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The Khumbu Icefall: Gatekeeper for Everest

The Khumbu Icefall – 2,000 feet of moving ice – serves as the gateway to almost all routes on Everest’s south side. It is incredible to think that the early Swiss and British expeditions made this ascent in leather boots with nails for crampons and trees for ladders.

Today we made our entry into the ice fall.

The weather has been mixed the last few days with clear mornings, cloudy afternoons and some snow squalls. It has been very noisy at Base Camp with snow and rock avalanches on all sides. I don't remember this much activity before. It is extremely rare for even the snow blast to reach BC but it is exciting nonetheless. The Khumbu Icefall dominates our view at BC. Everyone looks at it with apprehension and anticipation. It truly is the gateway to Everest.

We left at a very reasonable 9:00am intending to go only halfway up.

The lower part of the icefall is a gradual incline of maybe 5 to 10 degrees. There are no ladders for almost 700’. But the route undulates like a wild dragon and you begin to feel the altitude since this is the first time above Base Camp.

Everyone did well and soon we were at our first ladder. I am pleased that the icefall seems slightly safer this year with fewer large seracs towering over the route and also fewer large crevasses - at least up to the area called the popcorn.

Everyone enjoyed taking pictures of their feet on a ladder and making their first crossings. As the clouds moved in we retreated to BC for a well deserved lunch.

I uploaded a video of me crossing one of the ladders. You can find it under expeditions videos on the right side of the main dispatch page. I hope it gives you a feel for crossing the ladders without upsetting your stomach!

Another rest day tomorrow.

Remember: Memories are Everything

Climb On!


Comments (2)

Clive Jones:

Hi Alan,

Clive Jones here from Shishapangma last year. I'll be with you (in spirit) every step of the way.

Remember the only thing you actually need to understand is yourself.

Have you thought about what you will do differently this time to get to the summit?

Stay safe my friend.


Alan, the ladder crossing video is AWESOME!! Are you using a Point Of View cam? Very good quality. Love your dispatches. I'm following your progress all the way to the top of the world. Keep up the good work. Best of Luck.

This page contains a single entry from the expedition posted on April 12, 2008 5:20 AM.

The previous post from this expedition was Pujas: A Mystery.

The next post from this expedition is Dispatches will resume in mid-May.

Many more posts and VIDEOS can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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