Tomorrow (2 July) we head up the hill for the big push along the Mazeno ridge. The weather is not ideal. Although there is likely to be less snowfall and better visibility than in the last week - which is good - our probable summit days are in a period of high wind - which is bad. But we don't have the time to wait, especially with no guarantee of anything better afterwards. So we go and hope the weather improves.
If all goes to plan - a big if - we will descend down the Diamir face, on the other side of the Mazeno ridge. This is the safest of the various ways down, and is the route Rick and Sandy climbed in 2009. We'll then walk out to the nearest road. Our basecamp will be dismantled in our absence, once they receive word of our final plan. So we've spent today packing up all our personal things.
We go with 8 days of food and gas (30 butane/propane cylinders), which could be stretched to last 10. We have 3 2-man single-skin tents, 2 ev2 and 1 gemini. 5 climbing ropes + tat, a minimum of gear, our personal clothing, harness-helmet-iceaxes, high-altitude down suits, sleeping bags and mats, 3 stoves (2 of them jetboils, which are amazing for using very little gas). Headtorches, water bottles, pee bottles, minimal toiletries and medical, bog roll. It all adds up.
I'm not taking the system that lets me post text and photos onto the ridge. The power requirements are too onerous. Comms will be via twitter and voice posts, both off which I can do direct from the Thuraya phone. And the live tracking on the map should be running, via the Spot.
I've a bag of spare batteries, for my camera (Nikon coolpix s8200), GoPro and the phone.
Asked for their parting words of wisdom, Rick offered: the adventure of our lives, Sandy offered: just another day on the hill, and the Sherpas simply grinned.
It's time to go climbing!
(to those who have my contact info, text only from now on, no email.)
Doing some photos for sponsors &supporters.
The cooks in the kitchen tent,about to serve lunch.
The view from Cathy's basecamp tent, featuring Sandy.
Lamb and schips for dinner.