Saturday, January 3, 2015

Made it up those steep fixed lines to Camp Two!

Well I had thought Randy just might find some strength inside to make it up those fixed ropes, and he did!  After 6 hours and 20 minutes of climbing today, the whole team (2 guides plus the 6 climbers) made it to High Camp at 12,500 ft.  

Randy and Anders were both pretty spent, especially Randy, but they were doing pretty well after some chicken nuggets and mashed potatoes, and very happy to be getting into their tent for the night.  It's extremely cold up there, and they were carefully bundling up for the night.  The prior night in Camp One had been particularly chilling; they estimate around 25 below in their tent.   Both Randy and Anders woke during the night and put on extra layers.  They have these very thick, mummy-type sleeping bags but don't usually have to use that head section.  Last night was so frigid that in the middle of the night, they both tied that snuggly around their head.  They didn't budge until the sun came out around 11am.  They headed out around a little after 1pm and got to High Camp 7:30pm.

Randy reported he felt surprisingly strong today, so although he was the slowest of the group, he wasn't as far behind!  He did say the last part of the headwall that he hadn't climbed a couple days ago was quite steep.  He said as usual Anders was really strong all day.  After the headwall,  they had about another hour climbing into the Camp.  That last part was surprisingly challenging, so by the time the arrived at Camp Two, they were definitely ready to stop.  Of course when they get to camp, they have to dig out a place for their tent, set up, help set up the team equipment and cook tent.  So they were definitely maxed out for the day.

They called me back a little while later and said the summit attempt is on for tomorrow.  I am sure they could have used a rest day, but the weather looks good, so they are moving on quickly. No team has been able to summit in the past few days because of the horrendous weather, so their guides want to take advantage of the relatively good forecast. That Russian team I mentioned in the prior blog entry had turned back during their summit attempt due to weather.  It is always just unthinkably cold and windy on top of the mountain, but tomorrow the sun should be out so that helps a lot!  Today they really lucked out; the sun was out and there was very little wind.  So although the temps were chilly, they were climbing for a while in just base layers.  As they climbed higher,  they just kept adding more clothes.  The views had been spectacular today and when I was talking to them the sun was still out and they were looking up at the summit!

Here's a couple pictures of other teams summiting Vinson so you get a sense of what they will experience if they are lucky enough to get to the top.

The plan tomorrow is to leave at 9am their time.  They will all be roped together, so the whole team will move at a measured pace.  It should take around 6 or 7 hours to summit, and then half that time to descend back to High Camp.  They will try to call me from the summit if they get up there, but we just aren't sure if they will get reception.  So I don't know when I'll hear from them but certainly will have my phone with me at all times hoping to get that call! 

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