Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Equipment; Camp 2 to High Camp - The South Col.

It is likely I will arrive at the South Col in much the same gear as I intend to wear during my summit bid; Down Suit, Oxygen mask (starting at camp 3), Goggles, Climbing boots, moisture wicking base layer clothing, Crampons, Harness, mechanical ascender and ice axe. Unless otherwise demanded by weather, I will forgo my boot warmers to conserve the batteries for up high.  I plan to use heavy climbing gloves instead of the "Lobster Mittens" while moving up the mountain toward High Camp. These will not be as warm as the mittens, but a good deal of hand dexterity will be gained. This will matter when handling my Jumar (mechanical ascender) on the fixed lines protecting much of the route up Everest. 

The Jumar is designed to clip onto a rope, such that it passes through the device in one direction only (up hill). A Jumar has a handle large enough that a gloved hand may fit inside it's metal loop. Climbers short-tether the Jumar to the waist loop of their harness, thus limiting the distance they may fall. But the jaw of the device must be opened to remove it from the rope when passing an anchor point or moving on to the next fixed line. So it is important that one practice this manipulation with gloved hands ahead of time. I sometimes do this while watching International House Hunters with Lin, the running commentary of design features punctuated by the snap of my spring-loaded Jumar. I will need to purchase a new device for Everest. I left my last one in New Guinea, a gift to a local Guide. Before that I left a Jumar in Antarctica, a gift to the massive crevasse it fell into after rocketing down the headwall past several of my team members while descending.  

Throughout the Everest climb I will also wear a radio with lapel microphone. The same is true of all IMG Climbers, Guides and Sherpas. There will be specific check-in points in the course of each day's climbing. Personnel at Base Camp keep a log of these radio transmissions and report any overdue Climbers to expedition head Eric Simonson, who may then dispatch Sherpas from above or below to check on that Climber.  

But the most important asset moving up and down the mountain with me will be my Sherpa. The day I arrive at base camp IMG will assign a climbing Sherpa to me. From that point on, my Sherpa is with me anytime I climb. It bears noting that IMG is the oldest, best organized and most successful organization on the Everest south side route. They pay their Sherpas well, train them thoroughly, provide them health care and treat them with respect. For any Sherpa lucky enough to rise to the elite ranks of guiding climbers, there is probably no team they would rather be working for than IMG. Every climbing Sherpa (as opposed to those who pack loads or cook) on the IMG team has summited Everest multiple times.