Whoop whoop we are safely down in one piece.
We have literally got back to base camp having spent some of the coldest nights Pete and I have ever experienced.
We set off in good faith to leapfrog camp 1, and to go straight to camp 2, hearing that it’s a good spaced out area where tent pitching is a dream……Bollocks! The angle in which we had to pitch the tent was shocking, yes we had space around us but the angle in which we had to dig to get a flat’ish placement was crazy.
We planned to spend 1 night at camp 2 then to saunter along to camp 3 for a joyful night of acclimatisation.
But the weather gods had different ideas, throughout the night the snow and wind arrived which gave for some joyful, mindfulness moments just laying there blissfully listening to it……NOT! Both Pete and I lay there from 20:30- 04:00 ish preying both the tent would hold up and most importantly neither wanted a poo!
At about 06:00 we could could see by the sloping tent roof, about 6” from Petes nose the snow had certainly delivered and putting an end to the Camp 3 climb as not only had the snow covered anything that resembled a route, the snow was waist/chest deep and neither Pete nor I volunteered to break trail.
Now, the extremes that can be had in a mountain tent must be seen to be believed, when you wake you can see your breath, you see the ice on the inside of the tents and your pee bottle has frozen, this nightmare lasts until the sun, if the sun comes out, then the radiation from the weakest of sun is torturous truly torturous.
Picture this, 2 of the most introverted mountaineers laying in underwear on top of their sleeping bags with hands out of the window to cool down and feet out of the door, saying nothing but bloody hell this is S%^T.
Now this can be the case for hours upon hours which is torture, hotter than a sauna, less ventilation and no way of going outside.
Now we try and split the day with boiling water/ melting ice and possibly eating but that’s very much a luxury you really don’t have at altitude because your appetite is non existence.
Petes go to aperitif was Happy Cow sandwiched in between malt loaf…. ( think Pakistani DairyLee)
I pushed the boat out and ate a WET chicken tikka ( Meaning it was NOT dehydrated) with Raspberry Granola for dessert, both bloody awful, Pete sacrificed his spoon to the cause as mine had gone AWOL, and almost like a secret talent the spoon held each and every flavour it had previously been used for (JK Rowling, I’m sure that could be a trick purchased at diagon alley)
So my coffee, chocolate, tang, jam, tikka, granola spoon is certainly taking on a life of its own.
Like clockwork at 16:30 the sun started to disappear behind K2 which afforded us about 15/20mins of perfect temperatures.
Perfect gear admin, perfect tidying, perfect pictures, perfect pooing, perfect outside wee’ing what did we do? Just laid there saying how great this temperature was!
17:00 came around and it became freezing, both fully clothed in side sleeping bags hats, buffs and down jackets.
Here we stayed until about 05:00 when we first opened our eyes for another snowed in tent!
Pete volunteered to take a look outside to see if we could in-fact venture up that day, just by the look on his face I could tell it was a no, and could see the steep angle outside just covered with snow.
The air that zoomed in was so cold it hit me like a snow ball smack in the chops!
Pete retracted in and dived back into his bag, with quite a definitive “Well we’re not going up, and I’ll be surprised if we can get f%^*ing down.
This set about us getting ready to get out of dodge.
Easy right? Well when it’s so cold the last thing you want to do is get out of your bag, and go outside, Pete obviously set the ball rolling with needing to use the toilet, with a slight grin I thought bloody hell, of all the times to need to get your bare bum out this was not the time. Smugly I used this time as a clear tent to get out of my bag and put a thermal layer on, then a down layer, then a Goretex layer, hat balaclava. When Pete returned with a that very unique look on his face of relief and frozen my smugness started to disappear, what comes with my warmth of layers of clothing, my body wrongly confused this with it being ok to “use the loo” bloody hell!
“Pete, talk me through your location, action and execution of the event”….. right got it, here I go. Indescribable horribleness. I’ll go into no more detail than that.
As we slowly but purposefully got each of our bits ready the cold sneaked into the tent, without the windchill we estimated it to be about -7/8 but as soon as you went out with bare skin the windchill was easily -15/-18.
Putting boots into cold feet then crampons onto cold boots really was a unique experience in such cold temperatures. We took it in turns to rewarm in armpits but this just delayed the inevitable.
On exiting and sealing the tent we set about abseiling back down to camp 1 in waist deep and in some places shoulder drifted snow, with fingers that you couldn’t feel you just relied on intuition and experience that you are doing all that you should with karabiners and abseiling device.
It took a good hour to feel my fingers again and could see Pete doing the universal dance of the frozen hands each time he swapped over ropes. About 14 abseils later we could “arm wrap” back to camp 1 where miraculously the sun was just sitting there warming folk up. They looked happy and content and very much raring to descend from their night at camp 1………oh if they knew of the carnage above them!
Now it’s about this stage both Pete and I felt tired, like really tired, out of breath and knackered, abseiling from camp 1 in deep snow drained us. With a shout from above of “snow” I saw what looked like a river of snow/wet snow travel down the channel between me and Pete, although not slab avalanche this would certainly ruin your day if you were not attached to the rope, especially as a week earlier Pete had led a front point pitch to secure this very area.
Thank fully the rest of the 1-2hours back to base camp was far less eventful but no less tiring, in fact I had to stop a few times because it was just so exhausting.
Just as we started the final approach to camp the snow started again at least providing us with enough info’ that getting off the hill was the right thing to do again.
Sadly returning to base camp we heard the unit we used for sending and receiving communications had been damaged in the storms. Not sure when you’ll receive but please keep ALL communications through the email address as this is the cheapest way we can communicate. Pete/Paul