We’re back in Pheriche again. It’s snowing a little bit today, and the weather after tomorrow is looking good. Tomorrow we’re planning to go to Dzongla (4,800 m/15,750 ft.) where we can get a good look at Cholatse. I’m super happy that the snow has cleared up and the conditions are looking good.
Our expedition to Everest Base camp was useful. That was a good way to utilize the last week with its unstable weather. It was the first time that I traversed the Khumbu Icefall. I was pleasantly surprised how well everything is equipped. Sure, there are a couple of passages where you can’t just sit down for a little rest or something, but in general the climb is quite secure.
Camp 2 is almost exactly set at 6,400 m (20,997 ft.) and is well-situated on the lateral moraine of the glacier. We had a pretty cozy night there with Tenzing. We then waited til we were in base camp and in the sun to have breakfast.
It was useful for me to see the mountain and now I’m really motivated. Everest is a special mountain. The entire mountain is well equipped, and there are lots of people and a good infrastructure. That means that climbing in Alpine style just doesn’t work well anymore, if only because of the fact that there are fixed rope routes on both the North ridge and the Southeast ridge that don’t allow that. The descent over these routes is on belay. The possibility also exists to descend quite quickly roped up on simple routes.
Nevertheless, it’s still the highest mountain in the world where the air is the thinnest of anywhere. Small mistakes at this altitude can quickly lead to a catastrophe, and you can’t turn back the clock.
Now on the mountain you get weather forecasts, fixed ropes, and permanent camps, and Everest is accessible to everyone. Everyone who comes here has his or her own goal. Everyone has their own Everest.
Freddie and I are leaving the mountain to its own destiny now. In the morning we’re headed to Dzongla where we hope that this time we can complete a direct ascent on Cholatse. It’s my third time on Cholatse’s North Face and it’s Freddie’s second. Tonight we are going to enjoy the warm lodge in Pheriche one more time. The oven is fired up with yak dung, and before we head off to bed we’re going to play one more episode of Games of Thrones.— Ueli Steck Translated by Therese Iknoian