We are now resting in Mount Everest base camp, waiting for the high winds to die down so that we can begin our summit rotation. All of our members are down in base camp or in Namche resting and recovering from our last rotation when we touched Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. Our Sherpa team is also resting in Mount Everest base camp and also in Camp 2, waiting as we are for the good weather window to materialize. We are doing base camp chores such as laundry, resetting our tent platforms as the glacier ice melts during the season, and enjoying the occasional hot shower in Everest base camp! The days have been sunny and warm, with a small amount of light snowfall at night.
Today we took our breakfast (French toast, fried eggs, bacon, fresh yoghurt, & espresso coffee) outside our dining tent in the morning sun! We are soaking up the stunning views of Mount Everest and the surrounding peaks and preparing ourselves for our final objective in a few days time, when we will depart Everest base camp for our summit rotation, our journey to the top of the world!
We concluded a great second rotation today by descending from our Camp 2, known as our Advanced Base Camp, all the way down to our Everest base camp. While on our rotation we spent three nights at our Camp 2, and were very lucky to have great weather. To begin our rotation, we departed our base camp at 4 AM and climbed all the way to Camp 2.
Then, we took a rest day to recuperate and recover from the big climb, nearly 4,000 ft (1,212m) of vertical gain. After our rest day we planned to climb to our Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face, so we departed our Camp 2 (Advanced Base Camp) at 8 AM .We climbed with our down suits to the base of the Lhotse Face, then began our ascent up the steep ice wall on the fixed ropes towards Camp 3. It is situated about halfway up the Lhotse Face at approximately 23,500 ft. (7,121m).
The Lhotse Face is notably icier this year and requires good crampon technique! After 5 hours of climbing we reached our Camp 3 and took a long break to rest, hydrate, and eat a few snacks. We also had the privilege of enjoying an amazing view from Camp 3, looking down over Camp 2, the Western CWM, and Camp 1. We then descended the fixed rope designated for rappelling and made good time in our descent, reaching our Camp 2 just an hour later for a late afternoon lunch. It was a very productive rotation in that we accomplished our goal of climbing to Camp 3 to acclimatize . Additionally, we also familiarize ourselves with the steep and technical terrain of the Lhotse Face.
Our Sherpas have been busy carrying loads of equipment to the South Col high camp (Camp 4) for the final stage of the rope fixing project . This involves setting the ropes from the South Col to the Summit of Mount Everest. They have done an exemplary job so far by setting two lines up to Camp 3. One for ascending and one for descending, as well as an additional line above Camp 3 to ease congestion on the route. We have received many compliments regarding how the lines are set in a safe and desirable fashion on the Lhotse Face which makes for efficient climbing.
Lines have also been set on the Geneva Spur, the final rock ridge before the South Col, so that climbers can go up and down on separate lines for safety and efficiency. At this time Sherpas have been utilizing these ropes to carry loads of oxygen cylinders, tents, food, and fuel to position at the South Col for the eventual summit attempt on Mount Everest!
According to our weather forecasts, it appears that a major wind event is approaching Mount Everest, probably in the next day or two. Our Sherpas will make good use of tomorrows marginal weather forecast to position additional loads at the South Col high camp, and then see if the following day is appropriate for climbing above 8000 meters. The jet stream will likely cover the Mount Everest region for up to a week and no climbing will take place above 8000 meters during this time, so we are preparing to hold tight and wait for the opportunity when the Jet Stream passes and the winds are calm enough for a summit attempt! Until then we plan to rest and enjoy the amenities of our Everest base camp!
Yesterday the weather was good up here , we took some rest in Camp 2. Today we departed Camp 2, our Advanced Base Camp, at 7 AM to climb up the Lhotse Face to Camp 3 at nearly 23,500 ft. (7120m) We donned our Down Suits to stay warm in the early morning before the sun arrived on the Lhotse Face at around 9 AM. Climbing up the steep ice was challenging, but our steel crampons held firm as we made our way up the face to Camp 3.
Upon reaching Camp 3 we took a long break and had a snack before making our way down the Lhotse Face, rappelling the steeper line over the blue ice to the base of the Lhotse Face near the Bergschrund. We then made our way back to Camp 2 for dinner and a restful sleep. Our plan is to either descend tomorrow or take a rest day and descend the following day down to Everest base camp, and then take a long rest before embarking on our summit rotation!
Today our climbing sherpas carried loads to the South Col high camp (Camp 4) in preparation for the final rope fixing to the summit of Mount Everest – Our Rope fixing team fixed the rope upto South Col! . Now that all of the essential equipment is in place for the rope fixing (ropes, ice screws, carabiners, oxygen, etc) we are keeping an eye on the weather for an opportunity to fix the final portion of the route up the Triangular Face to the Balcony (27,500 ft / 8335m), then up the south east ridge and over the rock bands to the south summit, along the summit ridge to the top of the world! Stay tuned for updates from our rope fixing team!
Today all of our climbers and guides in our main team descended from Camp 2 down to Everest base camp after a great first rotation! We ended up staying an extra night at Camp 2 for acclimatization because everything was going so well for us up at our “Advanced Base Camp”. This will assist us in our acclimatization process as we prepare for our ‘summit rotation’. We spent two nights at Camp 1 and three nights at Camp 2 while we were up on our ‘first rotation.
Today, while we were preparing to descend to base camp at 6 AM from Camp 2, we received information that the icefall route had changed . Our team at basecamp were saying that it was in the process of being repaired. So, we delayed our descent to around 10 AM when we had confirmation that the new variation in the Khumbu Icefall route was complete, arriving base camp this afternoon. Our team is excited to be back in Everest base camp where the air is thick, the food amazing, and the accommodations seeming very plush after nearly a week up high on the mountain.
Over the last few days our expert team of Nepal Climbing Sherpas were able to fix ropes to the Geneva Spur, just short of the South Col (Camp 4) high camp on Mount Everest, despite the windy conditions and the icier than normal slope on the Lhotse Face. Now, with an up line and a down line in place from the base of the Lhotse Face to Camp 3, and then a single line going above that to the Geneva Spur, teams will be able to acclimatize and position loads up higher on the mountain.
Our rope fixing team is preparing to head back up and fix ropes all the way to the South Col in the coming days and then position oxygen and equipment for the ‘summit fixing’ project at the South Col so that when the weather conditions permit they can begin fixing ropes from the South Col up towards the Balcony, the South Summit, and onward to the summit of Mount Everest. They will also install a second ‘down line’ in places to ease congestion on the route such as on the Yellow Band, the Geneva Spur, and at other bottlenecks along the route. All is well here on Mount Everest and we hope for good weather and route conditions to continue!
Our expert team of Nepal, Climbing Sherpas are very skilled technical climbers . Their job is to ‘fix’ the lines from Camp 2 all the way up the mountain to the summit of Everest. They have been working very hard since beginning. Our team were fixing ropes above Camp 2 on April 19th, and have now succeeded in fixing lines from the base of the Lhotse face all the way up to Camp 3. They have installed 2 lines, an ‘up’ line and a ‘down’ line for climbers.
Camp 3 is now ‘open’ for climbers wishing to climb the fixed ropes up to Camp 3 to acclimatize. Furthermore, they can secure a camp place, or carry loads of supplies to Camp 3. Our expert Sherpa team will rest and then continue working on the next stage to fix the ropes up towards the Yellow Band, Geneva Spur, and to the South Col known as Camp 4 on Mount Everest. We hope for good weather!
Yesterday was our Puja ceremony in base camp. Our whole team of climbers and Sherpas took part with a Buddhist lama. They ask permission for the mountain to grant us safe passage. After the blessing was complete and our Puja ceremony finished, we commenced with some dancing and traditional Sherpa / Nepali music. Then, our whole team walked down to the helicopter pad in base camp to reconstruct the helipad. Our team of climbers & Sherpas, 40 men in total, worked for 2 hours to carry rocks and gravel to the helipad .They level the surface in preparation for the helicopter flights to transport the loads of equipment for the rope fixing project . i.e (ropes, carabiners, ice screws, etc.) from base camp to Camp 2 on Mount Everest.
Today at 6 AM we awoke to a cloudy sky in base camp. But, soon after the clouds burned off and the weather was suitable for flying. We transported all of the equipment for the rope fixing project (750 kg) from our base camp to the helipad . Until then waited for the AS 350 B3E helicopter to arrive. By 8:30 AM the helicopter arrived and the first load went up to Camp 2 where our climbing Sherpas had been waiting anxiously for the helicopter to land. And, unload the equipment.
They had arrived earlier in the day and already scouted a suitable landing zone for the helicopter . They were communicating with us in base camp by VHF radio regarding the weather conditions at Camp 2 . Additionally, the expected arrival time of the first helicopter load. In total 7 flights were made from the base camp helipad with equipment for the rope fixing project. This will be deposited in our Camp 2 where our Sherpas will collect the equipment. Afterwards, they will begin rope fixing up the Lhotse face towards Camp 3 on April 19th. As, Tomorrow April 18th is a ‘black day’ in memory of the 2014 Khumbu Icefall tragedy that took the lives of 16 Sherpas.
Our team of climbers is currently training in the lower Khumbu Icefall today practicing ascending vertical fixed ropes, rappelling, and crossing ladders. They are training for the preparation for our climb to Camp 1. The weather is nice and we are excited that everything is on track so far for Everest 2018!
K2 2016 Climbing Season Recap:
Our K2 2016 team made a great effort to climb the peak but it was not meant to be. We are thankful that nobody was injured in the avalanche that came down from high on the mountain on July 23rd and took our Camp 3 and Camp 4 deposit off the mountain. This avalanche resulted in the cancellation of the climbing season for all teams on K2 in 2016. We have enjoyed our time in Pakistan and feel very lucky to have experienced this incredible mountain range, the Karakorum. Please read the National Geographic article here for more information on the recent K2 climbing season.
Our team is now back down in base camp after our K2 summit attempt. Tomorrow was supposed to be our summit day, the weather currently looks perfect as predicted, clear skies and no wind. We had everything in position for our summit attempt, after about 5 weeks of preparations, we had established our high camps, had climbed to camp 3, and were looking forward to our summit. But it was not meant to be, as when we were preparing to climb from camp 1 to camp 2 on the morning of July 23, we saw a big avalanche come down the mountain. We later learned that this avalanche was massive, had started somewhere near our camp 4, and had covered nearly a third of the mountain down to the base, taking out our camps 3 & 4, nothing was left. We were lucky that we were not in these camps when the avalanche occurred. Without our equipment for our summit attempt (tents, oxygen, ropes, food, etc) we cannot continue our climb, we are now heading home, as are all teams. Yesterday we searched the avalanche debris field at the base of the mountain, about 7000′ below where the slide began, but found nothing, as the debris was around 10-20 ft. deep in most areas. We will leave base camp in a couple of days and trek out, then fly or drive to Islamabad and fly home. Even though we did not make the summit we had a great experience and and are thankful for the time we had in this beautiful mountain range. -Garrett Madison
Massive avalanche on K2, camps 3 and 4 totally gone without a trace: All members currently safe in camp 2. Expedition now finished as all equipment for summit attempt (tents, oxygen, ropes, food, etc) has been lost.
Expedition leader Garrett Madison called in this morning to report that the team has safely reached Camp 1 and are now pinned down with harsh weather conditions. The team will wait and see if the weather stabilizes before moving higher on K2.
This is a wind graph that we use to make data driven decisions on K2. Michael Fagin and team at West Coast Weather provide our expeditions around the world with advanced forecasting models. Michael Fagin has a background in weather forecasting for major expedition groups that climb K2 and other climbing venues. He is experienced in climate data retrieval and analysis for clients around the world.
*Forecast issued on July 22, 2016 and weather needs to be monitored as the weather patterns can and do change over time.
Our climbers and guides climbing to Camp 1.