Everest Day 32, 16-May-2018: Relaxing in Everest Basecamp
After being up high for several days, today it was really nice to just relax around Basecamp.
Last night getting back to Basecamp after completing the Everest & Lhotse high double I was beyond tired. I was hoping to just crash and have a great night’s sleep but it was quite the opposite. I barely slept at all. I guess it takes a little while to wind down. What was really nice though was the warmth in the tent as the sun rose. I lay there till about 09:30 with the sleeping bag unzipped just enjoying the sun’s rays warming the tent.
The rest of the day we just lounged around Basecamp and did nothing. I jumped on Wi-Fi briefly to try and see what was happening in the real world but the connection here is terrible to actually get anything done. Apologies in advance to anyone who may have been trying to contact me and I have not replied. It will likely be a few days until I am back in normal communication range. Also had a shower and scrubbed off layers of dead skin which felt wonderful.
It hasn’t really sunk in that the 7 Summits is complete and that Project 7in4 is coming to an end. For so long I’ve been looking forward to going home. Now in a weird way I kind of don’t want to leave. Anyway, I have a few days trekking to enjoy first.
Everest Day 33, 17-May-2018: Everest Basecamp to Lukla
This morning Jon and I packed our kit in Basecamp, sent our expedition duffles ahead with porters and commenced the trek out. Our plan was to trek back to Lukla in 2 days. We were both keen to get a heli, particularly Jon, but we couldn’t justify the price.
Leaving Basecamp I was filled with mixed emotions. I had been looking forward to this moment for so long, looking forward to going home to my own bed. With all the delays and waiting over the past weeks however it seemed like it would never come. Then all if a sudden, almost within the blink of an eye, we were up, down, and heading out. It was a bit surreal, almost too quick in the end. To be leaving so early, especially while we still had friends up on the hill, was difficult. But we had done what we came here to do. It was time to leave.
We made our way slowly down to Gorek Shep where we stopped for an early lunch. While there a girl on an Everest Basecamp Trek walked in distressed and feeling unwell with the altitude. She wanted to get a helicopter back down the valley. Given her state, it wouldn’t have been right for Jon and I to let her go by herself, so we “reluctantly” arranged a helicopter and accompanied her back to Lukla.
Taking off at Gorek Shep there was think cloud and mist. Visibility would have been 30m to 40m, if that. The pilot kept very low, often no more the 10m off the deck, and crept slowly down the valley. While exhilarating, it was probably the most scared I’ve been this entire trip. The pilot was relaxed however and did an amazing job in the poor visibility.
We’re now back in Lukla. Back in the warm, thick air. Tomorrow hopefully we’ll fly to Kathmandu, weather permitting.
And for the record, I was more than happy walking out and actually last year walked the 62km from Basecamp to Lukla in one day. But the heli ride was a nice luxury.
Everest Day 34, 18-May-2018: Stuck in Lukla
Today we were hoping to get a flight back to Kathmandu but with thick cloud in the valley there were no fixed wing flights all day. And with a backlog of trekkers also waiting to try and get out after several days of canceled flights, it is unlikely we’ll get a flight tomorrow either, even if the weather is good. So if we want to get out we’ll have to pay extra for a heli, or be prepared to sit and wait for a few days.
All I want to do is go home right now.
Everest Day 35, 19-May-2018: Lukla to Kathmandu
Lukla again today was overcast and clouded in. A couple of fixed wing flights got in but nowhere near enough to clear the backlog of passengers trying to get out. There was no chance we were going to get on a flight so Jon started exploring heli options. Thankfully around midday a heli landed having medivac’d a couple of climbers off Everest. It stopped briefly in Lukla to refuel and Jon and I were able to jump aboard.
The security and safety with heli flights in this region never ceases to amaze me. People wondering around the helipad everywhere as helicopters are coming and going. Helicopters being refueled from plastic drums with a funnel pouring in the side. Fuel spilt all over the side of the helicopters and over the ground. No safety briefings (except “don’t touch that red lever, that’s the fuel kill line”). No seatbelts. Anyway, seems to work with surprisingly few incidents.
With the heli refueled Jon and I jumped onboard along with the two guys who were medivac’d off the hill and another Sherpa coming down.
Chatting with the Sherpa it turned out he was a member of the rope fixing team who fixed lines to the summit on the evening of the 13th May before we summited early on the 14th. It was a privilege to meet him and thank him and his team for all their work. Without the work of these guys very few of us foreigners would be able to climb.
Back at Kathmandu airport there was a bunch of journalists and cameramen waiting at the exit gate. I assumed they were here to get news on the guys being medivac’d, until they asked, “are you Steve?” It was a bit overwhelming being flocked at the gate.
Back at the hotel I had my first proper shower in over a month (excluding the basecamp weed sprayer which I don’t class as a proper shower). It felt so good.
Jon and I then went out to dinner and caught up with Adam and Rupert who had also just come down after summiting. Massive congrats to them. Now back in the hotel room getting ready to head back to Perth.
“Go with the decision that will make for a great story”.