After the sun had warmed our tents and bodies cold by an icy night, it was time to explore the ice-fall. Making a track again takes a lot of energy, especially when the morning winds on the coll try to blow you away.
Arriving in the ice-fall, Stef, secured by Dawa, went looking for the fixed ropes. The Sherpa fixing team had already secured a passage to camp 2 at the end of December, but it had already been snowed under when we first reached camp 1 on 4/1. Now 11 days later, we only saw a piece of rope hanging here and there and the crevasses are dangerously coverd by snowed . You can no longer estimate how big or deep they are and you can no longer see where the snow bridges are. A careful reconnaissance made it clear that we have to invest a lot of time to find the track again and that it is a serious undertaking with only three people and a rescue team that is at least 5 hours away from us.
We would like to get as high as possible but the risks are to high.
The 1m50 snow that fell after 4/1 needed time to settle and that requires a few days of good weather. After that you only have a few days to make a track again and stretch ropes over the dangerous parts such as the icefall, but after that there is another period of bad weather… with snowfall again. In this way you are stuck in a time loop in which every effort and the work done has to be restarted from scratch.
You can only climb this mountain in winter in the right conditions with a bit of luck and enough manpower. If you have 2 months you can wait for the perfect moment (if it presents itself) but we are not professional climbers who have a sea of time (and money). We have a job to do and a limited time to live our passions. That why we where counting on the joined manpower to be able to reopen the tracks in a short periode of time…. but not everyone’s thinks this way.
So here we are, admiring the beautiful icefall, realizing that our story will end here. We wanted to know how tough a winter expedition could be and I feel like we’ve only experienced part of it. I’m aware that the teams that have successfully climbed an 8000er without oxygen in the winter have been very strong and driven people. It takes a lot of mental and physical strength to achieve this, especially when the circumstances are tough, but it also takes a lot of luck and patience and/or time.