Philippe Gatta in Ramche (Photo: Anna Gatta)
Wednesday 20 April: Yalung glacier – Base Camp
This is a very long walk along the Yalung glacier and moraine to reach the base camp at 5470m (BC). The BC is a nice place, hilly with big boulders everywhere. Not so easy to find good spots for the tents so we’re a bit spread out.
Thurday 21 : BC.
We unpack the gear, unfortunatelly Pemba and the rest of the porters are still behind.
Friday 22: BC.
We sort out the gear, tent, stove and food that we will need for the high camp and prepare the acclimatization trip.
Saturday 23: first round trip to C1 (6200)
We make a first load carry to C1 but we don’t sleep there. The camp is well placed on a ridge with an amazing view.
Sunday: 24: rest at BC.
Monday 25: BC to C1 (6200m)
We start our long acclimatization trip, with load carry to the high camps. The plan is to spend 3-4 nights at 6400 and 2 nights at 7000m.
Tuesday 26: C1 (6200m) – C2 (6400m)
We move from C1 to C2 at 6400m. It’s short, 1h30 walk. Initially we didn’t plan to make a camp there, but it’s too far between the C1 and the camp at 7000m.
Wednesday 27: rest and acclimatization at C2.
There are 7 Russians trying to reach C3 (7000m) and us, all other teams are still at BC.
Rest in camp 2 (¬© Ludovic Challeat)
Thursday 28: C2 – 6700m – C2
We climb up to 6700m for acclimatization and see the route, then we go back down to C2.
Friday 29: rest in C2.
Saturday 30: C2 (6400m) – C3 (7000m)
We left the C2 early for the C3 (7000m). After 2 hours of climb, we reached a big serac at 6800m. We use the fixed ropes put in place by the Russians who did a lot of hard work. It’s a 25m vertical wall with an overhanging end. We all spent quite some times to climb it and pull the heavy bag of gear. After the serac, it’s a solid 1h30 to reach the lower C3 at 7000m. Note that I was wearing the Suunto HR belt during the climb: average 148 bpm, with a peak of 175 while climbing the serac. Alexia, Ludo, Ben, Gorgan and I are squeezed in a single tent waiting for our Sherpas who have a bit of food, stove and a second tent. Four hours later they are still not there, it’s windy, snowy and it will be dark soon. We can’t make it at this altitude without water and food but we don’t want to descend because that will screw up our acclimatization plan. So Gorgan and I go back down and found part of the gear and food left on the way by the Sherpas. We call our 3 friends to help us pick up what we found and go up again at 7000m. It’s almost sunset, the snowfall stops and suddendly we are above a sea of clouds. We are all amazed by the beauty of this unique scenery and take 30 photos before reaching the tent. Unfortunately the joy won’t last long; there was very litle food, and only 1 stove for 5 people. It took 3h to melt a bit snow and we had only a noodle soup to eat.
Alexia and Philippe (¬© Ludovic Challeat)
The team going up towards camp 3 (¬© Ludovic Challeat)
View of Cabru (¬© Ludovic Challeat)
Sunday May 1: C3 (7000m) – C2 (6400m)
We spent a not so good night, strong wind, cold, not enough to drink and eat. We wanted to spend at least another day here but Gorgan and I have only 2 powerbars left, a bit light for 24hr at this altitude… Ben is in the same situation. So we have to go down to C2. Alexia and Ludo have a bit more food and decide to stay one more night. With the strong wind of last night we have to break the trail and the slopes are a bit avalanche prone. We’re a bit weak and move slowly. We found the rest of food, stove and tent in the snow just a bit higher than the big serac. We make a cache and continue to descend to C2 where we have plenty of food. We eat, relax and spend another night at 6400, the 7th in a row. It would have been better to sleep above 7000m, but that’s life. Tomorrow we go down to BC for a well deserved shower, good meal and sleep. So at this point the Russians have reached the higher altitude, setting up their C3 at 7300m.
Camp base dinner (¬© Ludovic Challeat)
Sunday May 2: C2 (6400m) – BC
Ben, Gorgan and I leave the C2 early in the morning. Two hours later we’re happy to be back in the BC. In the afternoon we try to set up the generator, the laptop, Internet connection that arrived while we were up in the mountain. For some reasons we also had problems with the satelite phone so it was almost impossible to get or received any news for several weeks. Pemba told us all the nightmare he has been through to get all the gear and food here. We worry about the return and start thinking about helicopter…
Our acclimatization should be completed. At this point the plan is to recover at BC for a few days and wait for 4-5 days of good weather for our summit push. Regine, Cedric, Jean-Marc spent less time in altitude so they will go up again tomorrow.
For the summit push, we plan to go from BC to C2 straight, then go the C3 (7200m), then go to C4 (7700m) and go for the summit the following night. Then we should be back in the BC 2 days later.
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