We're making great progress, and ahead of time, are already back from our first rotation on the hill.
On Sunday morning at 3am my alarm went at base camp. My sleeping bag had a thin layer of ice over it from the water vapour in my breath. I dressed and clambered out into the darkness, for a hurried breakfast in the mess tent, and then along with my team mates, we were off just before 4.30am.
At first, we must trek across a glacier to reach a small ice fall- this takes about 45 minutes. The ice fall reminds me of Everest- huge towering blocks of blue ice, us little ants walking in the shadows of these sleeping Giants, praying that they don't collapse whilst we are beneath them.
Out of the ice fall, we reach ABC and gear up ready to climb- harness with all our gear, helmet, ice axe- there's a lot to carry! My ruck sack also has my sleeping bag, all the stuff for our tent and a nights worth of food. I feel pretty weighed down, and worried I'll be exhausted after the climb ahead.
We start out traversing back and forth across an icy slope, ice axes at the ready, before coming the the first of the fixed lines. From here, at 5200m, it's a steep straight up climb to camp 1 at 5900m. I take an energy gel and gulp down some water, and then I'm off.
I'm not sure whether it's the training at the altitude centre, or sleeping in a hypoxic tent, or all the hours spent in the gym at the Westway, but I feel like I'm flying up the fixed lines. It is such an amazing feeling to be back on an 8000m peak, huge exposure beneath my feet, and the most incredible view all around me.
I got to camp 1 at 10.30am, ascending 900m in 6 hours. Happy and tired!
Unfortunately I think I went a bit too fast, as I then got a headache, which two paracetamol sorted out.
The night in camp 1 was pretty uncomfortable but overall it was not the worst night at high altitude. Winds battered the tent all night, waking me up every half an hour, and sometimes the wind sounds like an avalanche, so my heart stopped a few times before a huge sigh of relief when I released it was just another gust.
The next morning we left super early for base camp- up at 4am and on the ropes first thing. I love the repetitive process of abseiling- get to each anchor, change the gear over, check the safety system twice, and start again, flying down the fixed lines as fast as I dared myself! We were back on the glacier at the bottom within 45 minutes, and back for breakfast at base camp within 2.5 hours.
All in all a great first rotation. Tomorrow we head up again, this time for 3 night, hopefully to tag camp 3, and from there, we will sit tight and wait for the summit.
Thanks for reading and I'll be updating soon.