Though it was cold at night, sleeping through the evening was massively impacted due to the strong winds. By 3am the strength was so hard (80mph) it felt as if it was about to tear down our tent. It took a lot of meditation power for me to sleep through the rest of the evening.
During our 8am breakfast, the plan for the day was to walk the end of the Western Cwm glacier towards the “Lhotse Wall”. The Lhotse wall is part of Mt. Lhotse which will have the climbing ropes that will lead all climbers into Camp 3. Because it’s still early in the season, the ropes haven’t been set up yet. Though for our exercise today, our walking would be more of an acclimating exercise.
By 10am we were ready to depart, however the winds were so strong that it made the temperature in the glacier to almost freezing. We have been told that on our 2nd rotation the weather will cooperate but as of now we just had to bear the conditions.
As we started our walk, the cold and the increase of altitude made it tough for me to manage. These last days have served as a great way of testing how my body accommodates to the various cold environments. In cold weather you can’t be too warm while climbing because sweating too much in the cold can lead you to pneumonia; on the other hand, staying too cool without the proper insulation can lead you to frost bite or other challenges; so the key is to always make sure your body is maintained at the perfect warm body temperature.
Today’s exercise was perfect to manage the usage of crampons as well. During the upcoming intense climb of the Lhotse wall to get into camp 3, the gain of altitude (close to 24,000ft) will make keeping your balance in place. One step (or crampon step) at a time is the rule to follow.
As we climbed through the glacier the strength of winds were picking up quite fast. Moving was a way of mitigating the extreme cold, however as we kept increasing the elevation and closer to the Lhotse face, the strength of the winds ultimately won and we turned around after a 90min walk. We got closer to 23,000ft which is the highest that I’ve even been (Aconcagua). The lingering headache picked up and my water had frozen hence turning around was a great way to get warm back at base.
We were back within 40mins, with warm soup awaiting for us. My headache was quite strong that a Paracetamol blended great with lunch and an afternoon nap to let the headache go away.
Tomorrow’s plan was for us to push the walk again into the same area and see if we could get closer to the Lhotse wall.
My headache went away by dinner, however it was so cold that a hot water bottle (not being used as a sock warmer) was a good motivator to fall asleep!
Treat of the day: Walking closer to the end of the Western Cwm and clearly seeing the Lhotse face.