In the land of Ice and Nuts

Base Camp. It was numbing cold last night but the day has dawned bright and sunny and within an hour the tent is stiflingly hot. That is something I will never get over is the wild variation in temperatures here. At night in my tent it is well below zero and any water bottle not put in the sleeping bag with you will be frozen solid in the morning. However by 10:00 I bet it is 90 degrees in the tent. I can open the zippers on both sides and spread my sleeping bag on top and that helps considerably but it is still plenty warm.

I accompanied Pertemba Sherpa our Base Camp manager to a meeting of all the expeditions today. I suppose with Bill gone I am now the most experienced of the remaining team members on Everest which isn’t saying much. Pertemba is a legend himself. He has been part of many of the most memorable expeditions on Everest. He has climbed with or manged operations for most of the great names in Himalayan climbing. Climbing has come so far since those early pioneers. It is truly amazing what they accomplished with the limited resources they had. But of course they paid the price to in lives. Today we have tons of modern weather reporting. In Pertmeba’s day they had only their gut instinct. Pertmba shared with us the night he and two partners went to the summit and got caught in a white out blizzard. At some point one of their three got separated. They tried to find him to no avail. Eventually they began their descent but could not find the ropes. At some point Pertemba told his climbing partner he was afraid they had gone to low and missed the rope. They decided to wait to see if the storm would abate. The snow did let up and they could see they had not only missed the rope but where very close to going off the face. They climbed back up and found the rope and descended safely. Their third member was never found.

In any case we went to the meeting and I found it quite interesting. Much talk centered on all the teams committing O2 support and supplies to get the summit fixing accomplished. The elephant in the room that no one talked about was Himex’s pull out and the reasons. A plan was worked out and pledges of support and materials was taken. Climbing is very much a joint effort on a mountain like Everest. It takes everybody working together to make it possible for any one individual to strike for the summit. In years past, before there were multiple teams on the mountain, every member of an expedition would do their share in the full knowledge that when the path had been laid the expedition leader would choose the two or three lucky individuals who would get to go to the summit. Everyone else got a pat on the back. Most people are not aware that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who first summited Everest where actually the B team. The A team whose names are now a footnote in history had a O2 system failure on their bid for the summit and the B team got the go ahead and made history.

I have come back from the meeting with renewed optimism at least about the schedule. The plan is to move supplies to C4, which has now been fixed on the 10th and to begin fixing the route to the summit on the 11th and 12th before strong winds move in again on the 13th. Some forecast are indicating that the winds will hold of for several more days which could mean and early summit attempt for me on the 13th. I am beyond ready but only weather and time will tell.