Lhotse Second Rotation


Posted on Tuesday 16th May, 2017

It is the 16th of May and I am writing from Dingboche. I didn’t expect to still be here and should be at Base Camp or on my way to the summit by now but I have been really sick with gastro intestinal problems. It’s not been easy the last week or so because of this. It actually started at Camp 2 on the last rotation 9 days ago now. It seems like so long ago now we were up on the mountain! I realise I have not written since after Island Peak so I will need to catch up later because I did not get a chance to update at Base Camp. Since Island Peak we have been to Lobuche Peak and also completed our first rotation on Lhotse. Please check my Facebook page for photos and updates.

The summit of Lobuche East Peak

We had plans to go to Camp 2, then onto Camp 3 the next day, spend the night and hike higher to the yellow band and descend to Camp 2 then back to Base Camp. Our rotation didn’t quite end up that way however. Mariano, Vibe and I all started through the icefall at 3:30am but Mariano went ahead as he wanted to take a load to Camp 3. My new friend from Norway Vibe decided to come with me to Camp 2 so she could also do her second rotation. We had a great time through the icefall and took an hour longer than the first time I went through it. I didn’t mind as I wanted to still have energy to climb the next day in any case. We met up with our friend from Iran Azim who is very strong and hoping to complete his 14th 8000er without oxygen Lhotse, this season. Vibe planned to share the tent with him and his climbing partner Saeed in Camp 3. It was really hot in the Western Cwm on the way to Camp 2 and I slowed down. I began to feel very tired, I now think this was the beginning of my sickness. Eventually we made it to 6400m and Mariano was already in the tent after dropping a load to Camp 3. He was super tired as well of course! Vibe continued to the Seven Summits campsite. Both Mariano and I had real trouble trying to eat dinner. This is not like us and especially for me as I am always hungry and can eat a lot at that height. Not going to go into details here but I had the worst night ever. Thankfully Mariano is a very deep sleeper as I was up maybe 8 times in the night using wag bags with terrible diarrhoea.

Climbing in the Khumbu icefall photo by Vibeke Sefland

 

Vibe and I at Camp 2

So that put a stop to our plan to continue to Camp 3 the next day. I was so worried to interrupt the rotation but I had no antibiotics on me. Fortunately I popped over to see Rob at Adventure Consultants and got some off him. Unfortunately the ones I got off him were not the right ones but I had a rest day and actually started to feel a little better. So the next day once again Mariano set off at his own pace towards Camp 3 so that he could make a tent platform and set up the tent. Typically I take twice as long as him! Considering though that I am climbing with one of the fastest climbers in the world, I am pretty happy with that and I can sometimes keep up with the climbing Sherpas. I didn’t have too much energy though from being sick so it took me 6 hours to reach our tent at 7200m, a step higher than the main campsite. I stopped at the lower camp to see Vibe and the Iranians and they gave me some water which was awesome as I was almost out and super thirsty. I also got some Cipro antibiotics off Vibe, which I thought were the best ones for diarrhoea. I was so lucky to have the tent set up when I arrived and Mariano was already resting in his sleeping bag. I was also very happy to stop moving as it is hard work going up the fixed lines with a pack.

Looking down the fixed ropes on the Lhotse Face

 

The view from our tent at 7200m looking into the Western Cwm and down at Camp 2

We slept pretty well at that altitude; I slept in my down suit inside my Main Range sleeping bag. The next morning it was cloudy and starting to snow. I attempted to keep to our plan and began ascending the fixed ropes. I was so tired and out of energy however I only got around 100m higher than the tent before I was exhausted. It was starting to snow a lot at that point so we turned back. Instead we decided to spend one more night at 7200m to aid our acclimatisation. I definitely slept a lot better the second night and managed to eat well up there. We packed up the tent and left it there because there was a lot of snow in the forecast and we didn’t want to come back to a broken tent. We rappelled down the Lhotse face on the rappel lines. They were great with two ropes all the way down with some sections over ice but not a problem with crampons on. Most of the Sherpa do not use these lines that are located separate to the up ropes. It drives us crazy because as you go up the Sherpas and their clients all come down the up ropes because they think it is easier. They mostly don’t rappel and just grab the rope. One actually fell above me and I was waiting for him to take me out but he regained himself thankfully. It is so dangerous and I don’t understand why they don’t like the rappel lines… They can’t rappel?? I asked one of the clients why they were coming down the up ropes and they told me the Sherpa said the down ropes were dangerous?! Crazy!! The rappel ropes are a great idea and stop congestion. It would be a lot safer if people just had the appropriate skills to climb and rappel and use the ropes the way they are designed.

 

Anyhow we got down very quickly as we had all the ropes to ourselves of course as everyone else was going down the up ropes. At Camp 2 we left our gear in the tent and repacked to head down to Base. It took me longer than usual as I was so tired from being sick but we got back to Base around 3pm and we left Camp 3 around 9am with a big break at Camp 2. As we were going down the weather was getting worse and we got back to snow in Base Camp. It was great to get back though and have a delicious dinner. Everyone was at Base now and our dining tent was full.

Looking back towards the Lhotse Face with Everest on the left

 

Some of the ladders in the ice fall

The next day I was feeling ok and I washed all my clothes. It then started to snow very early so I had to hang them inside. At dinner I felt pretty good but perhaps I ate too much because I had a terrible night again! It is not fun in a tent at night with stomach problems. Anyhow I got through the night but it was very long. The next morning I slowly made it to Everest ER and a lovely Doctor from Australia Megan saw me. She said that Nepali bacteria are now resistant to Cipro and finally gave me the proper antibiotics. I knew had to go down in altitude if I was going to get better so went back and started packing. Mariano and I left Base just before lunchtime. It was fine walking downhill but I struggled on all the uphill sections of the track. We stopped for over an hour at Lobuche village for lunch and still managed to get into DIngboche just before 6pm. I was so happy to have the same room I shared with Nathan when he was here with me. I took the antibiotics for three days starting the day I left Base. I thought I was getting better and started to eat normal food again. Unfortunately I think it was too soon as once again I had a horrendous night but this time I was also vomiting. I somehow even managed to vomit food I had eaten 2 days ago. It wasn’t good. I thought I was better but now back to square one. So yesterday I only ate toast and rice and drank a lot of electrolyte. Today I am starting to feel a bit better but still tired.

Back in my tent at Base Camp

We have to leave tomorrow to head back to Base if we are going to have any chance of making the last weather window. I am exhausted and have no energy from being so sick and feel like I have lost a lot of weight. It is going to be tough! I will just have to take one day at a time. It looks like we will attempt the summit on either the 22nd, 23rd or 24th depending on which day has the least wind and snow forecast. I hope I can feel better soon and have a good chance at the summit. I can’t even imagine climbing the Lhotse face in my current condition but I still have a few days to improve. I wish I was feeling 100% but that’s just the nature of the game I guess, no matter how careful you are anything can happen. Thankfully it looks like many people will summit before us, which is good because there are so many people with Everest permits this year as well as around 100 with Lhotse permits. So hopefully many teams will already have made their summit attempts by the time we head up the mountain. So that is my news for the moment. While we have been resting in Dingboche at Hotel Countryside, we have watched movies! It has been amazing on the flat screen satellite TV here. So that has been a treat!

 

Thank you to everyone for your support of my expedition so far and lovely comments of support on my Facebook page. Big thanks to Mont Adventure Equipment, The North Face Australia and New Zealand, Cousin Trestec ropes and Ablaze Print Race Bibs for supporting my trip with awesome gear and clothing. My life literally depends on it!

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