By 3:15am we were on our way. Its an intense feeling to be in a remote area at almost 18,000 feet heading to climb a peak. We had decided to save as much energy as possible and try the climb from our Base Camp with no intermediate camp. We knew it would be a 16 hour day or longer but doing it like this saved a lot of mileage and energy by not making carries and establishing a higher camp. We also knew that we would have one shot as time was running out. The weather in the Khumbu this season was unstable with clouds rolling in as early as 10am.
Headlamps bobbing and piercing the night we made good time to the base of the ice fall. We changed into our climbing boots and donned our harnesses and hardware. We started up the West side of the ice fall. We were traveling light but even the minimal added wait had us huffing and puffing. We worked our way to the first rock band. Big ice fall features loomed above and to our right. The rock band and a short gully to our left. To get to it there was a sloping polished slab with ice. It was just 20 feet to the gully but the rock was rotten. We searched and talked for 15 minutes on our options. I down climbed and walked horizontally along the rock band. There was another gully that would be easy to climb. Paul jumped into the lead. I had a bad feeling about the rock. Not necessarily climbing the pitch and pitches above but wondered about getting down on such crud. Paul started up and the hand hold in his right hand broke off. He composed himself and moved his weight onto his left hand and foot. The left hand hold broke off and he threw it aside. At that point I said to Paul " We would have no problem climbing this, but I would worry about wrapping off gear with such shitty rock". We both agreed.
I looked for another weakness in the rock band further left. Nothing. It was like a fortress. By this time it was coming on 7 am. We had spent from 4 to 7am trying to break the puzzle. It was already late and we decided to call it. We definitely are going back and realize that there was a good solid route up the ice fall. I am hoping to make it back in April. Email if you would like to join this climb.