Moving up to camp 1 tomorrow; jumar/ladder training and a photo shoot filled the past 2 days

Tonight’s sleep will end early as we will convene for 3am breakfast and 3.30am departure to the Khumbu icefall. We leave early to avoid the heat of the day that not only brings sunburn, but also higher risks of avalanches, serac fall and potentially traffic jams with other teams. 

The weather looks ok albeit the forecasts suggests 30cm new snow. Its generally quite warm for the season and every day and night we are listening to a concert of avalanches and serac falls. Scary sometimes though they usually sound worse than they are. 

The aim tomorrow will be to gain c700m altitude from base camp to camp 1 at 6,000m, stay two nights and then move up to camp 2 (6,400m) for another night’s sleep. We’ll be cooking ourselves in C1 and all the team is next door picking their snacks and rations as I write this. We all probably underestimate how much our hunger will disappear at altitude. But heh! We can stash excess supplies anytime and consume later on the hill.


It will be tough going through the icefall at night and to altitude levels few of us are yet acclimatised for (only Steve has been as high when summitting Mera Peak and Lobuche East, my personal highpoint so far 5,800m). Take some painkillers for the headaches! 

Today and yesterday we have been preparing further for the technical challenges ahead. First, using ascender devices  (or jumars) that are used to ascend the fixed lines especially in steeper sections and safe abseiling techniques (it won’t be straight uphill to the top). Not too difficult though cumbersome to operate with mitts. 


Second, we practiced how to cross ladders safely. These are prevalent in the Khumbu icefall and the Western cwm to bridge crevasses (some as deep as 50m or 80m). The longest vertical ladder Tim has encountered was made up of 13 (!) individual ladders. Will be fun and probably shaky!

Our morning finished (would you believe it) with a photo shoot. We all served as models for the sunglass & goggle review of Tim. Steve Brown was the man behind the camera as usual. Some cool pics in a stunnig environment. 

P.S. the beard keeps growing!

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Fun puja ceremony, but sad departure of Blake

The Puja ceremony is the traditional blessing a buddhist monch delivers to climbers and sherpa’s alike. The stone altar, which sherpa built from rubbles in the camp, had been fitted with gifts for the gods including coca cola, sherpa beer and all sorts of food (none of which would be wasted in the end). We also put some climbing gear down for blessing (me: summit socks, ice axe, helmet and mittn). At the end we all handed over R500ish in pur white scarfs (the money would then magically disappear) and received pur blessing. All good then.




It was the first day where we were ‘allowed’ alcohol on the hill. Beer, chang (local rice wine) and rum shots got us going though our group is certainly not the party animal type.

While we had our puja, it emerged that Blake’s ankle situation just didn’t get better. He decided to head home instead of risking his live on the hill with a pre-existing condition. Tough, but wise choice of one of the strongest climbers in our team. Bad news is that his insurance doesn’t provide cover for this. Good bye Blake and a swift recovery! 


After Blake left Jon, Rory and I headed over to celebrate another Puja with the indian army. Many were well pissed by the time we arrived, but it was fun. They have 14 climbers of which 10 will go without oxygen. Good luck. It won’t be easy, but then they are all some sort of special forces and well trained. 

Glacier wonderland: Scouting out the lower Khumbu icefall 

Watch the video below for some good Khumbu icefall footage from today! 

Link to youtube clip
The day most of us had been waiting for had finally arrived. We’d get our climbing gear ready and head for the Khumbu icefall. Hard to put words on this maze of ice towers shiny as diamonds and deadly as poison if you don’t watch out.


The route had been marked by the icefall doctors with bamboo sticks though Tim didn’t find the entrance initially. Scott at first and a sherpa Tim called from our camp then pointed us in the right direction.




From there it was initially all straight until we hit the first fixed ropes. Gets you pumping quite a bit when you maneuvre yourself up. So far without using jumars. The views of the glacier behind and above you are just stunning.

Altogether, we managed some 170m altiude gain from base camp or about 20% of the overall icefall we have to cross to reach camp 1 @ 6,000m.

The way down was easy and hot! We bumped into a Korean climber I had read about … he lost all his fingers to frostbiteon  his last Lhotse attempt. Now he is back to settle some bills with the mountain I guess. Respect to his attitude!


Tomorrow is puja day. So bhuddist prayers and local cheng (low vol locally brewerd moonshine / rice wine). Don’t expect too many mountain pics ;o) 

5,800m test hike; bye Mo & Zena

Having rested and waited out fairly stormy weather we decided to go for a climb today. Mo and Zena said goodbye and made their way towards Loboche and will probably climb up to Kala Patthar (5,500m) for some great views of Everest & co. Will miss you both! 

Our hike took us through base camp (25min to entrance from our site … more if you get lost) and then pretty much straight up the hill. The terrain featured loads of boulders and slippery underground. 

Pace wise, Steve (Australia), Jon and Rory took the lead. I was much slower and formed the challenger group by myself. Its just that every step takes effort and if you go to fast you burn. So take it slow. I arrived some 20min after the leaders – not too bad for a 400m altitude gain. We were now at 5,650m. Steve (photo) arrived 10min after me and Billy turned around half way still struggling to find his breath. Blake didn’t start at all and continues to nurse his ankle(s).


After a brief eat & drink rest in a thankfully sheltered place (winds were super strong sometimes throwing me off balance), I continued my way higher. Only the guides Tim and new arrival Scott (assistant guide) did the same while my fellow climbers returned to base camp.

The way higher led onto even more slippery terrain and so I tried to climb using the larger boulders. After less than an hour we got to 5,800m. Great views of Everest summit, Lhotse and the entire base camp neatly located next to the massive Khumbu glacier.


The way down was mixed. First, I did twist my ankle (still hurts, but not much swollen). Second, the traffic into base camp picked up massively with loads of trekkers around and slowing things down. Finding our camp wasn’t easy either as the sun had melted snow and ice to the extent that the whole scenery changed. Amazing! 

Afternoon and evening were quiet, as most of us were tired. Still waiting for better wifi.

Life at Everest base camp

I am lying in my tent and the winds are (still) shaking my tent. The sleeping bag is very comfi and I had a cery good rest without any interruptions. In today’s post I wanted to shed a little light on how we spent time here at Everest base camp having been here now for three nights and given it will be my home potentially until late May.


The camp is I reckon some 2km long and situated directly on the Khumbu glacier and very close to the actual icefall with all its crevasses and constantly moving bits and pieces. Each team has claimed their territory and in some cases defend it vigorously (I leave out names here for now). Mingling with other teams seems like a no-no so far. 

Within each camp there is some key infrastructure:

  • Mess tent: Arguably the heart of the camp. Here we spent most of our down time to eat, play (monopoly deal being king), chat and do briefings.

  • Kitchen tent: Good food is key and so far we been catered for well. More importantly even is a constant supply of hot water. 


  • Storage / communication tent: here you can find a lot of snacks, dry food for higher up, commincation and charging gear and stuff you don’t wanna keep in your tent (like climbing and high altitude kit).


  • Toilet tent: Men usually use for no2, women no1&2. The collective output goes into a barrel that is replaced when needed. Fellow hiker Mo had her tent blown away while in action – scared for life (but hilarious) ;o) 


  • Shower tent: operated with heated water from the kitchen and a pump. Looks simple, feels great!
  • Sleeping tents: the only bit of real privacy. Required for such a long trip. Sherpa’s have the same tents than we do, but share.



  • Sherpa mess tent: Common area (when not in kitchen) and eating quarters. Surely a few card games go down here too. 


Beyond the individual camps there are communal places such as the Everest ER tent (emergency & rescue) staffed wit experienced doctors, nurses and rescue pilots, the Sagarmartha pollution and control committee (SPCC) that houses the ice fall doctors (fixing the ropes to the summits), the radio and wifi station (Usd50 per 1GB, ncell also available but patchy) and several heli landing spots for transport, rescue and supplies in & out of the camp. 

Daily rountine

On non-climbing days (and there will be quite a few), we usually start with breakfast at 8am though hot drinks are being provided from 7am. The offering varies from porridge, pancakes, muesli to french toast, fried and boiled eggs and sometimes even bacon (like yesterday).

Afterwards we typically have the first session of games, take a stroll, do some washing or things like reinforcig tents.

Lunch is served around noon. We have often potatoes (fried, boiled, even salad), rice (cooked, fried, with veg etc), cooked veg, tuna, sardines, sausages, traditional dahl bat … plenty of stuff. By the time we had our pudding it will be 1.30pm or thereabout. More games after or a nap ;o)

3-4pm we use for briefings either on general issues or the next day. This goes hand in hand with some munchy stuff like cheese etc and more tea. More games and wifi if you must. We try to limit wifi from 3pm though a poor connection often takes care of that ;o)

Dinner is 6pm and is followed by the hot water bottle supply for the night ahead. We usually hit the sleeping bags between 8-9pm. Depends how long our monopoly deal thirst lasts and what is ahead the day after. 

Then its time to get cosy in your tent, read a book and to report to dream land. Nite, nite …