We left the base camp on Saturday morning as planned. For the first time, our backpacks were not too heavy. We only took the most necessary things; all of our equipment should be in the high-altitude camps by now.
We thought we were already very familiar with the route through the Khumbu Icefall after our first two acclimatization sessions, but it had changed quite a bit within the few days since our first climb. Once again, the Icefall Doctors had done an excellent job preparing a viable route through the crevasses. I passed the many tents in Camp 1 and continued through the Valley of Silence to Camp 2 at 6,500 meters. Hannes was a few hours behind me and decided to spend the first night in Camp 2. As a final test, I wanted to climb directly from base camp to Camp 3 at about 7.400 meters. First, a short stopover to "refuel" in Camp 2, then I was ready for the actual challenge of the day. The Lhotse face was difficult to climb in the midday heat. No breeze, no clouds, only gleaming sunlight at over 7,000 meters. The sun was baking, hitting the massive wall relentlessly. It was near Camp 3 that it showed mercy and decided to hide behind a few clouds. I finished the 2,000+ vertical meter climb after 7.5 hours, and I was happy when I finally reached the campsite.
The heat inside the tent was hard to bear: +40° Celsius and not a single breeze. I managed to build some sort of sun protection with my sleeping bag - the only way to stand the temperature. No one except myself was present in Camp 3 that evening/night. Considering the large number of people waiting to climb Everest right now, this was an unusual experience.
The night was very relaxing; I guess that's proof that my body is very well adapted to the altitude by now. Only the increasingly strong wind became unpleasant until morning. It kept pushing the tent down to the ground, but nothing was destroyed, and the entire situation was over by sunrise.
And then: MOTHER's DAY at 7,400 meters - all by myself, with a beautiful view, reaching out to home by satellite phone.
On Sunday afternoon, Hannes arrived from Camp 2. He also struggled with the heat during the ascent. We made ourselves comfortable in the small, hot tent. We are constantly connected with the base camp by radio and learned that it was snowing and foggy down there. We were high above the clouds.
The night was quiet, no wind and not very cold. We don't really notice any of the hustle and bustle around us. Many of the summiteers had already left Camp 3 for Camp 4 several hours before we got up. Wearing thick down jackets and supplied with bottled oxygen (some of them already started using it in Camp 2 at 6,500 meters), they all trudge uphill. From afar, it looks like a giant centipede heading to the summit of Everest. We did not join the centipede today. We came to Camp 3 for a final acclimatization session. Now it was time to head back to the base camp. Hannes left a bit earlier; I waited for the sun. Eventually, we were both on our way down.
A massive ice avalanche, which left its mark across the entire Western CWM, once again demonstrated the raw power of nature. Only a few minutes earlier or later, and the avalanche would have caused a catastrophe for many climbers in that section. Fortunately, the Mountain Gods were kind, and nobody got harmed.
Shortly after midday, we arrived back at base camp. We will, once again, enjoy the "luxury program" down here and wait for a weather window. Keep your fingers crossed!