Text Box: Xpedition 8000

Dispatch Thirty-two: April 25th, 2010

Annapurna Expedition 2010

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Day Thirty-two: Summit Push: Climb to CII; Problems with Equilibrium

This morning, I awoke with Jorge and Martin at 5:00am, had breakfast at 5:30am, then started up toward Camp II. The morning was extremely cold, and high winds were blasting Annapurnaís upper flanks (pictured above), which is quite unusual first thing in the morning. I started up the cliff sides, then dropped down onto the glacier and started over the glacial moraine, as usual, when suddenly, I looked up and what appeared as a bank of fog was coming my way. An avalanche had fallen in a gully below Camp I, and I was in the final windblast. The icy air froze me for a few minutes then subsided and I continued up to Camp I, the rock slopes covered in a blanket of snow. I arrived at 8am, switched climbing boots, then continued over the crevasse field to the start of the fixed lines. It was here I started to notice a problem with my balance and coordination. In base camp for the past few days, I had noticed that my field of vision seemed almost shaky, constantly moving very slightly while I was sitting still, but I decided to ignore this symptom and not mention it to the doctors (knowing they would tell me that I needed to go down), hoping it would get better before the summit bid. It was, however, getting worse the higher I went. By the time I arrived to Camp II, I was very dizzy, and when I laid down inside the tent, everything was literally spinning. I made water, cooked dinner, made radio contact with base camp, then struggled to fall asleep. It snowed all afternoon, amounting to nearly 22cm, making the climb to Camp III quite dangerous. I spoke with Javier upon arriving to Camp II, who had descended enroute to Camp III because of a broken crampon, and he told me that he had been in an avalanche at the start of the vertical climb to Camp III (the avalanche cone) and was very lucky to be alive. He is also worried about avalanche danger up high considering the amount of snow that has fallen even today, and is going to head down tomorrow.

 

Photos: Left: Crevasse enroute to Camp II; not the best place to be feeling dizzy; Right: The upper flanks of Annapurna at sunrise (when itís usually calm) being blasted by hurricane force winds (camp III, camp IV and the summit all visible in frame)