The Daily Moraine - Ama Dablam 2014 #52 November 2014
Painfully slow progress
Sorry for no contact for the past few days, computer problems, but also the progress is like watching paint dry, painfully slow.
Looking up ridge
When the going gets tough, the tough get going
Looking back along the ridge
However there has been quite a change to the team dynamics as after our last trip to the Col Kumiko and Nina felt that maybe this route is a little technical for them, and Nina had a great job opportunity that she could get to and could make some money rather than be sitting in cold camps, even if this has a great view. So they both lefty by helicopter a couple of days ago and are now back in their respective countries. This is a pity as now we have even a smaller team, but we are now tantalisingly close to making a summit attempt, so we shall continue. And for good reasons, as the one remaining member is the ex-wife of my very long term climbing mate Paddy Freaney who passed away two years ago, but he was my rope mate when we climbed Ama Dablam in 1980. So it is fitting that Rochelle has the chance to continue the climb. But also my two guides Woody and Shinji also what to finish this route.
In fact Woody, Shinji, Nima and Urken have spent the last 3 days on the mountain with two nights at C1 pushing the route up the precarious rock rib that has small snow mushrooms balanced on top. Despite the Sherpas being a little afraid, they continually took over the lead even on some of the steep rock. We are all very impressed with their climbing ability and competence on steep ground. This is not the normal sort of work that they do, but when they come back to BC they are all smiles from one side of the face to the other, and full of machine-gun fire chatter. But so they should be proud as they have now reached a point just below C2 where the ridge changes direction a little and therefore the quality of snow changes and should be come less sugary, and less bottomless, which we are all hoping will make the final part much faster to climb. Also the angle decreases considerably. The effort that this team have put in over the last few days is considerable and is the crux of the route.
In the meanwhile Phurba and Narwang have been down valley a little taking rubbish and empty gas cylinders ready for inspection by the SPCC, but more importnatly looking for one of Phurba's missing yaks. They also were successful with their mission and returned with the yak. At the moment we have 10 of Phurba's yaks grazing on the nice grass around camp. Each morning these yaks gather round our kitchen and dining room hoping to receive vegetable peelings from the cooks. It is not uncommon to wake up to find there is a yak munching on grass just half a meter away from our tents. I think now both animals and humans have a good understanding of each other and it is comforting to have them in camp and to hear the bells around their necks clanging. Oh, not all the yaks, just a few as we took the bells off the others. A few years ago we treated one of these yaks for infection after it had been attacked by a Snow Leopard, so it is good to see him with the main heard even though he cannot see out of one eye due to the injuries, but at least he survived. We have also learnt a lot about yaks, the lead and tail yak of a yak train. Which one eats fast and which one is shy. They all have names, and the all love cabbage leaves and Gingernut biscuits.
Today has been a rest day and early tomorrow morning the 4 Sherpa's Phurba, Narwang, Nima and Urken will set off for C1 where they intend to drop their food loads before carrying on to the top of the fixed ropes where they intend to fix the final 100m to the summit ridge, and hopefully a little way along the ridge. We all figure that there is then one more day of rope fixing along technical ground before we reach a high plateau on top of a hanging glacier where we can move together until the final summit. If all goes well the Sherpas should summit on 3 Nov and Guides with member on 4th.
Another snow mushroom
The forecast has the Jet Stream right above us, and we can see this from the cloud formations on Everest and Makalu, but we see only about 5 km of wind on Ama.