21 May 2008: a few hours before leaving on our summit push...
This morning Ngima and I started getting up at 5 AM. We went through the slow process of getting our boots on and down suits. By the time we had our hot drinks and started packing our bags Kame, Mingmar and Pemba showed up. We were on our way up the fixed lines at 7 AM. Basically we fell in line with the many climbers on their way up to camp four.
After leaving the tent we had a steep ice section that rises about 80 feet. Then we continued up a steep snow face until there was an angled traverse to the yellow band. Here we climbed mixed snow, ice and rock to gain several hundred feet. At that point there was another ascending traverse. After the traverse there was another angled climb up rock. This section angles left and ends on a ridge crest nearly at the elevation of the South Col. At this point was another traverse on a fairly steep rock slope to the South Col.
This was not my best day on the mountain. It was my first time on oxygen on this trip and I had trouble with the first mask I used. I used up a lot of energy on the steeper part of the Lhotse face above camp three. When I got a different mask above the yellow band it worked much better. I had planned to save as much energy as possible on this day by using oxygen, but that first part really drained a lot of my energy.
I arrived at camp four around 3 PM. I was very tired and ready for some rest. The bad news was that we only had a few hours before leaving on our summit push. I drank lots of liquids and ate what I could before starting to pack for the summit. Sleep just wasn’t in the schedule.
We started out and after only a short time I let the Sherpa’s know it was not possible to go any further. We turned around and went back to our camp at the South Col. I should say that I staggered back to camp totally done in. I needed sleep and the decision on what to do next would have to wait until tomorrow morning. This was not a high point of the trip for me!