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Day 15. The Climbing Begins (September 15, 2010)

Current Position
Position Date: 2010-09-16 03:25:03
Position Latitude: 28.0056
Position Longitude: 86.8579

Climbing the Icefall wasn't the hardest thing I have ever done but it wasn't the easiest either. By the end of the day, we had climbed to Camp 1 (19,500ft) and back down again. I was beat.

For those of you who don't know, the icefall is a glacier that is flowing down the side of a mountain. Imagine pushing a sliced loaf of bread off the edge of a table. As you push the bread across the flat of the table, the slices stay together. However, at the table's edge slices tip, then fall. The same thing is happening with the Khumbu glacier. It is flowing at a relatively steady rate until the steepness of the mountain increases (the table's edge) then as ice moves forward at different rates is splits, cracks and tilts into thousands of different sizes and shapes.

STP Everest - Day 15: Into the Ice Fall

This is the terrain we have to negotiate as we climb up. The lower section is like big icey sand dunes and with the aid of our crampons we walk up and down relatively easy. Later the steepness of the ice increases and we weave our way around large two story blocks of ice and across snow bridges. In some spots, the Icefall doctors have placed ladders tied end to end spanning larger crevasses. In other spots, we hope across narrow cracks. In most spots the slope is no more than 50 degrees; however there are other short sections of near vertical climbing. Luckily the icefall doctors haved 'fixed' the route with rope that we clip into with carabiners and sometimes ascenders (jumar).

We climbed slowly and steadily - pausing to catch our breath after difficult sections. Even in the early morning, the weather was warm, but when the sun poked out from behind a nearby peak, it turned plain hot and I was glad for my white-colored Terramar baselayer.

We reached Camp 1 after five hours - about an hour slower than we anticipated. There we ate some Clif bars and Perky Jerky and I had some soup kept warm in my Stanley flask.

The hike down was easier but still energy draining. At one point, huge truck-sized blocks of ice had collapsed and completely obliterated our route. We were glad to not have been there when it happened. We spent the last couple hours winding our way back to basecamp in wet snowy white out conditions.

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