Location: Everest Base Camp
Local Time: 5:30pm, 25th May
Weather: Mainly fine, but now cloudy and snowing lightly
Hi everyone, it’s Fiona here,
Glad to be reporting in from the relatively thick, warm air of base camp.
Down to Camp 2
We crashed out heavily last night – still very stiff and sore from the last few days of climbing. Even though coming down is a whole lot easier than going up, it’s pretty hard on your feet and upper body. We were very pleased to get to Camp 2 – and in the heat of the day, even more pleased to be met by Lakpa Sherpa who hiked to the base of the Lhotse face with a bottle of juice for us to drink. Marvellous!
After another 10 cups of juice, we ate lunch – the first proper meal for quite a while – and then fell asleep in our tent for the afternoon.
At dinner I managed to be the source of entertainment for the 12 or so Sherpas up there. I got the camera out to take some photos and then showed a couple of the Sherpas. They were very interested in seeing more so I showed them how to flick through the photos on our digital camera. However, unbeknown to me, at some point in the last couple of days, Paul had thoughtfully taken a photo of me relieving myself in the tent – basically a close up of my bare bum. When the Sherpas got to this, they started laughing and within 10 seconds, everyone in the tent knew. Oh well, there’s not much room for dignity up here.
Heading Down for the Last Time
In the morning, we left early to cross through most of the icefall before the sun and heat hit. Getting down to camp 1 was pretty uneventful – mostly a fairly gentle sloping plain with the occasional crevasse to step across, walk around, or cross with ladders.
We got to the top of the icefall and took a break so that we were rested to move through as quickly as we could. About halfway down we came to a large section which had collapsed during the night. Massive towers had fallen down creating huge boulders of blue ice to climb over and exposing new crevasses to cross – all of which was unroped as it had happened so recently. A bit hairy to say the least.
As soon as we got through this section and back onto the normal route, we heard a huge crash and just about jumped out of our skins. It was a large avalanche – but thankfully not close enough to be of danger to us. After watching this for a moment, we decided to get out there as quick as we could. Not easy on our fatigued legs.
Eventually we reached the end of the icefall and were very happy to see Mary there waiting for us. She had climbed up the first steepish section past the crampon point – without crampons of course.
Relative Luxuries of Base Camp
We are so glad to be through the icefall – where we can finally say that we’ve finished our climbing and have escaped without injury, frostbite or worse.
After being up high for a while, basecamp feels warm and the air so thick. It’s also amazing what little things now feel like luxuries. A bucket wash, chairs with backs, a drink of lemonade, and especially wearing shoes other than our heavy climbing boots!
Since we were last here, much of the glacier has melted and tent sites keep having to be moved and repaired. As we’re now nearly at the end of the climbing season, many people have left and only a handful of tents remain. It’s a bit sad really that there’s no way to farewell our fellow climbers as we all finish in dribs and drabs and then pack up and leave individually. It was great to be given a welcome back from the team that remains here. We have contact details for most of our team so will be able to keep in touch. We’ve gone through a lot with this group.
After lunch and a shower-in-a-bucket, we spent most of the afternoon packing up our gear. We’re planning to leave tomorrow morning to start the trek out to Lukla from where we’ll fly back to Kathmandu. The trek will probably take us 3 days (even though it took almost 2 weeks to trek in).
Now that we’ve finished climbing, we’ve started thinking of home, friends and family a lot more. Until now, we’ve tried not to let ourselves get homesick by keeping focussed on our climb. But we’re definitely looking forward to getting back now.
We have been so overwhelmed with all the messages we’ve received over the past couple of days. Absolutely amazing – we don’t know how to thank you all for being with us for this incredible journey. We really do feel that you were travelling with us every step of the way and we can’t begin to describe the difference that made.
Looking forward to a good meal tonight, and maybe even an alcoholic beverage (our first since January).
Hopefully the weather will be fine tomorrow as although the hike should be relatively easy, it’s still a fair distance to cover – probably taking most of the day.
Thanks again for being with us, we’ll continue to post updates until we get home.
PS – Mary no longer has her phone, so anyone trying to call or SMS her, please use our number (on the website).