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David Morton and Melissa Arnot Wait Out Snow, Winds on Makalu
Posted on April 28, 2011

Story by David Morton, photos by David Morton and Melissa Arnot

Snowing… gusts of high winds… spindrift… calm… wind blast… repeat.

That’s pretty much been the story around here for the past 36 hours or so. Melissa and I headed up to our cache at around 6,350 meters/20,750 feet a couple of days ago and put in a camp. We arrived late in the day amidst some biting winds, which were a bit of a surprise to both of us. We left base camp on what felt like the most hospitable weather of the trip. In retrospect, it looked like I was headed out for an afternoon picnic on the glacier when we left base camp. I was wearing my baseball cap and a baselayer. Our day ended in down suits digging out a tent platform in wicked winds at 6,350 meters. Such is life in this volatile environment.

Our night was good except for the repetition of the above. Melissa and I agreed the highlight was the 1 inch of snow covering the inside of the tent and our sleeping bags when we woke up at 3 a.m. for a little status check. There was only one-quarter inches at 7 a.m. when we awoke again. Win some, lose some.

We fired up the stoves and dug our equipment out of the impressive amount of spindrift that had accumulated inside. After a quick, hot drink we made a plan for the rest of the day. Melissa would stay at Camp I for the day and I would head down to base camp, pick up another load, and head back up the following morning. I’d come by Camp I in the morning and we’d both carry up to 6,600 meters/21,600 feet and make a cache.

The descent was deep as there was significant transport of new snow because of the strong overnight winds. Despite the waist deep effort, I was happy to get down the initial headwall that leads up to our camp without incident. There was certainly cause for a bit of concern.

The weather always seems to have the final say on plans. It snowed solid for 24 hours at base camp. My hope of getting back up to Melissa this morning with a load was dashed. New plan: Melissa stays another night at Camp I, and I will head up tomorrow morning, join Melissa, and we’ll both carry to 6,600 meters/21,600 feet and perhaps stay one more night. Melissa is in great spirits, happy to have a couple extra acclimatization nights. I’ve been entertained by Nim Magar and Kumar Rai, our staff here at base camp, and of course we’ve been enjoying copious amounts of tea.

I’m looking forward to heading up tomorrow, knowing this will put us in the right position to have just one rotation left up high, unless of course the weather has something else to say about those plans.

Author: - Thursday, April 28th, 2011

  1. Sarah

    I love reading your post! I can’t even tell you how great it is to read about what you go through, from you! (not to mention you’re a great writer by the way). Thank you for sharing your experience. I can’t tell you how much I love reading this! Unbelievable. Can’t wait for the next post!

  2. Sarah

    Also love your pictures!!!

  3. Moises

    Stunning quest there. What happened after? Take care!

  4. Jordan

    I relish, result in I discovered just what I was having
    a look for. You have ended my four day lengthy hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

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