Day 14: Very busy day at Base Camp

Today I woke up feeling a bit better. My back and neck are soar but I managed to get good sleep and I didn’t wake up every hour as the last few days. I changed the position of my sleeping bag and I think it helped, but I’ll change it again tonight since I’m still feeling uncomfortable in the tent. I’m acclimatizing well, but I still need few more days to feel strong at this altitude.

This morning during breakfast we spent good time looking at the oxygen mask and talking about the climbing strategy, that we have not developed completely yet, but is good to start talking about the options now so that we build awareness on what might happen in the next few weeks. This is very important, specially to prepare our gear, since we are leaving Base Camp in four days and everything we need higher up must get ready now. A group of 60 yaks and some sherpas are leaving tomorrow morning to start preparing the route. All the required personal stuff on higher camps will be cashed at Advance Base Camp, so that’s why now we have to think on what to send with the Yaks and what to leave here. From Advance Base Camp we’ll move up and down in one or two rotations, depending on how strong we feel and weather conditions. Ideally we should tag Camp 1 (North Col) twice before coming down for a good long rest at our palace in Base Camp, but the plan is tag it at least once, a very relaxed schedule.

Right after breakfast we packed for the Yaks to carry our gear up to Advance Base Camp where we’ll stay five to seven days. I spent few hours reviewing all my gear and splitting it in different compression bags. I want to get everything extremely organized for the different phases of the climb, since I don’t want to do any mistake with the gear when I’m ready for summit push and brain fried. I have prepared all gear I’m using exclusively on summit push in a separate compression bag. High altitude globes, liners, mittens, googles, buffs and some other stuff to be used from ABC higher up goes in a separate bag. My two pieces down suit in separate bag as well. Then climbing hardware, high altitude boots, and the -20C sleeping bag is packed separately. It took me quite a while to figure out what food and toiletries to send with the Yaks, and to pack then in small separate zip bags so that I can just grab one per climbing day.

All the gear and stuff I’m using from Base Camp to Camp 1 I’m taking it with me, and I’m leaving some spares at BC that I will need during the time we’ll spend here resting before the summit push. I’s all about making the right decisions not to send too many things tomorrow up to ABC that I might need before getting there, and leaving some stuff here so that I don’t need to take it down before or after summit push. A good example is the decision I’ve taken to leave the -40C sleeping bag at Base Camp and taking the -20C with me. We are spending a night at what we call Interim Camp right after leaving BC and reaching ABC. It’s going to be a cold night but the -40C is way to heavy and and it does not worth taking it in my back pack to high camps, since I will sleep from Camp 1 in my down suit.

I’ve also spend a good time setting up the crampons with the metallic toe belt, since on Khan Tengri I fit them on the cold Scarpa Phanton 8000 boots using the the plastic strap, and now that I have a brand now pair of Sportiva Mons Evo I feel they fit better without it, and the metallic toe belt. I’m not too happy with these Petzl Lynx modular crampons that I used in Kyrgyzstan and Iran last year. They are very versatile, and aggressive on ice, but not easy to set up when the conditions are harsh, and they feel a bit fragile on mixed terrain. I will write a review on these once I finish the expedition, and I will find a new set from another brand that are more appropriate for my next expedition.

I’ve also tested the settings of both high altitude boots and climbing harness with my new two piece down suite. The boots feel so warm and comfy, I’m happy that I finally bought size 44. My street shoe number in 41-42, and I spent hours in a shop in Paris trying to make up my mind in between sizes 43 and 44 for these new high altitude boots.

The down suit is awesome, and Phil is impressed with the new design of the down saloppettes (the bottom part) and decided to acquired his own. The new model includes a large piece of soft and warm windstopper fabric covering from waist all the way to the chest and back. It’s not impossible for the wind or snow to go underneath these pants, which was a big caveat on two pieces down suit and the reason why many guides do recommend using only a full down suit for 8000m peaks.

For this expedition I have spares of the most important gear, which I’ll take with me on summit push: Glacier glasses, googles, globe liners and down mittens, all x2.

Knowing that I have the right gear is for me the most important point to feel mentally strong in expeditions like this.

Of course all these tests I’ve done it back home, but now I’m just testing again and changing some of the settings. I’ve just realized my Black Diamond Colouir alpine harness is a bit small and it’s going to be hard to set it over the down suit with cold hands 😦 Not the end of the world though, since I’ll have the help from sherpas and climbing partners up there.

After checking gear and packing I’ve decided to have warm shower and now I feel like reborn. I’ve not shaved though since I’ve decided not to do it before I get back home, hehehe. I’m also thinking on using my razor before summit push and make some fanny with my hair. I haven’t asked my girlfriend though 😛

The girl who got bitten by the dog made it safe to BC, and I wish she makes it safe all the way to the Top. Not surprisingly another girl from another team got bitten in Tingri as well, and she has decided to continue with the expedition without rabies treatment…

Very busy and productive day. My brother and girlfriend are sending me emails and sms and it feel so good. The team is awesome and Phil has the best sense of humor, so for now I’m not feeling sad but instead I’m happy to have so many people supporting me. So far I have received two emails from followers in this blog sending me good vibrations. One of them said he is my fan.I think he is the first fan I’ve ever had in my live! 😀 Thank you so much to everybody, for now I just can send updates but not checking comments and FB stuff but once I’m back from the expedition I’ll use few days to go through every single of them.

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