Thursday, October 13, 2011

FTA Khumbu Peaks and Passes - Island Peak summit bid ahead!

from stu in the USA office
October 13, 2011

Ben called in today with great news from the Khumbu - our team is all ensconced in a moonlit base camp and planning on a summit on the 15th of October!

They had just finished a fine pizza supper and were headed to get some sleep after a full day at the base camp. Ben said that our cook Pemba has been knocking out one great meal after another and they are looking forward to the weight loss plan of the high altitude climbs! During the hikes and meals they have had a good time getting to know each other and have been enjoying each others company very much.

FTA guide Brad Boehringer chowing down a big meal en route to Ama Dablam in 2005

Much of their day today was spent on a full skills review of fixed line movement, crampon and ice axe use and more. Some of our members have extensive experience including attempts on 8000m peaks and were able to enjoy the review and share their experience. Others have limited exposure to technical climbing and the day presented a wonderful opportunity to get ready for the climb ahead on their first 6000m peak. As everyone had been away form the mountains for some time they all benefited from the practice and review and everyone is feeling good about the climbs ahead.

The climbing will be coordinated by our lead guide Ben and lead sherpa Tsering along with a sherpa-in-training Pemba. We hope that all 4 members will feel strong enough to make a summit push but the morning will be important for an assessment of acclimatization for everyone. As they have a full trip ahead with 3 more climbs there is now need to push and anyone feeling any altitude effects tomorrow will likely take an extra rest day at BC and make a walk up to the high camp while the main team goes for the summit. After this attempt on Island Peak they will move on to Pokalde which will give everyone another peak to acclimatize on before the climb on Lobuche.
Learning the basics of roped climbing with ice axe and crampons is fun and rewarding!

As is always the case people have acclimatized at different rates with some members feeling the altitude earlier in the trip and others more recently. Acclimatization is an "experiment of one" and each person must find their own schedule over time. For members who have extensive high altitude backgrounds the program can be looked at ahead of time and know it will be fine. For others making their first foray into high altitude it is in many respects a big unkown and they are being asked to follow an accepted schedule that may in fact not work for them. We are always mindful that we may need to adjust the program for individuals who don't conform to the traditional altitude jumps. As such Ben has been checking in regularly with the members, taking pulse oxymeter readings and keeping a watchful eye on everyone. So far everyone has been going well despite the occasional mild headache and Ben is hopeful they will all be ready to go tomorrow to high camp.

Ben will call with more news in the days ahead so stay tuned!

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