Flying back to EBC on 5-10-16 was lots of fun. We got to work with a pilot who has a certain… flare for the unexpected. Apparently we were a bit on the heavy side, even after our group was divided into two, and this made for some spicy maneuvering over the Khumbu Glacier, but of course we set down without a hitch.
It feels great to be back here. Very reassuring to be with the rest of the team, and enjoyable to catch up with them. A big snowstorm had moved through the evening of 5-9-16, so when we landed everything was cloaked in pure, beautiful white snow. Everything seemed to be new again.
But, the mountain was not ready to welcome us back. Climbing Everest involves knowing everything you can about weather conditions aloft… Remember, the summit touches the jet stream, if it is in the neighborhood, and summit winds above 50 knots per hour are not unusual. That is just not safe (and not fun) for us.
Usually we climb when the jet stream pitches up north of the mountain, in response to high pressure air masses over the Bay of Bengal. As of now, the jet stream is still making that migration north, and will soon touch the summit again. We simply do not know when conditions will be favorable for a summit attempt, but I assure you we will not leave EBC until the forecasts look good. Not for a window lasting for a few hours, but truly good and solid and safe. Our leadership here is the best in the business—Ang Jangbu and Greg Vernovage know exactly what they are doing. Our guides Justin Merle and Emily Johnston are superb and champing at the bit. Our Sherpa climbing partners are simply phenomenal, not only hyper-strong but also endlessly cheerful and helpful and optimistic.
You will read about others having summited already, or summiting before we go up there. We are genuinely happy for them. Everyone has a slightly different formula they use to decide when to pull the trigger. I am very, very happy with IMG’s formula.
So… we wait. We eat. We hydrate. We sleep. We walk. We shower. We watch the avalanches thunder down Nuptse. We listen to the glacier creak and groan beneath our tents. We dream of hitting the drones with stones–or worse. We repeat the process. Day after day. For as long as it takes. Cabin fever is a real risk, but the view really does help. Only a handful of people will ever get to live here, even if briefly. And, we greatly appreciate your email messages, etc. Thank goodness we have robust net access…. this allows me to keep in close touch with home, which is like a boost to my soul every time.
I am fit and well… just the tiniest amount of sinus discharge, and a rare dry cough a couple of times per day. My chest wall is almost pain free. My legs are thin (I have probably lost 20 pounds so far), but still strong. It does not get to look any better than this. If we can keep our focus, and stay on target, we will be ready to move up the mountain when conditions are ripe.
Wish I could tell you when that will happen. I can’t… both because the weather changes all the time, and because we do not broadcast our departure plans. As a leader in the field, IMG’s every move is scrutinized by the competition, and if other teams know we are going up, it could trigger a stampede of sorts.
Thus, this may well be my last blog entry for the next couple of weeks. Know that we are all well here, and all raring to go. If things happen as we anticipate, I will send a message from the summit, and then again when we are safely down. Please follow the IMG blog for details, it is a great source of info.
And… thanks for following us. I just got some statistics on the blog, and was stunned to see that almost 3,000 people are following it—that is amazing, and far exceeds the 25 folks I would have predicted. Your interest and support are golden to us, I assure you.
Concept of the day: Stay the Course!