We’d set the alarm for 4am with full intention of being en route by 5am. Well, it didn’t exactly go to plan, because a low cloud hovered over camp 2 (#C2) so after early breakfast we decided to snuggle in the sleeping bags a moment longer and waited for the clouds to go. By 6.30am we set off, which was a much more sensible time.
It was another stunning day to come, a bit cool, but we kept moving to stay warm. In a couple of hours we got closer to the gaping bergschrund, which we had to cross to get to the #Lhotse face properly.
Two ropes had been fixed on the face, and the idea was that you’ll climb up using one and anyone coming down would abseil on the other. Without this system it would be an impossible mess to get anywhere so we clipped on one and headed uphill.
Although the start had been a bit slow now the great feeling of being on the way up on this much-heard-about face kicked in. Slowly, but very steadily, Roeland and myself climbed higher and higher, overtaking some slower climbers until a few hours later we came over the last icy hump and saw the first tents of camp 3 (#C3). We had a little break before continuing our slow ascent to the higher end of the camp. We did this for two reasons: to acclimatise higher and to scout for a tent place for ourselves for when we’d come to sleep here. Today we were just gonna ‘touch’ C3 and go back to C2.
As we had understood, normally C3 is somewhere between 7,100m-7,300m, but this year it was lower, thus making the climb between C3 and the next stop, #South_Col, a whopping 1,000m altitude gain. And this is a lot, especially at these altitudes.
At 6,970m the inner engines ground to a halt and we decided this was as good as it was gonna get for the day. The noon clouds started rolling in so we savoured the views for a while before turning around and heading downhill. In less than a couple of hours we were back in C2, a friendly lunch invitation waiting for us, which we gladly accepted.