Sunday, November 8, 2015

Burke's East Buttress a Beast

Saturday morning we set out from ABC to tackle a most formidable challenge - ascending 2,400 vertical feet up the East Buttress. The lower section of the couloir was a collection of loose boulders that was difficult to navigate without inadvertently launching rocks towards climbers below.  

Fortunately we all made it though this shooting gallery unscathed, only to take on the 70 degree snow pitch above. 

After 8 1/2 arduous hours we finally made it to C1 at 20,500' just as it was getting dark and temperatures started plummeting. We were shivering and depleted but thrilled to see the shelter of a tent already set up and waiting for us. 

Without question this has to rank as one of the most difficult things we have ever done. It was hard for Bill too, and there aren't many 73 year-olds in the world who have the physical or mental fortitude to even attempt something like this. Nonetheless with the expert and patient guiding if Garrett, who was with Bill every step of the way, they finally arrived at C1 at 8:30 PM completing a brutal rest of resolve. 

Yesterday was a much needed rest day here at C1 at an altitude that is higher than the summit of Denali, the tallest peak in North America. From here on out the original plan has changed a number of ways and for a number of reasons. It is still fluid but here's what we can tell you now. 

The original climbing route (red line from Oct. 12 blog post) from C1 to C2 had to be modified due to significant crevasse risk. Instead the route now goes significantly to the right up a steep ridgeline with challenging rock climbing. It is a safer route but much more technically difficult. For this reason the Sherpas felt it would be better to skip setting up C2 altogether and go for the summit from here.  This would be a similarly large vertical gain from 20,500' to 22,775' but with even steeper and more technically demanding terrain. In order to give Bill the best chances for success, Garrett decided to move ahead with a plan for setting up a limited C2 just for Bill, therefore shortening his summit day by roughly half. This morning Bill set out from C1 to C2 supported by Sid and Phurba Ridar Bhate aka "Mickey Mouse". The three of them will share one tent at C2. 

The plan for the rest of us: yours truly Paul & Denise and Nick, supported by Garrett and Phurba Sherpa, is to take another rest day here at C1. Then at apprx. 3:00 AM Nepal time tomorrow morning Nov. 10th, we will head up towards C2 (rendezvous with Bill, Sid, and Mickey Mouse) and continue straight on hopefully to the summit!  Once again that's the tentative plan for now, we'll do our best to keep you updated with the monumental challenge ahead!  
Thinking of you all!
Paul & Denise

No comments: