Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Everest North Col

Photo: Greg Healey Collection

Tuesday was a big day for the team with our first attempt on the 7000m North Col, a height record for most of the group. 13 climbers and 9 sherpas made an early start up to crampon corner and across the East Rongbuk glacier to the headwall. A couple of hours later the Sherpas were all running back down the fixed lines having dropped their loads at the North Col as we plodded our way slowly ever upwards.

The CTMA ropes bypass the scene of last year's serac accident giving a steeper but more interesting route to an exposed camp. There is only one ladder this year, 20m below the north col which gives an interesting finish to the day. For some of the group the bottom of the ladder was their highpoint, but 7 of the team wobbled their way higher to the camp which was being buried in spindrift. Throughout the day we had every type of weather from burning sunshine to full on blizzard conditions. A few gaps in the maelstrom gave us views of the snow ridge up towards Camp 2 from the North Col.

The descent went well even as the avalanche risk increased as the snow continued to fall. A quick plod back across the wanded glacier and we arrived back at crampon corner. The final excitement of the day for some of the team was finding an unconscious Sherpa slowly being buried by the snow. They managed to get him on his feet and a good team effort saw him safely delivered back to his team at base camp suffering from nothing more than exhaustion.