Story and photos by David Morton
Camp III? Check.
The scorecard? Five rotations and one night above 7,000 meters (at Camp III). Not ideal, but we’ll take what we can get.
While multitudes of people seem to be making the summit over on Everest, we’re counting our blessings having gotten to spend a good night at 7,400 meters/24,200 feet. We would have certainly preferred a couple. On Wednesday, we awoke at Camp II motivated to get ourselves and much of our gear up to Camp III. We convinced ourselves it was warm and made it out of our tent well before the sun.
Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but by 10 a.m. it was as close to as warm as we have experienced on the mountain so far this year. Being in the sun here doesn’t mean being hot as it does on some high mountains. Wednesday was the first day the sun shone, and we kept off our down jackets or hard shells. Thursday morning, the winds again reared their head and pushed us down.
At Camp III, we entertained ourselves during the evening brew up by listening to the radio frequencies of friends on Everest. Our suspicion of a major summit wave was confirmed upon hearing of teams spread throughout camps all en route to the summit. The Everest Lhotse massif creates a unique weather environment where winds from certain directions are greatly diminished because of terrain, while here on Makalu that same wind direction is greatly exacerbated. It can be a bit distracting, but swallowing that bitter pill and sticking to our guns with a great objective in mind is deeply satisfying. Granted, that’s coming from a place where the potential for a summit still exists. I’m still on board and fully stoked despite the hurdles.
There are also about 16-18 climbers still here sticking it out as well. That variable has to do with the Korean team. Each day brings another member saying they’ve folded only to decide a couple days later that they’ll wait for the next forecast. I don’t blame them; they’ve been in base camp over 50 days.
As for Melissa and I, we’re holding our breath before slowly downloading each subsequent forecast. So far, they have not been ideal. It’s only a matter of time, and we still have a bit of that. We’d just assume have it be sooner rather than later. Please?
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