Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The not so sunny terrace.



Gaz regaining the high point in better conditions.

15th sept.
Denis, David and I left BC at 04.00hrs for 2 days. Our aim was to fix rope to Sun Terrace, and the official start of our route Eternal Flame. We had only 5 pitches to fix, something that would normally take one day max to achieve. But because the route is now effectively in winter conditions with a lot of iced up cracks, powder snow everywhere and cold it took us until 5pm on the second day plus the help of Gaz and Pierre to achieve our objective.
The long slow slog up from BC to the Col took over 4 hours and over 1000m of height gain. Sacks pretty light, around 10Kg. I had eaten to much at BC and felt aweful – 3 dumps later and my body started to settle down !
Once we passed through the Col and got onto the fixed rope the temps went up a little. I started going up the fixed rope with only three layers on my legs (gore-tex, fleece and schoeller climbing trousers, and upper torso (base layer, merino wool, and gore-tex jacket). We got to the High point on the ropes pretty quickly. My only problem was keeping my insulin from freezing. I have two pens full of slow and fast acting insulin. I keep them in a fleece pouch which I put in a Pocket in my fleece jacket. This gets in the way of my rucksack harness, camera and all the climbing gear I need to ascend the ropes with. The glucometer (my blood tester) I wear in a fleece pouch around my neck so no probs there. On a normal day I test my blood around 10 times, which involves pricking my finger, and feeding a drop of blood onto a small 1cm long strip connected to my Accu-Chek device which is about 7cms by 3cms. The result is fast, 5 seconds, then according to the reading I eat (if too low) or inject insulin (if too High).
David led off from the High point - an horendous overhanging ice chimney full of body sized loose blocks. Denis and I were directly underneath him so very worried if he dislodged a block. This half pitch took over two hours to lead, David hanging by his ice axes, me hanging by my nerves ! By the end I was covered in powder snow and with David drenched in sweat which quickly froze – I was not sure who was in a beter state!
The next pitch was the same but shorter, except David had to exit a very tight, narrow chimney, his back resting hard against a wall running with water. This time it was his turn to get wet with water. The pitch emerged onto the true shoulder and so by 14.00hrs we were in the sun – at last .
The day was going fast and I shouted at David to watch me as I clambered onto the slabs that led to sun terace. I hit soft snow lying on granite slabs and only managed to make upward progress by compacting the snow and resting my knees on thèse placemnts and literally crawling up. Imposible to protect, with heart in my mouth, I reached the belay, my two daughters fixed firmly in my mind.
I raped off and we headed down to our tiny two man tent just below the col. This was not a pleasant night. First we had to clean out the tent which was full of betodine from a sachet left by the team, the night before. Then somehow the three of us managed to squeeze into this tiny tent, Denis staying outside till it was dark doing a gréât job of brewing up hot drinks and mugs of 2 minute noodles. The first one he produced he forgot to add the tiny satchets of flavouring in his haste to get us hot food. We soon changed this.


Pierre on a mixed pitch M5 one of the few pitches in good condition.

At 20.00hrs we did our radio call to BC. We arranged that Elisa, Piere and Gaz would come up tomorw to haul bags to Sun Terace as we continued to fix line to the Terrace. We realised things were getting very close in terms of time as we have less than 10 days to climb the whole route now. I suggested we join forces and all climb Eterrnal Flame rather than Gaz, Piere, Denis and I attempt Eternal Flame and David and Eliza try the Slovenian route. This of course still needs a big rethink. David wanted to talk this thru with Eliza at BC. He could not phone Eliza diect as her sat phone at BC had no ring tone. But he managed to send an SMS via his sat phone to a friend in Polandm, who then emailed Eliza in BC and she then phoned David. Technology!!
After loads of heavy polish we got down to the serious business of trying to sleep cramped in down, gore-tex, nylon and fleece !

16th sept.
Up at 6am, and soon we were joined by Gaz and Piere at 7am after a 4am start. Eliza had tried but soon got sick on the walk up the gully so had to go down. The guys were amazed she had even set out as she was coughing and spluttering so much.
Denis , David and I started up the fixed lines, whilst Piere and Gaz struggle with two huge haul bags conatinging two tents, sleeping bags, food and fuel . Each bag weighed around 40Kg and it took the whole day to get them up to Sun Terace –a huge effort !!
David and Denis led the last slabby pitches up to Sun Terace, Fr,6c run out covered in sleet and light snow ! Nice one Denis ! Meanwhile I waited two pitches below sorting out kit. I checked my blood sugar and found it really high – 22 mmols. I was woried as this can lead to ketoacidosis. I injected 5 units and carried on with the ropes. I started to feel really worried and felt I had to get down to a big snow belay 60m. below. I sorted the abseil ropes and rushed down. Landing on the Small ledge I tested to find I was 2mmols ! My panick attack had warned me in time. I cried out loud as I munched my way through two High5 enery bars and 3 gels. As my sugars started to rise Pierre reached me and I hugged him. The end of a nasty expérience !
Jerry enjoying the snow!

The forecast is bad now for the next 3 days so we have decided to descend.
We all got back down to BC around 21.00hrs. The end of a 20 hour day for Pierre and Gaz. We were absolutely knackered but very happy to have established camp at Sun Terace. Above the route looks fantastic and dry. Now all we need are a couple of good days and maybe we can summit.


Looking up the last pitch below the Sun Terrace

2 comments:

Boyan said...

Hard times for you guyes!! Congratulations for esablishing your last camp!

I guess you need a 3 days window for the summit!

Jerry I had never had so many glucose ups and downs in such short periods. During the long climbs I eat small pieces of carbs (max. 150 ccal) every 2h and this somehow keeps all the levels stable. Tray staying well hidrated all the time!

I am starting to pray for a window of sun above Central Karakoram!! ;-)...but inshallah...;-)

cheers and hugs to all,

Boyan

radoslava said...

Jerrryyyyyyy!!!!!

i do not understand much about expeditions ...but i love to look ur pictures :)))
i just wanted to say "hi" to u and all the members of the team there

I also want to give a big kiss to Gaz ...pls explain my love to him....and don't be jealous ...u r sharing one tent with him- don't miss the opportunity for a hot kiss.. ;-))) loooool

Radi