Sunday and Monday was devoted to a very interesting task. We hiked in on the Rongbuk glacier to have a close look on the north face of Everest.
And on the way we also got to meet a big group of climbing friends from the Royal British Army. We started off from base camp at 5200 metres at Sunday and after a some long hours of walking we reach the very impressive camp of the Royal British Army. The very competent and well organized group is here to climb the French spur up to the Hornbein couloir and then up to the top of Everest. A very impressive project! But then again, something even more impressive was the hospitality of the team. We quickly got invited to spend the night, eat dinner and take part of all the information they had on the north face. Thank you for this invaluable help!
Read more about them on:
I think we got a bit of extra hospitality since we were the first visitors to the camp, even though they had been there for weeks. That tells you how rarely there are visitors on the mid Rongbuk glacier, and it´s a big shame since it´s such an impressive valley.
We left the British camp early Monday morning and hiked in towards the north face. We were going at high speed since it was very cold and we were travelling according to the "light is right" concept. It took us two cold hours to get to the end of the moraine and it was time to cross the glacier to get a better view of the north face. All the old tracks from the British Army climbers had been swept by the wind so we had to make our way through knee deep snow to get to the British camp one. Which of course wouldn´t have been a problem if it was not for that our "light is right" concept excluded our skiing boots, crossing that glacier in running shoes still not hit by the morning sun was a very cold experience...
But once we got to the British camp one everything was fine, the sun was shining and the British hospitality got us a cup of the before we headed a bit further on to have a better look on the north face. It´s an incredibly spectacular spot for a camp, you got the huge north face just towering up next to you. This about three kilometre high wall with vertical rock bands, enormous ice fields and hanging glaciers sure makes you feel small!
We got the binoculars out and had a good look of our options for a ski descent, which are not that many. This winter has been very dry in the Everest region so there is not much snow on the north face. When we first got to base camp a couple of weeks ago it really looked liked mission impossible due to a almost completly black north face, but then there was quite a big snow fall about a week ago which changed things a bit.
Standing in front of the north face it was quite clear that we need a snow fall or two to get some interesting skiing done on the north face, that could with a bit of chance make it possible to ski the Norton (Great) couloir and then cut out to the north col and then ski down to ABC. We were hoping to find solutions that would make a descent down to the Rongbuk glacier possible and we saw one possible alternative that for the moment looked a bit to icy though. But maybe a snow fall or two can change that as well, we will see.
Anyways, it was an incredible experience to get to stand in front of this massive and mythic face, and the hours passed by quickly before we turned around and headed down the valley.
We both got really sore feet today, and I guess that it´s not that surprising taking in count the seven hour walk through rocky and snowy terrain in runner shoes...