Thursday, May 8, 2008

30 April: Camp II Continued

What a miserable night's sleep. In between the tossing and turning, nose blowing and Chain-Stokes Syndrome causing you to drift in and out of consciousness, I think I got a grand total of 30 minutes of sleep. This includes from bed time at 18:30 to sunrise at 08:10 the next day. And what a perfect way to welcome the sun- the snow show raining down on us inside our tent from an entire night's worth of precipitation buildup and the... wait... what's that noise? It... sounds... like a... jet? Jumping out of bags and racing for tent doors, I accidentally release an unexpected shower of snow when bumping the tent roof. Joe is too tired and intrigued to care much, so I run outside and snap a few pics of a white lear jet circling Everest as it bounces clearly within China and Nepal.

Much speculation abounds as to whether this is it- did the Chinese just summit with their torch? The plane circles around for what must be at least ten passes. No word at breakfast, just mere speculation. It's the first plane we have seen / heard since Lukla, so it's definitely a unique sight to bring in the morning. Later, we learn through the grapevine that the Chinese were actually on top- but the torches that they brought along to light once at the summit wouldn't ignite. So it's back to status quo for us.

A little later, we set off for Camp I on an exercise hike with a mission- we have plenty of gear still staged down at Camp I, so we need to move it up along with basically doing a reverse acclimatization climb. Going down, we were truly moving- 35 minutes tent-to-tent, including crossing some truly hairy ladders. As the glacier moves and reconfigures itself, some of the tiniest cracks are now gargantuan crevasse just days later.

Once at Camp I, we spread out gear and divvied loads: Willie took a frikkin' car battery, Lhakpa took a VE-25 tent, Joe took a solar panel, and I grabbed an antenna. The food, including a good chunk of the remaining MREs, was divided among us and we geared up. One remaining tent- the VE-35 was left at Camp I with some miscellaneous supplies and oxygen bottle in the event a storm rolls in as we are enroute to or from and need a safe harbor. Apparently, one year a Jagged Globe team was stuck above the Icefall for three days before the storm abated and they made safe passage.

Kicking off back to Camp II, the altitude came slowly, but regularly and we made Camp in 1:45, which meant we shaved 15 minutes off our last time, and 1:15 off our original time. It's painful, to be sure. But it does come.

Returning to camp, we also passed several more of the Nepal Army Camp II Detachment. One Lieutenant and Sergeant we happened across were hurting pups, even after summiting Everest in 2003. We small talked with them for quite some time and found them to be quite pleasant. We asked about the plane, and learned that despite the Chinese technical glitch on the torch, they were expected to be summiting in the next couple of days. All of the Army members we came across were very pleasant and extremely professional. We tried to come up with a time when we could meet socially, but the time of day coupled with the Camp II ass-kicking terrain of Camp II (we are 400 vertical feet below their 21,000' location) made that impossible.

So, instead we wished each other well and in passing, the Lieutenant told me that because he has 32 teeth, he can predict fortunes- and our team’s fortune is to summit. First good news in a long time.

We returned to another great dinner in our cook tent and one last chore before bed- to thoroughly tie down our tents- apparently winds at Camp II can approach 100 mph, so we want to make sure that in a few days when we return, we have tents to return to... 100 mph. Yikes.


Belly said...

Hey mate - just a quick note to let you know that I really enjoy catching up on your blog every week or so!

I've always had a bit of an interest in Everest, so it's great to read some 'real' commentary.

Keep up the great work.

Charlie said...

Really enjoy your blog. Graduated from OWU in 1955. Have been following from the beginning. Go Bishops.