After our first foray into the icefall, we have two days in EBC to rest, recouperate, and relax. Camps 1 and 2 are being built by teams of sherpa, who have done an incredible job of ferrying loads up through the icefall, night after night, for the last few days, now that the weather has stabilized. This is one way in which climbing Everest is different from most any other mountain I have climbed: So much of the work is done for us. The route, the camps, the cooking, resupply… all done by the sherpa guides, porters, and support staff. We are incredibly grateful for their hard work. Of course, this is their profession, one that pays better than most in Nepal. But, we still appreciate their effort and good cheer. Speaking on behalf of myself, I know this climb would not happen for me without them.
Thinking about other climbs, such as Denali, the comparison seems stark. On Big D we hauled everything for the trip (kit ~120 lbs each), built camp, and rebuilt it when the wind knocked down the snow walls. Here, things are much more civilized and supported. Filthy, freezing, stifling, painful, austere, savage… but still civilized and supported in many ways. As my friend JR says, going up Everest nowadays is more analogous to running a race on a course that has been set ahead of time than an expedition. He has a good point. Being here certainly feels like a marathon of endurance and stamina, as we try to maintain fitness and enhance our conditioning, but in many ways get worn down bit by bit, day after day, week after week.
Anyhow, these two days off are golden. Sleep, food, hygiene, and trying to connect with the outside world (usually in vain due to the very sketchy nature of net connectivity here. I’m not complaining, but it does feel as though EverestLink should give us our $50 back). Laundry! A hot shower! And sweet, sweet rest.
During lunch on 4/22 we resolved to go ice climbing for fun, just for a few hours, to keep the blood moving ahead of tomorrow’s climb to C1. I dutifully went off to my tent and got changed into climbing clothes, then went outside and waited for the others. And waited. And waited some more. Turns out I missed the subsequent announcement that there would be team photos at 3 PM, so our plans were dashed. Kim had a fun time photographing me in my fine & fancy outfit. What is wrong with her?
Plan tomorrow is for another early morning start, this time staying at C1 for two nights, then two nights at C2 before returning to EBC. Rumor has it there are some tall ladders above the football field we have not yet seen….