Neal Coming Down the Lhotse Face from Camp III
Urszula Descending the Five Ladder Section in the Icefall
Aren't We a Happy Team?
?I am boring?
6 May 2005
?I am boring?
One of our Sherpas, who?s English is actually quite good, announced ?I am boring? today. He meant that he was bored of course and that probably goes for most of the team. This doesn?t explain our lack of dispatches for the past four days, but you guys know how lazy we are. So here goes an attempt at catching everyone up on what?s been going on around here.
Many of you probably heard about the avalanche that swept through Camp I at 5:15 am local time two days ago. A large amount of snow and ice came off of the West Shoulder of Everest and completely destroyed all but one team?s camp at Camp I. We lost two tents and some personal gear, but were lucky that we didn?t lose anything that will keep us from going to the summit. Many teams helped in the rescue effort, either sending people up from Base Camp or down from Camp II depending on where the teams were on the mountain. The rescue was well organized, and by late afternoon all six individuals who were injured were in Base Camp. Two of them, a Sherpa and a Polish gentleman, are still under care in the medical tent and are waiting for the weather to clear so that they can be flown out by helicopter. Three of the climbers were planning on departing Base Camp this morning as one person on their team needs to have further tests done to determine the severity of possible kidney damage. We believe the sixth climber is working to recover and will still attempt to summit in a couple of weeks.
Most teams spent their mornings listening on the radio to the emergency channel to get updates on the rescue effort and hear if their friends up on the mountain were safe. One of the big challenges was determining how many people were actually at Camp I to make sure that no one was buried and unable to extract themselves from their tent. The other interesting story line of the day was that the Polish climber (who is recovering in the medical tent) was climbing without a permit and despite his bad condition was trying to get off the mountain without accepting any aide and although unsuccessful, was trying not to be noticed as he came back into Base Camp. There are rumors that he?s going to try to make a run for it one of these nights and sneak out of camp undetected, but thus far the Liaison Officers (representatives of the Nepali Government at Base Camp) have kept a close watch on him and are waiting for a helicopter to come in to transport him out. We are not exactly sure what his punishment will be for climbing without a permit due to the political instability in Nepal and the fact that even the smallest crimes are being punished with jail time at the moment.
One positive on the day was that it brought a lot of teams together and Base Camp has become a much more social scene since the incident. There is an incredible phobia around camp that any contact with other teams will cause you to get sick, so many camps have remained pretty insular. Most people are incredibly friendly at the higher camps, so you make many friends up on the mountain, but then are discouraged from seeing them at Base Camp to help reduce the spreading of germs. People are starting to relax a little bit though and one of the teams hosted a cocktail party last night (much to their Sherpa?s dismay) and there were about 5 teams represented. Our team went and had a great time relaxing and meeting some new people.
The weather has been bad for the last couple of days and is supposed to remain bad for another week or more. This has decreased the number of trips up and down the mountain and many climbers have finished their acclimatization climbs and are now just waiting for a good weather window with which to summit. We are in that boat and are finding it difficult to pass the days as we anxiously await our opportunity to summit. One team joked about chartering a flight to the Thai beaches for a couple of days and several teams are heading down below Base Camp to spend a couple of nights in thicker air and in the comforts of a Tea House. So far we are intending to stay at Base Camp, which we?ve built into quite a comfortable home and keep ourselves focused on the goal of our trip. Our Sherpas have stocked all of our camps up to the South Col with tents, food and oxygen and many of them are taking some incredibly well deserved time off to go visit their families before returning to Base Camp in about a week to help us with our summit push.
That is about all that?s going on around here. We?ll try to keep you better updated on our activities, but until the weather clears (the latest weather reports don?t show an improvement until about the 15th, but what do they know?) we?re here at Base Camp: eating, sleeping, reading books and resting. And most importantly the team is safe and healthy.
My favorite Sherpa sayings (these kind of rhyme when they say them and are only really said to the girls):
?Why not, coconut??
?Don?t worry, Chicken Curry?