April 23

Snowed again last night. We have settled into the standard Everest weather pattern of clear and bright in the morning and cloudy, windy and snowy in the afternoon. For a while yesterday afternoon we had “snow thunder”. Just like a good ole Georgia thunderstorm with lightening and thunder except it is snowing and you generally do not see any lightening. Still it is strange thing to me anyway.

Another tragedy on the mountain. A Sherpa porter was just below C1 on a relatively flat area not clipped into a fixed line. He fell in a crevasse and died. There is just no excuse. Each of us climbers contribute to a common pool to make sure we have fixed lines anywhere there is exposure or the potential for hidden crevasses. And every year someone gets complacent and is killed or seriously injured. For a while everyone will be more careful. This is no different than wearing a seat belt. I put mine on to take the trash to the end of the driveway. Their may be a meteorite with my name on it headed my way but in the meantime why take unnecessary chances.

Most of our team mates headed up this morning to Camp 1. Most are going to spend the night and head to Camp 2 tomorrow if they feel okay. Bill and I waved good by to them. Well not really since they left at 5:00 and I wasn’t about to get out of my warm bag to say goodby. Although most are experienced on other mountains I think this was the first Big “E” experience for all of them. They have also been here a few days longer than we have. When we heard about the “herd” we decided to wait a couple of days so C1 and C2 will not be so crowded when we go up. I have no fond memories of C1. Usually you stay there for acclimatization purposes on your first trip through the ice fall. You are generally very tired, dehydrated and have not eaten much since the night before. It is cold, isolated, not that scenic and just unpleasant. The top two or three most miserable nights I have spent on any mountain anywhere have been at Camp 1. That includes the night at 14,000 camp on Denali when I had diarrhea in a blizzard. Every time you had to gear up to go out of the tent and when you did get out to take care of business the snow would fill up your pants. At least you had the energy to get up.

In any case we are going up the 25th. The plan is to spend one night at C1 and if we feel okay (please Lord) to move to C2 in the morning and spend three or four days there before coming all the way back down to BC. I probably will go part of the way up toward C3 but not all the way. This is longer than most climbers typically spend at C2 but I also will not make another rotation through the ice fall until summit push. Acclimatization schedules are a very personal thing but I am not convinced that: 1) there is any additional acclimatization above C2 (about 22,000 feet), and; 2) I will go on O2 at C2 on my summit push anyway. I have seen a number of studies that indicate climbers begin suffering some neurological impairment above C2 when not on oxygen. As I have a limited number of brain cells to begin with I intend to keep the ones I have left.

So this will probably be the toughest week for me on the mountain. Without a doubt summit push is physically harder but at the end the summit awaits. I get yak bumps just thinking about it. But who cares that you made it to C1 especially when you have done it a half dozen times before. The suffer-fest continues…