Update: Friday 22nd April,
9pm. Everest Base Camp
(EST is 9 hours 45mins behind Nepal)
A day in the life at Base
Camp Diary by Harold Mah
You may be wondering what this strange life is like at Base Camp.
Well, we’re basically camping on top of a large block of ice. The ground is a
mixture of rock, dirt and ice. Nothing is flat, apart from the area that has
been cleared for each tent and when you walk around you slip and slide
everywhere. As the air temperature warms up, the ice melts, the water runs
around and the rocks roll free, making it even more awkward to go anywhere.
At night in my tent (Sean and I have our own tents) the temperature dips to
minus 5 degrees; in the morning when I wake up it’s plus 38 degrees.
Consequently, I am always late for breakfast, which is at 8.30am, because I’m
enjoying being warm for once during the day. After breakfast, Sean and I do a
workout of some sort – either a hike or some technical climbing. We’ll stop
for lunch, which is always good and plentiful. If we request something, it
seems these amazing sherpas can make it! We’ve had birthday cakes, chocolate
brownies and pizza!
Today, I went in to the Pinnacles, which is an area of waves of ice that have
come off the glacier. It’s like a giant scavenger hunt as you find all sorts
of debris from earlier expeditions. The guy I was hunting with found a letter
from a 1963 expedition which was still intact!
In the afternoon we’ll do another workout, we may chat with some of the other
teams or we may work on our technology – like recharging batteries, writing
reports or backing up data over the HP ProCurve system, which still works
well, despite the harsh conditions. We heard news that our replacement cable
is now making its way up the mountain (via Yak Express) and should be here on
Monday which will allow us to set up our satellite link and move data back to
Ottawa. The first cable was damaged in the huge wind storms we had when we
first got here.
Sean got checked by a doctor today. He’s OK and in good health but has been
put on some medication to help him with the acid reflex.
Late afternoon, 4-6pm, seems to be a quiet time for the whole camp. People are
around but they’re huddled in their tents, dozing, reading and writing. The
camp gets busy again for dinner, which is at 7pm and there is yet more food!
Sean and I eat together in the dining tent and usually invite others over, or
we’ll go visiting, and after dinner we will sit around and chat, or watch DVD
movies on someone’s laptop. People start to drift off to bed around 8.30pm/9pm
and you can always tell when they’re going because they fill up their water
bottles with hot water to use as sleeping bag warmers, before they climb in to
The toilet is basically a large bucket set in among the rocks. It has a
privacy screen, so it’s quite private, but we’re not talking flush toilets
here. Now that all the trekkers have gone, it’s a little more bearable. The
shower tent is not that bad at all, although it’s best to use it in the
morning, when the air temperature is a little warmer.
The view is one of white, snow covered mountains and grey soulless rocks and
slopes. We had another inch of snow today which covered the ground but it soon
melted in the warm sun. There’s very little natural colour here, other than
the blue sky. The Base Camp tents make up for the greyness with their
patchwork of yellow, orange and green and the multi-coloured prayer flags that
are strung between them flap and billow in the wind as if they’re conversing
with their gods. If I miss anything though (apart from my girlfriend) it’s a
Once the climbing starts again all this routine will change. We will go up the
mountain on Sunday, weather permitting, and everything will go in to high
gear. Everyone is waiting.
We are very thankful for what we have been sent– emails from family, friends,
people we know and even people we don’t know. Thank you. We are deeply touched
that so many people are thinking of us.
More later Harold
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