Awaiting News From Summit Team
Dispatch—Day 53: May 18, 2009
Everest Base Camp—17,530 feet (5,343 meters)
N 28º 00.336' E 086º 51.504'
Wind found its way right down into Everest Base Camp today, flapping tents, tarps, and prayer flags indiscriminately. The upside to this was that the air stayed quite clear and sparkly throughout the day, without any haze or smoke creeping up-valley from Nepal’s inhabited regions.
Those of us down for rest knew by breakfast that the team at the South Col had not left their camp the night before on a summit bid. Peter Whittaker reported that the winds had actually decreased as the team approached their “go-no-go” decision point in the night, but that clouds had enveloped the peak of Everest and snow had fallen in the night. Ultimately, Peter said that the poor visibility had torpedoed any attempt last night and that his team would put their hopes into a new bid this evening.
The Col team is spending the day at rest close to 26,000 feet [8,000 meters] above sea level. This shouldn’t hurt their chances for climbing well; in fact, an opportunity to catch up on hydration, rest, and feeding will probably make them stronger—provided that they are availing themselves of the bottled oxygen supply from time to time. But that supply isn’t unlimited, by any means, and “kicking back” at 8,000 meters isn’t simple or easy.
We are all hoping that tonight will be the night for the team to break free of the tents and go for a climb. Wind and weather need to cooperate, and the game may get a bit more complicated in terms of timing and traffic flow. Our climbers will not have the route to themselves, as several other teams will have made it up from Camp 3 to the Col today. But I’m certain our team has anticipated that and will make whatever adjustments are needed to avoid bottlenecks and jams.
Down here in Base Camp, it has been a day for reading, reviewing weather reports, playing games, and mostly sitting inside, out of the wind. Linden Mallory (our Base Camp manager) went for one of his traditional fast hikes at midday. Tom (the video dispatch editor) experimented today with various odd beard configurations before scrapping the whole thing in favor of the clean-cut look. Erica and Seth went for the post-lunch-leg-stretcher-walk down along the glacial moraine toward Gorak Shep. Melissa is once again enjoying good health and a day to chat with her friend Amber (up to volunteer for several days with the HRA clinic next door). Cherie worked her normal morning magic with sat-phones, emails and BGANs in order to keep the team connected with Eddie Bauer/First Ascent headquarters back in Bellevue, Washington. Kent Harvey tinkered with his cameras and heeded my monotonous advice to rest, rest, and rest a little more. Any day now, we’ll spring back into action and put in one heck of a hard week of climbing... promise.
- Nat Geo Expeditions