Mid April is always a milestone for the spring Everest climbers. One by one they are arriving at base camp on both sides of the mountain. It looks like the first member rotations will start in about a week on the Nepal side, perhaps earlier. The Sherpas are already making carries into the Western Cwm. Base Camp is quickly coming together on the Tibet side.
The weather seems to have calmed a bit with less rain than 10 days ago but still weather is weather. As Brian Palmer said on his Facebook feed, “My home for the next 4-6 weeks. Not too bad for living at 18,000 feet. Roasting during the day and freezing at night.” He is with Maddison Mountaineering. To see everyone’s progress, check out the location table which I update a few times a day with headlines.
I like this picture from Adventure Consultants of the team in their dining tent. Note the full plates and happy faces. Ang Dorge Sherpa is at the first table with his AC cap on. He was with me on my first attempt of Everest in 2002 and it was his brother, Kami Sherpa whom I summited with in 2011 and also on K2.
Another photo I like from this week was from EverestER, the non-profit organization that provides health care for locals and foreigners at base camp. This image captures what it takes to build base camp on the Nepal side. Remember that base camp sits on the Khumbu Glacier and is literally rock and ice. It takes a huge amount of work with picks and shovels to clear enough space to pitch the tents. They posted “We’ve seen 21 patients already and are geared up for the season as climbers continue to arrive and basecamp springs into a small city.”
We Need More Ladders!
IMG is doing a great job of posting interesting updates including this one about the Icefall and the Western Cwm:
35 Sherpa also set out from Everest Base Camp early this morning and made it into Camp 2. The Icefall continues to be in good condition and the Sherpa Team reports that above Camp 1 it is an “interesting route”. Just above Camp 1 they crossed the 2X3 section ladders and then further up the Western Cwm, there is an area we are calling the ice cliff. This is a steep section that we will need to work through as a team, as the route gets fine-tuned.
Route to Camp 2 is completed. Earlier it was expected to put 9 ladders joints to cross a big crevasse but Icefall doctors used 3 joint ladders and 2 joints ladders to cross two different crevasses.
Over time the Western Cwm is becoming more difficult to navigate. I fell in a crevasse outside of C1 in 2002. Thanks to my teammates and walking roped up (not to a fixed line) they pulled my sorry butt out of the crack. In talking to Russell Brice a couple of years ago, he feels that at some point the Cwm will become too dangerous to cross and everyone will either have to use helicopters to reach Camp 2 or abandon the route all together. In any event, it’s clear that the route is changing.
While the media and others want to make Everest climbers out to be egotistical and in it for selfish pursuit, for most it’s a lifetime dream. Michel Lutz, climbing from the Tibet side with Furtenbach Adventures, posted last month along with a photo of his gear at home, “3/4/18: Finally my Everest adventure is about to start. Following my childhood dream – being on top of the world’s highest mountain. The last 2 years have been filled with so many training struggles and sacrifices – happy to finally stand at the starting line.” Today he posted this picture of him at Chinese Base Camp with Everest towering behind him “14/4/18: What an incredible feeling to be finally here. A mixture of tears of joy and pure fear of what’s coming up. We arrived at the north basecamp (5200m) and will stay here for some days before our first acclimatisation climb to 7000m next week.” This is what Everest is all about.
And then there is the story from 50 year-old Lynette Trott aka Trotty with Adventure Consultants. Her climb is over and she never made it to base camp. She tells us in her blog that while at a teahouse “I was in and out many times, back and forth to my room, checking if my duffle had arrived, to the toilet. But my last trip to the loo brought disaster. I returned through the door, turned to close it but it was latched open, turned back to continue into the room and my next conscious thought was laying on my back in a black cave…. and Pain….excruciating pain.” With a severely injured knee, her trip was over and she is dealing with the reality: “I had to rebuild my life at 30, I just have to do it again at 50. Difference is, this time, I know I can do it…….But right now that doesn’t make it any less scary or empty………I will get back up and pull myself out of this hole….Oh right I did that bit already ” Take a look at her blog where she describes this ordeal in more detail. It’s impressive and inspiring.
Unfortunately I’ve known several people who had their expedition end with a freak accident or illness. One was bitten by a dog in Tingri and had to be treated for rabies. Another broke his ankle while doing a simple hike outside of Namche Bazar – he tripped on a rock. I can be philosophical here and say “such is life” but there is a real loss in these cases.
When you have a dream and it ends so unceremoniously, it’s difficult to accept. I know that each of the three times I returned home after not summiting Everest, it took time, a long time for me to come to grips with what happened. I went through the blame game of others, the being a victim of bad karma, and more silly thoughts until I finally accepted that it was me and me alone that stopped my climb. I dug deep to see if I had what it took to try one more time, and I did. My determination came in the form of a new found life purpose – to honor my mom, Ida Arnette, and support research to solve the Alzheimer’s crisis.
Trotty will “dig out” and Michael will live his dream. Yes life goes on, but it is always better with a smile.
Memories are Everything
Why this coverage?
I like to use these weekend updates to remind my readers that I’m just one guy who loves climbing. With 35 serious climbing expeditions including four Everest trips under my belt and a summit in 2011, I use my site to share those experiences, demystify Everest each year and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s Disease. My mom, Ida Arnette, died from this disease in 2009 as have four of my aunts. It was a heartbreaking experience that I never want anyone to go through thus my ask for donations to non-profits where 100% goes to them, and nothing ever to me.