Off again and this time, it’s the real deal. The last time I wrote I was about to leave for the first foray on the Big E. As I mentioned then, we went up to Camp-3 and returned to Everest Base Camp as part of the acclimatisation for the climb. Some people do this two or three times before attempting the full climb.
We did it only once and believed that we are good to go. By the time you read this, it will be three days since our team left Everest Base Camp, and hopefully, this time, we will not be returning before summitting.
But from my first climb up to C-3, I know that nothing can be taken for granted. There are crevasses everywhere and a ladder can only help you that much. There is no saying about the depth of a crevasse. That’s why the first leg of the climb to C-1, which abounds in crevasses, is sometimes even said to be the most dangerous part of the climb. We left EBC on April 27 at 2 am in the morning and reached C-1 by the afternoon.
Spending the night at C-1 was awesome. The night temperatures are freezing. It’s impossible to go out of the tent to empty your bladder in the night, plus its dangerous because of the crevasses, so one of the things we carry with us is a pee bottle. We empty it out in the toilet tent in the morning. While on the subject, let me mention that the amount of human waste that climbers leave behind on Everest every climbing season is a real worry.
The trek to C-2 was not easy. All of us made it. But, on April 29, when we assembled for breakfast, we learnt that many of the team members are unwell and they were sent back with some sherpas to EBC. So, our climb to C-3 was put off by a full day. The team decided to stay at C-2, acclimatise fully for that day, before attempting C-3.
On April 30, we left C-2 at 8 am for C-3. After two hours, some members said they were returning to the camp as the climb was too steep. As I mentioned in my last dispatch, C-3 is on top of a sheer wall. I just sat there, thought about everything, concentrated and focused my mind and then decided to go ahead. On the previous two legs of the climb, we used the ladder a lot because of the crevasses. For C-3, we used the rope.
I was so happy when I reached C-3. It was about 2 pm. We spent some time there before beginning our climb down at about 4.30 pm. There was no time for lunch. When I was back in the camp is when I had the time to feel tired.
On May 1, we left C-2 at 8 am and kept walking till we got to EBC. No breaks. The path was tough, but being defensive and careful are the way to go. It became clear to me why people die on the way down from the summit. The body has less energy and the climber becomes careless. I slipped thrice while crossing Khumbu Glacier. By the grace of God, nothing bad happened.
We stayed at EBC for sometime, regained our energies and now we are ready to set out again. I hope that when I write again, it will be after I’ve summited. See you soon.
(Diljinder Singh Bacchal, Assistant Sub-Inspector posted in Mohali, is the first Punjab policeman to go on an expedition to Mount Everest. He has agreed to write a diary for Chandigarh Newsline about his progress, as and when he finds the time and a communication link. This is the fourth part of the series.)