Happy Easter and Welcome to the Ice Fall

(The SAT phone came through and we were able to retrieve this message from Chad to post to his blog)

It has taken me a full day to understand what we just did and 10 hours of sleep to recover enough to tell it. The Ice Fall is a huge glacier breaking apart as it slides down the mountain. We traversed through this labyrinth of terror constantly climbing. The entire team made the climb, the first of us arrived at 6 and a half hours and the last just shy of 11 hours. Although it’s not a race I was proud to be the first into camp 1. That being said I barely had the strength to lift my spoon to my mouth for lunch.

We would wind our way through deep crevasses, some just wide enough to slip through, and over 4 story size blocks of ice only to descend just 20 feet later. All of this under the cover of darkness since we left at 2 am.

Most of the team had a personal Sherpa who carried 75% of their pack weight and guided them through the ice fall. I did not pay for this luxury and schlepped my 42 lb pack up the whole ice fall. For the most part I climbed on my own. Our lead guide would stop periodically to check on me. Outside of one brutal day on Mt Denali this was my hardest, most physical demanding day of my life.

We officially gained 2,400 vertical feet in elevation but I’m guessing with all the up and down of the ice fall it was more like 4,500 ft. As the helicopter flies it’s less than two miles but the shortest distance on our Garmin gps was 17 miles. If this isn’t accurate it at least felt like it.

Once in Camp 1 my fellow climbers and I all looked shell shocked. We had all fought our own battles today, against the mountain, altitude, and our mental toughness. I for one am excited to have done it and terrified that we go back down and up two more times as part of the acclimatization process. I will post pictures in a couple days when we return to basecamp to recover.

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3 thoughts on “Happy Easter and Welcome to the Ice Fall

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