Valerio Massimo Everest Expedition 2009

Me on the summit of Cho Oyu with Everest in the background

Lobuche Peak – Part 2 (there will be no Part 3…)

April 27th, 2009 by Valerio

Hello to all from EBC.


Well I was supposed to post again on Friday, but frankly, could not be bothered and have spent a very relaxing ‘weekend’ doing precisely nothing, on Russell’s orders of course.


Anyway back to where I left off.  On Wednesday we trekked the 12km down to Lobuche Base Camp again.  The reason I hate this so much is that the trail is so dusty, and dust = mainly pulverised yak shit.  This is what you can’t help inhaling, and is the reason for the cough I’ve had when I’ve been down there.  I’ve been lucky enough not to get ill so far, but there is no avoiding that dust, try as I might with a bandana over my mouth and nose.


We eventually rolled into Lobuche BC and had a rather raucous dinner (it was just boys for once) that was, erm, not very intellectual and involved lots of filthy stories, mountaineering and otherwise, including the one about one of the guides tent-mates who went outside at Camp 4 on summit night to ‘do a number 2’, and came back into the tent whereupon his tent-mate was almost sick from the smell.  Apparently the turd in question was ‘homesick’ – he had laid it in the hood of his downsuit as he bent over in the wind.  I am taking Imodium on summit night as there is no way I am going to the loo at 8,000 meters…


The next morning we started the climb – all 1,300 meters of it – to the summit of Lobuche Peak, by-passing the old Camp 1 site on the col and pushing straight up the mountain.  Chris my tent-mate and I had been asked to slow down, both to perfect our technique for the Icefall, but really so that the Discovery cameraman Jamie could take some footage of us, as each time we have climbed we have left the film crew behind.  So slow down we did, and it was a very leisurely climb to the summit and then to the site of Camp 2, which had been cut into the knife-edge summit ridge (see below).


We got there by around midday so had the whole rest of the day to melt snow and generally pass the time.  Being on a sharp ridge we had to clip into a rope if we left the tents, otherwise a slip could mean a long 1,000 meter plus ride down to the glacier.  The lack of any sort of communal area kept everyone in their tents, with the only communication being the odd shout or lobbed snowball.  The views from the tent, however, were spectacular (see photo).  As the afternoon crept on it began to get very cold and by 6pm I had eaten by boil in the bag Pad Thai (no precious pasta this time) and settled into my sleeping bag for the night.


This is where I regretted not bringing my Thermarest.  A Thermarest is a small, inflatable mattress, which helps with comfort and insulation from the cold.  I thought I would try a night without it and just rely on Russell’s thin foam mats.  Big mistake.  Given we were the first team to try this camp, we were the first to discover its niggles.  Our tent floor was NOT flat, but was instead full of bumps, which as night fell became hard ice and impossible to flatten.  With one of Russ’s sleeping bags (not the warmest), I could actually feel the cold ice beneath me.  Much as I tried to sleep I could not.  It wasn’t the altitude – I felt fine on that front – but the cold and discomfort that made it a long, sleepless night.  I almost ranted out loud in frustration, as whichever way I turned, my hip would rub against another half melon sized lump of ice.  When you start your night at 7pm, it is a long, long time until sunrise…  It was also a bitterly cold night, and everything inside the tents that wasn’t in the sleeping bags froze or was dusted in frost – it must have been minus 25 centigrade.  Next time I go up the mountain, I am taking my Thermarest, and ideally my own sleeping bag…


Dawn came at 6am and we hastily got ready to descend.  It was still cold as we re-attached harnesses and put on cold boots and crampons.  I was in a rush to get out of there.  Cold soon turned into heat as the movement warmed up my body and I down-climbed in direct sunlight, despite the early hour.  By 8am I was at the col and by 8.45 I was back at Lobuche BC.  We had a brief breakfast and then headed up to Everest Base Camp.  I took the walk at a very leisurely pace, walking with a female teammate and stopping off at Gorak Shep internet café for a drink and a bit of surfing.


Since we were the first team back, the order was to rest until further notice.  So lots of rest, naps, snacking, and movies in the evening after dinner.  Even though we have been at Base Camp or above since the 9th April, we are still acclimatizing, our bodies gradually producing more and more oxygen efficient red blood cells, so it is all beneficial.  As with every expedition to the Himalaya, especially Everest, the mantra is ‘Hurry up and wait’.


Yesterday afternoon a massive serac fall came crashing down the Icefall, giving Base Camp a dusting – another reminder of the dangers of where we are heading in the next few days.


Tonight Russ is throwing a party in the white pod or ‘Tiger Dome’ has become known.  This is part to celebrate the start of the new calendar month for the sherpas, part to celebrate the end of Phase 1 of our acclimatisation, and part just to let the team relax.  It is also logistically probably the last time we (climbers, guides, sherpas) will all be in camp at the same time until the end of the expedition, so another good reason.  If stories from past expeditions are to be believed, it should be a rather raucous affair.


The guides are meeting today to discuss the plan for the next stage of our acclimatization, which will involve a 5/6 day round trip up through the Icefall, to Camp 1, Camp 2, and Camp 3 at 7,400 meters smack bang in the middle of the Lhotse Face, before returning to Base Camp.  We are likely to be grouped into two teams from the previous three for this phase, with the first group leaving in a few days time.


The beard has now progressed to a ridiculously unflattering stage – I actually have to cut it with scissors as it is getting so long.  However, the blog campaign to shave it has taken a turn, with a few recent posts in favour.  We’ll see when Alix gets here as I am looking more like a Yeti every day.


So more news tomorrow morning after the party.


Namaste to you all on this Monday morning.

Camp 2 on the summit ridge with the summit shrouded in cloud

Camp 2 on the summit ridge with the summit shrouded in cloud

The inside of our tent at Camp 2

The inside of our tent at Camp 2

The view from the back flap of our tent - the Everest massif

The view from the back flap of our tent - the Everest massif

Tags: 9 Comments

Leave a Comment

9 responses so far ↓

  • I think you are better off with Yak Poo than Swine Flu which concerns most of the population below 5000m at the mo

    But I am interested – what exactly do Yaks eat?

  • Namaste to you too!
    Amazing pictures.
    Can’t wait for the next installment.
    Exactly how orange is your beard?
    Keep it combed!

  • Excellent pictures, have been following your progress.
    All the best,

  • hey kiddies! hope all is going well. thinking of you both and hoping you aren’t too cold, uncomfortable etc etc. Love the pictures…the views look unbelievable! Send more new…Just checked out the site for the first time (since you left) and its brilliant! Sending you both tons of love and luck, Molly xoxoxox

  • Great pics once again. Really good luck on the Lhotse Face. Walking in the footsteps of history. The destination gets ever closer… All the very best, Tim

  • The beard stays – all famous explorers are bearded, why not plait it and add some ethno beads and relive the year off? Seriously impressed, I read every word – as I was suffering in the marathon y’day around mile 19 I was g’ing myself on saying this is nothing compared to what my old mate Vag is doing. Keep it going mate

  • Can i take a one small pic from your blog?
    Thank you

  • .

    сэнкс за инфу….