Everest 2010: Week Four

April 15 – Housekeeping
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp, the sun has just set behind the ridge so the temperature is about to plummet. I’m sitting in my nicely reorganized tent, today was a rest and reorganization day after yesterdays big day. I actually had to pull everything out of my tent because I had some water leakage. We are camping on a glacier and when the sun hits it, it makes little rivers or you can get some little melt spots and so my mattress had soaked through. So everything came out, up onto the roof to dry and I took the opportunity when I put everything back in to get it all organized and get mountains of fluff back into large sacks so now I should be set for a while as long as I keep the organization system up. I also tied a new tether for my harness as my jumar tether is a little too short for coming down. The Sherpa teams also had a rest day, except their idea of a rest day involved camp maintenance, moving rocks because again because of the intense sun some rocks get teetery so they have to push them down and move them around, prop up some tents, cover up the ice so it can melt less quickly. So they were hard at work, then this afternoon got some rest. I got a shower in, packed my high altitude meds for when I next head up the mountain. It was a kind of funny day, got down to -14.6C last night, looks like a big storm might be coming in with some snow, waiting to see if that is happening. Sunny and cloudy, sunny and cloudy all day, so when the sun is out we bake and when it’s cloudy we freeze. We also headed over to the Everest base camp photo exhibited called “Rivers of Ice, Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya” put on by Dave Breashears and the Richard D Bass foundation. It involved photos taken in 2007 and 2008 from the exact spots as archival photographs and you can see the changes in the glaciers due to climate change. Everyone who is anyone at the Everest base camp was there so we made an appearance. It has been a very interesting day, I enjoyed chatting with Ming-mar and Lhak-pa both of whom I worked with at IMG in 2007 and they are over here with Peak Freaks now. Hydrating, hydrating, hydrating, and of course when you do that you then have to dehydrate, dehydrate, dehydrate. So all is well here, tomorrow we will do some hiking

April 16 – Days Like Today
Hi this is TA calling in from the Everest base camp Hilton, I am all snuggly tucked in after a big day. It was actually a tough day for me, probably the first tough day of many for me on this expedition, it finally caught up to me after 20 days. It was a big day we headed from here to Gorak Shep and then climbed Kala Patter, and then hiked back so it was about 5 ½ hours of walking 21872 steps on the pedometer. It was just a tough walk for me, hard to find a rhythm, hard to keep breathing through my nose, just hard all round. I spent much of the day trying to figure out way it was so hard and at some point just gave up and went with the mantra “it just is hard”, and just kept repeating “it just is, it just is.” Some days at altitude are like that, like my buddy Karen says some days are diamonds some days are stone, I’ve been lucky enough to have about 20 days of diamonds, where a lot of my team mates have had a stone day this is my turn. So I’m pooped, got a bit of a headache after heading up to about 5600m. So I’m hydrating, I’m tucked into my lovely little abode with damp clothing hanging along. We had some snow, it dipped to -16.8 last night and at the moment it is only -1.8, so we are wondering if we are going to get a bunch of snow over the next couple of days. Flat Stanley came with me, so he summated Kala Patter today, a big hello to Patricia Edwards’s grade 3 class at CC Loughlin in Cornerbrook Newfoundland. Flat Stanley broke his altitude record today and went to 5600m. He sends his regards, and we got some great pictures of him up on Kala Patter. Hopefully you guys can find some pictures of Kala Patter and the view. We had the most amazing view of the summit pyramid of Everest. It doesn’t appear to have too much snow on it these days and of course the distance from the south col to the summit looks absolutely, positively intimidating on a day like today. We all just looked over and wondered if we would be sitting in the south col a month to 5 weeks from now. In the mean time we will keep hydrating, keep resting, and we will be starting our rotations in the next day or two. The Sherpas are out side my tent at the moment picking up loads for them to carry up tomorrow, probably to camp 1 or camp 2. The other big news, the giant big rock beside my tent decided to fall down today, its on the downhill side so no worries, just as I was walking into camp, so I’m not sure but I may at some point have to move my tent depending on how fast the ice melts on that side. As you can tell I’m tired, my vice isn’t working too well so I’m going to rest a bit, happy TGIF, hope you all have a great weekend.

April 17 – Shake and Bake
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp, it has been a shake and bake day here. Baking this morning in the big sun, as we were packing and getting ready for our big trip up into the ice fall tomorrow. Then this afternoon the shake, as it is only 3:30 and it is already down to freezing. I’m huddled in my warm sleeping bag, feeling the cold a little more then usual, maybe because I’m brewing something, who knows, so that’s a shake and bake kind of day. I’ve been reading a book about stories and customs of the Sherpas and I found a wonderful passage about the three vehicles of Buddhism I wanted to read to you: “The three schools of Buddhism are often explained as paths up a mountain. Hinayana leads to the base of the mountain, here one sees one road and one method. Mahayana is the long gentle road that winds around the mountain to its summit, in this school one sees many roads and decides to take the gradual path. In Vajrayana the practitioner looks beyond the roads and takes the most direct and risky route straight up through the cliffs to enlightenment and liberation at the summit of the mountain.” Defiantly the condition of this years ice fall makes me think that we are on a Vajrayana path of mountaineering on Mount Everest this year, lots of activity there as it has actually been pretty warm for this time of year. So we will go around our alter in the morning, throw some rice, hold up our Lama Geshi cards, and ask for safe passage through the ice fall up to camp one. That’s the scoop from here your thoughts and prayers are appreciated. Catch you from camp one.

April 18 – Patience and Poetry
Hi this is TA calling in from Everest base camp; yes you heard right Everest base camp rather than camp one. After calling in my update yesterday, when I thought I was brewing something, I did indeed spike a good fever. Through the help of the urologist on our team and the Everest ER today we were able to conclude that I have developed a urinary tract infection. So they have started me on a new marvelous drug that turns my urine a bright fluorescent orange. I made the hard decision to stay back, to rest and get better, rather then overly taxing my body trying to get up to camp one. Sort of a sense of déjà view of course, and it was more difficult around the dinner table last night when I was feeling so poorly. However, my fever did actually break last night and I put my inner boots into my bag and said maybe I’ll feel better enough, but cooler heads prevailed through the night when I realized that I’m not at 100% and it didn’t make sense to go up and tax my body as it is fighting this infection. So I spent the day resting reading a book called “walking on Thin Ice: In Pursuit of the North Pole”, and visiting some of the team members here that had gone on early acclimatization forays. The consensus is there is plenty of time, I can get better and head up the mountain on subsequent forays. So I’m looking forward to getting my strength back, because I had been doing so well and being so strong and I actually reached day 23 before visiting the Everest clinic. Thanks to Dr. Luanne Freer at the Everest ER today for her help in getting me all sorted out. I’m drinking lots, trying to stay warm, I had a little spike in fever this afternoon, but I’m hoping I can work through this quickly and without descending so that I can continue to make my way up the mountain. That’s the scoop from here, 14 members of the team are up at camp one having, their first night there, a big day from them. Weather started out wonderfully today for that ascent and then we had our usual afternoon snow fall. That’s it from here at Everest base camp, take care and please send healing thoughts. The quote for today is “what we call the beginning is often the end, and to make an end is to make a beginning, the end is where we start from, we shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time” TS Elliot Little Gidding from the four quartets.

Have a good day, bye

TA

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