Brits March for Global Warming

Base Camp May 7. It’s shower day. Every four or five days I take an Everest shower whether I need one or not! Getting a shower at BC is a pretty unique experience since there is no running water that isn’t a few degrees above freezing. In our case we have worked out a pretty simple solution. We get our cook to heat up some water and put it in a big bag that we hang from a small shower tent we have erected. We use to put hot water in a garden bug sprayer that had the nozzle replaced with a shower head. You just pump it up to get some pressure and spray away. Unfortunately the bug sprayer didn’t hold a lot of water and would run out pretty quick. The bag lasts much longer but doesn’t have the pressure. It is also about three feet long with the hose and shower head and is hanging in a tent that is only seven feet tall. Do the math. To get your head wet you have to get down on your knees. I guess you can’t have it all.

The preferred shower time is 10:00 AM. Much later and it could cloud up and get cold. Much sooner and it is going to be cold no matter what. Still it is nice to get cleaned up even if it is the ultimate “water” saver shower. I was happy today because my travel mirror finally reappeared. I was a little aggravated that I actually brought a mirror to BC, then shared it with all those who didn’t remember and in return one of my cold numbed partners didn’t bring it back. Eventually I would have identified the culprit because they would have been the only ones with a clean shave. I know that is a pretty small thing to get aggravated about but “petty” is a favorite pass time at BC.

Actually I have a lot of things I am petty about. I don’t like people putting their gloves or hat on the table – it isn’t sanitary. Who knows where it has been – especially the hats since most people around here spend half their time with their head up their butt. I also would rather people not plunge their hands in the pop corn. It is actually possible to get your pop corn without contaminating the balance. Speaking of pop corn that is one of my favorite things about BC. Every day I am in BC we have pop corn and hot tea at 4:00 PM. Base Camp pop corn is absolutely the best. We have speculated that because of the high altitude that it pops at a lower temperature than it does at sea level. As altitude increases water boils at a lower temperature. Pure physics. Those little bubbles have less ambient air pressure to overcome. At sea level water boils at 212. At BC at 17,500 it boils at about 180 degrees. At C4 at 26,000 it is about 160 degrees. So boiling water to purify at C4 isn’t really killing any pathogens – of course how many bugs can live at 30 below anyway. Either way the pop corn is always almost perfect.

All of that said I have learned, much to my families and friends amazement, to keep my mouth shut about a lot of things that irritate me. Call it Survivor the Everest Edition (where not everyone survives). If you have ever watched that show it is the people who complain to much who get voted off the island. I joke about it but I have a great team this year and have been fortunate in that respect most years. All of the guys on our team are experienced climbers and have been on previous expeditions and appreciate the effort it takes to make camp life tolerable. A lot of tongue biting goes on. It is amazing some of the friends I have made through climbing that without the grinding mortar and pestle of camp life I never would have gotten to know – not in the real world anyway.

We had a new addition to our team a couple of days ago. The “Liaison Officer”. This is a political appointee who each expedition must pay and equip to come and live with us and make sure we are complying with all the rules. Unfortunately, these poor guys are usually some politically connected guy from KTM who has scored a “vacation” and some extra Rupees. I say poor guy because I have never seen one last over a week. I must admit there is a little evil enjoyment watching these guys come to the realization that they booked the wrong vacation. This year’s guy, who was actually quite pleasant lasted all of two days and three nights. At that point he had “liaised” enough and headed home. I am sure he took one look at our operation and knew we were Everest Boy Scouts and could be trusted to comply with all the rules.

To top the week off there is a group of “wounded warriors” from the British Army who were climbing with Russel Brice. Of course that is over but they are still in camp because they had some event planned with a financial sponsor here at BC. What possessed them other than boredom I will never know. But several of them went to the crampon point which is at the far side of Base Camp, proceeded to strip down to nothing but their high altitude boots and climbing harnesses and marched naked from one end of BC to the other. The Brits march funny anyway but it is even less becoming naked. I am not sure what statement if any they were trying to make but they sure stirred up BC. Maybe they were marching for Global Warming. I heard one of the few remaining Liaison Officers threaten to write a report if he ever quit puking. The next day Mr. Brice was making the rounds of all the camps apologizing for his soldier-climbers disruption of BC decorum. That was just the icing. You just can’t make this stuff up.