We have been out of touch for a few days. So, lets update everyone. We took a couple more rest days April 28th and 29th. Other than David Breashers coming back into camp not much went on in EBC. We got up at 3AM for breakfast at 3:30 on 4/30 so that we could get an early start up the icefall by 4AM. We made great time. We reached the football field in 2 ½ hours and to camp1 by 3 ½ hours. The lower ice field had changed very little, perhaps a few more ladders. However, the upper ice field had been reworked by the icefall doctors after the big Everest glacier cav. God once again granted us safe passage. There was little evidence initially of the large avalanche off Nupse except for a few flattened tents. Once we moved further up the cwm, you could see a big blast of snow and ice that spread out most of the glacier to the right, very impressive. Mark met a Sherpa that was just ahead of the avalanche and just ahead of the Sherpa who was hurled into a cravassse injuring his back. From his description, I’m very glad that we were in EBC at the time.
In 3 more hours we were in camp 2 (ABC). We took two more rest days. We played a lot of Gin Rummy. You make a lot more mistakes at 21,500 ft, which adds a lot more to the fun. We made for camp 3 the morning of 5/2. Most left camp by 9 AM. I had a tough morning. My left forefoot got cold and turned white. It took me about a half hour to get it right again. There wasn’t much time for breakfast. I was able to stomach just a little porridge. My energy wasn’t that great. My climbing partner, Mingmar, looked after me and gave me his hot tea and a goo. He even offered to carry my sleeping bag up the Lhotse face. This made all the difference. My energy returned. I actually enjoyed the climb up the Lhotse face and quickly caught up to the rest of the group. The ice varied from 40-70 degrees. There were fixed lines all the way to tent platforms. We used our jumar and safety to assist us up the lines. The only unsettling part of the climb were the many rocks that kept falling from above and that we had to dodge on the way up. Thank God no one was injured! We made it up to camp 3 in 7 hours. The view from camp 3 (24,000 ft) was spectacular! The yellow band of Everest and the summit of Lhotse looked so close. The winds and blowing snow off Everest’s summit were impressive. Looking back down the cwm, you could even see Cho Oyo behind PumoRi. Because camp 3 is cut out of a steep slope, necessarily there is not a lot of room to move around. We all quickly settled into our tents. If you need to go out side the safe zone to poo you must be harnessed and clipped into a safety rope! Many of us took Imodium or codeine to avoid this situation. I was surprised how well I felt at this altitude, for many of us a personal highpoint. We were promised by Mingmar that we would have a terrible headache and would not sleep….I experienced neither! Mark and I ate all of our Mashed potatoes, spicy summer sausageand Pringles. Very tasty! We drank a lot and then went to bed. We had a great night. Cold but little wind.
In the morning we ate moon pies and Muesli with hot milk. We went down a new old rout (originally used by the Swiss team-1952 and British team-1953) set up by Willie and Damien Benigass. This rout seemed much safer until you looked up and saw a huge serac overhead. At least there was not the trouble with rockfall. This is Everest! We quickly made our way back to camp 2. Mark and I were tempted to head back to EBC with Pasang Sherpa. Mingnar persuaded us to rest a day and go down in the morning when the icefall would be more solid and the avalanche risk would be lower. This sounded like good advice. So, we stayed, ate and played Gin Rummy. The next morning we left camp 2 around 9 AM and were back to EBC in 3 ½ hours. Dawa Sherpa met us at the bottom of the icefall with grape juice! We gave high fives and knuckles all around as we realized that our acclimatization schedule was done and that we only had 2 more times to go through the icefall. God has truly blessed us so far! After getting off our big boots and harness, we ate lunch with the HRA docs. We then met the 3rdtrecking group, including Paul Auerbach, and had some CME with the HRA docs. After dinner with the HRA docs, Willie dropped by and we talked about the new rout that he put up. Rachel went off to a party. Hashish stayed back and played Gin Rummy with us. Hopefully he will teach us 500, a popular game at EBC. We went to bed at 11PM. We rest today(5/5) and plan to go to Pheriche tomorrow. Now we patiently wait for our weather window!!!!!