An update from Paul by satellite phone at 12.30pm GMT (Nicky)
Summary: Long, slow, painful.
It all started well with the team leaving early (although not early enough it would turn out) and feeling good having slept on oxygen. Things soon took a turn for the worse: first, we saw the remains of a team’s camp taken out by an avalanche (or perhaps the serac which injured the Sherpa yesterday) and, second, it quickly became apparent that all the issues on Everest this year have resulted in almost all teams, including ours, attempting to summit on the same day.
What did that mean? Major traffic jams. The trip to Camp 4 took twice as long as it should have with many teams (I would estimate 150 – 200 climbers) on the mountain at the same time.
If we are to try to avoid some of the crowds during our summit attempt we have time for little more than a one hour lunch break before we leave Camp 4. This doesn’t allow much time to refuel before making, what is expected to be, a 16 hour round trip. It means we could be on the go for more than 30 hours. (Hopefully some of the late night partying in my younger days will help get me through!)
While extremely rich coming from me (as very much an amateur climber) I do question whether, given their level of fitness and skill, some climbers should be attempting Everest particularly in a year when summit attempts are compressed into one or two days. I imagine that some will miss their opportunity to summit after such a long climb today and little time to rest.
I now need to end this call and go on to oxygen so that Pierre and Nathalie are not too much stronger than me!