November 4 Entire team checks-in safely at Base Camp
It’s November 4 and I’m calling you from Everest Base Camp. I’ve been waiting today a while to call you because I wanted to finally be able to pronounce that our entire team is down safely, Sherpas and climbers, and in fact I can do that now.
A couple of things that happened in recent moments: a big, brilliant three-quarter moon just popped up over the shoulder of Everest, the west shoulder of Everest. And our Sherpas are just coming off the very bottom of the Icefall now and will be back over here in 15 minutes. Garry and David came down yesterday.
The Icefall is really a mess right now. Ang Nima, the Icefall Doctor, is still hard at work. As a matter of fact, at 10 am yesterday morning Ang Temba told me they were having tea relaxing at Base Camp and his ever-present, ever-knowing and aware eyes looked up at the Icefall and he said, “There’s a problem up there.”
He sees 100 times more when he looks up there than any of the rest of us. By 11 o’clock he was moving up and in fact there had been big collapses.
Not a big concern when Garry and David came down yesterday, nor was it today when the Sherpas moved up and I came back down to clear all the camps and get off the mountain. But it took a little more time just with all the new broken blocks of ice everywhere.
Really amazing thing happened today. If you’re wondering about the South Col after that sudden gust of wind that tore our camp apart, yeah, I wanted that stuff down. I didn’t want the trash or the valuable equipment left up there. But I was not certain we’d be able to get back to the South Col. In fact, I pulled apart Roger’s equipment with considerably fewer hours of data collecting than I might have liked because I just wanted to make sure we retrieved the data we did get.
But I wanted to get back up there. So about 1:30 am this morning at Camp 2, Shom and I awoke A Rita and Pemba Dortje up and said, “Okay guys, I don’t hear any wind up there. Let’s go.” Incredibly, those guys left Camp 2 this morning, went up to the South Col, cleaned up everything and they’ll be here at Base Camp in about 20 minutes.
Camp 2 to the South Col and back to Base Camp in one day an incredible, super-human effort. And our stuff is all off the mountain.
You may be wondering, “Well wait a minute, if those guys went up there today, didn’t the weather get better?” And yes I have to think back that David Burger at one point had a gut feeling that maybe November 4 would be a good day. I think it was. But as Garry said today, “No regrets for this team.”
We called our shots, we went to the South Summit two days ago entirely under the strength of one team. We saw sites we’ll never forget and we made the right call to get ourselves down. And we’re going away from this mountain with experiences that are leaving us all satisfied and as I said or as Garry said, "no regrets."
I’ll let you know a little more about some thoughts for the season and how things go as we begin moving down the Valley. But with that beautiful moon hanging over Everest, it’s a very, very complete feeling for me right now after more than two months, to be back down at Base Camp with everyone.
Tired but satisfied, and happy to be heading home.