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Heading off to Basecamp

Sun 11 Nov 2012 10:53 » Jon

Tonight is our last night in a building for what will probably be just over two weeks. Tomorrow we move to Ama Dablam basecamp, where we’ll live for most of that time, apart from the occasional foray up the hill. To begin with these will just be day climbs, but if all goes well then we’ll spend a night at camp 1. There is no fixed plan as it depends how we acclimatise, what the weather does and what other teams are doing, but the aim will be to gradually push higher, ultimately spending a night at camp 3 and going for the summit.

The main priority now though, is to have a shower. For the next two weeks a bowl of tepid water is the best we can hope for.

After that we’re going to go to a talk on AMS here in Pheriche, so we’re all up to speed on what signs we should be look for in ourselves and our team. Everyone seems to have coped with the altitude pretty well so far, but it’s going to get more serious from here on.

Our lodge is at around 4,200m, and this morning we climbed a peak behind it up to 5,000m – over a hundred metres higher than Mont Blanc. We got a different view of our objective – up to now we’ve been looking at Ama Dablam from between the southwest and west ridges, but today we saw it from north of the west ridge. This view is less terrifying than the classic view – you can’t see the dablam glacier, but can see the side profile of the summit day climb, and it looks a little less steep than it does from front-on, which was a relief…

The views were amazing – we could see Makalu, Lhotse and Island Peak in one direction, Ama Dablam a bit further round, and Lobouje East off to the other side.

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Life up here is pretty chilly. Although the toilet was flushing yesterday, the water supply froze overnight, and hasn’t thawed since. There is still frozen water on the window sill, and all there is to flush it with is a jug and a barrel of water with ice floating in it.

After tonight there’ll be no wifi, and quite possibly no phone coverage, which could mean no updates for a while. Basecamp and camp 1 are behind a ridge, but camp 2 has a view of the valley, so with a bit of luck there’ll be coverage somewhere on the way up.

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