Based on our performance on moving up through Camp 1 to Camp 2 we received a note (we had managed to blow up our radio) from our expedition leader, Gabriel, letting us know that our objective was to spend 3 nights at Camp 2 (6500m) with a “rest day” climb to the bottom of the Lhotse Face (6800m) before retuning to base camp for some true rest days. Camp 2 is the highest elevation that I have slept at to date and 6800m is getting very close to the highest altitude I have been at full stop. Camp 2 has a fair bit of infrastructure including a cook, small dining tent and a toilet tent! Sadly, the good weather we had enjoyed enroute to Camp 2 disappeared quickly and was replaced by a pretty decent storm with heavy winds confining us to our tents for a substantial amount of time. We braved to 60-70 km/h winds to make our way to the bottom of the Lhotse Face and almost got blown over several times. On our last night (we successfully managed all three without incident) our tent felt like it was going to blow away with us in it. In fact, our toilet tent was blown way which unfortunately coincided with my stomach having a bit of a disagreement with some of the fine Camp 2 cuisine that we had been provided with. I will save you the details but suffice to say that some things become quite difficult in the dark at -20c with a 70 km/h wind with no toilet tent….
Unfortunately, while at Camp 2 we received news that one of the Sherpas from the team next to us at Base Camp fell to his death in the ice fall (see more detail here). He was crossing a ladder (which we would do the following day) over a particularly steep crevasse without being clipped in and fell into the void. His body was rescued (taking a large team with up to 30 something people observing) but he died on impact. To add to this, just before we returned to Base Camp there was a big avalanche at the exact same spot where the rescue had taken place which washed away a number of fixed ropes and anchors. A very lucky escape for the rescuers and observers! We would later walk through the rubble without the benefit of anything to clip into. Some rapidly taken photos of the avalanche aftermath are included in the next post (though I avoided shooting the scene of the fatality and rather focused on crossing the ladder safely).
On a similar note, the reality of climbing higher is setting in with the rescue helicopter visiting Base Camp 1-2 times a day to evacuate climbers with various injuries/forms of altitude sickness to Kathmandu. Thankfully, our team seems to be holding up well with only a bit of the notorious Khumbu cough causing any grief thus far.