The wind had been gusting throughout the night and by 4am a few clouds hovered around still so we decided, again, to wait a little before heading higher up. Finally it all started clearing off and we got our stuff together for a night or two in camp 3 (#C3), weather depending.
Roeland was feeling stronger, but unfortunately I was not on the same level as him. The whole way towards the bergschrund I struggled, felt slow and sluggish. It wasn’t the altitude — the thinner air I was ok with, but it was my energy levels, which have been very low for some time now. As we got closer to the ‘schrund, it became very obvious to me that it would be quite foolish to push for C3 in the state I was in, especially against the increasing wind, and that it was going to be better (and safer) to stay in #C2 again that night. I was very disappointed, of course, because this was a very important part of our acclimatization, but I had to look after myself first.
I looked up at the snow plumes gusting over C3 and I could imagine what the night up there would be like: a non-restful fight against flapping tent, so turning around at that point didn’t feel as bad anymore. After a brief consultation with Roeland, he took the tent I had carried and he continued upward on the #Lhotse Face when I made my way back to C2. He had a tough night up at C3, of which he will tell you about himself on a separate post.
It took me a while to get back to C2, and when I did I was relieved. The C2 cook kindly offered tea and noodles, and soon I felt better. We had radio contact with Roeland who made it to C3, but apart from that there was not much else to do except snuggle up in a sleeping bag, and listen to the gusting wind rip through the tent. Mother Nature had decided once again to change her mind and continued with the high winds, none of which were supposed to start for another 24 hours.
I was grateful for the C2 cook with whom I sat in comfortable silence during dinner time in the chaotic dining/kitchen tent. At least I could get some hot water to make dinner while Roeland and the stove were having a wild time in C3. The wind did not stop throughout the night.
At 6am someone shook my foot and it was tired Roeland who returned from a freezing night at C3. I was relieved to see him back, it cannot have been fun up there on your own. It was still bitterly cold and windy, so we waited in our downsuits for the sun to come up before we could start our hasty downhill retreat. The downsuits had to stay in C2 for the summit push, but it was too cold to descend in our lighter clothes (things aren’t always so simple up here ☺) so we hung out with the cook until it was warm enough to leave.
We’ve now been in BC for a couple of days and the next time we go up is for a summit attempt. There is a weather window coming up in a few days, but we probably won’t go for it: we simply need more rest. Besides, it sounds like 90% of the remaining #BC teams will be going for that summit window too, and that’s something we want to avoid.
But everything is set now. We’ve acclimatised as high as we could with the timetable/weather conditions we had. All the gear is where it needs to be. Now we just need to recharge our batteries, find a suitable weather window, put the game face on, and give our best shot at this epic mountain.