Dhaulagiri (upper)Dhaulagiri (upper)
We plan to leave very early tomorrow morning (15th) for our summit push.   We have one shot at this with the resources we have, so fingers crossed everything comes together.

A sizeable avalanche released across the route near base camp on 13th and those nearly caught in it say that they would have experienced some damage had they not been able to move out of the way quickly.

I just happened to get out of the tent milliseconds after the avalanche (release) started – my watch said 6.11am – so I could not see if anyone was caught because of the cloud created by the debris.  It was big enough, in my view, that it wouldn’t have been good for anyone in the way.  We went for a walk later in the morning and chatted to some members of the British services team.  2-3 of their team had to make quick dashes left and right to get out of the way.  They reported that the size of the pieces of ice were (tennis ball) sizes, give or take, so they were lucky not to get hit.

On 13th, we hosted a second group of trekkers who had trekked into this area.   It is not such a common or easy route.  I’m a bit reserved in this kind of situation because we only have so much food and it costs a lot of money to get it here since we are so remote.  If we run out, then we have a big problem.  But, they asked, were nice people and extremely grateful for the hospitality.

On 14th, in preparation for the summit push I have glued a minor tear in Lakpa’s boots, mended my down mittens with patches of tape, laundry is done, batteries are charged, and Dhaulagiri chocolate slice is made, though nearly all gone!  We have checked that Matt has suitable replacement gear so we are good to go.

Our summit push will look something like this, all going to plan (altitudes are approximate):

15th – BC to C1 5,800m

16th – C1 to C2 6,600m

17th – C2 (hold to check weather)*

18th – C2 to C3 7,300m, leave for summit late evening 18th or early on 19th (or 17th if do not hold for weather)

19th – C3 to summit, and descend to C3 or C2 (or 18th if do not hold for weather)

20th – descend to BC

* if weather at summit for 18th looks ok to us then we will push for summit on evening of 17th, with summit day of 18th.  So, if Matt’s tracker shows us having made the move to C3 then that evening or early the following morning we will likely leave for the summit.  Our plan is that any hold day would be at C2 and not C3.

If all goes well, there will be climbers reaching the summit sometime on 15th as well.  At the time of this posting, they are at or near C3.

The weather forecasts are looking ‘ok’.  One team has 5 weather forecast sources and still they say it is ‘pot luck’ as to what the weather will end up being.  We have a single weather source that we will update everyday that we are moving.  The forecasts based on our database source of 13th say summit winds on 18th are 30-35km or 19th are 20km.  Totally ok at sea level, no doubt, but they pose significant risks at 8,000m.  On Annapurna, the winds were much higher than the forecasts could pick up and it made for a very challenging and, at times, scary summit day, because of the cold.  The big mountains don’t make anything easy.

As with Annapurna, once we are moving it should be possible to track our location by viewing Matt’s InReach tracker.  Matt generally checks us in once we are at a camp, and then on summit day it should ‘ping’ our location every 20 minutes.  If the weather changes we might hold up at a camp (as above), and the tracker should show that.  It didn’t work so well on our summit day on Annapurna as it inadvertently got pushed down into Matt’s backpack so it was not connecting to the satellite that well, apparently.  Fingers crossed all goes well with it this time and stays in the right location on his backpack.