July 6th - advanced base camp
Our first and only acclimatization rotation started today!! The plan is to spend one night at advanced base camp (17,700 feet, 5400 meters), 2 nights at C1 (19,700 feet, 6000 meters), two at C2 (21,900 feet, 6700 meters) and then return to BC (16,400 feet, 5000 meters) to rest and wait for a good weather window that will allow us to attempt the summit. While this plan looks good on paper, it is entirely dependent on the weather and mountain conditions so we have to remain flexible. I still feel like I’m acclimatizing slowly, and maybe I'm just being hard on myself but I decided to spend tonight at ABC instead of moving from BC to C1 in one push tomorrow. This way, I get an extra night above BC - which will help with acclimitization - and I don’t have to get up at 3am - which is always rough. I didn’t see much downside.
Before leaving for ABC in the afternoon, I had a relaxing day prepping for the rotation. I made a long list of things to pack and started organizing them in piles in my tent yesterday so that today I could take my time and not rush. I even took a shower and washed my hair! Even though the shower entails standing in an empty fuel bucket of ankle-deep warm water, it felt luxurious. Just the smell of soap was incredible. Afterward my tent was warm from the afternoon sun and I laid there with my eyes closed for a long time, enjoying the comforts of base camp … showers, my own tent with a thick mattress, chairs, good food, the company of our Pakistani base camp team. I will miss all of these things when I am on the mountain.
I think that a few calming moments of focus helped today because I felt sooooo much better walking to ABC. I still had to slow down and breathe on the steep sections in the icefall, but I made it here in the same time as before but with a heavier pack. I know that tomorrow will be harder than today, the slope to camp 1 is 40-45 degrees, and I will definitely feel the lack of oxygen. But I’m just going to take my time. I’m sure that I’ll be there in good time. I’ve climbed steep, icy snow before, and I can do it again.
It feels good to start climbing!