Wednesday, April 26, 2017

1st rotation on Kanchenjunga

Wednesday the 26th, our typical cacophony of avalanches every 20 minutes from the ice falls and mountains surrounding our little rocky safe haven at base camp has been overtaken by the low roar of the jet stream scraping across the surrounding 7000m peaks. Giant, shimmering spindrift plums soar overhead like fire as they catch the sun and sublimate. Its mornings like this that I'm happy to be at base camp with a coffee, a solar panel and a tablet. Others busy themselves moving big rocks to anchor tents in case the jet stream settles in lower and threatens our movie theater and disco tent. I've found the best way to keep my Outernet weather and news connection stable is to glue the antenna directly to a chunk of granite. Not that we actually care to read the news of the world outside of our little international community but if I don't work on keeping up comms, weather and charging all of my cameras, lights and beacons for the next rotation, I'd probably be writing poetry about the wonders of e6000 epoxy. 

My small group (Chris, Chris, Lakpa, Tsering and I) made a short rotation up to camp 2-ish a few days ago. We carried a bunch of rope and pickets to the temporary C2 but are hoping to move that camp up a bit higher to avoid having a 1000m climbing day from C2 to C3 at 7,100m. One thousand vertical meters may not seem like a big climb if you were in our local Rockies or Sierra Nevada but at 7000m we're breathing half the oxygen you'd get and with enough gear on our backs, this turns in to an 8-9 hour slog. We're primed to go to and set up C3 on our next rotation when the winds allow, though. The winding route through the icefalls looks fairly straight forward from below at C2 but if conditions allow it, we'll try to put up a drone to get a bird's eye view and spot potential snow bridge and crevasse hazards. Famed Italian climber and heli pilot Simone Morro tried to fly a B3 up near camp 2 to take pictures to plan a route by but couldn't safely get high enough above the possible route. Not all of us are wealthy enough to have our own helicopters (yet). It is a treat to share coffee and stories with such a famous climber and someone who was close to Anatoli B. 

I never dreamed I'd be back on another 8000m expedition just one year after Annapurna. I'm questioning my own sanity and motivations in life a bit but thankful for my coworkers, friends and family for not just tolerating my absence but supporting me with kind messages and my wacky ideas to improve our safety, enjoyment and connectedness. The chance to learn from some of the greatest climbers of our time and simply live in this environment is wonderful perspective. While I look forward to trading this monastary for a comfy couch with family or a meal with friends, I'll gladly soak up the night sky and type 2 fun high in the Himalayas. 

Lakpa and Chris as we carry a load above our tiny Camp 1 and a sea of clouds below. And yes, crossing that crevasse is tricky.

Short ice climb just below Camp 1

Tsering and me taking a break on a snow dome just below a mixed climbing section. 360° photo best viewed interactively in Google Photos, Facebook or VR.

p.s. I have Jemaine Clement's "Shiny" (from Moana) stuck in my head. My only solace is that I can get it stuck in your head, too. Go ahead, youtube it.
p.p.s. Chris's blog: http://chrisjensenburke.com/blog/
p.p.p.s. See our location, short updates and message me: https://share.garmin.com/MatthewDuPuy
p.p.p.p.s. Thanks to our friends at Altitude-Seven.com, @ARMCommunity and @vindurhao for weather updates, threads and emotional support. 

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