4am, go time. Daylight is just up and I'm freezing in my sleeping bag. But I need to crawl out of it. We're leaving for our first climb out of Base Camp into the deadly Khumbu Ice Fall.

The first objective: get out of my bag and into my climbing clothes with minimal heat loss. I'm freezing, yes, but not as freezing as I'll be if I fuck this up. First step, put my light puffy jacket on - that'll keep my core warm when I get out of my bag. Then my socks and boot liners. Then pants, which I've slept with next to me in my bag so they're already warm.

Okay, I'm good.

Now to brace for the cold outside. It's cold, but relatively warm for this time of year. Tolerable.

Now breakfast. I'm not particularly hungry, but I need the energy. I scarf down some eggs, baked beans, and toast.

Alright, let's go!

Out the door, it's 6am, cold, relatively light out, and I'm pumped. It's been 5 years since I climbed through this thing. The last season I was here, I loved it. One of the most dangerous parts of the mountain, the Ice Fall is a glacial labyrinth rising nearly 1000m above Base Camp. This thing is alive, moving 6 feet a day and avalanching constantly. For some reason though, the challenge this part of the mountain offers is like non other to me. It scares me shitless before I enter it and after when I think back on it, but while I'm in it I just lose myself. Nevermind the massive ice blocks that could crack and crush me instantly, nevermind the large seracs that could break off and cause a hellish avalanche situation. Climbing up, down, around, below, rappelling, jumaring, front-pointing, it's got everything. New York's hottest night club is....the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Maybe it's the danger that makes it so exciting, I don't exactly know. You need to move fast in it or you risk being in some seriously precarious situations. In 2011, the Ice Fall route (as best as I can remember it) was challenging but straight-forward and quick, with a generous amounts of ladders to join crevasses. It took me and my buddy Kevin (who now guides for Adventures Global) a short 3 hours to navigate. I remember there being a good amount of ladders to cross and climb (maybe 40-50?). This year, not so much. We crossed only 4 and there was a report of a 4-strung ladder higher up (we didn't climb all the way through the Ice Fall just yet but probably 70% of it to get a little taste). This year was HARD and challenging. All ice, real vertical. Lots of steep sections. I liked it, but it left me super tired.

We headed back down as soon as the sun hit (ITS SO UNSEASONABLY WARM HERE ALREADY!). You do not wanna be in the Ice Fall when it's hot and melting. I was fine with that. Down climbing is my jam, probably because I just throw myself down the slope and in my head I think I look real cool (but probably don't). There was one steep rappel option I took (you could take the slightly less steep option to the right), and man did that wake me up and get my adrenaline going. LOVED IT.

All in all, we all got back to Base Camp safe and relatively quickly. There were a few other teams in the Ice Fall, but we smoked them. Great sign. We're a strong team. I really felt in the moment and climbing in it really reminded me of why I'm here and why I love climbing on ice. Would I rather be chilling on a couch eating a pizza with my fiancé back home, definitely. That's the easy option. But being out here, putting myself in a calculated, somewhat safe, risk and pushing myself, there's nothing like it.

Now we're back here for a few days. Our Sherpas (only a few at a time) will continue carrying a couple loads to Camp 2 to continue setting it up. Once that's ready we will head up to do our first rotation. Word has it that most teams are going to do a one rotation approach this year, to avoid trips through the Ice Fall. That means we go through once, chill at Camp 2 for a while (5-7 days to acclimatize at 6400m) and then maybe tag Camp 3 if it's set up, then come back down. Then wait till the weather window opens and then we GO! Summit time. The weather is like May weather already so it could very well be an early summit window. Let's see.

One last tidbit. We had Russ over for dinner again last night but he had a special guest with him...Conrad Anker!! He was super humble and jam-packed with climbing history. I couldn't help asking him about whether he thought Mallory summitted Everest first (since he found the body in 1999). He thinks "no way." Interesting. He also had some serious interest in my team-mate Laura's Louis Vuitton high heel, bright pink, spiked stilettos (yes she actually brought them, no she isn't planning on wearing them on the mountain). He said he would post a picture of them on his Instagram, so keep an eye out. Wine was flowing, and emotions got high, but it was another memorable night. Super cool.

What next? Today was a rest day for all teams to pay respect to the Sherpas lost in the 2014 Avalanche. So Sherpas climb tomorrow, some teams will do their Puja, then I'm sure the Ice Fall will get slammed by numerous teams climbing up. We will probably go back up April 22-23 or so. Stay tuned!