Saturday, May 20, 2017

On the way to the South Col/Camp 4

We heard from Anders just before 10pm last night (East Coast time).  He called us via Brent's Sat Phone from C3.  They were preparing for an 8am (Nepal)/10:15pm (ET) departure from C3 to move up to the South Col.

He said their move up to C3 from C2 was great--a really good day.  It only took them 3 hours and Anders said that the O2 they were all using helped a lot.  He said there were quite a few people there at C3 but that they hoped to move up in front of them on this move.

We haven't heard an update this morning but would expect Anders and team to already have arrived at C4/South Col.  We anticipated about a 6-7 hour trip up to C4, which would have put them into the South Col sometime around 5am ET this morning.  We would expect them to have a lot to do at C4, melting water being the first task--both to rehydrate and to make sure they enough for the summit push.  Boiling water at 26,000 feet and 10 degrees below zero is an arduous process at best.  Hopefully as time permits we'll here from the team.

The picture below depicts the whole SE Ridge route from Base Camp to the Summit and it gives you a good view of how far they have come to get in position for the summit--remember, it took us 10 days just to get to Base Camp in the first place:

We believe that they are trying to set up for a summit push in a few hours.  Normally, teams upon arriving at Camp 4, will rest for a few hours (5-8 typically) and then leave late on the evening they arrived at Camp 4 and climb through the night to get to the summit in the early morning of the next day.  What that means for Anders and team is they would probably depart around 1pm this afternoon East Coast time with a potential summit around 7-10pm tonight.

The picture below (which is shot from Lhotse) depicts the upper mountain that they will have to navigate during their night of the 20th.  We've heard there is quite a bit of snow on the Triangular Face, which will help a bit in that section.  Once they reach the Balcony the route is very steep--probably 45 degrees plus on a narrow ridge.  At the South Summit (which is higher than any other mountain in the world), the slope lessens but climbing at nearly 29,000 feet of course presents it's own challenges.  We've also heard that the topography of the Hillary Step has changed a bit since the earthquake of 2015 and apparently it is a bit easier to navigate now--which would be great if true because the Step is frequently a bottle neck on summit day.

Here is a picture from the net showing the SE Ridge climbing up towards the summit (which is behind you in the picture) from the South Col:

It's a bit hard to tell if Anders and team are timing their push optimally.  It seems like a lot of teams are targeting more the 22nd-26th for a summit, so they are a day ahead of a bunch of other people.  However, we heard there were high (60+mph) winds up on the summit later in the morning on Friday (yesterday).  We heard that a number of folks had to turn around before the Balcony--probably missing their chance.  There were also reports of frostbite.

However the most recent weather reports seem to indicate that winds will pick up on the 22nd so maybe, (we need to stress maybe) the 21st will be a nice window when the team will have a good shot.

At this point we are for the most part putting our lives on hold and waiting for further news--we'll update when we get it.

Climb strong and safe, Anders!

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