This is the biggie, the one where we find out if I am likely to succeed. It’s time to put on the down suit, the big mitts and the balaclava, and see if 8,000m is within my grasp.
Tomorrow at 2am myself and Tunang will walk through the icefall up to Camp 2, and then spend the next day resting ahead of the big push. Then it is back onto the Lohtse face to Camp 3 at 7,200m, but this time to stay the night. By all accounts that night is going to be a restless one. Stay tuned!
If all goes well we wait for the sun to hit us in the next morning before zipping up our down suits for the walk to the infamous South Col, at around 8,000m. I am terrified and excited to visit this unique place. In the book ‘Into thin air’ Jon Krakauer described it thus, a quote I have remembered (hopefully accurately) for the last 15 years.
“If there is a more god-foresaken place on Earth I hope never to visit it.”
What can a place like that be like to stand in, to experience?
Descriptions just cannot convey to me the sense of being there, and to find out for myself is part of the reason to undertake this entire adventure in the first place. To feel it in it’s raw form is also part of the reason I’m attempting to climb without supplemental oxygen. I expect an exquisite and unique form of suffering. Type II fun, I think they call it. Or maybe Type III fun, which isn’t fun at all!
With no supplemental oxygen the climb to the South Col is predicted to be a tough one. Time for the step-rest-step-rest-step-rest pattern even at max output, hour after hour. On top of that it’s supposed to be a steep and tricky climb in places, especially leaving Camp 3 and across the rocky section known as the Yellow Band. Iconic though!
I’m nervous, and yet quietly confident in some ways. I feel about as good as I can feel, yet I know that everyone has an altitude limit and this is without doubt going to hurt. Can I do it? I hope so.
From the South Col it’s back to Camp 3 for another night, then Camp 2 to relax (as far as possible at 6,500m and -20C), and to assess. If all goes well it’s another few rest days at Camp 2 before heading back to the South Col to sleep for a night. If it goes badly, who knows!
Either way, I may be out of contact with the world for 7-10 days.
Don’t forget me!