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Scott in Everest Basecamp - The Summit Window is Set
by Scott_Parazynski
Nepal Lobujya
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My Adventure Story

Day 45/May 5, 2009 (Tuesday)
Anatomy of a Summit Push

It’s time to start talking details of the days ahead… Danuru and I --- along with Rejean, Dawa and other climbing friends --- will have to traverse the Khumbu Icefall one last time (on the way up), establish ourselves at Camp II, spend a night at Camp III, and visit Camp IV briefly on our way to the summit. And the details of coming back are even more important!

Regardless of the day of base camp departure, this is what the struggle ahead looks like from my perspective:

Day 1: May 7th?

Depart EBC in the early morning --- paying particular attention to having a good visit by the puja altar --- and arrive at Camp I (19,500’) in ~ 3 hours 30 minutes. Danuru and I will take a brief break for water and a snack here, but we’ll not delay: we won’t want to get stuck in the reflector oven known as the Western Cwm during mid-day hours. Roughly 2 hours after leaving Camp I, we’ll arrive at Camp II (21,500’). This is our Advanced Base Camp, with a full time cook and some of the basic conveniences of EBC. Views include the dramatic Lhotse Face, the West Shoulder of Everest (the summit block is obscured), and the north and rugged face of Nuptse.

Day 2: May 8th?

Rest day at Camp II: lots of Ramen soup and Sherpa tea (milk & sugar tea). I plan to take my prototype lunar geologic hammer around the nearby rocky glacier for a test drive, and also expose some plasmid DNA samples to the ultraviolet environment as part of ongoing astrobiological studies --- but mostly I’ll just be on my back, in my sleeping bag, resting the day away. I’ll have the radio tuned to base camp frequency, looking for any updates to current or forecast summit weather.

Day 3: May 9th?

Another very early start, wearing a full down suit and climbing helmet, hoping to arrive at Camp III (24,500’) by the time the sun strikes the Lhotse Face (~ 08:30 am); the trip from Camp II should take 5-6 hours. A helmet and early departure are essential here, as crowds can lead to dropping of items, which very quickly accelerate down the face --- last year a Nalgene water bottle zinged past me at warp speed, making me a convert to wearing a “brain bucket” here. This camp is basically hacked out of the Lhotse Face, and therefore quite primitive: BYOMREs (Bring Your Own MREs or dehydrated meals)! There is a fixed line around camp, since the terrain is so steep: put on your harness and crampons if you have to answer the call of the nature in the middle of the night… The use of supplement oxygen begins here! Views include the South Summit of Everest and the majority of the southeast ridge route, the Balcony (~27,500’), the Geneva Spur, the Yellow Band, Nuptse and Cho Oyo (20 miles off in the distance, the 6th highest mountain in the world).

Day 4: May 10th?

One last early morning departure, this time to set out for the South Col (or saddle, located between Everest and Lhotse; ~26,000’): the trip should take 4.5 to 6.5 hours. En route, the climb takes us past a limestone inclusion called the Yellow Band. New bolts have been installed this year, also allowing for the removal of several decades of old rope and pitons from this relatively short, steep section. We’ll continue on a left, upward diagonal traverse to the base of the Geneva Spur: some steep rock with crampons make this briefly tricky as well. Once on top of the Geneva Spur, the going is fairly flat, all the way to the South Col, Camp IV. This rocky, windswept plateau is the final Waystation to the summit. Views from here include the route to the South Summit (the Triangular Face, the Balcony, the southeast ridge and the South Summit), Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Nuptse, and views down into Tibet…

We’ll rest here until 8 – 11 pm, napping, sipping soup, tea ad oxygen. Depending on crowds and our general well-being, we’ll select our departure time and commence the long road to the summit --- climbing through the night, aiming to arrive on top around sunrise.

Day 5: May 11th?

The Triangular Face. The Balcony. The Southeast Ridge. The South Summit. The Hillary Step. The last few false summits to the actual summit! From Camp IV, it can take anywhere from 6.5 to 12 hours, as a function of the individual climbers, the snow conditions, the wind and so on.

29, 035’ above sea level. Prayer flags, summit photos as quickly as possible, then very careful descent. Depending on how we’re feeling, we’ll spend the night at Camp IV on oxygen --- else head all the way back down to Camp II, making for an extremely long day.

Day 6: May 12th?

Getting up as early as our bodies will allow after summitting the tallest mountain in the world, we’ll descend to EBC and the Party of the Century! [Well OK: a San Miguel beer and a yak steak…]

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et_joost 2009-05-07
hey i see you are on your way up now!

et_joost 2009-05-07
Good luck! Look forward to the next update!

schoeby 2009-05-07
Good luck - we will be tracking you.

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