Back to BC May 5

Note: We have been without power and internet. A lot has happened and I will try and catch up all the missing days over the next few days. Thanks for understanding.

Base Camp. We got back to base camp to discover a lot of things are falling apart. First my “lizard” rock that I like to sit on in the mornings when sun hits camp has fallen over and partly rolled down the hill. I guess I should be happy I wasn’t sitting on it at the time. Unfortunately there have been more serious developments. Russel Brice, the leader of Himex perhaps the largest commercial operator on Everest has made good on his threat and has actually canceled this years season. He has stated on his web site that he things the ice fall is too dangerous and his Sherpa do not want to go through it again. He has told all his high paying clients to go home – no refunds. This is going to have major repercussions for him and for the operators that stay. I understood that most were understanding but if 200 people summit next week without incident people are not going to be happy.

The section of the ice fall that Bill and I suffered our avalanche near miss, which I might share more about in the future, is the primary area everyone is worried about. It sure gives me pause. When people who have been doing this for decades refuse, at considerable financial peril and ill will, to go into the ice fall again because they perceive the threat to great I need to give it careful consideration as well. Of course with the size of his team they are looking at perhaps 250 trips whereas I am only looking at one more up and down. Statistically his team is much more likely to experience a problem than one individual.

The news only got worse. I had come back expecting the summit fixing to be underway and to be looking at a summit bid in a very few days – a week at the most. I feel physically strong and healthy. Much more than any Everest attempt in the past. Other than getting really tired of the food I am doing alright and feel confident I am ready for the summit push. Unfortunately, with the need to move C3 route and other problems the work on the upper mountain has not even reached C4. I am two weeks out at least. This has led to the other bad news. Bill Burke, my great friend and climbing partner is leaving within hours to return to KTM and attempt the north side instead. He has a permit on the Chinese side also for reasons I won’t get into here. The weather which has made the south side so dangerous has actually created the best climbing conditions in decades on the north as I understand. I can’t blame Bill but I will miss him. At the same time Allan Smith who is making a documentary about Bill’s climbing is also, naturally, leaving. I have really grown to be good friends with this great guy. I will miss him too. It only occurs to me later that Allan was running the Began satellite link and that has to be shut down when he leaves – another unhappy event.

All of that, plus other stuff, have put me in a down mood. Fortunately my phone communications are still working and I can sit in my little yellow tent and whine to my bride 12,000 miles away till my fingers hurt from the cold. She is concerned about Brice’s decision and we agree to pray about it and give it a few days to let the news settle out. Maybe they will move the most dangerous part of the route or it will stabilize. Either way I am not a happy camper at the moment…