October 16 - Regrouping and refocusing at Base Camp
I’m calling you on the 16th, the evening of the 16th of October a beautiful, clear evening at Base Camp. Looking up high, there’s no wind on the ridges. We had a very calm day here. And it was a calm day on the mountain as well I’ll report about that in a few minutes.
I apologize, first of all, for what seems to be a couple of missing dispatches from our little foray down the valley to drink thicker air and recuperate a bit. As you know, all of the team members went down the valley. I swear there were a couple of dispatches that I did that didn’t get through. I’m thinking now it’s probably because I was trying to use the satellite phone out the window in one of those comfortable lodges like the Khumbu Lodge in Namche or perhaps back at Ang Temba’s lodge in Tengboche.
At any rate, for between four and six nights, the various members of the team were all down valley in some cases as far as Namche, eating a lot, enjoying more oxygenated bodies and recuperating. It’s a little hard to describe, if you’ve never experienced it, what a powerful thing this is. After one month at Base Camp and above, we certainly were acclimatized in most senses of the word. Our bodies were adapted. But at the same time, we had gotten weak, in the sense that we could hardly even proceed any longer. We walked with heavy legs down the valley.
But we’re all back now and I can tell you that, I looked around at the faces of each of the team members, Garry, Brad, David, Maegan, as well as Grant and Leila our support team, there’s just a bounce in the step, a brightness in the eye, a reinvigoration that’s really impressive. And of course our acclimatization will hold we’re counting on that!
Up on the mountain, I mentioned it was calm today. I talked to Nima Tashi and the rest of the Sherpas. They were on the South Col today. It’s the second day we’ve had Sherpas on the South Col. There was deep snow at the Geneva Spur and it took quite a bit of work yesterday to plough through. But fortunately, the track held and the snow was very firm today and even walking from the top of the Geneva Spur right on to the South Col proper they had good conditions.
These guys were really I would say exuberant on the radio. Proud as a mountaineer could be about a good day behind them and they’re back down at Camp 2 kind of laughing and recounting their successful day. So things are going well up on the mountain.
We discussed strategy quite a lot. I was thinking of having the team head up tomorrow, the 17th, to Camp 2 and get in position for a summit on the 21st. But at Nima Tashi and the other Sherpas’ suggestion, we’re shooting for the 22nd now.
Once again, conditions are good, you’re always worried about when the winds, the jet stream is going to drop down this way, and the winds are going to become quite significant this time of year. We’ll just wait and see what happens it’s going to happen sooner or later. And even after it happens, I’m confident we’ll be able to find a short little gap in the window, or we’ll just deal with some high winds in order to get this project done. But once again right now, we’re shooting for the 22nd.
We had an amazing good luck gesture show up here at Base Camp via a Sherpa mail runner. Deborah Hickey a BAI climber from the Canadian School a couple of years ago, and also from Ojos in Chile and she was most recently on Elbrus with me last summer sent a real Irish fruit cake. This is not one of those stale things you get at Christmas in North America. But a really fine, Irish fruit cake via international air carrier all the way from Dublin to Everest Base Camp. Quite an impressive gesture, an appreciated gesture.
We haven’t yet decided whether we’re going to have Deborah’s fruit cake tomorrow night before we head up on the mountain for our summit attempt or when we come down in celebration. But in either case, Deborah, thank you your thoughts, your support and the fruit cake are much appreciated.