Tags: Mount Everest
As you read this, I am attempting to summit Everest.
Via the North Face.
This is the fourth in a series posts dispatched from the slopes of Mt. Everest, leading to his planned ascent on or about May 19th.
I returned to Base Camp (BC) yesterday (Saturday) evening after 7 days on Mt. Everest. We departed last Saturday morning and hiked to Interim Camp (IC) at 18,000’. My acclimatization is apparently working as the 7 mile trip (3,000’ elevation gain) took me 3 hours and 25 minutes (almost an hour faster than the first time I attempted this hike). I arrived at IC and after getting settled in my tent, I went to the dining tent (we have separate, larger dinning tents at BC, IC and Advanced Base Camp (ABC)). Since arriving at IC, I had been patting myself on the back over the speed in which I arrived there. I went inside the dinning tent and met a trekking group that was hiking to ABC. One of the group’s members was a 110lb woman from France (Lawrence). Her friend happened to be speaking to another of the group’s members and mentioned that Lawrence had completed the same hike in 3 hours and 7 minutes. I congratulated Lawrence on the speed in which she completed the hike and she assured me that, “the second time you try the hike, you’ll be much faster too…”
It snowed all night and after breakfast we departed for ABC into a driving head wind and 10 inches of standing snow. After almost 2 ½ hours of hiking and approximately an hour from ABC, I needed to take a rest, get a drink of water and eat a Powerbar. I cleaned the snow off of a rock, pulled my coat/hood around me and sat down drinking and eating with frozen hands. We had left our winter, climbing boots at ABC so I sat there whining to myself about my light, La Sportiva trekking boots, medium weight Smartwool socks and my accompanying numb and frozen toes: picture me sitting on a rock, snow whipping around me entering every open crack in my clothing, talking out loud about how miserable I am and how frozen and painful my toes and fingers are. After five minutes of sitting and complaining, a Sherpa comes walking over the small hill to my left, whistling. The Sherpa was carrying a backpack three times the size of my own, had no gloves and was wearing a baseball cap and Salomon trail running sneakers with no socks… And I repeat, he was w- h- i- s- t- l- i- n- g, whistling!!!
It reminded me that a) toughness is a relative term and b) no matter how tough you think you are, be confident that there are at least 10 people (and 100 Sherpas) who are tougher…
Like my second hike to IC, I completed the hike to ABC (6 miles and 3,000’ elevation gain) almost an hour faster than my first attempt (of course, I was looking behind me the entire hike ensuring that I was kicking Lawrence’s butt)!
After four days at ABC, Diula, a climbing Sherpa and I departed ABC on Friday morning at 5AM and climbed the almost 3,000’ vertical feet to The North Col/ Camp 1 in 5 hours (See Attached Photo: Diula and I, North Col in Background). The climb was challenging and steep (See Attached Photo: Up and Higher), but within my physical and mountaineering capabilities. Admittedly, I did require more than one break during our ascent…(See Attached Photo: A Needed Rest). Further, Diula is like American Express: do not leave home without it… He is a foot shorter and weighs 50lbs less than me, but is just a monster in the mountains. I can only hope that eventually my mountaineering skills will resemble his own.
Shortly after arriving at Camp 1 (See Attached Photo: The North Col), I forced myself to eat two packets of noodle soup and stowed the gear that I will be using higher on the mountain during our summit push/climb. I was also able to shoot off a few emails (but when you only have connectivity by figuratively standing on one leg, sticking your bb up in the air and waving it around while at the same time having to bend over due to lack of oxygen- emails don’t seem very necessary). For dinner, I had another packet of soup and then went to sleep at 7PM. Other than a midnight bathroom visit, I slept through the night till 5AM Saturday morning. I had no altitude headaches and although my appetite was small, it was better than most when arriving at 24,000’. Typically, you would prefer to spend 2 nights at North Col/Camp 1 prior to your summit push, but with bad weather blowing in and no altitude sickness related symptoms, Diula and I returned to ABC on Saturday morning in approximately 2 hours. I then had a quick breakfast and continued the 13 mile hike back down to Base Camp.
I arrived back at Base Camp at approximately 4PM Saturday afternoon and after dinner and a long night’s rest, I awoke this morning and enjoyed my first shower in 10 days: a bucket of hot water and a bowl to scoop the water out of the bucket on to myself, soap/shampoo and then rinse with the remaining water… heaven!
In speaking with an Austrian team that is collocated with us at BC, it appears that there might be apossible weather window to attempt a summit bid on May 16th- 17th. If that is the case, we will be relaxing and recovering here at BC until Tuesday, May 11th or Wednesday, May 12th before beginning our ascent. Prior to starting our ascent of Chomolungma, I will send another dispatch to update everyone on our final plan for summiting Mt. Everest.
I hope everyone continues to be good team leaders and good teammates and prepares themselves everyday to fill either role.
“The proper function of man is to live… not to exist.” – Jack London