We were woken up at 1.00am to dress and to put on necessary equipment before breakfast. I had slept for 2½hrs! When I woke up I prayed that we would be safe and strong. It was like army training! 2.00am and it was pitch dark. We went out on the track and passed by an area where Puja took place. We came to the beginning of the glacier and crampons on.
I felt OK and fine till sometime around 4.00am when my fingers started to freeze. To make things worse about the same time I realised my left crampon strap had come off. This would make the crampon completely come off if I didn’t do anything about it…. “Now my fingers are cold, I need to clip on the rope to stay secure, popcorn area is at the corner….. What should I do? Well I calmed down and decided to tie my crampon strap then I blew hot air into my fingers to warm them…then I moved forward” Catching a group isn’t easy but with time it was possible – then “pole pole” we were moving up.
Two people in our group became so tired trying to keep up with the others. They were coughing so much. By this time the sun was coming out and I started to feel stronger. I could have kept moving on but my heart tells me to be a companion to these two guys. At last the guide said “Wilfred go ahead with Ang Dorjee”. Shortly we came to an area called “popcorn”.
This is a very dangerous place as huge glaciers are hanging on the side and they do look like popcorns. Falling off one can lead to several following you consequently we can all be carried down and buried underneath. So Ang Dorjee (our Sherpa and guide, Neil and myself were walking at a fast pace so we could get out the danger zone quickly.
Then we passed through another area called “football field”. It is not flat as you may think. It is still a slope but flatter without bumps. There is another danger zone area on top. There are hanging glaciers that fall everyday. At certain stages I asked myself “what have I got myself into … and I decided not to speak of these questions to any of my immediate family as they will ask me to go back home straight away”.
Well after 5hrs10mins we covered 6km and were at the camp arriving at 7.30am. The camps here are situated on big junk glaciers without any soil or rocks. If you look from a distance the tents seemed to be set on a glacier island. When Mike arrived he wasn’t too pleased with the campsite and he wanted it to be moved but after a long search of another site and finding none he decided to camp there.
We were assigned tents, they were small tents and for sharing. I ended up sharing with Neil from the UK. We got in our tent. It was very cold but sunny! I am sure prayers from my friends have kept me stronger and moved me on! …. and I was tired, very tired! As soon as we were assigned tents everyone disappeared into them as it was so windy outside. The change from sleeping on a bed in the lodges to sleeping in a big tent with a bed and having a dining tent with a heater to a small shared tent and dining tent and no toilet was a shock! So meals were served in the sleeping tent because we can’t be outside as it was so cold.
Before we left Base Camp we were required to have pee a bottle, bowl, spoon, cup and / or thermos. Pee bottle as I am sure it would have been big struggle to wake up and go outside to pee in the middle of the night once you were warmed. The other utensils were for food. At this point I am starting to re-think of what I have to keep myself warm. Adventure Consultants have supported me be giving me a heavy down suit to stay warm on camps I, II, III, IV and summit day. They are going to get me another new pair of boots. They have also ordered new heavy expedition mittens (big gloves) that will prevent me from having cold hands.
This is quote of the day from head guide to one of the climber….after a long night and we all arrive at the camp, one climber nag and said “it cold where can we hide?” Mike replied, “cold now, you are done!” I laughed because I never expected such an answer from a guide to a client and to a fellow countryman.
A very scary thing happened today. Jacob’s wife, Michaela (they are in a private climbing group) fell into one of the crevasses all the way up to her waist. I could imagine that being me! That is completely terrifying!