Pictures: Pretty clouds = evil winds
Today we commissioned via Andy Houseman in Kathmandu a specialist mountain forecast from a meteorologist in Switzerland (the joys of Satellite communications!) which was reviewed by Everest guide and 8 times summiteer Kenton Cool (who should know a thing or two about Himalayan weather), and it is not good.
There is a very active and consistent westerly air stream which is predicted to blow at 50 mph above 7000m for the foreseeable future with only a brief lull in 36 hrs time. Given that the temperatures above 7000m are -20C, you can see why we are not racing back up to get frozen. Kenton says that he has never seen such a consistent and strong air flow, which we have seen for ourselves today while watching the snow plumes blow off Annapurna 3.
Our lift out of here is booked for the 15th, and we are low on food, so there is no time to wait for the winds to drop; we have given it long enough. There will be no summit for us this time, but an expedition like this is not just about getting to the summit...
Today we went for a wander to look at a line on the South ridge of Annapurna 3 which tops out at around 6000m, but the ice lines are melted out at the bottom and the glacier approach is something out of a computer game with some grotesque giant hurling boulders down the path you would like to climb.
So we have a few days to relax in the sun (base camp is a different world meteorologically speaking to the summit of A3) and take in the stunning scenery of this remote and wild place for the last few days of our expedition.