Summit Day: May 24, 2007 at 9:30am
Pat Hickey proudly displaying an American flag ... despite not wearing mitts in -40 degree temperatures!
Summit day is usually the culmination of a heck of alot of training, sheer determination, major willpower, ... and lots of luck! In my case, it almost never happened due to a myriad of reasons, uncontrollable circumstances, and challenges that presented themselves at various points along the way! Most obstacles I was able to overcome, while some continued to plague me as I strived to reach the top of the world ...
Summit day actually starts a few days earlier as the whole round trip process usually takes a week as follows:
Day 1-Basecamp to Camp 2, Day 2-Rest Day, Day 3-Camp 2 to Camp 3, Day 4-Camp 3 to Camp 4, Day 5-Camp 4 to Summit to Camp 4, Day 6-Camp 4 to Camp 2, Day 7-Camp 2 to Basecamp.
Day 1 is exhausting as you go from basecamp to Camp 1 in about 5 hours, and then it is at least 3 more hours to Camp 2. The stretch from basecamp to Camp 1 is through the Khumbu Icefall and the path is ladened with crevasses, overhanging ice pillars, and some major ascents and descents! The stretch from Camp 1 to Camp 2 has some crevasses, a gradual ascent, but is well known for the exposure to the stifling heat of the western cwm.
Day 2 is a rest day at Camp 2 and well deserved as Day 1 does take a toll as the exposure to the heat in the western cwm. can really dehydrate.
Day 3 is from Camp 2 to Camp 3 and can be a very challenging day as the first few hours are across the western cwm. (watch out for the sun) and the remaining 3-5 hours are straight up the Lhotse Face ... and I mean straight up!
Day 4 is from Camp 3 to Camp 4 and continues straight up the Lhotse Face to an area where you traverse to the Yellow Band, and then a steep incline which climbs up and over the Geneva Spur and then slopes gradually down to Camp 4 on the South Col. This day is extremely challenging especially with the exposure to the sun, and then the harsh winds and cold weather once you cross to the South Col. Normally this trip takes 6-8 hours!
Day 5 is from Camp 4 to the Summit, and back again to Camp 4. Most considerate this "the summit day" and can start anywhere from 7-8pm and last an average of 12 hours to the summit, and then an average of 4-8 hours to return to Camp 4. Needless to say this day is probably the most exhausting that one will ever experience in their lives!
Day 6 is from Camp 4 to Camp 2 and even though the summit is behind you the challenges still remain as navigating the Lhotse Face on a descent is very problematic!
Day 7 is from Camp 2 to basecamp and navigates through the Khumbu Icefall.
In the next few days I will note some stories of challenges that I experienced on various of the above days as each day was a challenge, and some more than others.
Summit day stories to follow ...