October 9 - Climbers head down-valley to rest up
This dispatch is from Base Camp on the 9th of October, a snowy Base Camp. We’ve seen more snow in the last 24 hours than we have for any 24-hour period since we arrived here, actually just two days short of one month ago. We arrived on the 11th of September at Base Camp.
Yesterday, the final three up in the Western Cwm, Garry, David and myself, left Camp 2 to descend through the Cwm and the Icefall early in the morning. I got here at Base Camp at 9:30 and had one of Parsong’s huge and wonderful omelettes. David and Garry were a little bit behind me.
If you’re wondering what’s going on up at Camp 2 now, what I can report to you is that Shom is holding down the fort by himself. It’s a lonely and demanding life, being a Camp 2 Sherpa, a Camp 2 Sherpa Cook. Shom knows it well this is the 11th time he’s done that job. He’s got the mountain to himself. It might seem a bit scary and awesome to some of us (I think it does to me), but he’s fine up there. We talk to him on the radio. He has light snow today, which is good news. But often the Camp 2 cooks have incredible task just keeping the camp in place as the snow gets in and there’s more wind picking up.
The main thing I want to report in this dispatch today is really good news. Dr. Laura Banner from the Khunde Hospital down valley, Laura Banner of Canada, sent a written report, a very thorough written report, back up to me as expedition leader clearing Nima Tashi of any significant head injury and allowing him to go back to work.
Probably just as importantly, I have two direct reports of a giant pooja taking place down at Nima Tashi’s house with 20 lamas, if you can believe that! I’ve seen some poojas at Nima Tashi’s house he’s a very religious fellow. And when things go amiss, when there’s questions about his right-living and his luck and his good fortune and it’s time to pray, he’s no cheapskate. He’ll go at it! But obviously that avalanche was a very significant scare for Nima Tashi, to bring in 20 lamas.
But we talked to him on the radio and he seemed great and he’s on the way back up. So we’re going to be glad to have him back at Base Camp with the rest of the crew.
Right now, as I speak, Maegan and Grant, and also Garry and the BAI trekking guide Nam, are headed down-valley for some thicker air. I suspect the rest of us will do the same tomorrow.
Here at Base Camp, the folks holding down the fort Burger, Brad are drinking endless cups of tea. We have received technical advice from Bill Roos regarding inflating Primus gas cartridges. And yes Bill, I remember well that pieces of metal wrapped around the bottom work well. I just have killed so many brain cells in the years since we did that together that I forgot. But we’re going to try to incorporate that along with David’s very functional Insulite and duct-tape sleeves before we go back up on the mountain.
Today’s bad weather gave us a bit of a reprieve from the now endless stream of trekkers coming to visit Base Camp. We’re really pleased about the good business down valley, but it’s pretty daunting some days to see how many people walk up to look at Base Camp and what some of them expect.
One interesting situation we’ve had is one of our sponsors Clif Bar has a very familiar red logo. ClifBar, I’ve realized now that it is familiar in North America because we’ve had incidences that now - once with the Japanese and once with the Germans - who got very assertive that when we told them we had nothing for sale, that the big red sign said this was a “Cliff Bar”, we shouldn’t be selling them libations.
So I’m going to get back to drinking endless cups of tea and settling down for an evening. One notable anniversary today that I almost forgot is that 11 years ago today I stood on the summit of Everest. So, I think that’s worth noting.
If anyone’s wondering about “When are those guys going to leave and what are they going to do?” I can assure you we’re in this for the long haul. Everest has been summitted on October 30 and in the autumn season. We’ll be around here on October 30 if we need to be. I’ve personally stood on a nearby 8,000 meter peak, on the summit of Cho Oyu, on November 2.
So we’re in this for the long haul. We’ve got Nima Tashi coming back up the valley. We’ve got some of ourselves heading down the valley to recuperate and gain strength. I know Garry Porter’s going to be eating some huge meals down there. And we’ll move on to the next phase of this expedition.