Friday, May 6, 2016

May 3 - camp 3

Today I learned that breathing at 23,000 feet is very difficult, especially while you're trying to climb straight up snow and ice. 

The team left camp 2 at 6 am, bundled in layers of down and well rested, ready for the challenge of the Lhotse face.  We climbed pretty much straight up for about 5.5 hours until we reached camp 3, a collection of tents perched on the icy face.  

When climbing on steep, monotonous terrain like this, it's easiest for me to find a rhythm, so I focused on taking one step per breath, and then sliding my ascender up the fixed line.  Breathe - step - breathe - step - slide.  Repeat.  

Climbing the Lhotse Face
Photo:  Stuart Erskine
We were all tired at camp 3, and we laid in the snow on the mountainside, bundled in down suits, meanwhile Sherpas from another team were digging tent platforms with a pick axe.  I don't know how they do it.  After about an hour, clouds started to move in, cutting our high altitude nap short, so the team descended the steep slope in arm wrap style (using a carabiner and rope attached to my harness, holding tension behind me while walking straight down the 40 degree slope (it's mostly terrifying)), with a few rappels, and returned safely to camp 2 just as it started to snow.  

Camp 3 - 23,000 feet
Photo:  Stuart Erskine

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