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  Everest 2006: Fi and Paul: Weather talk at base camp


Location: Everest Base Camp
Altitude: 5350m
Local Time: 8pm, Sat 13th May
Weather: Cold & Snowy, Max 0C

Hi Everyone, it's Fi here,
With cold weather we've spent most of the day inside the dining tent chatting and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Strategising and Mind-Games
Now that we've finished our acclimatisation rotations, we're resting here to recuperate for a least a few more days. The atmosphere and talk has changed in nature to intense discussions on when the right time to summit will be. It seems that it is this stage of the trip where the mind-games begin with different theories floating around about when to go, when not to go, etc. Everyone has already been on this expedition for 6-8 weeks and it seems that many people's thoughts are turning to home and "when we'll get this darn thing done". But this is not a place for itchy feet and Paul and I are trying to exercise patience so that we can make our move at the right time (for us), rather than blow our chances too early.

Many people have already left for their summit push - making their earliest possible summit date the 17th May, with the high rope fixing planned for the 16th. The weather forecasts are currently saying moderate-highish winds speeds, but as this timeframe draws nearer, the forecasts seem to be becoming slightly more favourable. Although it did not seem to us as a particularly good weather window a couple of days ago, it may turn out to be perfect. We hope it turns out well for them.

Many others are still down-valley (some as far as Kathmandu), while others are about to head down for a few days in some lower villages.

At the moment, we are resting at base camp. Our Sherpas have gone down-valley to rest and visit with their families but will be back here on Tuesday, so the earliest we will be leaving is Wednesday (giving us 5 full days of rest). But of course, everything from there on depends on the weather.

Reading the Weather
Today we have spent some time looking at the current weather forecasts and learning how to read them. The main factor for the summit climb is the wind speed at the summit - as this largely determines the effective temperature. (The temperature is really the limiting factor as climbers would get frostbite at lower winds than they'd be able to climb in - something we're very keen to avoid!).

As there are no weather stations anywhere nearby, the forecasts are all based on satellite data and information from airplanes flying nearby. Although it seems that there is one core set of data, there are many different interpretations and hence many different weather forecasts - some which are freely available on the web, but most which are subscriber based. IMG subscribes to one particular forecast, but there are many rumors floating around base camp now and teams and individuals are paying close attention to each others movements.

When we have looked at past years, it seems that there has always been one or two very clear weather windows (even last year, although it was so late). So we're hoping this year will be the same. We certainly don't want to be going up if the conditions are not right.

Passing the Time
Someone asked how we pass the time aside from reading and listening to music. It's amazing, but time seems to have a different quality up here - I guess it might be to do with the altitude, but it's similar to when you go camping. As sad as it seems, at basecamp, our days tend to be structured around mealtimes. Every meal is a chance to get together with our fellow teammates and chat - sometimes we sit around talking so long that it's time for the next meal. Such was the case today as it is one of the least pleasant days outside. There is a practical purpose to this as well though - we are all trying to make sure that we're constantly well hydrated (usually having come off the mountain at least partically dehydrated).

Chores like having a shower or doing our laundry tend to take the best part of half a day. Sometimes there are other chores like gathering up food to take up the mountain on our next trip or fixing a piece of equipment that needs repairs. Aside from these things, we definitely do a lot more sleeping than we do at home. Someone asked if it was the standard 7-8 hours. Well, no - it's closer to 12 hours for most of us (5-6 would be normal for us at home). And that's if we don't take an afternoon nap! Although it sounds like a very simple life, I don't think anyone here is bored or looking for ways to pass the time faster.


Well, that's all for now - time for yet another meal.

Fiona

Updates

Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.

A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.

 






 

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