Pic 1. Setting off from the Snow Line
Pic 2. On the move, still 5 hours till ABC.
Pic 3. Buddhi and Santosh lighting a fire and saying a prayer.
Yesterday morning the team headed off for their final attempt of the East Ridge on A3. The skies are clear, the winds appear to be behaving and the snow has finally settled. This time there was no alarm clock set for some ridicules hour, we had the luxury of having the suns warmth fill the mess tent, while enjoying a good mug of coffee, bowl of oats, an omelette and some of Buddhi's amazing freshly baked cinnamon rolls. J
Being the BC cameraman on the trip, kinda means you got to film stuff, and despite the arsenal of cameras and video recorders that the boys are taking with them up the hill. I felt this specific occasion warranted a mountain side PAP session. Leaving about 20min ahead of the team, I slowly made my way to the highest altitude of my life with all my camera toys, 5030m and I reached the snowline. For those of you, like me, who have mostly only ever been around the 2000m/ 3000m mark, will appreciate the absolutely stunning views you get at 5000m. But only after of course, your lungs stop burning, your heart stops pounding through your ears and you wipe the ridicules expression off your face, trying to suck every available particle of O2 out of the thin air. Grandpa, Whoof-Whoof and Piglet showed little signs of even breaking a sweat (Which is probably a good thing considering they still have another 2500m vertical height gain and a hell of a lot more traversing ahead of them). Of course their demonstration of fitness prompted me to "man-up", composing my "Hoover breathing antics" and get on with filming and interviewing them while they prepared for the more technical section of the days assent.
After saying our goodbyes, I stayed around the area for a bit, soaking up the scenery and also spotted our two local eagles soaring around the area. Being higher up and closer to the action, I was able to film them with more detail than before and on my return to BC, Buddhi has identified them to be Vultures and not the Eagles we originally thought.
With fewer people in BC, Buddhi and Santosh have also had some time to go out exploring the outskirts of BC. They were both very excited on their returned, carrying a large bunch of Junifers branches. Apparently it is a traditional Buddist and Hindi prayer ceremony, burning branches of the bush in a small built up rock area and praying for those up the mountain to have a good journey and a safe return. Traditionally, the prayer would be accompanied with prayer flags and flags of the nationalities on the expedition, but Buddhi says "not to worry that we don't have any flags, they need all the help they can get from the Mountain Gods".Had a call from Matt last night, everyone seems to be well and coping a lot better with the altitude than they did the last time they where up there. None of their food has been raided by birds (always good as it has ment the end to many an expedition in the past). There is no wind up on the ridge which is fantastic but they did experiance some scary rock fall as they where weaving through the rock bands (area in the attached picture). The boys are all settling down in the snow hole now in their nice warm down sleeping bags, making dinner and a brew. They will be waking up early tomorrow and start making their way along the lower part of the ridge to the base of the Pillar, where they will be pitching their tent for their second night.