K2 Climb 2016
Blog #15 : “Welcome to acclimatisation!”
25/06/16: Day 15 – Basecamp Rest Day 2, 5000m
I slept really badly last night. Having not felt too bad yesterday, and after a busy day of chores, I was really looking forward to my sleeping bag, comforted by my hot water bottle. Although it was only about -5C, it felt colder, and snuggled in my bag, I read a few pages of my book and then felt fast asleep. I awoke about an hour later, with a pounding headache, achy joints and generally feeling pretty shit. No matter how much I tossed and turned, I couldn’t seem to find a comfortable sleeping position, with every joint feeling like a pressure point. Even in my -40C sleeping bag, I still felt cold, and alternated my hot water bottle between my feet, between my legs and around my chest.
Eventually, I summoned up the courage to get my arms out of my bag so that I could take some ibuprofen and a little bit of water. I tossed and turned for most of the night, only really falling into a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning. When I awoke (due to the warmth of the sun on the tent) at about 6am, I still had a pounding headache. Another couple of pills and gentle dosing (at least it was warm now), and I eventually got out of my tent at about 0730. I honestly felt like I’d had a big night out, and I had to move around very cautiously as every swift turn of the head felt like someone was squeezing my brain in a vice. Fortunately, having been to altitude many times before, this experience wasn’t new, and was purely something to be put up with. As the painkillers kicked into action, and I got a couple of hot drinks down me, the headache started to subside. Welcome to acclimatisation!
Today was another day in BC where there were a few chores to do, but generally take things easy and relax (rest and acclimatise). We sorted the dehydrated food into different barrels (breakfasts, main meals and desserts), cleaned up the Ops Tent, and sorted the radios. The Sherpas played with the tents that we’d be taking up the mountain, ensuring that they all had all of their pieces, and the guy lines were attached. I hooked up my solar panels to my tent, in a way that they could charge my lithium battery throughout the day, even as the sun moved round. I can then charge all my electronics from the big battery, including up to 4 USB devices at once, and my laptop.
Paul, Pete and JB took a stroll down to the Gilkey Memorial. This is a cairn about 30 minutes from our camp perched on a rocky outcrop so that it isn’t affected my Avalanche or glacial movement. Erected in honour of Art Gilkey, who died on an early American Expedition, the Gilkey Memorial contains memorials (and even some remains) to nearly all of the climbers who have lost their lives on K2. Certainly since I last visited it, there will be more plaques and memorials – a testament to those who paid the ultimate price for their dreams and aspirations. No doubt I’ll get over to it at some point in the next few weeks.
Di and I went for a bimble through camp to see the neighbours. We are immediately next to the Canadian Team (Serge and Ben who we trekked with on the way in). They’ve had some trekkers join them, who’ll be staying in BC for a couple of days, however their Sherpas and equipment are still on the way in (like our oxygen). Above them are the MadEx and Kari Kobler teams. Most of the KK team had gone on an acclimatisation trek up to Advanced Base Camp (ABC), and had just returned. A combined team of Sherpas from MadEx and KK had started the fixing of ropes today, and by all accounts had reached Camp 1 on the Abruzzi. Above the KK team is Vanessa O’Brien’s Team – and she had arrived yesterday so was still in the process of sorting out their camp. Vanessa herself seemed very excited to finally have some internet access, through her BGAN, which was allowing her to check weather reports. From what we’ve heard, the weather is due to be good for the next few days, giving the Sherpas a chance to hopefully even fix lines to Camp 2.
Di and I continued another 500m up the moraine, until we could get a really good view of the route into ABC. ABC is only about 300m higher than BC, but will probably take around 3 hours (the first time we go there), to move up the glacier. In comparison to the last time I was here, there does seem to be less snow on the mountain and the lower slopes – although I’m not really sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing at the moment.
On the way back down to our camp, I managed to get hold of Saskia on the Satphone. It’s the first time I’ve spoken to her since Skardu – and it was great to hear her voice. Whilst we haven’t even started climbing on the mountain, it seems bizarre that we’re already over 20% through the expedition. I am so pleased to be back here having another attempt at K2, and so thankful to all the sponsors who have made this possible, but at the same time, I can’t wait to get home safe and sound to my girls.
Having finally managed to get into the luxury food barrel which had come all the way from the UK, we’re now able to supplement our meals with some little treats. Today’s treat was the Branston Pickle which we spread on chapattis with tuna and salad to make wraps. We might have even opened a packet of toffee in the Ops tent this afternoon – very naughty, I know!
Tomorrow we are going up to ABC – which means we’ll be leaving at 0600 to try and get as far as possible whilst the glacier is still solid. We’re going to be taking some of our mountain kit to stash in a tent at ABC, which will save us from having to carry it next time we go there for good. I’m feeling much better this afternoon, and looking forward to being able to stretch my legs tomorrow morning. I’ll have the tracker on, so hopefully you can watch our progress as we go a little bit higher on the hill. Of course we will be coming back down immediately once we’ve visited ABC, but this is all par for the course and vital acclimatisation. I hope that I sleep a bit better tonight!
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 36 & 37: Basecamp 5000m
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