Thursday, April 9, 2015

Documenting the climb - one section at a time (Camp 1 to Camp 2)

Greetings.  As promised, I continue my posts about the climb.  The second leg up the mountain presented more troubles for me than the first leg.  More people take pictures and document the Khumbu icefall than any other section.  The following tidbits are what I could gather about leg two between Camp 1 (19,600 feet or 6000m) to Camp 2 (21,000 feet or 6400m).

The Western Cwm (pronounced koom)

A U-shaped valley separates Camp 1 from Camp 2.  We ascend 1,400 feet or 400m up through a protected valley where temperatures can soar into the upper 90's  F (35+ C) due to the low winds and parabolic shape to the route.  The surrounding mountains block the winds and the sun beats down on the glacial whiteness - combine those factors with the shape of the glacial path we walk upon results in extremely hot temperatures.  Alan Arnette provided an excellent look at this valley in the picture posted below (Camp 1 is the top triangle and Camp 2 is the lower triangle - picture taken from Camp 3 on the Lohtse face):

As you can see from the picture above, the pitch of the climb appears rather gradual.  This section of the climb is relatively flat.  We ascend through the Western Cwm from Camp 1 to Camp 2 and gain roughly 1,400 feet (400m) in a slightly longer walking distance (1.7 miles) compared to the walking distance in the first leg between EBC and Camp 1 (1.6 miles).  The primary difference between the two legs - aside from the pitch of the climb - is the duration of the climb (2-3 hours for leg 2 vs. 4-12 hours for leg 1) and the temperature.  Temperatures vary greatly on the Western Cwm often shifting between freezing and scorching heat.  Below is a nice, brief video of what the traverse looks like across the Western Cwm.

Once we reach Camp 2, we start to see the Lohtse face and our next leg that takes us up the face.  Stay tuned for more information on that leg.

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