Everest Base Camp Trek & Island Peak Climb: Training on the Khumbu Glacier
The tents began flapping in the wind mid way through the night last night. Soon snow was peppering the tents, a light patter against the walls as the flakes blew against the tent. Occasionally a faint rumble could be heard over the storm as thunder echoed up from further down the valley. By morning 2 - 3 inches of snow covered Base Camp and the winds continued to blow light flurries of snow through camp. Sitting around the table we could hear the roar of the winds high above blowing up the Khumbu Valley and through Lho La Pass into Tibet. The sun poked through on occasion, only to be obscured again by the quickly moving clouds. It was a nice morning to sit in the dining tent and enjoy a second cup of tea and the fresh coffee we brewed up.
By mid morning the weather calmed a bit and we geared up, donning our climbing boots, crampons, harnesses, and helmets and set off from Base Camp into the Khumbu Glacier for some technical training in order to prepare for our upcoming climb of Island Peak. The Khumbu Glacier is a wild looking glacier here at Base Camp: the weight of the glacier flowing down from the Ice fall causes the surface to buckle upwards in large pressure ridges - fins of ice that run horizontally across the glacier, sometimes 20 - 30’ high. Between the pressure ridges the surface has melted and refrozen into large expanses of flat ice. Walking into the glacier, we wound our way between the fins of ice, getting comfortable walking with crampons on the firm glacial ice. Once everyone was comfortable moving across the uneven terrain with our crampons, we headed over to the fixed practice ropes that Kala, our lead Sherpa, and I put up this morning.
Using the side of one of the towering pressure ridges, we climbed up and down its side practicing using our ascenders on the 50 degree ice, refining our transitions past anchors points, and then rappelling back down. The team quickly took to the techniques and soon all were moving fluidly up and back down. As we practiced the winds and snow picked up again and we found our way back out of the glacier and to camp where we got out of the elements.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging here at Base Camp, playing cards in the dining tent and reading. The weather is still blustery but seems to be settling out. We are all hoping for clear skies for our hike back down the valley to Pheriche tomorrow.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory