Yesterday some of the group climbed to the North Col at 7100m. This was the first time we'd donned crampons, harnesses etc. 8 people set out, only 3 made it. The majority of the group are heading today and as such I write this entirely exhausted in the tent at Advanced Base Camp (ABC).
We unfortunately did not manage to get the game of rugby under way. Noel (who is a tough man but any charts) had to turn back at about 6800m. He alongside some of the others left the rest of the group in no false pretence as to what faces them today. On arrival back to camp, having dug so deep for approx 8 hours continuously at the extreme altitude, he had to repeatedly pop outside to throw up what morsel he had left in his body. I'm sure there are many seasoned mountaineers that would scoff at these words, but for relative novices particularly those like myself who take longer to acclimatise, with the added risk of missing the turnaround time, the closing weather and the increasing darkness, it had crossed the mind that we could have been stuck up there and as such I'm not too proud to say that it ended up being highly emotional. The plan had been to turn this phone on all be it briefly and get the pre written e-mails away, possibly even to call home as we can’t get signal at ABC and even a quick spot of filming, but the only thought was to avoid frost bite and get back safely. The weather is slightly better today and they've set off earlier so though I'm sure it'll still be incredibly tough physically, most should have the time to make it should their fortitude be sufficient.
Coming down was an experience, as to be honest I had absolutely nothing left. The stumbling and falling alongside the dry-wretching would have been somewhat comical for onlookers, but I couldn't even talk, eat or drink anything on return to camp making you wonder why on earth you put yourself through this?
Poor Keith had to put up with a blood filled hacking cough all night in addition to the usual 'water bottle' stops so I certainly owe him some favours when we return to the relative luxuries of BC from tom.
To consider that we have to repeat that journey twice more is fairly ominous but the next time is far easier apparently due to the altitude acclimatisation- we shall see!
Word has finally reached us of some news from home. Apparently the election is due for May 6th and flights are still intermittently affected from a volcanic eruption in Iceland. With the earthquake in China, there is obviously something afoot underneath- perhaps time to run to the hills?- just I wouldn't recommend this high! Fortunately we also return in time for the start of the football world cup and as usual we favour ourselves to do well. Let's hope with Capello in charge that is indeed the case and we are in fact practicing our penalties...
Right then, I'd better go and do something useful- perhaps rig up the toilet tent that has blown over in the night or wash the socks and underwear I've had on for 8 days. Love to all.
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