Advanced Base Camp (ABC)
6,500 M (21,300 ft.) The Lhotse Face
Camp 2 lies at the end of the Western Cwm, and the base of the Lhotse Face. The area is littered with abandoned gear from descending climbers too fatigued to carry the equipment home. We’re all told that movement improves our acclimation by forcing us to breathe deeper. So people wander ABC, picking through the new and antiquated abandoned gear, walking towards the dramatic Lhotse Face. ABC will be the last camp where we'll share a hot meal. The rest of the climb we'll rely on instant or prepared foods of minimal weight. We are now, and for the rest of the climb, in avalanche territory. It is one of the cautions we'll consider every time we place our tents.
To climb this steep ice face, we’ll use jumars, which are a type of locking carabiner that can free-rise, but then lock onto the rope so the climbers can pull themselves up. At this altitude, breathing and walking is an exertion. Imagine trying to climb, creating a rhythm between your foot placement, pulling with your arms, pushing with your feet and then resting to raise the jumar. Progress is slow. A height of over 1100 meters means we’ll have to stop on the slope to change our jumars and carabiners from one safety line to the next. We practice making such changes with one safety line always attached.
We were sorry to hear that a high-altitude worker named Ang Furba Sherpa died last May on Lhotse Face. His memory will haunt us as we admire the icy slope below, from Advanced Base Camp. Such stories are frequent reminders of the risks we’re taking.