Hike to Lhotse “Base of the Face”

May 4

Slept so much better last night with new pad!!! Thank goodness! I was warm and gotta  some very needed sleep. Added bonus, we waited until the sun hit our tents before getting up. Defrost!

After a delightful breakfast of instant coffee and porridge, we left camp around 9 am. Our goal: “Base of the Face”, hiking from Camp 2 to the base of the Lhotse face. Lhotse is the 4th highest mountain in the world and nestled right up next to its big sister, Everest. The Lhotse face is also no joke. You need everything attached to you and dialed in, or it may slide away, never to be seen again. As Mua’ Dib says “You’re on an Ice skating rink with no place to stop (break)”.

No “ice” rink today though. It had snowed all night, so we hiked up to 22K ft in fresh snow. As I’ve mentioned before, even if below freezing temps, it is hot as F when the sun reflects off the landscape of ice and snow.  So hot in fact, Matador turned around because he had not dressed in lighter layers underneath. It is a manic combo of extremes: hot/cold, requiring you to constantly adjust, fidget, and change layers.

We were hiking at a fast pace over crevasses and past individuals in FULL down suits! They looked like zombies, all expression wiped from their faces, dying in the heat. I found it a challenge to keep up with consistent smooth breath today. Any thought, any adjustment (switching poles, grabbing Dermatone lip balm from your pocket, trying to take in the view) disrupted my grove and required a struggle for breath. I suppose it is the equivalent of running around the top of Aconcagua on the hot glacier front of Denali. Music often helps me keep in the zone and focus. However, we do not listen to anything above base camp, for safety. We need to hear any call or warning from teammates (crevasse, avalanche, ice fall, falling water bottle from climber above, etc).

My thoughts kept drifting to the great discomfort, and was anyone else miserable?. I was on pace with the team, but i as ROASTING, and needed water or a rest. Perhaps I had given myself to much credit fitness wise, maybe I am just not I taking enough calories? What am I doing here? And just about then, Mua’ Dib stopped and told us to grab some water. We were stopping the hike a bit short due to the extreme heat and suffering. He said if we can put ourselves through the struggle we just pushed ourselves through, we are going to do fine on Everest. EVERYONE sighed with relief, sharing the same emotions and pain I was feeling. Thanks god! It was trying HARD! But this is freaking Everest! Of course it is hard. It is unforgiving. But we all came here understanding that, and willing to endure the extreme. It was nice to know everyone was feeling the same thing. And tomorrow, we will start earlier, to hike in the cold and far surpass today’s hike to camp 3. It is going to SUCK. But we WILL get through it, as a team, and collapse back in camp 2 after, better prepared for our summit push at the end of the month.

As Louis Zamperini said: “If you can take it, you can make it”

Rest of the day we sheltered in our tents from heat… and then snow. Early dinner, and to bed for early rise to tag Camp 3

About the author : Kim

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