Annapurna IV Summary Part 3 of 3
Here is part 3 of the summary from Annapurna IV, covering Camps 2 to 3 and our decision to turn around before reaching the summit....
PART III - Camp 2 to Camp 3, and the decision to turn around
As with our move to Camp 2, we ended up making an intermediate camp en route to Camp 3. The weather and snow conditions made for very slow moving, and we ended up camping just short of our projected Camp 3. Our intermediate camp was placed on an ice fin between two HUGE crevasses (cracks in a glacier) which made it a very dramatic camp. Before reaching the official Camp 3, we had to climb over a large Bergshrund (a type of crevasse) and then continued up over 300 feet of near vertical ice, which made for very challenging climbing at nearly 21,000 feet. As with all of our travels, we climbed with heavy backpacks full of food, tents, ropes and other climbing gear. The snow conditions bordered on being dangerous for avalanches, but we pushed through and finally arrived at Camp 3 at 21,500 feet. Camp 3 is on the massive summit plateau of the mountain, and from here there are only 3,200 vertical feet to go until the summit!
By the time we reached Camp 3, we had spent two weeks completely alone on the mountain, carrying all of our supplies on our backs and living in a 4x6 foot tent on snow and ice. Our plan was to travel to one more camp and then try to reach the top of the mountain. We set off for Camp 4 in good spirits, but as we moved further up the mountain, we began to see how dangerous the top of the mountain looked. The upper slopes near the top of the mountain were covered with massive seracs and cornices (columns of ice and ledges of snow) which were actively dropping ice and snow to areas below. To reach the summit, we would have to travel under, around, and over these very dangerous obstacles. We decided it was too risky and dangerous, so we turned around and gave up on our chance for reaching the top. It took us three days to return to Base Camp.
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Postcards from the Field: Annapurna