The Daily Moraine - Makalu #714 May 2014
Himex team is getting ready for the summit attempt
Finally, the latest weather forecast has confirmed the weather window for our summit attempt and our team is getting ready to leave on Thursday, 15th May to hopefully reach the summit three days later – on 18th May. "We were worried that the weather window would close, but thankfully the 17th and 18th May are back in the game for good summit days," Suzanne said after having spoken to Meteotest in Bern.
The whole Himex team
After almost a fortnight at ABC the team is obviously getting excited to be leaving soon and while I am writing this, everyone is packing their bags, selecting their gourmet food for the high camps or, in the case of Jacob, enjoying the last shower before heading back up the hill. "I am getting a bit nervous but I am so happy that we are finally leaving," Heidi said during breakfast.
Gyanu with one of his sweet surprises
During the past two weeks, some of the members tried to get over their boredom by starting a new game, which is called: "You have been booted!" This latest ABC shenanigans involves a knackered high altitude boot that must have been lying around ABC for a few years and is now making its way from tent to tent. "I don't know who has started it but for some bizarre reason, the boot pitches up various tents and it has become part of our base camp life," Dr Joe said looking for the next ‘victim' where he could put the boot.
The knackered boot
On summit day, everyone will be climbing with their own personal Sherpa and on Monday evening the "Sherpa-Member" teams were allocated. "The Sherpas will be with you all the time from Camp 4 to the summit and back and they will .also look out for your oxygen bottles and systems," Jacob said. Loppsang, our sirdar, will keep the overall control and will make sure that everything runs smoothly.
On Thursday, we will leave after breakfast and head up to Camp 2, where we will spend our first night. Friday, 16th May, will probably be a hard day as we will be climbing back up to Camp 3 at the Makalu La at 7,400m. From there, the members will start sleeping on supplemental oxygen to be fresh for the following day, when they will be going to Camp 4 at 7,800m. "The Sherpas will have the same schedule but they will only start using oxygen from Camp 4," Suzanne said.
On 19th May, we will start early in the morning expecting cold temperatures dropping to -22C around 8,500m with winds of up to 25kmh. "The wind speed is just within our limits and we should be ok, especially with using oxygen," Jacob said. The good thing about Makalu's summit day is that half of the climb is protected as we will be moving inside the French Couloir, which is about 300m long. Afterwards we will move onto the Northwest Ridge to get to the summit at 8,485m.
If all goes to plan, we should all be back at ABC on 19th May with the Sherpas breaking down the camps and bringing the material back to ABC to be packed up and shipped back to Lukla or Kathmandu. Gyanu and his kitchen team will for sure be waiting for us with some delicious food and sweet surprises, just as they have surprised as previously. Dr Joe will be staying at ABC being near the radios on stand-by for possible medical issues, however, we are all hoping that we wont need his services and that he will not be busy with us being up the hill.
We will send a newsletter as soon as we are back down at ABC, which should probably be on 20th May. Until then, we are sending our regards to everyone out their following our expedition, and please keep your fingers crossed.
Billi Bierling, Makalu ABC