Tonight I’m in Camp 3. This camp is hands down the most ridiculous camp I’ve ever made. It’s perched atop a small serac maybe 20′ by 20′ with huge drops on 3 sides. A 150ft overhanging ice cliff is what I’m tucked under… to protect from avalanches. Yikes!
The past three days I’ve spent making my way up Annapurna. The first day (the 19th) I left Base Camp with two Sherpa guides to re-open the route after a week of snow. But on the way to Camp 1 and after arriving Camp 1, I was observing avalanche activity that was just to frequent for my comfort to continue pushing on to Camp 2 (as was our original plan). Shortly after making the call to stop for the day at Camp 1, a massive avalanche broke high on Annapurna. Rumbling toward us, I thought, for a moment, it was gonna hit us but luckily it just dusted Camp 1 with a cloud of snow and a large gust of wind.
The 20th I made my way to Camp 2 and found my tent, that I had set up on April 4th when I first established the camp, buried under 7ft of snow. Three and a half hours later I had my tent unburied and patched up. Today, the 21st, I tackled the most technical and dangerous section of Annapurna. Namely, a 3200′ climb through steep alpine ice with large seracs always above you. Just think of ice blocks the size of tractor trailers just waiting their turn to rumble down the mountain side. About mid-way through the climb I broke one of the straps on my Millet 8000m boots. Taking refuge beneath a massive serac I quickly jimmy-rigged a fix and kept climbing. The key in these regions is to move as fast as is safe and possible for you.
This evening at Camp 3 I’m sharing this small ice pedestal with another team. We barely fit. Just as dark set in a large stove fire erupted in a tent adjacent to mine. Luckily I had my down suit and inner boots on and could rush out to help reduce the fire. Myself and a few other climbers rushed to kick gas canisters and oxygen bottles out of the fire; throwing snow on it, and principally focusing on preventing the other tents from catching fire. Unbelievably no one was injuried! The tent and many of the occupant’s belongings were lost to the fire, but everyone is safe now.
It’s quite windy here tonight. Not sustained, but you can hear the gusts approaching from the distance. Not sure what my game plan is for tomorrow, either head to Camp 4 and make a summit attempt tomorrow evening; in which case I’d be racing a forecasted storm to the summit, or head back to Base Camp and wait for a more stable window. I’m leaning toward a summit attempt right now, but we’ll see what the morning brings. Below is a picture of the objective.