On Monday the 22nd after the whole team slept we woke to take a small acclimatization hike about 25% of the way to camp 2. Everyone was still pretty tired and two teammates where suffering from AMS ( altitude mountain sickness). The two sick climbers stayed in camp and we set out across the snow field I have named The White Sahara.
This is a large glaciated valley with huge crevasse some hundreds of feet deep. All of them have some form of snow bridge that we have to navigate carefully as to not disappear down into the depths. This is why we use fixed lines (ropes) that we attach to our harnesses, so if we do fall through the snow the rope will catch us and keep us from falling into the abyss.
Luckily this system worked today and caught a fellow climber when the edge of the crevasse broke free as he made a wrong step and he fell some 15 to 20 feet before the rope attached to his harness stopped his fall. As he dangled 60 feet above the crevasse’s floor, two of our guides and two Sherpas made quick work making a pulley system and pulled him back to safety. We all were relieved he came out of the fall with minor injuries. We headed back to camp 1, where we all ate our dehydrated meals in a bag and went to bed early.
Today we woke at five to bitter cold temps -25 C and prepared to move to camp 2 in the western khumb. Unfortunately our to fellow climbers with AMS did not improve and they headed back to Base Camp to recover. We all wish them a speedy recovery and hope they can join us again on the second rotation back up to camp 3.
The rest of us set out across the crevasse field to camp 2. This time we moved with our full packs. We covered over 6 miles and 1,400 ft in elevation. Again we had to descend into these crevasses and climb vertically up the other sides. Once we passed most of these canyons of pure ice we had a 4 mile hike uphill to camp 2. The sun was out and even though the ambient temperature was well below freezing we were roasting as if we were walking across the Sahara, hence the name, The White Sahara.
The remaining climbers all made it to camp 2 in less than 6 hours. It was hot and hard but didn’t compare to the ice fall. Most of the team now rest in there tents as they wait for supper. The camp is set up just below the Lhotse face. A huge slopping face of the mountain that is 4500 vertical feet at a 55 degree angle. Frankly it’s amazing and terrifying!