On the north, the ropes are fixed to 7900m or Camp 2 but most of the teams seem stuck at ABC by high winds. Not unusual for the north side.
On the south, many teams have spent a few nights as high as Camp 2, the same altitude as ABC on the north, but they are spread all over the mountain. Kurt Wedberg posted some nice pictures, this time from the Western Cwm. You can get a feel for some of the ladders and crevasse danger there.
Many teams have spoken of the high winds at Camp 2 on the South. This is not unusual and seems to be a regular occurrence in late April. It can be dangerous so most climbers simply hunker down in their tents, iPods turned up to drown out the constant roar. Sometimes even in a -40F sleeping bag, you feel the spindrift seep through the nylon. It can be very unsettling. Many teams are now using mesh nets to keep the tents secure.
.. it was a scene of devastation, all the tents, the cook tent and mess tent had been blown down over night. The poor Cook and his assistant had taken shelter at a neighbouring camp, but even that team had lost most of their tents.
Climbing to Eat
As the teams are now in their full rotation cycles, they are beginning to feel the impact of losing weight. It is not uncommon for an Everest climber to lose 15 – 25lbs (6.8-11.3kg) over the entire climb. On a normal day climbing from EBC to a higher camp they will burn 7,000 or more calories and on summit day it will rage above 15,000. There is no physical way to replace those calories during the day.
One of our young British climbers, Matthew Thornton talks of his eating habits while still at EBC:
Climbers can eat well at Base Camp and it is so important they do prior to climbing higher up the mountain. Appetite decreases and thus weight loss is not uncommon. There are cooks at each of the camps up the mountain and they do an amazing job of feeding everyone well. I must be a creature of habits and once I like a meal I can eat the same for days. My breakfast usually consists of cornflakes/porridge, omelette and eggs. Ciabatta bread is a good base for lunch and then kebabs for evening meal. Fresh vegetables miraculously appear about twice a week but I do not see the Pringles coming up the mountain with them!
At the higher camps, the climbers eat as many carbohydrates as possible with most teams having a full time cook at Camp 1, aka ABC, on the south and ABC on the north. But honestly, it is difficult to get food down. One sign of good acclimatization IS the ability to get food down and hydration is the key. Even at rest climbers need to drink as much as possible throughout the day and night thus the criticality of the pee bottle!
There is fresh meat on occasion with many teams boasting of Yak Sizzler or Chicken Sizzler – yes they are served on an iron plate and they are, well, sizzling The cooks are quite proud and I’m sure have one ear directed towards the dinning tent listening for the ohs and ahs! Often they will come into the dining tent for a well deserved round of applause.
On this note, I wanted to make note that these teams are becoming family now. It has been over a month since they left home and even with the marvels of base camp Internet and sat phone calls home, it is tough. So they bond to one another. These are intense environments and test every person’s personal coping, and people skills. For some, this will be the beginning of life long friendships.
Memories are everything