Practice Run No.4: Tomorrow I Leave for Summit Push

In Practice Run No.4by Steve

The Wait is Finally Over.

I’ve been back in Base Camp for four days now, waiting on weather to commence our final summit push. I hate waiting.

A bit of down time is a good thing, time to rest, recuperate, prepare. But too much down time is detrimental. You get lethargic. You try to maintain positive thoughts, but with too much time, the mind inevitably starts wandering, starts thinking about all the “what if” scenarios.

  • What if there’s a collapse in the Icefall.
  • What if the weather forecast is wrong and the weather turns to shit.
  • What if I can’t handle the cold.
  • What if I run out if supplemental oxygen.
  • What if I slip and fall.
  • What if….

I know it’s counterproductive, but it’s hard to block out these thoughts when you’re sitting around waiting, with nothing else to do. I’ve tried to keep myself busy and active with daily walks to Kala Pattar (been up six times so far this trip), but there’s still a lot of time to kill. It’s one of the things I don’t enjoy about high altitude mountaineering, the amount of sitting around and waiting.

Thankfully the wait is over. It’s time to go.

The weather forecast is predicting a good summit window from about the 8th to the 15th. It will be cold, around -30degC and snow showers most days, but light winds so that’s good. But before we can go for the summit the team of rope fixers need to finish fixing lines to the top. Everest takes priority so they’ll do that first then switch to Lhotse.

Tomorrow morning I’ll set off from Base Camp at 03:00 and do the climb back up through the Icefall and along the Western Cwm to Camp 2. From there I’ll get the latest updates on weather and rope fixing and if all is going well, push up to Camp 3, then Camp 4, then final summit attempt and back down. Easy….

Physically I’m feeling pretty good, not 100%, still a few niggles, but as good as can be expected given the stage of the trip. Over these long trips the body is continually deteriorating, that’s why I’m keen to just get up and down and get it over and done with. Importantly, I feel very well acclimatised. I feel I’m ready to go.

Mentally I have all kinds of mixed feelings at the moment. This is by far one of the biggest things I’ve ever attempted. But I know they’ll all disappear come 03:00 tomorrow morning, at which stage I’ll put blinkers on and focus on the task at hand.

Whenever I reach this phase of a trip a good mate always reminds me of the one golden rule and yesterday he reminded me of it once more. So for today I will swap my sign off to that rule.

“Getting to the top is optional, getting back down is compulsory”.