Because of a throat infection I was already delayed compared to some of the other team members. When Marcus, Stu, Brad B, Marc, Sue and Herb decided to go up to ABC and sleep one night, I was envious like hell, but I had the sense to stay behind in BC and fight off my infection.
When I woke up this morning, my throat was so sore that I actually had problems swallowing. The problem had started in Namche, and it was worsening day by day. I was afraid that the infection would start to attack my lungs as well, which would be a major setback for me, considering the big challenges ahead. Still I decided to join the others for a load carry from BC at 4600m and up to ABC at 5400m. I packed all my high altitude food and 8 gas cartridges, before I started to move up the hills. Sue, Marcus and Brent had been heading off earlier in the morning, but I bypassed them higher up. Shortly after Brent started to get wobbly and he had to sit down. Still not feeling well, he decided to rapidly descend to lower elevation. He left his load, and our porter who carried the 5 tents, picked it up for him. Marcus and I were the first ones to arrive ABC, and we got the unpleasant task of erecting the tents. After a while we both got a pounding headache, because the blood rushed to our heads as we were leaning forward to pitch the tents.
While descending we bumped into Marc and Sophia, who told us that Brad B had returned to BC together with Brent. The latter one had started to vomit and had blackouts after we left him, so he needed urgent help from Brad B in order to get down. Further down we also met Anthony who had turned around far below ABC, because of altitude sickness.
Later in the evening Mike subscribed some antibiotics to me, and told me to take one pill each day the next 6 days. Then I went to sleep in BC.
My throat felt even worse this morning and I also suspected a fever, but I was optimistic that the antibiotics soon would start to work. Marcus, Stu, Brad B, Marc, Sue, Sophia and Herb decided to go up to ABC and sleep one night, while Vanessa and Brad J were assumed to spend one more night in C1. I was envious like hell, but I had the sense to stay behind in BC and fight off my infection. It was a silent day and evening in BC, because all of the remaining people in BC were ill. Mike, Anthony and Brent suffered from altitude sickness, while I was struggling with my damn throat.
I was feeling much better this morning, thus I decided it was time to move. I headed off to ABC together with Anthony and Mike immediately after an early lunch (11:30am). I carried a lot of stuff to make sure that when I started the final summit assault in less than a week, it would only be a light weight carry from BC. Halfway up I met a shattered Herb, who seemed to suffer from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) after a night in ABC. Further up I met a wobbly Marcus, who suffered from headache and exhaustion after a night in ABC and a strenuous load carry to C1. Sue and Sophia was also on their way down to BC, but seemed to be in a pretty good shape given the circumstances. When I later arrived ABC, I was greeted by Brad B, Stu and Marc who planned to stay one more night in ABC at 5400m, albeit some of them seemed to be better off going down to BC at 4600m. Mike and Anthony arrived one hour later, and the six of us spent a beautiful evening above the clouds in ABC. I shared a tent with Anthony, and it took him more than 2 hours to cook and eat his 3 dishes dinner (soup, main course and dessert).
I had a pleasant night in ABC and my throat was better than yesterday. I was glad that the antibiotics finally had started to cure my infection. But we had some other people with illness in ABC. Mike had to get down early in the morning, and we could see him vomiting further down. Anthony had a terrible headache and he left ABC after Mike, Stu, Brad B and Marc. I was suddenly alone in ABC and I spent some few hours in solitude. Then I packed my food and gear and headed off to C1. I think my backpack was somewhere around 25 kilos and it was hard work indeed at that elevation. After a while I reached the slabs just beneath C1 and found a fixed rope there. It seemed to be in a bad shape, and I mainly didn't trust the rope as I walked un-belayed up the slabs to reach C1 at 12:15am. I found one of our Marmot tents and I measured the elevation to be approx 5700m. I immediately started to look for snow, and it took a while before I found an area which seemed to be unspoilt of human waste and yellow snow. Later in the evening Vanessa also arrived C1 and she told me that her summit assault had started. The only problem was that she didn't have anybody to team up with, so she probably had to wait for somebody else arriving C1 during the next couple of days. She also told me that Brent had left the expedition due to his illness (probably HACE) and that he was extending his vacation in Philippines instead of wasting more time on Ama Dablam. I kind of felt sorry for him, because this was his second attempt on Ama Dablam, and I wondered if he ever would come back to climb this mountain. In his first attempt on Ama Dablam he had turned around at C2, because he didn’t feel comfortable with the steep and mixed slopes between C2 and C3.
I woke up at sunrise (06:30am) and I felt pretty good. I had no headache or other altitude related problems. My harness was back in BC, so I was not properly equipped to do a load carry to C2. Instead I spent some few lazy hours in C1 before I started on my way down. I met Marcus, Sue and Sophia who was on their way to C1 to sleep. I walked very fast down in order to reach the lunch in BC, and it took me only 1 hour and 40 minutes.
I had a long discussion with Stu about the summit push. He told me that Vanessa would wait for me, if I went back to C1 the next morning, and that our Sherpa guides would carry our tents up to C3. I was excited about this idea, and I felt that Vanessa would be a perfect partner for me, since both of us had extensive experience in the mountains. But I was afraid of exhaustion if I went up to C1 again the next day, and I felt that I would be better off spending a rest day in BC. Secondly I wanted to team up with Marcus, but I was not sure if he was properly acclimatized to start a summit assault during the next few days. My dilemma was solved during the evening, when we were told that Vanessa was on her move to C2 together with Tom (from the Colorado-team) and aiming for the summit the next day.
Finally I was going to have a day off. We had quite a few people leaving BC this day. Brad B, Brad J, Mike, Marc, Anthony and Stu left BC around noon, some of them planning to stay in ABC and the rest of them in C1. After they left it was only me, Rob and Herb left in BC. Rob from the Colorado team had heart troubles while Herb still suffered from AMS. But all of us were healthy enough to watch Vanessa's and Tom's summit attempt. We had a couple of binoculars in BC and it was really interesting to follow those tiny black dots as they made their way up the steep slopes. We could see them summit at 2pm, by any terms a very late summit. But they had started from C2 instead of C3, making it a very long summit day. They also had to return to C2, because there were no Fieldtouring tents in C3 at that moment. We were somewhat afraid that they would not be able to return to C2 before darkness. We also got a little bit shocked when one of them started to slide down the steep slopes (we assumed the tiny black dot was Vanessa and not Tom). Luckily she stopped after a 30-50 meters fall. Later in the evening Marcus and Sue joined us in BC after having spent one night in C1. They told us that Sophia was going to stay one more night in C1. Marcus had been to C2 during the day, and he explained us about the interesting climb between C1 and C2.
Journals from this expedition:
Intro to the Expedition
The Expedition Team
Part 1 - In Kathmandu
Part 2 - From Lukla to BC
Part 3 - Acclimatizing
Part 4 - To Camp 3
Part 5 - Summit Day