Thursday, October 9th, 1997
Pitching Camp 3, 24.280 ft. (Per Bager).
In the time of October 5th to 8th, Per Lyhne, Michael K. Jørgensen, Nima Rita
Sherpa (our high-altitude sherpa) and myself climb up to Camp 2 with the aim of
establishing the difficult and demanding Camp 3 at Makalu La in an altitude of
Per and Nima arrive in Camp 2 one day later than Michael and me to help with the coming Camp 3. As for that time being there was only room for two persons in Camp 2, Michael and I have come up one day earlier to improve Camp 2 so there will be room for four persons. Late on the 6th, Per and Nima arrive in Camp 2, tired, but in good spirits! The same day Michael and I leave for Makalu La to prepare the site for Camp 3. During the day Michael reaches Makalu La with his load, among this the tent. Unfortunately I have to turn in about 23.000 ft. for fear of frostbite.
Because of the frantic wind and merciless cold prevailing the pass, Michael starts the descent to Camp 2 as fast as possible. At this time the storm is so hard in Makalu La that Michael desists from pitching the tent. During the night of the 6th, when we all stayed put in Camp 2, the weather deteriorated considerably, a powerful wind with drifting snow.
In the morning of the 7th, the weather is still very bad, and our tent is almost buried in snow drifts from the night's snowstorm. We decide to take a rest day in Camp 2. Thus we stay in the tent for the whole day, only leaving when we have to relieve ourselves. The storm is blowing continously. Per, Michael and I pass the day playing mountain parcheesi and chess - the spirit is high! In the early morning of the 8th we all prepare for the further ascend towards Makalu La, the storm gone as the sun slowly rises from behind the majestic mountains, the weather is fine, but cold!
Per is working himself to the bone as always, all the time climbing up and down to the big benefit of the expedition. Absolutely indomitable! Per and Nima leave Camp 2 about an hour before Michael and I. As we start to climb, we note that Nima already has put a great distance between himself and Per, and before long we catch up with Per. At about 22.700 ft., I advise Per to return to Camp 2 as he seems dizzy and apparantly is not able to reach Camp 3 in time. I try to catch up with Michael and Nima, who by now have passed the 700 ft. steep rock band where the wind again is gaining strength. Above the rock band and fully exposed to the wind, I gain another approximately 300 ft. before my toes start to get numb. I decide to turn back to aviod frostbite and return to Camp 2 about an hour after nightfall, happily welcomed by Per having fresh hot tea ready.
Michael and Nima reach Makalu La in the afternoon, and finally Camp 3 is pitched. Here they wait for Per and me, but as the day goes by, they adapt themselves to the fact that we have turned back, to the great concern for Michael and Nima, as Per and I were carrying food, gas and the stove. Essential things at an altitude of 24.000 ft. Especially the gas and stove is needed to be able to melt snow for the essential fluid to avoid altitude sickness. Michael tries to contact us by radio, but in vain! Thus Michael and Nima concludes that both of us must have turned back from our attempt of reaching Camp 3 in Makalu La.
To the luck of Michael and Nima there is another tent pitched in Makalu La, belonging to the Swiss expedition. In the Swiss tent Nima finds a stove, which they use to melt snow and get some fluid to mend their banging headache, a result of dehydration and the altitude.
On the 9th, the whole expedition is gathered together in ABC for the first time in more than two weeks, so a party is held, the conversation in full swing of the coming summit attemps.