Alex Txikon’s team has stocked Camp 4 at the South Col and is now back at Everest Base Camp awaiting a clean weather forecast before heading back up for their summit bid. They could summit as early as Saturday, February 11, 2017.
In a lengthy post on his website, Txikon describes the push to Camp 4 where he left 33 pounds/15kg of gear (ropes, fuel, tent). He descended immediately and returned all the way to Base Camp. This performance is an excellent indicator that he has acclimatized and is ready for the no O’s summit push probably starting by the end of this week, around February 8th or 9th.
Please visit Txikon’s blog for a nice selection of pictures and his dispatches.
Falling into a Crevasse
But the rotation to C4 was not without incident. Txikon is climbing with five Sherpas from Seven Summits Treks and, I assume, his two teammates who are filming the expedition.
Txikon described falling into a crevasse (aka crack) at the base of the Lhotse Face and being pulled out by Pemba, one of the Sherpas: (translation from Spanish to English via Google)
We enter the section of cracks that are not dangerous, but it happens that I get caught in one; Thankfully I was stuck with the backpack as the crack had no bottom !!. Your body shrinks, nervousness tries to take over you, your heart beats much faster and you choke; Is what you feel. Pemba who came behind me threw a cloak and when I look at the hole that has made my body I break the edges and see a very dangerous crack vaulted and bottomless! I breathe and try to concentrate again and continue towards the rimaya.
The Khumbu Icefall continues to be a hazard with Txikon hoping for stability but on each rotation, he finds the route has changed by the moving ice. You can feel the fear in his writing.
Once back at Base Camp, he posted:
Then to cross the moraine in which we live, finally arriving at base camp, to the heat of the best home in the world at the moment. I sit and fall, my feet hurt; The tips of the cracked fingers of the intense cold and the work we have done; The eyes, the lips, … I am made a Christ … 18 hours later, but happy.
The winds are currently at hurricane force, over 70 mph, on the summit. Most teams will not climb above the South Col unless the winds are under 30 mph. With Txikon not using supplemental oxygen, the risk of getting cold and suffering frostbite is extremely high, so he will carefully watch the winds.
This is the latest from the computer model from Mountain Forecast for the summit of Everest:
It appears that Saturday morning, February 11, is a window of acceptable winds, implying they would leave base camp as soon as Tuesday. But note the air temperature is 36 degrees below zero. That is cold in centigrade or Fahrenheit!
They will probably take one day to reach Camp 2, sleep and rest a day (optional), then push to the South Col taking a few hours to eat, drink and rest then begin the summit push late that same night.
With no O’s they will climb a bit slower than what you may see from the commercial climbers climbing with supplemental oxygen at 4 lpm. Txikon has shown he has amazing strength so could make the summit and back to the South Col in under 12 hours then down to Camp 2.
You can follow his movements from his GPS tracker .
Txikon is 35 years old and is joined by Aitor Barez, the expedition movie director and Pablo Magister who will serve as cameramen. The expedition is being supported by Seven Summits Treks.
Best of luck to Alex and team.
Memories are Everything