On the 22nd I left early in the morning and climbed to Camp 1. Dawa sherpa climbed up too, and so did Dragan from my team. Not long after I arrived Mario from the independent team turned up. I took the gear I had stashed in Mario’s tent last time and spent the night in one of my team’s tents with Dragan.
The next day we left for Camp 2. It is only about 200m higher than Camp 1 (so around 6400m) but a reasonable distance away. From Camp 1 you climb a steep snow slope to get on to a ridge. This ridge then gives you great views of the rest of the route. You follow the ridge to where it meets a rock wall which you traverse until it meets the glacier. You then need to walk for about an hour or so up gentle slopes to reach Camp 2. It is located at the bottom of a steep snow/ice slope with many seracs that leads up to Camp 3.
Sherpas from our team arrived at Camp 2 shortly after me. They were planning to fix the route to Camp 3 the next day. (supposed to be at about 7150m). I spent a reasonably comfortable night there but the next day it was snowing quite heavily and Mario’s forecast indicated that this would continue the next day. The sherpas started to fix some rope but Dawa seemed sure the weather would force them to stop soon and go down. Mario, Dawa and Dragan wanted to go down and I was reluctant because I was eager to reach camp 3 or at least 7000m, therefore completing my acclimatisation. We started to go down, and after crossing the glacier and reaching the traverse we ran into Alex & Pawel, on their way up. They also wanted to reach Camp 3 so I decided to go back up with them and hope that the next day the weather might improve.
After reaching Camp 2 again we settled in for another night. The sherpas that had been fixing the route above Camp 2 came down and went on to basecamp. They said that they had run out of rope and only fixed about half the way – up to about 6800m. When I woke up in the morning I was dismayed to find even worse weather. It had snowed heavily during the night and it showed no signs of stopping. The big dump of new snow on the slopes above was not particularly safe so we reluctantly decided to go down. We reached basecamp by lunchtime and it felt good to be back in the relative comfort that it provides. It is annoying that I didn’t reach 7000m or Camp 3 as I now feel another acclimatisation trip up the mountain is necessary. Two nights spent at 6400m will have helped though.
I am writing this on the 27th and the sherpas have a plan to go up tomorrow straight to Camp 2 and then the next day complete the route to Camp 3. I have left my sleeping gear at Camp 2 and from now on will climb directly from BC to 2, skipping C1. I am not yet sure whether I should join them as weather reports are slightly conflicting, but indicate that there will be a lot of snow either from tomorrow night or from midday the day after. If it snows tomorrow night that would mean I would have to stay at Camp 2 and then come down again, therefore wasting energy. If the snow comes later then it would give me time to climb up to Camp 3 and come down again. Right now I’m leaning towards not going and waiting for a better forecast, but that might be as long as a week away.
Attached is a picture of me descending to basecamp in not great weather, taken by Alex Gavan