Khumbu Ice Fall

Khumbu Ice Fall

Khumbu Ice Fall

This morning was filled with an appreciation for things that can go uncelebrated: sleeping in, a contemplative cup of coffee and then another without any sense of rush, and a day’s agenda completely without ambition.

The morning scene was different a few days ago as I prepared to depart for the Khumbu Ice Fall and a move to Camp 1. I was up and moving at 1:00 AM, wide awake and without time or desire for coffee, and I had eight hours of hard work ahead to follow a single line of rope 2,000 vertical feet up a waterfall of snow and ice.

Khumbu Ice Fall

Khumbu Ice Fall

The Khumbu Ice Fall demands respect, sobriety and focus; I approached with a full measure of all three. In addition, I approached with a forced sense of confidence and a comfort in knowing that my climbing partner, Pemba Sherpa, would be there to help me. I also prayed. It is often said that climbing Mt. Everest is as much a mental exercise as it is physical and the Khumbu Ice Fall is a test of both.  As I travelled through the Ice Fall I had to maintain a sense of courage and stay completely focused on only the immediate next few steps knowing that otherwise the task could unravel into something overwhelming. It helped that for the first half of the climb I could only see as far ahead as what was illuminated by my headlamp.

Morning Light in the Ice Fall

Morning Light in the Ice Fall

Pemba and I climbed together in a way that words were not necessary. For most of the climb we were alone, working together step-by-step, accepting whatever challenges were presented along our path. As morning light emerged and I could see the full environment there was a sense of momentum and a boost of confidence that had come from the predawn work. It was a wonderful experience to be so focused in a place of incredible beauty.

Vertical Ladder

Vertical Ladder

I recall seeing a four section vertical ladder and very intentionally rejecting any sense of fear, but rather approaching the task rung-by-rung confident more in the safety lines than the wavering ladders.

Multiple Ladders in the Popcorn

Multiple Ladders in the Popcorn

As the morning progressed we continued our work. I soon realized that we were in an area of the Ice Fall known as the Popcorn–due to the ice features creating an uncanny resemblance to a bowl of popcorn–and I thought that it was the last major obstacle for the day.

Once we emerged from the Popcorn we were on the home stretch and after seven hours of full-on climbing I let my guard down just a bit. It was premature.

Final Vertical Objective

Final Vertical Objective

I soon discovered there was one last obstacle: a 200 foot vertical ice wall that required a tremendous amount of effort to overcome. There was a back up of climbers. It was a heartbreaker, but it gave way a step at a time.  I soon emerged on the top of the vertical ice wall and could see Camp 1. I gave thanks realizing that we had made it through the Ice Fall.

Emerging from the Ice Fall

Emerging from the Ice Fall

I thought about the Ice Fall and the life lessons that it offers as I had my second cup of coffee this morning. I will make two more round-trips through the Ice Fall on my journey to the summit and then home safely to my family.

I look forward to more lessons learned.

Thanks for following along.

Namaste.

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  10 comments for “Khumbu Ice Fall

  1. Staci Colovos
    April 28, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Harrowing! I can’t believe you have to do it again, AND AGAIN!!
    This comment resonated with me “intentionally rejecting any sense of fear”. Next time that I am afraid to do something I will think of you and that ladder, and take one rung at a time.

  2. David bialecki
    April 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks james really good photos hope you and the team are all in good spirit for the forthcoming weeks

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      April 28, 2016 at 7:08 am

      Thanks, David. So far so good–one day at a time. The team is doing well and we are preparing for our second rotation soon. Thanks for staying in touch! Jim

  3. Rodolph Dandan
    April 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you for the excellent update. It is an eye opener

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      April 28, 2016 at 7:10 am

      Rodolph, thanks for continuing to follow along and track our progress! Great to hear from you again. Jim

  4. Linnea Kooistra
    April 26, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Jim. Beautiful photos! I am praying for a successful climb and most importantly your safety. God be with you.

  5. Gina Hartley
    April 26, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Congratulations for another successful step on this amazing journey! Reading your blog and seeing the pics makes me feel like I am there on the sidelines cheering you on! Thanks for the eloquent and descriptive writing!! Can’t wait to see what is next

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      April 28, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Gina, thanks for such an encouraging note! It is great that you are checking in and cheering me on. I appreciate you following along. Jim

  6. Viggy Mokkarala
    April 26, 2016 at 10:51 am

    Just awesome, Jim. Inspirational to all of us! Stay well!

    Viggy

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      April 28, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Thanks, Vig! I appreciate your kind words! I look forward to enjoying a bottle of your best Pinot when I return. Please stay in touch. Jim

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