April 25, 1999
Its about nine oclock at night here. Were down in Base Camp just taking a bit of R & R and letting the boys, the Sherpas actually, do a bit of work up high, getting our upper camp stocked while were down here.
We just welcomed Chris Metcalfe, Matt Lau, and David Mencin, who will be helping us tomorrow morning. Well be getting out the weather probes and some of the other GPS-related equipment that will be going with us to the very top of the mountain. So were pretty excited about that- obviously getting everything tested so that we dont carry up a bunch of equipment that doesnt work. Were all pretty excited about learning about all that stuff and actually getting on with the business of climbing the peak.
The Icefall is in kind of critical shape right now. It almost feels like its a month ahead of schedule, chiefly because its been so warm. There have been some beautiful arches forming, actually right in the center of the Icefall, that we thought would last for quite awhile. Fortunately Jeff was able to get some good photographs of it on videotape and it will be part of the NBC program that will come in early 2000. But unfortunately theyre obviously very ephemeral and dont last very long. By the time we were on our way back down, the arches had completely collapsedobviously another one of those transient moments in life and in the Khumbu Icefall, it makes things very dramatically clear sometimes.
But Im really thinking much more about our climb of Nuptse. We can see the ridge right here from Base Camp quite well. We see the profileits a beautiful mixed ridge. It looks like about 1,500 feet (458 meters) of ice climbing, 500-600 feet (150-180 meters) of mixed climbing, and then some very beautiful ridge climbing as well. It was a very unique moment for me to go over beneath that ridge with Bill Crouse. We were just looking at the southwest face of Everest, which loomed incredibly huge over our headsit was just an amazing moment. You know this is the (obviously some of you already know this) 13th time Ive been here. It leaves me, to go back to that double couplet from T.S. Eliot in the Four Quartets:
We shall not cease from exploration
For me, that was certainly the feeling I had there in the Western Cwm. Obviously Ive been there hundreds of times, but taking on a completely new perspective, I felt that I truly knew it. Well thats probably not much for tonights conversation with you all, but I hope youre all well. And thank you for spending time with us. Well be going to the top with you all real soon. Good night for now.
Pete Athans, Expedition Leader