Relaxing Around Everest
The following morning Sam and I headed up to the Tengboche Monastery to shoot some film. We found some memorials to past Everest and Lhotse climbers that had died during their climbing efforts. A reminder of the dangers that are inherent to high altitude mountaineering. After the weather and clouds moved in, Sam continued up valley to catch Susan and John who had hiked ahead towards Dingboche.
I took lunch back at the Rivendell Lodge and met Aldo, a climber from Mexico who had stopped by our cook tent at Camp 2. We talked about the different acclimatization strategies between climbers that use oxygen and those that climb without. He is climbing with one Sherpa and using oxygen. Having spent the night at Camp 3 already he is resting before his summit bid. I still have another round of acclimatization up to Camp 4 before I am ready for my summit bid. The next round will include nights at Camp 2 and Camp 3 with a climb to Camp 4 to view the upper summit ridge and lock in the entire route to memory. Then I will go back to Base Camp for rest before my speed ascent.
On day three at Deboche I took a hot shower and caught up on more than 1,000 emails in my inbox! Everything was in order and my cough had healed up. I was feeling fairly rested physically and mentally the change of environment was nice. We traveled up to Tengboche for the service at the monastery. I enjoyed a good meditation session and we returned to Deboche with a whole new set of topics to discuss.
We were on the same rest schedule so we trekked back to Everest Base Camp together over the next two days. The morning of May second we headed out under cloudy skies. The trail was muddy from the torrential downpour from the night before. The hills were covered in snow above 13,500 ft. I wondered when we would encounter snow on the trail as I was in running shoes and Aldo wore light boots.
We hiked at a steady pace with one or two five minute breaks. Having descended through Pheriche along a muddy trail we decided to take another approach and climb the ridge between Dingboche and Pheriche. There was a faint animal trail that lead directly to a high path from Dinboche to Thokla. Thokla was the half way point between Deboche and Base Camp. We made it there in just over four hours. After setting down our packs inside the Yak Hotel a large rainstorm moved through. We had made it just in time without getting soaked! The Yak Hotel offered [sparse] accommodations compared with the Rivendell Lodge but we ate well and went to sleep early at 15,000 ft.
On the morning of May 3rd we began the slow climb for an hour up to Thokla Pass. This was the largest vertical gain of the day. The trail climbed more slowly after the pass and we made good time to Lobuche and Gorak Shep at 16,800 ft. We took a break so Aldo and I could check emails one last time.
After business was taken care of we made the final push for the next hour and a half to Base Camp. It was good to have made it to camp and drop the 30 lb. pack from my back. There had been a substantial snow event in our absence and a few inches still lingered on my tent. I was greeted by our waiter Lhakpa with hot drinks and some lunch. Willie, Damian and their clients were still up at Camp 2 on their final acclimatization round. They had been up for the past four nights touching Camp 3 and sleeping at Camp 2. They would be coming down the following day. I decided to go visit Jamie and Scott in the Hanes Expedition Camp. They were returning from Gorak Shep where they had gotten some rest after their final acclimatization round. They informed me that a major snow storm was foretasted for May 7th and 8th. Not good news for me since I still need to spend four nights at Camp 2 and above. This weather forecast will delay my plans a bit. It is my plan to go up either the 9th or 10th after the snow. Following my final acclimatization round, I will need a few days of rest to recuperate from the effort. If all goes well I will be ready when the second summit window arrives and should be prepared for my ascent by May 18th.
Sam and John arrived to Base Camp yesterday. We are shooting some film of activities in Base Camp and the preparations for my speed ascent. All my essential gear and food is ready to stock at Camps 2, 3 and 4. We are just waiting on the weather. The Swiss forecast predicts temperatures to increase 5 degrees over the next week. Great news for me since climbing without oxygen makes it more difficult to stay warm. I will keep you all up to date on the developments.
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