At 5:50 the decision was taken to abort.

We suspected as much because we had agreed that they would contact us when the wind died down, and they waited until dawn before calling. We had also been constantly monitoring their position with the “tracker” and we knew that they had not moved from camp 4.
The main thing is that they are all OK, even the Sherpas are feeling better.
The wind has not died down as forecast, not for a second, and they have had a really bad night. They haven’t even been out of the tent.

When they finally called we discussed the three possible options: wait at camp 4 to make another attempt the following night, go back down to camp 2 leaving gear at camp 4 for another attempt in a few days, or totally give up and go home.

I have no doubts that the first option is not a viable one and so we have discarded it. The forecast for the following day is more wind, so that option has been ruled out.

As regards the other two, it is a really tough call. Of course, totally aborting the expedition is a decision that the guys will have to take depending on just how exhausted they are, both physically and emotionally.

Having checked the forecasts, the only thing that I can do is tell them to open another ‘window’ for the 24th , 25th and 26th. The first two days will be sunny and not too windy. The third will be calm but there is a lot of snow forecast.

Anyway, it is a real ‘window’ but it will be very, very complicated seeing as they would not have sufficient time to recuperate. In fact, they would have to come down and rest at camp 2, not even down to base camp.

And so we are waiting to contact them again, once they are all prepared for their descent, in order to assess the possibilities and work out a strategy which will logically affect how they pack up camp 4 on the windy South Col.

At 9:40 they were ready to begin their descent.

They are all coming back down safe and sound. However, things have also taken their toll on the guys, in particular on our Sherpas Pasang and Mingma, who are suffering from the altitude. This morning they felt better when they got up, having slept and got some rest with artificial oxygen. However, as soon as they set about doing their jobs, despite being in good spirits, they felt the worse for wear again which is only to be expected.
When the camp was all packed up, apart from a small quantity of gear which is being left in case they make another attempt, they all set off together as a unit.
They stopped at camp 3 to rest and get their strength back. We took the opportunity to tell them about the window that will be, according to the forecast, available between the 24th and the 26th.

However Edurne, as magnificent as ever, took control of the situation and her exact reply was: “Doc! I can see what state we are in making out descent, myself included, and this window is too soon. It is not a viable option as we won’t have had time to recover”. Believe me, it requires more than a little maturity to take such a decision in a situation like this, especially when she is in better shape than some of the others. I must admit to being very proud of her.
So, the current situation is that they have begun their descent to camp 2. Giving that they are taking things slowly and looking after the Sherpas, they will take a little longer than usual. Once they get to camp 2, and Ngati has already been informed of their arrival, they will have something to eat and rest. I am going to tell them to spend the night there so that they can come back down to base camp tomorrow. We will see just how they are and at what time they reach base camp.
Having said all this, the sun is shining and there is a pleasant breeze… Today the mountain did not want them to make it…!

10:45 and they are already at camp 2!

They have made it safe and sound, and practically just in time to sit down and eat because Ngati had salad and melted water ready and waiting for them (don’t forget that this is a real luxury at a camp at altitude). They are preparing to eat and get some rest.

Now we have to make an important decision: as expected they want to come straight back down, whereas I would prefer them to stay where they are and come back down tomorrow. I have no doubt that they will win this one, but bear in mind that they still have to a fair trek through the “Valley of Silence”, and it will probably be really hot given what time it is. The good thing is that they will have just rested, eaten and rehydrated. In return, they will complete another 1000 metres in addition to gaining moral incentive, which will be very important for going home.


They have crossed the “Valley” without any problems, aided by the fact that the sky has clouded over and there wind is blowing a bit.

They are now on the “Icefall”, on the final stages before they make it to base camp. It sounds like they are in good spirits, but until they make it back they will not let their guard down.

They will be here soon.

Pablo Díaz-Munio

Expedition Doctor for the 14+1 Challenge