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Dan Mazur Ama Dablam Expedition: Dispatch 22

Dispatch 22: The descent from Camp 3 - Jay's team - Kirsti writes - " Woke up to a continuous argument between a jumbo jet and a freight train, that had been head to head all night somewhere between out tents. Motivation to get up and out the tents was very low, it was fairly obvious that a second summit attempt in better weather was way out of the question, as the storm was in full swing, and something nearer to an emergency descent was in order.

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We put on our frozen gear, abandoned the tents to our great Sherpas to pack up, and one by one attached ourselves to the  cunningly camouflaged fixed lines.

Brian and Phurbar Tamang led the way down a very snowy mushroom ridge. Brian was first down into the mixed couloir area rapels and was continuously being pummeled by spindrift avalanches . It had snowed all night and there were no tracks from yesterday - in fact by the time the next person followed the wind and snow had removed any human evidence. Jay and Kirsti brought up the rear. The fact that we couldn't see more than 20m probably helped more than hindered, but it certainly concentrated the mind as we slowly descended into a white hole!

Camp 2 was  a welcome sight after about 4 hours, but as the conditions where not getting better we decided to try and make it to camp 1, where we at least still had a cook tent and a cook, ultimately this would get us off the mountain faster, and we could probably do it in another 3 hours, and all of us just wanted to get to base camp! So frozen gear back on, and off we went.

Once the decision to go had been made it felt remarkably comforting, the route was more familiar, as we had done it 3 times, so we knew what was coming next instead of the previous descending into an abyss. However, the snow had changes the character of the route immensely. Previously the route from camp 2-1 had been a relatively easy decent able to be done in running shoes but the snow had changed the nature of the route. Now the route had become a frozen show covered rock slabs. Descending was an experience scratching around on snow covered rock slabs while wearing crampons and plastic boots. IT was very difficult travel. At one point Brian had fallen through a hole on one of the areas of snow ridge that he could not see and fell upside down on the rapel and had to use a lot of energy to right himself. At some point everyone of us was up to our waist in snow - unplanned! For brief moments the wind and snow stopped and we were able to breath and see normally. Lakpa and Tenzing brought up the rear gently helping Ali.

Pemba in Camp 1 was welcome sight to us all, his garlic noodle soup was legendary, along with Dahl Baht was the most comforting thing we had seen in days, as we started to believe that we may someday make it off the mountain.

We were glad to see Dan's Team who had also made it to down to camp 1. We sloped off to bed for some well needed rest, while the ever faithful Sherpas chatted and celebrated into the night.

Thanks to all the Jay, Dan all the team, and  Specially the Sherpas who got us all down safely, through some pretty bad conditions!


Thank you for following our expedition from all of us at SummitClimb.com

Dispatch 23: Chris Kinny says: We were up early and keen to get to Base Camp. It had been 3 days since we summited, but still we hadn't had a chance to relax and enjoy our success.

But the trek down to Base from Camp 1 would not be easy. The mountain had a sting in it's tail.

The heavy snow had piled up and totally hidden the track, as well as the many obstacles along the way. In particular, the notorious "boulder field" was smoothed over with a thick white covering of snow. We had no way of knowing where the holes were, where to place our feet, and which path to take through the field. Last night Mingma and Shera had made their way up to Camp 1 through the snow, and so their trail was still partially visible despite the night's snow. So at about 9:30am, we decided to make a start on the descent.

The first difficulty was getting down the fixed lines below Camp 1. We had to dig out the anchors to see if they were still OK, and then we rappelled/slid down the snow-covered slabs. Then it was straight into the boulder field. I was out in front, so I began breaking trail through the snow which was at times waist deep. It was such hard work pushing through the boulders. Each step was uncertain, as I wasn't sure if I was stepping onto a solid placement, or into a hole. I fell countless times, each time finding it more and more tiring to crawl out of the hole. Eventually I decided that my falls would become my rest-stops, so I would fall into a hole and then sit there for a few minutes. The other climbers behind me must have thought I'd injured myself! Falling soon became part of the strategy too, since it was sometimes better to have a controlled fall before an obstacle, and then slither down it from a safe, low position.

It was pretty miserable, and my legs were numb, but the thought of Kipa's lunch at Base Camp, and Dendi's Hot Lemon drink kept me motivated! We passed ABC and the trail we created finally met a trail made by our Sherpas on their way up to Camp 1. It was a relief to be walking on a defined path again. It still took us a few hours to get down to Base Camp, but when we did, our fantastic Sherpa staff had a feast ready for us! Before long, we'd forgotten our sore legs and tired bodies, and were sharing our stories as the day drew to a close.

Thank you for following our expedition from all of us at SummitClimb.com


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