By Conrad Anker
Posted on behalf of Chris Figenshau, Tapovan Base Camp Manager:
September 28th 2011, 9AM
Gazing up from Tapovan Base Camp, I can see a solitary pinhole of light piercing the dark hulking midsection of Mt Meru. The team is safe. Dangling at Camp 2 at 19,000 feet.
After two weeks of traveling, organizing, trekking and humping loads to advanced base camp, Jimmy, Renan and Conrad have managed to scorch their way up the bottom part of this route in a 6 day push. The bottom snow and technical ice pitches were climbed in two days to Camp 1, ‘The Balcony’, which lies below several sections of alpine rock and ice. From there the team climbed, hauled and jugged their way up to Camp 2, a hanging bivy situated below the formidably overhanging Indian Ocean Wall. In the past two days the team has managed to climb, (send), the steepest and most dangerous A4 sections of the wall culminating at the ‘Crystal Pitch’, an overhanging prow of aid climbing in outer space.
“Ahhhh the Crystal Pitch,” says Jimmy. “It’s out there.”
Yeah. It sure as hell is.
Tonight the team is preparing to move camp above the 20,000 foot mark. Once at Camp 3, the team plans to make a three or four day push for the summit.
Having benefitted from their experience on this wall three years ago, the team is moving much faster. Levels are high, and the weather has been exceptional thus far with little to no moisture. . (‘Exceptional’ is a relative term that is not intended to imply comfort.) The team has been fortunate with morning sunshine on the route, but by noon the entire wall is shaded and cold due to its Northeast exposure. So far, good progress has been made each day with no days lost to weather or fatigue. With an abyss of steep, overhanging rock behind them, the team now prepares for the final sections of aid and mixed climbing on their way to the summit.
Fingers crossed, positive wavelength, incense burning.
Chris Figenshau, Tapovan Base Camp Manager