Stardate April 8, 2011.
Sorry for the weak “good morning Vietnam and startrek “ references but somehow they fit. Base camp is EPIC, base camp is huge, it is inspiring, it is frightening, it is friggin cold and windy. It is NOT a honeymoon destination. The best views of Everest are actually not at base camp at all. At base camp you see the glacier you have to climb…and it goes over a ridge and disappears. To see Everest, go to Kalla Pattar 2hrs away and climb that.
Sleeping at Base camp is an honor to say the least and one to last a lifetime. Our site is carved out of the glacier and the sound at night is surreal as you hear the popping, squeak and clicks as the glacier moves ever so gently. When you put up your tent you are constantly adjusting it as it will move ever so slightly. Avalanche thunder can be heard throughout the day and night as mini avalanches happen all around the base camp bowl and you can hear them, but rarely see them as they echo often off the opposite of the bowl. The night….a balmy 15-20 degrees F. Brrrr…sleeping on 2 pads on ice…still brrrr…
First night at EBC:
Ugh, got AMS (altitude sickness). Acclimitized to 16,000 ft no problem but in the am after sleeping at our last stop before EBC I woke up with the famous migraine. Hard to explain, easy to empathsize anyone who has dealt with it. At base camp it was horrid and the team lead agreed I should get onto Diamox to blunt the symptoms. Next AM, headache muted but am wiped out…feel like a cardiac patient….being winded from just walking 3 steps. You know those movies of people climbing Everest and they are stepping so slow….gotta tell you…that is FLYING. I was doing it 10,000 lower!
Anyway, pills, no activity, had to choke down cauliflower and a couple forkfuls of spaghetti, cause appetite is gone in altitude. Restless sleep if you can call it that, more like passive resting and trying to sleep. Next morning is a puja ceremony for the buddists to bless the trekkers, climbers, staff and equipment. The Sherpas take these blessings amazingly seriously. They built a stumpa (buddist alter) and did the ceremony. Interesting enough chang (rice beer) Is a part of the ceremony so everyone is nice lubricated by the end of it! PS…altitude and alcohol and I do not mix…I will be nearly 3 weeks without a touch. I think that might be a record since high school!
I skipped climbing kalla pattar to opt for rest. Good choice as those that went slogged through driving snow and 40+ mph winds to see absolutely nothing at the top except snow.
Now looking at 3- 10+ hour days trekking back what it took us 9 to get here. BRUTAL! My goal has been met and its time to get on down the valley and homeward bound. Cant wait for some rich air.
Interestingly, Tim, the trip guide said I have the physiology to summit. My resting pulse near base camp was under 60, and my O2 sats were hovering between 89-92 which at EBC levels are very rare and in fact better than many of the climbers. He suggested giving it some thought. Ok, thought over. Nope. Craig Law will not be attempting to summit Everest. Those climbers were FLYING up the valley at 5x my speed and just because I have good scores…there is so much I would have to consider. First is being brutally cold. Been there, done that, earned the T-shirt in Kayaking. Left that behind along with the propensity for cold hands and feet from now on….nope, not a good idea in my mind. Then there is being away for 2 months. Nope. Cant do it. This trip is 3 and I am climbing the walls to be home. Maybe Killamenjaro, Those who have climbed it says it is 10x easier than getting to base camp. Cool, I can dig that. For that though I don’t want to be alone. I want to share the experience with my wife who wants to go. That is..after visiting the polar bears.
Trip down the valley- heading down
It was a tearful goodbye and my message to each climber was….do the family proud, make it to the summit but more importantly, make it back.
According to our trip leader, this is the coldest and worst weather since he has been coming to base camp almost 30 years ago. I liken it to karma giving me a tast of what Ed Hillary dealt with on his summit bid and first successful summit. It only fits that we set off if snow. Like what we dealt with for days all the way back to Namche. Now in Feraschaie (sp) for a quick night sleep (again in heat less accomodations) Nepalese don’t heat much and none of the teahouses have had heat. Have I mentioned the primary toilet is an Asian (ie squatting) toilet. Have I mentioned no flush. In the nicer places, they had a barrel of water to help flush the toilet. Have I mentioned I have gone thru 3 hand santizers bottles yet?...LOL
Day 2. Ferachaise to Namche.
Long 8+hour day and up and down thousands of feet to reach Namche. Now here. Tomorrow is an equally brutal day to Lukla. From that point on the gods rule the trip. The flights out of Lukla are a real concern since with all the snow, and the requirement of visual flight rules for this flight, one cloud across the pass cancels flights. It was not until today that we have seen many trekkers heading up the valley and we are one of a few heading down again. That is if you do not count the guy on the horse who had an altitude stroke, eyes crossed barely able to hold on heading for a steep part of the trail. Or the doctor staggering while leading family members up the trail. Our trip leader tried to warn them “even doctors die. He is not well” or the Japanese family heading up the valley in oxygen masks. Pray they don’t run out before the flights back out or they are in for a world of hurt!
Here is the Expedition blog, so after my blog is finished (or if you want to be schizophrenic and follow both) you can see my peeps and their attempts at climbing the biggest mountain in the world. Myself, I am wistfully dreaming of getting a chance to eat sushi at Narita airport but is no longer on my current itinerary.
More to come..but internet is flaky so we'll see if this even posts!