Wednesday, May 14, 2008

14 May: Disco Sushi Night

I need to backtrack a few hours and make this dispatch start at more like 13 1/2 May... reason being that the afternoon events of yesterday are worthy of mention. Sorry if that throws the blog universe out of whack somehow, but I figure that there's only a minor risk of that happening and I'll try to keep last night's stories as entertaining as possible. Because it was truly a good night.

Around 6pm, Willie comes running in with a sushi roller. How does he find these things?? Somehow, someone here in Base Camp had brought along an actual flippin' bamboo sushi roller, and even more amazing is that Willie had managed to sniff it out. I mean, how random. My first guess would have been the Japanese team, but they are all up the hill in Camp II or down the hill in Dingbuche. So- here it was, enabling us to have... Sushi Night!!

There's a great little sushi restaurant in the Los Angeles area called "Tokyo Delves"- it's where you go when you want to have Disco Sushi. Disco music comes on, a disco ball starts spinning, the sushi chefs literally dance while they prepare your food, and you have a blast. This was as close to Tokyo Delves as I have ever been and how comical that it was happening at Everest Base Camp. Willie pulled out nori paper, G-Man went rooting through the storage tent to grab items like shredded crab and cooked salmon. Super Mila went to town on vegetables like cucumber to get them prepared. It was a community event and everyone got in the spirit to pull it off. When it was time to start preparing sushi rolls, where I turned into some sort of de-facto sushi roll sensei of sorts and everyone made a roll- and I mean everyone. Here are some examples of the rolls prepared, and the preparer:

Super Mila: Salmon and cucumber roll
G-Man: Salmon, Crab, cucumber and carrot roll
Lhakpa: Corsani roll (the Sherpas snapped this one up in about 3 seconds. Corsani is a local spice and that's all he put on it. Corsani and rice)

Music is going on in the cook tent, some people are dancing, everyone is laughing and there was a truly festive atmosphere. Several other guides and Base Camp residents came over for dinner to pack our little tent: Kenton, a British guide from Dream Guides, Mara, an American guide from Jagged Globe, Steve, an American and Claudia, an Australian- both surgeons from the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA) medical shelter.

After eating the night away, we learned of a Sherpa party in the adjacent tent camp cook shelter and we were all invited to come along. It was jam packed with Sherpas, pumping iPod music into speakers causing spontaneous and sporadic dancing based on the tunes. There was local music and Tibetan monk music flowing smoothly and to great fanfare. And just because you have to have it, mixed into the score would be the occasional electro dance mix, Madonna and Queen of all things.

A lead Sherpa for the French Team named Angshiri offered me a local home-brewed drink which I took him up on. It was clear, tasted faintly like Japanese sake and like a Long Island Ice Tea; you couldn't truly taste the alcohol. However, I also learned that very much like a Long Island Ice Tea this drink is one that is capable of having you forget what you are doing and end up waking up in the morning with fake-o cheese, shredded lettuce, and Taco Bell wrappers all over your chest.

At one point later in the night, Angshiri, who was way deep in the dancing going on casually asked me if I wanted a second one- I'm a big boy, I thought. "Sure." You would be amazed at the looks I received from around the tent: Willie, Kenton, Mara, Lhakpa, Tendi, Daruru... even G-Man. It was like when I was at my Cousin Dave's wedding and my mom caught a bunch of us doing shots with this one extremely large and very drunk guy named Pete who ended up later passing out on the beach. Shooting laser beams. I just left the glass on the table untouched. Yeesh. I felt like I was 21 all over again.

Besides, Willie and I had to go make a telephone call to an Editor of "Rock & Ice." He is doing a story on that kid with his "Free Tibet, F**k China" flag that was booted off the mountain back in the draconian China torch days of mid-April. That seemed to go well...

On to 14 May.

Most of the day was again dealing with preparation for our summit push. Ropes, rigging, battery refresh in radios, final food packing. I think it finally hit Francisco and me when Willie and Lhakpa began going through all of the oxygen regulators and valves after breakfast. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that they appear to be the same type of masks and valves used by Russian fighter pilots:

Masks were handed out and tried on which brought on a whole bunch of Darth Vader impressions: "Luuukkeeee..... I am your fathorrr"- breathe, breathe, breathe, in Darth sounding breath. Francisco tried a mask with oxygen flowing and told me he immediately wanted to take a nap. Man, I can't wait to get going up the hill again.

So speaking of which, we discussed a few things. The weather at present seems to support a push in a few days and so we are leaving in two days, depending upon what closer forecasts reveal. The jet stream continues to stay out of the area and today is a beauty- again barely any clouds, warm, and just wisps of wind. The good part of staying put for at least a few days is to continue eating and recovering from our week at Camp II. It also allows the new fallen snow of a few days ago to settle and compress, calve off where need be and continue to drop risk of any potential avalanche off of places like the face of Nuptse.

We also picked up a Base Camp Manager today- Bridey, a New Zealander who was here working on a NASA project has agreed to come on and assist where need be while we are on our summit push. This is a great thing- she's going to be able to monitor things from Base Camp as we move up the hill (including the ability to send regular dispatches on team progress) and we'll be able to know we have a support structure in the rear.

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