huge amount of positivity and excitement from our climbing team. They are excited and ready to get going up the mountain.
Today, our five Sherpa left ABC at 6am with more loads to take up to Camp 2. They are currently on their way down and all is well. That leaves us in the fabulous position of having both our camps 1 and 2 established and ready to be occupied. The team plans to move to camp 1 tomorrow for a couple of nights up there to keep pushing that acclimatization whilst keeping health and strength optimal. Our Sherpa will rest tomorrow such that the following day they can carry more loads to camp 2 and get things ready to move on up.
And so the expedition continues, onwards and upwards. I will keep you updated with news from our team while they spend their nights at camp 1. The weather forecasts we have from our friends in Switzerland are as good as they could possibly be…no wind, no precipitation and no drop in temperatures; we could not ask for more. 
Thanks again for following!