K2 Climb 2016
Blog #14 – “No Rest for the Wicked” Day in Basecamp
24/06/16: Day 14 – 1st Rest Day in Basecamp, 5000m
Having been pretty exhausted by all the hard work yesterday, and the joy of clambering into out sleeping bags – none of us had a particularly restful night. Mostly this was due to the altitude, starting to catch up with us – headaches, pressure behind the eyes, a need to pee every 2 hours of so, but it was also due to the glacier and mountain.
Sleeping on a glacier, next to some of the biggest mountains in the world is like having someone unfamiliar sleeping in your bed. You lie awake listening to every little noise that they make – but in this case it’s the movement of the glacier underneath your tent. High pitched pings or snaps, or low base cracks of the glacier making it’s inevitable but slow progression down the valley. Add to this the distant rumble of avalanches and rock fall on the surrounding mountains and every time you’re about to drop off to sleep, something wakes you.
As the sun started to come up, our tents went from fridges to mini green houses, and it isn’t long until you are struggling out of your sleeping bags and lying like basking seals in the warmth.
This morning at breakfast, having had a solid 12 hours in our tents, we all looked or felt like we’d been out on a massive bender the night before – headaches, puffy faces and eyes, sun burn and peeling skin are all par for the course on big expeditions. Breakfast consisted of roti, fried eggs, honey, jam, cornflakes (with powdered milk) and lots of hot drinks.
The main job for today is to sort out our expedition kit. To make matters more complicated, we brought in a whole load of tents, stoves, rope and food for another Adventure Peaks expedition to K2 BC and Kharut Pyramid (a nearby 6500m mountain) who are due to arrive at BC at the end of July. This had to be located, separated and locked in separate barrels.
We then had all of our kit to sort, including 1000’s of meters of rope, hundreds of dehydrated meals that we’d be using on the mountain, 16 mountain tents, stoves, 70 gas canisters, snow-stakes, ice-screws, pitons, luxury food items (like Haribo, Mr Kipling cakes, Pringles, chocolate etc). Much of the stuff we’ve moved into the Dome tent: bags of tents make great recliners, reels of rope make excellent stools, and the luxury food items are all too tempting to dive into now. For purely health reasons, we’ve had to eat a packet of Bombay mix, and two large packets of Walkers crisps – as they’d popped due to the air pressure change. Unfortunately a large box of Lindor chocolate had not coped too well with the heat, so it was our duty to finish this off as well!
We’ve also started the BC socialising. Di went to go and see Kari Kobler (known as Charlie) to start talking tactics and sharing of ropes. We’ve donated several hundred meters of polypropylene rope which will be used to help fix to camp 1. We had Bonita and Noel from the KK team come and visit us (I think that they were quite impressed, and a little jealous of our set up).
We’ve also had a visit from a Brit on the MadEx team, called Mark. Paul and Pete went for a bit of a walk around BC to see Vanessa, who arrived this morning. On their return, Paul fell in a crevasse – as he says – ‘both legs up to my bollocks!’. JB has been working his engineering magic with the generator – which is struggling with the poor fuel and the thin air up here, requiring lots of TLC. We think that we’ve got the fuel mix about right, but for a long time, it worked well, until he stepped away from it, upon which it would cough and die! Meanwhile Di was inside the dome tent with the expedition laptop, receiving emails and trying to get it to charge.
All team members have finally received some personal emails from friends and family, which has improved morale no end! I’ve been very fortunately with the various devices that I’ve got (thanks to Arqiva), being able to send and receive texts pretty much constantly, and send photos and video and these blogs back nightly – but the others have been on near radio silence since Skardu.
The BC team has also taken the opportunity to build the toilet and shower tent and rebuild the platforms for the kitchen and dining tent. The drystone foundations that they’ve built to level out the ground would put a British builder to shame, and Pete (being a builder) was very impressed. The kitchen tent even has a sunken area for Zulfi to sit in whilst he’s tending to the stove, and they’ve reorientated the tent so that they have the most incredible view looking down the glacier towards Concordia.
The new dining tent is a sight to behold. Not only has the floor been properly levelled, but there is a foam insulating layer and an actual carpet underfoot. The tent has been decorated with tinsel and other random Christmas decorations and each of the seats now has foam bum insulation. Some cheeky monkey has drawn (what they think are) anatomically correct bum impressions on each of the foam pads. I suspect that the artist may be Mingma, as his bottom imprint is very svelte, whereas he’s drawn a very large one for Di!
My blood oxygen saturation is 88% – which is the highest of the (non Sherpa) team at the moment. At sea level, you should have close to 100%, and as you increase your altitude, this will drop, and then rise gradually as you acclimatise. The others’ range from 75-85%. Everyone acclimatises as slightly different rates, and there isn’t any hard empirical evidence to say what makes the difference, or why some acclimatise better than others. Although I seem to be doing well at the moment, it may be that others acclimatise better as we start going higher.
Despite the disappointing news about the Brexit Referendum results, our spirits have been lifted by the news from the UK that ITV have started showing Columbo late in the evening. I guess that every cloud has a silver lining. We love Peter Falk.
It’s been a busy day, and we’re all looking forward to dinner in our newly improved dining tent (a Sherpa from Vanessa’s team has just walked in and gone ‘wow!’), and then snuggling up in our sleeping bags. The Mercury is dropping fast!
Lessons for the day:
Make your (working) environment as comfortable as possible. A little bit of time investment will massively improve the atmosphere and morale for those using it. Where possible, allow areas to be personalised to whatever degree is acceptable – people then take more care over areas that they believe are truly theirs. In this world of hot desking and flexible working hours and environments, often the working environments become sterile and impersonal. Do what you can to make people appreciate their environment – you’ll get much more out of them and it.
How to make friends and influence people. We are a medium sized team on this mountain, certainly smaller than the 2 main teams (and perhaps another large team which may arrive) – fortunately Di has been doing sterling work in getting in with the other main teams, and they now see as an ally and a partner on the mountain – whilst we’ll absolutely have to pull our weight, inevitably these strategic partnerships will benefit all involved. The are not the competition, and when it comes down to it, we must join together to fight the mountain, and not each other.
Jake Meyer 2016 K2 Expedition fundraising in support of Walking With The Wounded
Please note, that Jake’s comments are his alone (as are his spelling and grammar mistakes and poor jokes), and do not represent the views of any of the Sponsors, Expedition affiliates or Expedition Team Members. All praise/complaints to Jake on his safe return.
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Day 38 & 39: Basecamp 5000m
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Day 36 & 37: Basecamp 5000m
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Day 35: Basecamp 5000m
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