Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mount Everest Summit Push: Rest Day At Camp II, 18 May

Previous Post: Climb to Camp II from EBC

Rest day. The Sherpas pushed out at 3am to further stock the upper camps one last time before we get going. Lhakpa told me that it takes them around 7 hours to make the South Col from Camp II with loads. I haven't truly figured this phenomenon out yet, but Sherpas have this thing for Camp III- they hate it. They'll only stay there if essentially told that they have to, and if there's no legit reason? Sleep with one eye open. Huh, how about that. Willie made that mistake once a few years back and one of the Sherpas he told still won't talk with him. So what did I learn out of that? Despite their nice, gentle Buddhist nature, Sherpas are capable of holding a grudge just like some of my old girlfriends.

While I'm happy to be parked at 21,000' for a bit to recover from yesterday, I have to admit that this camp sucks. There's garbage and junk everywhere- and more emerges every single day from the snow melt. Our personal camp is perched atop this loose rock scree slope so you hate going anywhere. When you are forced to- as in especially when you have to go See a Man about a Horse (read: take a dumper)... forget about it. Now you are talking about this 30' scramble slip & slide down to the trail where you have to find a nice, secluded spot where (a) someone else hasn't already dropped a bomb (b) other camps with bleacher seats don't sit and laugh at you as you squat and (c) try to time it so 15 climbers & Sherpas don't walk 5' in front of you as you are Doing God's Work. It's truly ridiculous. And then once it's over? You get to go right back up that loose rock slip & slide to get back into your camp, arriving breathless and humbled. Shit is everywhere- literally.

The real estate at this camp is so limited that we came back from one trip and found two tents parked feet from where we had set up our first latrine. Now there's hygiene for you! This camp... ugh. Twice, I purposely waited and climbed the 400 vertical feet up to the top of Camp II in order to sneak into the Alpine Ascents commode, where they had set up a full-on outhouse like ours at Base Camp. It's so nice to have that sort of rudimentary comfort that I joked with Francisco when back at Base Camp that I was going to figure out a way to pack ours and haul it to Camp II. Ugh. All this talk about poo makes me want to go now.

Almost all of today was spent in or around our tents relaxing, adjusting gear, taking naps or eating. Even the birds outside our tents seem relaxed.

Every time we turned around Willie was shoveling food into us, explaining that "we are eating for the next few days." Sure doesn't feel like it, but makes sense. On our last trip up to Camp II Francisco and I came back to Base Camp looking like we could do a runway with Kate Moss so we are definitely about eating. I can feel my energy surge a bit with the added food and drinks so we tell Super Mila to "bring it on!" Right, mom? She said that once and still doesn't live it down thanks to my sister and me.

Regardless, tomorrow's push to Camp III at 24,500' will be a good thing. We are all surprisingly calm about tomorrow, maybe since we have already been there. But what I'm not calm about is the weather- there are all sorts of conflicting forecasts calling for great and crappy weather on the 21st. Couple this with an early monsoon and it's going to be a crap shoot. How frustrating will it be if we make it up to Camp III, suck down a bunch of oxygen, and then have to retreat to Base Camp? Ugh. That will seriously suck. I think all of us are ready for this climb to continue on and the top is the ultimate goal. Willie and a bunch of the other guides have been talking about it all day, so tomorrow we press while a bunch of other teams don't... and many others do. Even with the numbers not going now, the morning of the 21st will still be very busy. Tomorrow in our eyes, it formally begins as we move higher and commit.

All of our Sherpas returned from the South Col today... smoked. Completely smoked. This will definitely not be easy. Seeing such strong and experienced Sherpas like Tendi, Danubu and Lhakpa all ass-kicked isn't an easy, or comforting sight for sure.

As we readied for bed, a beautiful full moon appeared over Lhotse, beckoning us on though. The timing also implies that we will be extremely fortunate in having all sorts of lunar illumination as we tackle the high mountain.

Next Post: Up the Lhotse Face to Camp III

Previous Post: Climb to Camp II from EBC

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