Carina Räihä Mt. Everest Khumbu Icefall

I have got used to sleeping in my tent in -12°C as well as falling asleep while coughing. Without the cold, I would actually enjoy lying in my warm sleeping bag in my spacious tent very much. I am still not a fan of the nightly visits to the toilet and due to my cold, I haven’t been able to take a shower in the camp shower for over a week. I have also got used to wearing more or less the same clothes from day to night. To keep myself entertained in other ways besides listening to the sounds from the mountains, I am reading a book by Lene Gammelgaard, the first Scandinavian woman to summit Everest. The book tells the story of how she reached the Everest summit in the tragic year of 1996.

As I am reading the book, on one hand I keep noticing many similarities in our journeys, but on the other hand Lene’s almost obsessive-like thoughts about reaching the summit are far from my thoughts. I am not ready to risk my health trying to reach the summit. The last words of Lene’s book really got me thinking. She writes: “Mt. Everest taught me something really valuable. Never again will I put myself at such huge risk. Never again!”

Yesterday at Khumbu Icefall we went through different techniques for climbing, descending and saving ourselves. It was great to finally get to “do something” after all the waiting at the Base Camp. Today for the first time we ascended the icefall up to an hour’s distance from Camp 1, which was almost at 6 000 metres. I felt great. It took us only about three hours to reach today’s goal. We crossed crevasses on ladder, climbed up and down the seracs, i.e. the huge blocks of ice, and on fixed lines we passed the most dangerous parts of the route quickly. Me and three other members of our expedition kept going higher as we were a lot faster than the others. We also descended back to Base Camp quite fast. It took us two hours.

Now I am back in my sleeping bag listening to the sounds outside the tent. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this fresh. After getting back to Base Camp I went to take a shower. The cheerful feeling I had after a successful first ascent didn’t last for long. Both headache and nausea due to acclimatization hit me hard after getting back to my tent. I am trying to get some rest, rehydrate and balance out my body after today’s effort. The aspirin I took for my headache ended up outside the tent with all the other liquids soon after I took it. “Don’t worry, this is just the start”, the leader of our expedition said.

Tomorrow is a rest day and we have time to recover before climbing up to Camp 1. I think about tomorrow as the day when my training partner Mia Graeffe will begin her historic journey to Cho Oyu. Good luck, Mia! I am thinking of you here on the other Himalayan mountain. We’ll celebrate after we have descended the mountains. Although in advance, I would also like to wish Happy Birthday to DC-Mikko! Best wishes to mom and dad, to all my friends and to everyone who has been supporting me!