In a few short hours 24 of us are departing for the North Col and onwards and upwards hopefully to the summit. The spike in the wind speeds arrived today as forecast, battering the summiters from the last couple of days as they descended to ABC. I took a wander up to the headwall to stretch the legs and get the latest information on the route. Surprisingly Ueli Steck and Don Bowie didn't summit due to the cold, but climbing without oxygen is a different level of difficulty to what we're attempting. They made the sensible decision to turn around just below the summit when severe frostbite was becoming a very real possibility. However with the extra warmth provided by supplementary oxygen many of the commercial teams have been very successful with over 100 summits in the last couple of days and the route seems to be in good condition. Our Sherpas paid a quick visit to the North Col today to confirm everything was still in place. Unfortuently Sonam sustained some minor frostbite to his cheek on the descent, but it's already responding to treatment and with care he'll still be an important part of the team.
From the North Col we'll climb to Camp 2 (7800m) on the 24th, Camp 3 (8250m) on the 25th, and depart for the summit that evening between 21:00 and 22:30 (16:15 and 17:45 on 25th May UK time). The climb should take 8-10 hours so we're aiming to be on top of the world soon after sunrise on the 26th May (around 03:00 on 26th May UK time). A quick descent should see everyone at Camp 2 or lower before nightfall and everyone back to ABC by the evening of the 27th.
We have a great forecast, a fit and healthy team, the strongest Sherpa team on the mountain and the route to ourselves...Blue skies.