Sunday, May 4, 2008

26 April: I Miss Warm Weather

All things considered, it was another quiet and down day at Base Camp. We were originally going to go up today, but then yesterday afternoon Willie had a sit-down with the Nepali Army leadership here at Base Camp who outlined a national policy plan for the Nepal side of the mountain to be shut down from 1-10 May to overnight climbing... this to end as soon as the Chinese get to the top with the Olympic torch. Why? There was a certain climber who has made headlines lately. Despite everything in the news, despite everything written on permits, despite everything which we all assumed was common sense, this climber decided to covertly bring along his Free Tibet flag, incase you heard. Some of you also know by now that it didn't just say Free Tibet. I'll leave it at that and cover the rest at a time later down the road. But for now, word raced like wildfire around camp about the new rules, and as a result there was a mass rush for the fixed lines by teams trying to scramble for altitude before the ban hit. We are ahead of the acclimatization power curve so we decided to wait until tomorrow, avoid the mobs and then just move our schedule one day to the right.

Hawaii... man, do I miss Hawaii. Or warm weather in a place like Cabo. Warm... At dinner we sat around and as time wore on, the conversation wound itself to things we miss or crave. Francisco talked about a beer and a huge steak, which seemed universal across the team. Fortunately for me though, military deployments have made what we have here not that life altering. The cook tent pushes out some fantastic food- easily 100 times more tasty and unique than I had expected. Beer can wait, and I have been conditioned to know that soon enough, we'll be done with this trip and headed home. It will all be a distant memory within weeks and before we know it, we will be watching the news as a new summit season approaches with new faces, new challenges and new teams as they take their shot. So in many ways, I'm trying to relish this experience while I have the chance. Maybe that's why these blogs are so infernally long... :)

So what do I miss the most? Warmth. Everything here is cold, even when you think it's warm. Sure, the Lake District is starting to melt out as days grow longer and mid-day at Base Camp is deceptively warm. But then one little tiny puffy cloud pops onto the horizon and somehow manages to find the exact trajectory needed to blot out the sun for a minute to two. While you finally think you have found your perfect warm spot the temperature plummets 15 degrees and you are shivering. That's usually when some gust of wind off the Icefall comes in and leaves you shaking uncontrollably, wondering where the heck you put your down jacket. 2pm every day- every day. The clouds all come rolling in, and from there it's just cold. Hawaii's never cold. Or at least not to a non-Hawaiian. We had a Hawaiian co-worker in San Diego that used to crack me up because it would be 75 degrees and there she'd sit in gloves and a sweater. Poor Hawaii. What happens when there are three straight days of clouds? The whole state must suffer. Well, that sort of suffering is what I crave right now. A warm beach, a Mai Tai and a pair of shorts where I can actually welcome those occasional clouds, walking into an ABC store on Kalakaua to talk about how hot it is.

Oh well, one day soon enough. Here's a Sun Tsu quote that seems to factor into just about everything dealing with this trip: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". In this case and using whatever optimism I can muster, it means that when we get higher and higher, being numb at Base Camp and Camp I will allow us to be less miserable at Camp III and Camp IV. Wahoo! I guess we'll find out soon enough as we head back up the Icefall at 4am tomorrow morning. Yawn, time for bed. Where did G-Man hide my hot water bottle?

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