It took us almost eight hours to get to Camp 1, and it was not until two weeks later that we heard that the icefall was much longer and dangerous this year compared to other seasons. We were the first western climbers in Camp 1, which was only marked by bamboo poles from other companies. It was deserted, and we felt like we were on an icy planet with Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest above us in the western Cwm. The wind was furious and we had a hard time putting our tent up. At a certain point, it took two people to hold the tent down while pitching it. I even had to warn my partner that the wind was moving her rucksack.
After a horribly windy night, we decided to take the tent back to base camp. We felt that the icefall was too dangerous to go through again, and I couldn’t imagine taking any clients with me. So we went down, defeated and tired. Luckily, there were some people in base camp we could share our experience with. Was the icefall really too dangerous, or was it just us being scared? In the end, we accepted the icefall was longer and scarier than other years. Five days later I went up again to drop our tent back in Camp 1. This time it took me five hours and I felt much better.
But it didn’t last. We started to get sick, feeling worse and worse each moment. It started with a cough and a fever, then ended with a couple of days of terrible headaches. In the end, I thought about calling the helicopter and leaving. But as I thought that, the pain started to ease. We were tired and needed to rest. We descended to Dingboche (4300m) for a quicker recovery. But I didn’t feel like I was getting any stronger. I was run down and had no energy. Empty. Drained. Even a small walk through the village left me exhausted. After three days, however, we decided to walk back to Base Camp because my partner was feeling much better, and ready to go up again. I was still in doubt, not sure if I would actually be able to make it up.
I felt better when we started walking, and we made the trip to base camp faster than the first time. With this newfound energy, we felt positive that we could at least go up a little higher. It all felt promising. On the first rotation, we managed to sleep at Camp 2 (6400m) and touch Camp 3 (7000m). On the second rotation, I managed to sleep at Camp 3 before turning back to base camp because there was too much wind.