Mt. Everest Expedition: Linden Back to Base Camp to Join Team
Arriving back into Everest Base Camp yesterday afternoon after twelve days of absence was a homecoming of sorts for me - in days since I was last here with our Everest Base Camp Trek and Island Peak team the community here at Everest Base Camp has come alive with the buzz of climbing expeditions that are now settled in. The trails that pick their way between the piles moraine, ice ponds, and clusters of tents, quite faint a few weeks ago, are wearing in and strings upon strings of prayer flags now emanate from the camps, strung up during each expedition’s puja ceremony. When I diverged off the main trail that passes through Base Camp and walked into RMI’s Camp, I was warmly greeted by our Expedition Team; after several days of quietly walking back into Base Camp by myself I was thrilled to rejoin the Expedition and catch up with everyone . Sitting around our dining tent in the evening we raised our steaming cups of tea and hot drinks to finally having the whole team together and our climb underway.
Clear skies greeted us this morning for our rest day and as the sun crept slowly across the valley we brewed up a fresh pot of coffee and pulled the chairs out of the dining tent to sit and watch the morning light gradually awaken Base Camp. Several teams nearby held their pujas today and the slow sound of the lama’s beating drum could be heard across Base Camp while we sat there. With no other objective than to relax and recover from the days of training and walking, we enjoyed a calm morning. The early breeze that blew through Base Camp when we first awoke soon died and the sun quickly warmed up camp. While the rest of us were more intrepid, Tuck was even brave enough to stroll around Camp in shorts for a few hours. With it so warm out it was a perfect opportunity for each of us to grab a wash. After several days of walking back up the dusty trails of the Khumbu, the hot water and steam that filled the shower tent felt wonderful. Very rarely does putting on fresh clothes feel so luxurious.
Despite our objective of rest, we still had a bit of business to attend to in preparing our gear for our upcoming days of climbing. In the afternoon we spent a few hours sorting our gear and preparing for our first rotation to Camp 1 that will take place soon. After packing our warm layers, down suits, and the small necessities we will need up there, Tuck opened up the Base Camp stores for us to go “shopping” for our meals and snacks that we will need during the rotation. Much like the aisles of a grocery store, but on a far smaller but still no less impressive scale given our setting, Tuck opened up the barrels and boxes of dried fruits, salamis, cheeses, granola bars, candy bars, cookies, crackers, trail mix, freeze dried meals, hot drinks, and soups that we have here. Grabbing a zip lock bag in lieu of a shopping basket, we picked our way through selecting the items that we want to eat during the rotation. Bill jumped for the Fig Newtons and a bag of Trader Joe’s Banana Chips and I spied some smoked salmon, cheese, and crackers, also grabbing a couple of handfuls of the bite size candy bars that are my weakness when sitting around the tent. Before long we had all of our snacks and meals portioned out and packed up for the move.
With the afternoon clouds rolling in and the temperatures returning to their normal chilly level, Tuck retired the shorts for a puffy coat in time to host a couple of climbers to a few holes of glacier golf around camp and a round of horseshoes. The horseshoes game came down to a nail biter one point game but thanks to some last minute technique tips from Tuck I managed to hit the winning point, ensuring our victory but sadly disappointing our guests. Nothing a fresh brewed pot of coffee and some cookies couldn’t smooth over before they were soon calling for a rematch.
We are about to sit down to our first Burrito Night of the trip, an occasion that Tuck was kind enough to wait for me to arrive here at Base Camp before serving. After close to three weeks of dining in teahouses my stomach is growling just thinking about the tortillas, fresh cheddar, and salsa. Since first working with our expedition cook Kumar in 2009, it has been a very fun experience to show him some of the western meals that we enjoy cooking and I have now given up making nachos at home as I cannot make them as remotely enjoyable as his.
Tomorrow we are getting up early for our first true foray into the Icefall, hoping to climb up to an area midway through known as the Football Field. In addition to giving us additional exposure to higher elevations above Base Camp and building our acclimatization, it is an important step for our team in putting our training and equipment into action in the lower stretches of the Icefall and preparing us for our move through it up to Camp 1 in a few days. We are feeling well rested after today and looking forward to tomorrow’s climb.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory