Sunday 29 April – BACK TO ICE AGE LAND. JACOB HIT BY ICE BLOCK

Scenery

I called my wife at 11.55pm, Nepal time which is about 8.30pm in Tanzania. She had called me earlier but I didn’t hear her call. My son Martin wanted to talk to me. He is missing me so much and wanted me to go home; he wanted to know when I would be back. He had apparently asked this about 30 times by today. Too bad he was already sleeping by then.

I said goodbye to my wife and explained to her where we were going this time and for how long. She agreed reluctantly. I could almost have cried but I remembered what Mike has told me once before the first rotation: ‘Don’t call home as you may speak with someone with a bad mood and that will distort your ice fall climb’.

I went ahead and completed my packing then got my equipment ready for breakfast at 12.30am. I had toast, egg, oatmeal and fruits. At 1.00am I was ready to go outside and was waiting for others while praying to God asking for his guidance and strength. As previously before we started climbing it was customary with the Sherpa to pass by a stage that was made during a special ceremony (Puja) to ask to climb Chomologma (Mount Everest) without harm.

We put our crampons at the beginning of the icefall. This time I had the new Millet boots and different crampons. I had a feeling I won’t fail, get cold and everything will be easy and alright since I had new boots on. They were comfortable! This time Iza and her guide Deano went ahead, followed by my group (this time only four of us since Poppis was sent down) and then Mike and Jacob were behind us.

During our walk on the icefall there were several avalanches on the other side of the mountain and being on the icefall with the sound of avalanches was like watching Ice Age 3! Looking at these huge pieces of glacier hanging and the moonlight shining from them was mesmerizing and frightening at the same time. ‘It’s so beautiful and scary’, I commented to Mike.

By the 4.40am I was weary and cold. It was the right time to stop since we were over popcorn area and almost to Camp I. At Camp I found I had forgotten my sunglasses but I had the alternative of using my goggles since I had them.However Mike generously lent me his sunglasses. So I had sometime to eat and put another layer on top. During those down times I thought of myself and climbing this mountain. An hour before getting to Camp II I felt like dying and felt there was no way I could make it to the camp. I could hardly breathe, but my legs were strong enough to move. So I kept on moving. About 45minutess before Camp II the Sherpa came with a cup of lemon tea meet us. It was stupendous treat.

1100 metres again from 5340meters to 6,400meters in 8 hours is like walking 36 km at 1030 metres above sea level.

Upon arriving at Camp II I threw everything in my tent and took off all the gears then went to the dining tent and had 4 cups of milky tea and 8 biscuits. Lunch was sweet corn and cheese sandwiches; it wasn’t very welcoming so much but it was so good to refuel after after 8 hours of walking? After lunch I went ahead and hung my Tanzanian flag and part of my down suit, as they were wet from the melted ice in the dining tent were they were stored.

I don’t remember very much what happened after that but I lay down in my tent and I when I woke up it was 5.08pm and dinner was less than an hour away. Lazily I dragged myself out of the sleeping bag and put on my down suite for dinner.

Dinner was rice & chicken in a packet with Sherpa stew. Sherpa stew was so hot “pili pili” – and I don’t do that.

After that I prayed I went to bed at 8.00pm. At dinnertime it was announced that it was almost impossible to go to Camp III since the wind was uprooting rocks and they were falling down below.

We arrived at Camp I this time earlier by one hour than we did the last time. That was what guides required. Then we moved to Camp II as planned. We were there by 9.15am so it took us 8 hours us to get there. The other groups took 9 hpurs. It was then we discovered that as soon as we had passed Jacob and Mike that about 30minutes later Jacob was hit by ice (a size of bowl) on his helmet then chin.

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