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David Morton and Melissa Arnot Make Rotations to Camp II on Makalu
Posted on May 7, 2011

Story and photos by David Morton

Calm. Sun. Something resembling warmth by 10 a.m. The pond next to my tent shows hints of a thaw.

Are those signs of spring? Or is this just a sucker hole? It’s so hard to tell here, up high in the Himalaya. I’m choosing to file it as an auspicious sign, though I’m certainly going to keep my fingers crossed for some added good juju.

We awoke Friday morning to clear and calm skies in base camp. In fact, it’s nearly 1 p.m. and the summit still appears to be dead calm—or as dead calm as 8,463 meters can be. I actually have flip flops on in the dining tent, albeit with top and bottom base layers and a Downlight Sweater. Even so, it’s an exciting day.

Melissa and I ended up spending two nights up at 6,600 meters/21,600 feet amidst unusually variable winds. We had periods of calm followed by violent wind events throughout the night. Once again we ended up with an incredible amount of spindrift in our tent. On Tuesday, we geared up at Camp II with full coverage including goggles, heavy down, balaclavas—the whole nine yards. We carried a load up to about 7,000 meters/23,000 feet and certainly felt the thin air as we broke trail through the previous night’s wind deposits.

Looking west towards the Khumbu valley from up at 7,000 meters was like a treasure hunt for me. I kept identifying different aspects of peaks as I realized what I was seeing. The north face of Thamserku, the east side of Tawache and Cholatse, the northeast aspect of Ama Dablam, the east face of Pasang Lhamu Chuli, the massive width of the north face of Chamlang, and it went on and on. The South Col between Lhotse and Everest kept darting in and out of the clouds, though we had a long enough glimpse to see that the South East ridge is unusually snowy.

After a second night of wicked winds, we made the decision to descend back to base camp. Our night of sleep above 7,000 meters would have to wait for another day. Our two days of rest here have been excellent, good for the spirit and the body. Tomorrow, we’ll charge up once again for our fourth trip. This is to be the last before waiting for a summit window. Our forecast calls for the winds to increase for the next few days, but hopefully to a level that will still be tolerable. Maybe the following week will provide the window we seek. We’ll have our fingers crossed.

Author: - Saturday, May 7th, 2011

  1. T-Dawg

    Said a prayer for you 2 for low winds and clear weather. Hope it helps and you get a great window to head for the summit. Good Luck!!

  2. Myrle Bossart

    The challenge you two are facing is incomprehensible! What a thrill for us armchair adventurers. We will be waiting with great anticipation for the next update.
    Meanwhile you remain in our prayers.
    Good luck,

  3. Harriett morton

    Just commented on Melissa’s latest entry before seeing this one. Great to know that the moments of calm can appear but that you also are always prepared when setting out to deal with the dramatic change that is always looming. Seattle is sunny and calm today: I’m wishing the same for you.

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