camp 4

July 21, 2018 - camp 4 26,025 feet 

It's hard for me to believe that I'm lying in a tent at camp 4 on K2.  

Took less than three hours to get here, despite deep powdery snow, which I was honestly disappointed by because it was a signal for me that camp 4 is lower than it's normal location.  A lower camp 4 means that we are further from the summit and will therefore will have a longer summit day tomorrow as we’ll have to climb about 400 more feet than usual.  I know that this doesn't seem like a lot, but every step counts.  

As the team arrived at camp 4 today, the team that we've been trailing was descending  from the summit.  They really looked strong, not tired or beat up by the mountain.  I made it my goal to look and feel the same tomorrow.  We waited in the snow for them to vacate our shared tents and then dove in ourselves.  We're now organized three per tent, I generally take the middle position in this situation, because I am the smallest and create a buffer for my male tent mates.  It's also warmer to be in the middle.

Cozy at camp 4 with Jason and Semba

Cozy at camp 4 with Jason and Semba

Jason, Semba and I are lying flat on our backs, fully dressed in down suits and boots, wearing oxygen masks. We look ready to start climbing, but in fact I feel like I have a lot of work to do.   Primary on my list is to eat and drink.  Thanks to Jason's (https://www.jasonblack.ie/k2/) expert nutrition advice, my focus is on consuming carbs,  mostly in the form of Pakistani flat bread called chapati.  I've been carrying this chapati in my backpack for four days so it's more like chapati crumbles.  I finished with a chocolatey delicious bar-in-the-jar (http://www.barinthejar.com/order/) because chocolate is it's own food group and shouldn't be excluded from any meal, especially at 26,000 feet.  In a couple hours we'll all have soup.  My appetite is better than expected, and luckily I am able to force myself to eat when my body isn't interested.  Aside from eating and drinking, I’m double checking the chocolatey carby snacks in the pockets of my down suit, and memorizing which food is stored where. I’ve replaced the batteries in my headlamp with new ones, and tucked another fresh set in an inner pocket so that they (hopefully) won’t freeze. I still feel like I’m forgetting to do something important.

The weather forecast for this evening and tomorrow looks really good, which is unbelievable for K2.  The snow has tapered off, and winds at the summit should be around 15 knots, the temperature -17C.  That probably sounds horrible if you're reading this from sea level, but at 28,000 feet (8,600 meters) those are perfect conditions.  I can't imagine any reason that we wouldn't follow our current plan, which is to leave camp 4 around 10 pm.  

“Resting” at camp 4

“Resting” at camp 4

Although I have been preparing for and thinking about this moment for years, I feel apprehensive and a bit nervous.  Regardless of how much I've trained for this mountain, there are so many unknowns ahead of me and it's easy to get stuck thinking about "what if".  So, instead I am going to spend the rest of my time at camp 4 soaking in all of the love and support around me, and visualizing my safe summit and descent.