Virtual Everest 2020: Back in Base Camp – First Summits

The fictional team returned from Camp 3 at 23,600-feet on the Lhotse Face and are now at base camp. The big news was a Japanese team of 20 summited overnight. Now weather watch begins for our climbers.

Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas is a joint project of Alan Arnette and several global guide companies. Our objective is to entertain Everest fans during the Coronavirus spring closure and raise money to help the Climbing Sherpas who are not working this spring. While there will be accurate historical references, this series is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please join us by making a donation using the links below plus by adding your Everest experiences in the comment section.

Back in Base Camp

“Good news, everyone. The first commercial team summited last night. The storm held off, and they threaded the needle. 20 Japanese members with 22 Climbing Sherpas.” Guide told his team over breakfast. “Japan has very strong climbers.”

On the Tibet side of Everest, teams had made several rotations to Intermediate, and Advanced Base camps and a few to the North Col. The winds have been wicked this year, stalling the Tibetan rope fixing team from getting to the summit. They hoped to get there in a few days. It was strange how Everest could have such different weather on opposite sides but it happens frequently.

Fixing the Rope of the Lhotse Face

Other news was that a speed climber from Ecuador had arrived hoping to set a speed record from base camp to the summit. As in many things around mountaineering, there is no clear answer on who has the record. Pemba Dorje Sherpa climbed from Base Camp to the summit in 8 hours and 10 minutes on May 21, 2004, but never provided proof so his record was discounted by many.

Lakpa Gelu Sherpa had set the record a year earlier in 10 hours 56 minutes and 46 seconds. He began his bid at 5:00 p.m. on May 25, 2003, and reached on the summit at 3:56:46 a.m. on May 26. He returned to Base Camp at 11:20 a.m. on the 26th making his round trip time 18 hours 20 minutes. The Mount Everest Guides team discussed these amazing efforts over a lunch of chicken, salad, vegetables, and, of course, soup.

“Yeah, fast is nice but what about age? I might be the oldest when I summit.” Old Man chimed in. “You are not even close,” said Loner. He seemed to have a solid knowledge of Everest’s history. Dutch piped up. “You need to come back in a decade, or two Old Man. Yūichirō Miura has the age record at 80 years, 224 days!” Old Man laughed deeply. “Guide is right, those Japanese climbers are amazing!”

First member summits were good news for the Mount Everest Guides members. Now that the rope was to the summit and they had spent a night at Camp 3 completing their acclimatization process, all that was left was to rest while waiting for the weather window to emerge. They would need a forecast of at least five days of low winds, especially when they go to the South Col. The winds needed to be under 30 mph on the summit night push.

Dutch and Loner were pleased that there were summits while Old Man, Boyfriend, and Bud worried that this might cause Guide to move up their summit push and reduce their time to recover. All three had struggled on the last rotation and valued every day in base camp.

She felt strong thus was ambivalent as to when they would go back up. She had grown to trust Guide’s judgment, and any extra time would be put to good use getting to know Minga better. She was content after having a long video call with her family yesterday after they got back from Camps 3 and 2.

“I was worried,” her husband began the call. “Last time we spoke, you seemed so down, like you had lost your motivation, or courage, or something. I felt helpless back here with the kids. I didn’t know how to help.” He said, tearing up. “You did everything perfectly by just listening and, for once, not trying to solve my problems!” They both laughed, knowing what she just said was true.

“I am proud of myself with how I performed to C3, honey. I was the first of our team there. The storm kind of scared me but not as much as going back through the Icefall. A huge towering serac came crashing down just behind Mingma and me. It was too close. Now I know why people climb Everest from the Tibet side. I’m so happy we only have to up and down one more time.” Her hands began to slightly shake remembering the moment.

“How’s mom? Does she remember that I’m climbing Everest? Does she, does she, remember me?”

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Climbing Sherpa Support

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