April 20-21, 2011
Camp 1, 20,300′ (6190m)
Bill called this morning (tonight in Nepal, due to the time difference), to report that the team is nestled in at Camp 1 at just about 20,300′ (6190m). They made great time moving up through the Khumbu Icefall, which is apparently in really good shape this year. The Icefall is one of the areas on the route with the greatest objective hazard, and the quicker a team can move through it, the better. Our guys made it up to Camp 1 in a short 4.5 hours.
The wind picked up as they climbed out of Base Camp and continued through the day. This wasn’t an issue while they were traveling, but as the wind increased during the night, it sure didn’t help anyone get a good night’s sleep. This morning, the wind decreased somewhat and the team went for an acclimatization hike out of Camp 1 before spending a “leisurely afternoon,” letting their bodies adjust to the thinner air of this new elevation.
The winds are pretty rough right now, blowing a steady 40 mph (64 kph), and gusting upwards of 50 mph (80 kph). Everyone is getting ready to sleep as best they can with the flapping of tent walls and the freight train sounds of the stronger gusts, increasing in intensity before buffeting their enclosures. These are the nights that earplugs become a climber’s best friend!
Tomorrow, the plan is to move up to Camp 2, which will serve as our Advanced Base Camp. The team will initially be busy setting tents as well as our solar array and satellite internet communications. The move is pretty short and they will gain less than 1,000′ (300m) of elevation. They will spend 3-4 days up there, making a foray higher to better help their bodies acclimatize. Acclimatization is crucial on big mountains, and we adhere to a rather conservative acclimatization schedule that is flexible to best accommodate individual needs.
For more information on altitude considerations and acclimatization, we suggest you look at our Medical Advisor Dr. Peter Hackett’s Institute For Altitude Medicine’s website.