Wednesday, May 7, 2008

29 April: Acclimatizing At Camp II

So some funnier things have happened as we have climbed higher and higher into the rarified air. First, I have noticed that I have turned into some form of human snot machine. I'm not alone in churning out ectoplasm at a superhuman rate, it seems like almost everyone's doing it and reaching for the Chinese toilet paper we have here regularly. Last night I went through almost an entire roll of the fragile TP just to pass the night with halfway normal sinus cavities.

Then about three times I wandered out of the safe confines of the tent to pee. With all the cracking and creaking of the super-hard glacial ice here I then became the recipient of some crazy altitude dreams once back safely in my bag. While Francisco dreamt of fixing lines and actually woke Willie for assistance, I dreamt that on my night walk, I saw a Yeti. Yup, that's right. A Yeti.

So, it was quite a night here at 20,600', where resting pulses race at 110bpm. Finally, the sun hit the tent and it was time for breakfast. Tendi and Danubu made it to Camp II in under four hours and joined us in the tent, where Danubu had a consistent cough and Tendi admitted to me that his nose wouldn't stop running either (he did this great enacting where he takes both hands, points them downward, palms facing inboard and goes "nose is running!" while alternately moving one hand after another from his nose to chest). Even though the only time Sherpas stay at Camp II overnight is on a summit push, this is the altitude where they too begin to experience the effects of altitude. Later today, we saw two Sherpas on the side of the trail in need of assistance. Smiling and waving, Tendi and Danubu took off, heading back downhill to the thicker air at Base Camp.

Willie, however, had different plans for us. Moving tents, shifting platforms, changing the cook tent layout, etc. It made for a busy day and he also sent the three of us to the top of Camp II at varying points, which actually proved beneficial. From our spot, it is still a 25 minute climb to the roof of Camp II and a sign placed by the Nepal Army which reads "Notice: Dear Climbers, All of you are not allow to go forward from this point till 10 May, 2008. I thank you for your consideration.

Enroute back, I bumped into a few Nepali Army soldiers and chatted with them for about 15 minutes. Let me tell you how happy they are to be sent to Camp II. All professionals, and all prior summiteers of Everest, they are doing their jobs. They have seven team members that have been assigned to Camp II to enforce the no climbing ban. All seemed friendly enough and while they did have a Soviet-style sniper rifle, I was thrilled to note that not a single one of them possessed a Chafing Gun.

Returning to our tents, we collectively noted that while not as boring as Camp I, there sure isn't much to do here. By bedtime, my heart rate had dropped to 78, which is fantastic given that tomorrow Willie, in an effort to keep us busy, has decided to send us to Camp I and back. We can't go up, so... great. It'll be back up to 110 bpm by lunch.

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