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Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Beaten back by strong winds on Makalu

We are all safely back in base camp after a week in the mountain.

On May 5th, we left for our summit attempt and ended up staying at Camp 1 for 3 nights as we were unable to move up to Camp 2 (7,300m) at Makalu La due to strong winds. On May 8th, we finally succeeded in climbing Makalu La and establishing our Camp 2. In spite of weather forecasts indicating a possible window between the 8th and the 10th, the winds were still very strong. On the 9th we decided not to proced to Camp 3 due to poor weather conditions.

Spanish Carlos and 2 sherpas decided to move to Camp 3 but they turned back early the next morning without making a summit attempt. After spending the 2nd night at Makalu La we received another weather forecast for even stronger winds and snow within days so we decided to return to Base Camp.

So what's next? Stay and attempt another summit climb? Maybe or maybe not. Paul has to return to his work in Australia so he will be leaving soon to trek back to Kathmandu. As for Mick and Roland, their decision depends on when the next forecasted weather window might be. As we are climbing without bottled oxygen, we need lower wind speeds to safely climb the mountain. We are particularly aware of potential injuries to toes and fingers due to the cold. We received a weather forecast today which suggests a window around the 20th of May which is too late for Roland but Mick might possibly stay on. We will make a definitive decision tomorrow based on the next forecast.

If the poor weather persists on Makalu until the 20th, Roland migh join a Spanish team on an alternate trek out to Lukla via Sherpani and the west passes rather than using the route we came in from Tumlingtar.

More news soon!

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