Location: Everest Base Camp
Altitude: 5300 meters
Weather: Mainly fine and sunny
Hi everyone, Fiona here,
Since arriving back at basecamp, it almost seems as though I’ve never left – even though it’s been 11 months since I was here last. The people are different but almost everything else is much the same so it hasn’t been too hard to slip back into “basecamp life”.
A Clean Start
As today has been the first day of fine weather for quite a while, I decided to take advantage of this and take my first shower for 6 days! Well, I guess technically it was a bucket rather than a shower, but it felt great. We have a little “shower tent” here which is the size of a small shower cubicle and you basically get a bucket of hot water and use a jug to pour water over yourself. With the sun shining, the tent heats up and it’s not too cold at all.
I used the left over hot water to do some laundry. So now with the tent moved, body showered and clothes washed, it seems that all the chores are done for a while and its time to get down to the serious business of waiting.
The highlight of today was that the Nepalese government has decided to remove the crashed helicopter that’s been here for several years. As we ate breakfast we heard the thunder of a helicopter coming and were amazed to watch as it roared just meters over our camp. It then hovered over the crashed helicopter which has been dismantled and dropped a line to pick up some of the heaviest pieces. It ended up making the same trip 3 times. It’s very dangerous for helicopters to fly at this altitude as the air is so thin. Usually they only come to base camp for emergency evacuations.
Weather and other Rumors
By this stage, everyone besides me has been at base camp (or higher) for 30-40 days and it’s clear that thoughts are turning towards getting the climb done and getting home. Some climbers travel between the various camps trying to ascertain when they are likely to make a push for the summit but so far, no-one has summited from the South (Nepalese) side of the mountain. Just last night, a lot of people from our group were thinking of heading up today – but upon receiving the latest weather forecast, they changed their minds.
We’re trying not to get too caught up in the rumors and remembering that we don’t want Paul to be making a summit attempt in the first wave – where there are likely to be delays (due to crowding and/or line fixing) which could potentially be dangerous. That said, we’re still very interested in other teams’ movements and weather information, so we’re treading a fine line.
As of yesterday, we are now getting weather forecasts (from Meteotest in Switzerland) every day. It appears as though the next two days could present opportunities for summiting, but it doesn’t seem as though anyone is currently in position at the high camps to summit. This is now Paul’s 5th day of rest since his last acclimatisation rotation, which is pretty much the minimum rest required after the exertion and physical deterioration caused from going up so high. So it’s really from now on that the waiting for a summit window begins.
Judging from the long-range weather forecasts, the winds look to be reasonably low from 21st to 25th May – so at this stage we’re hoping he’ll make a summit attempt then. This would mean that he’d leave base camp on Thursday 17th May. However, the forecast might change between now and then so we have to remain flexible.
Over the last couple of days, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the climbers here a bit better. Aside from Attila and Reny (who are down-valley at the moment), everyone else is here and it seems as though they’re a great bunch. I have missed having Mum, Beck and the rest of the trek team here with me though. We came to Nepal as quite a disparate group – some knowing each other well, but many with more distant links, and all from quite different backgrounds, ages and experience levels. During the trek into base camp, we came to be a very close group, looking out for each other and sharing lots of laughs along the way. So, it’s a little bit sad that this must come to an end – for me, now, and for the rest of the group in just a couple more days. Anyone that’s been here knows that it is a tremendous achievement for them all to reach base camp and I hope they’re all feeling really proud of what they’ve done. By tonight, they should reach either Deboche or Tengboche – back to the lands of trees.
Thanks for all the messages for the trek team. They won’t have access to them now but will be able to see them in Kathmandu, or possibly Namche (I believe their plan was to reach Namche tomorrow).
To Tamara and Boris – don’t worry, Julia’s hands are fine. It was cold but not cold enough to do any permanent damage!
To Jac and Luke – thanks for the update. All sounds great – we can’t wait to see you when we get back.
To Chris – belated congratulations. Look forward to hearing more about it when we return. In the meantime, good luck with the transition.
To Jacqueline – Congratulations on your news too. Sounds fantastic and look forward to hearing more about it.
That’s all to report for now – time to emerge ourselves in our respective books (until your messages come in of course!).
All the best, Fiona.