Everest Day 20, 04-May-2018: Day in Basecamp
I was really hoping for an early Everest summit window but doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Jon and I are acclimatised, fit* and ready to go. We just need things to come together with rope fixing and weather. Until then we’re playing the waiting game.
Today was just spent in Basecamp. Cleaned my tent, did a bit of personal admin, watched a movie this evening, generally killing time. I’m developing an irritating sore throat and cough which I’m trying to manage. The joys of these high altitude expeditions.
*Fit is a relative term. After months on the road, poor nutrition, strenuous days, high altitude, tent living, battling minor ailments, etc., our bodies are constantly depleting but we’re “relatively” fit.
Everest Day 21, 05-May-2018: Another Day in Basecamp
I can almost start cut and pasting my daily updates. Wake up, have breakfast, do a bit of cleaning/washing, have lunch, have a nap, have dinner, watch a movie, play cards, go to bed…. Welcome to Basecamp life!
So yeah, I felt pretty shit again today so did nothing, much the same as yesterday. Problem is it becomes circular. You feel like shit so you rest. You rest too much which makes you feel like shit. You feel like shit so you rest…. and so the cycle continues. I do need to get out of it. Maybe I’ll wake up and do something tomorrow. Or then again, maybe I’ll wake up, feel like shit and rest…..
Throughout all the climbs to date I’ve been motivated to try and train on rest days, to try and do whatever I can to keep my strength and fitness up. Now with the end in sight, I just want to get up, get down and get home. These continuing delays are killing me. And unfortunately based on the current forecast we may still be waiting for some time yet. There are strong winds up high at least through to the 10th so no summit window in that time.
I was desperately hoping for an early summit opportunity on Everest, something early May. Being the last of the 7 Summits, as soon as I get up the clock stops so the earlier the better. Every day I sit and wait now is another day I lose. Early May has now come and gone and with it the days on my 7 Summits clock keep ticking by. I need to try and remain patient and just be in a position to give it a shot at the earliest possible chance. Easier said than done.
Everest Day 22, 06-May-2018: Another Day in Basecamp, the Wait Continues
The weather forecast still has no good news so it is just a case of sit and wait, again.
Today I decided to stop moping around basecamp feeling sorry for myself and went for a walk up Kala Pattar. It was my 3rd time up this trip and lucky 13th in total since I first came here. It actually felt pretty good. I purposefully backed the pace off a bit, kept the heart rate down and breathing under control while I try and recover from whatever has been plaguing me the past few days. But taking it easy I was still up in 39min and felt really comfortable.
Back down from Kala Pattar I stopped in at Gorek Shep and jumped on the Wi-Fi for a while. The Wi-Fi at Basecamp is very intermittent and expensive so I avoid using it. It just makes me more frustrated than anything else. With semi-reasonable WiFi at Gorek Shep I downloaded emails and jumped on social media which I haven’t done for a while.
Sitting at Gorek Shep reviewing posts to my Facebook page I was overwhelmed by all the messages of support. I guess I’ve been living in my own little bubble, focusing on preparing for the climb ahead and semi-detached from everything back home. But seeing all the videos and messages of support which family and friends from around the world have been posting over the past days was truly humbling. Some even almost brought a tear to my eye (as hard as that is to admit publicly). I’ve been on the road for several months now and while it has been an amazing journey, there is so much I miss at home. There is so much I just want to get back to.
For now I stay squarely focused on getting up and down this mountain. I just hope the weather starts playing ball so that we’ll get a shot at it sooner rather than later.
Everest Day 23, 07-May-2018: Another Day in Basecamp, Another Day Waiting
It is a real shame to have come this far, to have completed the first six climbs in such quick succession and now to be stuck here waiting. But I guess that’s the nature of the beast. That’s the mountains.
I don’t know how long this wait will continue for. The days down at Basecamp have been idyllic; warm, sunny and light winds. But up high we can see the spindrift being ripped off the mountain peaks with the wind. It is that wind up high which we need to abate before the amazing rope fixing Sherpa team can do their job and before we can contemplate a summit attempt. Until then, we wait.
Today Jon and I headed down to Gorek Shep mid-morning to enjoy the heated teahouse and good Wi-Fi. I can’t believe I’m actually calling it “good” Wi-Fi. It is still painfully slow, but compared to the Wi-Fi in Basecamp it is lightning fast, and less than half the price. Worth the 1hr walk each way.
While down in Gorek Shep I ducked up Kala Pattar again. 4th time for this trip and counting. 36min today from bottom to top. A bit better than yesterday but still room for improvement.
We got back to Basecamp mid-afternoon in time for cheese and crackers, a few games of monopoly cards and then dinner. The guys really turned it on with dinner tonight. A chicken casserole thing with pasta and potato chips. One of the better meals of the trip so far. Full complements to the chef. The chicken casserole in particular was superb, and it actually had nice tender pieces of chicken in it, as opposed to malnourished skin and bone which is more common. Although dessert was the standard semi heated, luke warm, tinned fruit. What I would do for a nice piece of fresh chilled fruit right now. Although I have a feeling I’ll be waiting till I get back to Australia for that.
And finally – the plan for tomorrow…. Another day of waiting.
Everest Day 24, 08-May-2018: Still in Basecamp! Still waiting!
At the end of all this, if anyone asks me what was the hardest thing about climbing the 7 Summits was, my answer will have to be “waiting”. It is absolute torture. The worst part is knowing that if the weather had cooperated and given us an early summit window I could almost be home by now. I could almost be tasting a nice medium rare steak with a perfectly match bottle of red, a nice bowl of ice cream and my own bed. And yet I am still here, still waiting.
Today was almost identical to yesterday: Breakfast; lazy morning; walk to Gorek Shep; up and down Kala Pattar; sit in the teahouse in Gorek Shep and utilise Wi-Fi; walk back to Basecamp; dinner; and bed. At least it fills the days. I did manage 34min 27sec up Kala Pattar today which was a bit better than yesterday, but still not quite as good as my best time last year.
I know I shouldn’t complain. I know I should be cherishing every moment I get to spend in this remarkable environment. After all, it is not every day you get to walk up a hill and enjoy one of the best views of Everest and the surrounding Himalayas, but for me at the moment I just want to get this little project finished and get home.
But don’t worry. I will see this through. There is no way I am pulling the pin now. However time is running out to achieve my personal goal of 7in4. For that, to complete the 7 Summits in under 4 months, I need to summit Everest by 15th May. I have a bit more time after that to still squeeze in the world record but my personal goal was, and still is 7in4. I thought we would do it easy but it is now starting to get very tight.
So what’s on the cards for tomorrow? Most likely another lap of Kala Pattar…..
Everest Day 25, 09-May-2018: And Still in Basecamp! And Still Waiting!
Last night we had the most terrific thunderstorm. The first couple of rumbles almost sounded like one of the numerous avalanches / icefalls we get each day (which we’re almost desensitised too), but then it became a bit too frequent and I realised it was something different. Then the lightning flashes started. It was like someone was shining a flashlight on the tent. The whole tent would glow orange then plunge back into darkness. At its peak, the gap between the lightning and the thunder was only about 1sec indicating it was very close.
In the morning we woke to a beautiful white covering of snow over everything. It was a nice change from the usual grey, rocky terrain with underlying ice.
With another day of waiting I had breakfast then headed off for my usual lap down to Gorek Shep and up Kala Pattar. I think it’s my 6th time so far this trip. I’m losing count.
At Gorek Shep I tried logging onto the Wi-Fi at one of the teahouses but it was down. I went around every teahouse and it was down everywhere. Back at Basecamp the Wi-Fi was down there as well. Maybe it had something to do with the thunderstorm last night. I don’t know. Anyway, if anyone was expecting any messages / emails from me, that’s why I nothing came through.
Moving forward, it looks like the winds up high may be dropping off soon. But then there is still the matter of rope fixing as well. So still not exactly sure of our plans for the next few days, but tomorrow morning Jon and I will head back up to Camp 2. At least there we are one day closer to the action.
“Go with the decision that will make for a great story”.