Saturday, May 10, 2008

2 May: Let It Snow

Another slow day, designed to allow our bodies to repair themselves as we continue the acclimatization process for higher camps.

Woke this morning at 07:30 like clockwork when the warming sun hit our tents and welcomed in a new day. I slept like a baby last night... perhaps because we are now closer acclimatized to 21,000' it makes it easier to crash hard and not wake other than once or twice to shift over. No altitude dreams at this level now either, those are reserved for camps beyond the Icefall. But they sure are good fun to talk about. Bob Combs makes regular appearances, suffering some weird and bizarre miscellaneous fate that makes me wake in fits of laughter. But not here, not any more. Oh well.

G-Man is singing away, gives a huge smile and wave as he watches us scuttle around our tents. I decide that it's high time for a shower, laundry and shave. "Is possible large pot washing water?" You need to clarify tatto pani, or hot water to make sure that your fingers don't go numb as you work away. The air is still below freezing so if you get the water scalding hot, you typically have about 10 minutes to work with the water- shave and then clean about 10 articles of clothes before the water starts to frost over.

As for the laundry, once you drop in the liquid soap and then wring the clothes to make them as clean as you can, it's comical to look back at your tent and surrounding rocks, now covered to allow your clothes to get as dry as you can before the afternoon clouds and temp drop. Today was no different, but I couldn't help think as I hung all my clothes from the past several days that once I finally do gain access to a regular washing machine in Kathmandu or Seattle or wherever, the water is going to be a crazy shade of brown. No matter how hard I wring or how much soap I use, these clothes are pretty much not anywhere near as clean as I think I'm making them.

Afterwards, Willie and I wandered over to the medical HET shelter- a non-profit facility where a medical clinic is staffed in an expeditionary tent by surgeons each year. This year, it's staffed by one surgeon from Denver and another from Alice Springs, Australia. Fortunately, they say that their inpatient flow is fairly light, which is good news. But they are staffed and fully prepared to handle any sort of trauma or altitude-related illness that comes their way. Well, yesterday as our team descended from Camp II through the super-steep Icefall, I picked up some really nice shin-bang and blew out my two big toenails enroute to Base Camp. So, I had blood under both toenails and it made it impossible to walk normally. This happens just about every year when I climb, so it's really not a big deal and doesn't really hurt anymore but today I had to go get them drained so I can go back up in 3 days or so without any issues. The Doc who was at the clinic took this pen thingie out, took a cap off and then turned the thing on like a laser- it even made this really cool noise like in a movie... wheeeeeEEEEE!! The tip has this needle/ soldering gun looking thing that gets white hot, and when you tell that it's ready to go, he pressed it onto my toenail. About 2 seconds after he did that- poof- geyser, and then instant pressure relief. After performing this on both big toenails, I have this teeny hole on the top of each, and both are 100x better now. No pressure and by the time we get back to descending thru the Icefall again in ~8 days, they will be good as new. The best part is that boy, do they look sexy. Not.

So a little bit later, and after we wandered back to our Base Camp, we had actual snow. You could tell something was up. Last night, after it was dark out, we saw lightening and had actual thunder- so completely and absolutely unusual for this area. And then this morning the clouds rolled in several hours before they typically do. By 3pm it was completely snowing out. I wondered aloud if Super Mila wanted to make a snowman. He just laughed and smiled. I don't know if he understood me but it sure was a great reaction.

And thus ended another slow day at Base Camp. Wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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