Update: Thursday 28th April,
8pm. Everest Base Camp
(EST is 9 hours 45mins behind Nepal)
Diary by Harold Mah
Sean and his sherpa are
recovering in Dughla. They are both doing OK but plan to go on to Pheriche to
get medical advice before coming back up the mountain. They want to make sure
that they are receiving the best possible advice before proceeding.
Last night we had a dance
party in our mess tent to celebrate my return, which was kind of bizarre. We
had an eclectic mix of sherpa rock music, Nepali folk music and western rock
music and we all let our hair down, a bit. My new name, from the Sherpas, is
“Very happy, very strong”, and they take delight in grinning at me and calling
out my name. I think it was the warmest night I have experienced at Base Camp
because I managed to sleep without my gloves or toque for the first time.
Base Camp is very quiet. The
climbers are coming off the mountain after their first acclimatisation ascents
and are talking about the first summit window opening May 8th to 10th, in
about 11 days time. It’s an exciting and nervous time for everyone. The
acclimatisation schedule seems to be to ascend to Camp One, where you spend a
night, before having two nights at Camp Two, one night at Camp Three, one
night at Camp Two and one night back at Base Camp. Then you head back down the
mountain to Pheriche for what is called an “oxygen vacation” for a few days.
When the climbers return to Base Camp they are ready to ascend again,
hopefully all the way.
Today started as another
sunny and warm day and after a fantastic shower I managed to get my laundry in
hand, along with quite a few other climbers who had also returned off the
mountain. We laid our clothes out on the rocks to dry in the midday sun, just
before a snow storm swept in and covered us all in two to three inches of
fresh snow. Consequently all my clean clothes are now covered in snow and
frozen to the rocks! Unlike other days, this snow has not melted but hopefully
it will and the clothes will thaw and dry before I need them.
It turns out that when we
descended yesterday we missed a big collapse in the Khumbu Ice Fall when some
of the seracs collapsed. Seracs are large isolated blocks of ice and when they
dropped everyone was running helter-skelter for cover. No one was hurt, thank
goodness, but one of the ladders that we’d previously descended was now
hanging three feet clear of the ice, indicating the size of the fall a little
while after we passed. The Ice Fall is a highly unpredictable part of the
mountain and everyone is just pleased when they get through it safely.
A new party of climbers has
appeared at Base Camp intent on climbing Lhotse, which at 27,939 feet (8,516m)
is the fourth highest mountain in the world. Lhotse is connected to Everest by
the South Col, a ridge that never drops below 26,200 feet (8,000metres) and
it’s no less daunting than Everest.
Will Cross, the diabetic
mountaineer who injects himself with insulin six times a day as he climbs up
the higher parts of Everest borrowed one of my DVDs tonight – Vertical Limit,
which is about a mountain rescue on K2. I guess he was just getting himself in
In an earlier blog, I
reported that Willie Benegas was part of a shadowy group tangled up with
hijacking and ransoming expedition mascots. I am happy to report that both the
penguin and the giraffe have been returned to their homes, none the worse for
wear, although I’m unable to tell you what ransoms were paid.
Thank you to all the people
who have sent us emails – I managed to read them all today – from family and
friends, to the school in Sherbrooke, Quebec to the folk in South Carolina,
Eire and Taiwan. We don’t know everyone but we really appreciate all your
messages of support and goodwill.
More later, Harold
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