Date: 8pm Tuesday, 15th May 2007
Location: Everest Base Camp
Altitude: 5300 meters
Weather: Windy and cloudy most of the day with snow in the afternoon
Hi everyone, Fiona here,
Well, it’s the end of another fairly non-eventlful day here at basecamp – but at least now the climbers are in high spirits as the weather forecast is looking good.
Summit Bid Plans
After receiving a weather forecast late last night, and another one this morning, it appears as though there is a long window of favourable summit conditions coming up soon. Still no-one has climbed to the summit from the south side but there are a couple of teams in position tonight so we’re all hoping that they make it to the top tomorrow. That way we’ll know that the lines and route are in place (we don’t want to make a summit bid on the same day that the lines are being fixed as this is more likely to lead to delays which could be dangerous).
Anyway, of the group here, about half of them are planning to leave basecamp tomorrow (Dirk, Steve, Ravi, Rudi, and Dawa). Paul, Attila, Meagan and Martin are planning to leave the day after tomorrow (17th May). At the moment, they’re roughly aiming for a summit on 21st May – but of course, everything is subject to change. So needless to say, the atmosphere has picked up and everyone getting excited that the wait might soon be over. Along with this, everyone is madly charging batteries, checking equipment and getting packed up ready to go.
My Feelings about Climbing
Mark R asked about what I felt being back at basecamp and whether I had any desire to head back up the mountain and give it another go. It’s a good question and I guess my answer to this is not really. I don’t really consider myself to be a serious mountaineer – once was definitely enough for me. In fact, I still have a very vivid memory of my thoughts as I was making my way down from the summit to camp 4. I remember questioning what I was doing there, feeling so tired and thirsty, my feet aching and my whole body wanting to lie down and sleep in the snow. But most especially, I remember promising myself that I would never put myself through that again! In fact, I’m not sure that I’ll ever do any more serious mountaineering. I climbed Everest (and all the moutains I climbed previously) to see whether I could do it. I really enjoy being in nature, and while there are some amazing elements of climbing big mountains, there’s also a whole lot of risk, discomfort and pain involved. So as I no longer have the drive to climb as a personal challenge, the equation doesn’t really add up for me.
Having said that, I do think it would be useful for Paul if I went up to camp 2 with him. If it wasn’t for the icefall, I’d be very tempted to do this but looking at the icefall now, I’m glad I made the decision not to go up. Also, given that I haven’t done anywhere near as much training as Paul this year, I’d be a lot slower and would be holding him back. I’m very glad that Paul’s got a great group of people to climb with and I’ll be tracking his progress very closely from basecamp.
As Cherie says, its a fairly anxious environment here – and bound to become moreso as Paul and the other climbers go up soon. (Thanks for your message Cherie – look forward to catching up with you when we get home).
Filling in Time
Both today and yesterday I decided not to be so lazy and to go for a walk. Today’s walk took me up to Pumori Base Camp again – trekkers, you’ll be pleased to know that as soon as I reached the camp, it started snowing hard again! Must be something about that place. Anyway, I’ve quite enjoyed having a bit of solitude and zoning out by listening to my music. On today’s playlist was Dixie Chicks, Crowded House, Frank Sinatra and The Fray.
Hi Jac – I did take a bit of work with me – haven’t started it yet though. Maybe as I stay here longer and get more acclimatised I’ll feel more up to it.
Hi Mum, Beck, Julia, Liz, Denise and Cas, It’s great to hear that you made it down to Namche without any problems and that most of you managed to make it up Kala Pattar as well. We were wondering whether you would try this as the weather seemed to clear a bit in the afternoon. It was so great to have you along for the trek. I know Paul really appreciated your support and for me especially, it meant that the real wait only starts now rather than a few weeks ago. It was a fantastic trek in for me, so thanks everyone! Thanks for the update on Ang Nima – I’m sorry to hear that he’s still not well.
Hi Sarah – Thanks for your kind message. Don’t get us thinking about prime ribs though! Even though the food here is very good, there’s not much meat and what we do get is pretty tough (or canned!). So there’s already quite a lot of talk about the foods people miss from home (I know steak is high on Paul’s list, but yoghurt tops mine).
Hi Glenda – Thanks for your message and especially for keeping Nana up to date with Paul’s progress. Won’t be long now until you can see Mum and get her personal take on the whole thing.
Hi Liane and the QECVI kids – It’s a good idea about testing Paul with some trivia questions when he’s high on the mountain. Not so much to detect HACE, but more to assess whether his mental capacity is impaired (or by how much). Interestingly, last year NASA was hear doing a study on whether a deterioration in speech ability indicated reduced mental capacity (their hypothesis was that it did). So maybe I only need to assess whether Paul is speaking properly rather than asking him trivia questions.
Paul loved reading the Kite Runner too. He’s finished it now and is reading Mao’s Last Dancer, which he’s enjoying immensely. I’m reading Jane Fonda’s autobiography – which so far is really interesting. I always love a good biography. It seems as though there’s a lot of good books here so we won’t be going short.
WP – Thanks for your message. I think the boulders in the photo are granite but there are all kinds of rock up here. Beck studied geology and in her words the area is really “messed up”. There’s all kinds of stuff up here – slate, sandstone, granite,
conglomerate, quartz and more. Maybe when she gets back she’ll write more about it then.
Hi Maddi, DP and kids – Great to hear from you guys. Hope you enjoy Tassie and that we can catch up with you when we return.
Jeanette, Mama and all the Canadian contingent – Paul was thrilled to hear from you. Hope everyone is well over there.
Pete Struck – In answer to your question about whether it’s easier for Paul than last year, in some ways it is. We learnt a lot last year and Paul’s been able to improve his training significantly this year and feels a lot stronger than he did last year (see the training section on this website for details). He also has some additional pieces of gear which look like being pretty helpful. It’s also a big psychological help knowing the route exactly so that he knows what to expect and can pace himself properly.
Hi John and Mary, Great to hear from you guys as usual. Sounds like you’ve had a busy time recently with all the visitors and visiting. Mary, along the trek in we thought about you often, thinking that it would be a much more difficult time coming in alone as you did last year.
MC – You’re right, the climb last year was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not sure if I agree with the term BC wife though!
Well, that’s it for tonight. Hope everyone is well.