Houston, we have countdown!
The climbing team is sleeping at Camp 3, with the rarest of calm clear weather in the very near future!
One more of the climbers has had to retreat, the effects of altitude and harsh conditions taking its toll, but 11 climbers are sleeping at Camp 3 (24,000 feet).
While we sleep tonight in North America, they will wake and push to camp 4 at 26,000 feet (8,000 meters) where they will spend a horrid night in cold that is close to indescribable. They will use all means at their disposal, such as battery powered electric heaters for their feet, to give them the best chance to summit. They will have high altitude dreams in which they will endure hallucinations and the most vivid and bizarre dreams of their life including a repeating sense of suffocation, usually awaking with gasps, realizing their bodies have stopped breathing. It is an experience high altitude climbers know comes with the territory, foreign for all but a very few in this world. It is living on the edge of the death zone, the altitude where you cannot get enough oxygen and you are in fact not able to stay more than hours, and counting every minute until you can get back down where your body can begin to recover.
For the climbers though, Camp 4 marks but a short passage of partial rest before the long push for the summit. That starts often through the labors of night with the need to have reached the peak early in the morning to guarantee enough time to get back down before the sun drops down in the day and the wicked cold returns.
It is countdown time, with all the complexities of a Space Shuttle launch, everything comes down to preparation, planning, and quite frankly a little bit of karma and a whole lotta luck.
Godspeed. Read the up to the minute story and follow the GPS tracking up EVEREST !!!