We’ve been at base camp for 5 days now, and starting to feel very much at home. Regrettably, Blake’s injured left ankle wasn’t getting any better and having assessed it over several days his prognosis was trip over and he got a chopper back to Kathmandu earlier today. We’re now down to three for Everest. We’re all gutted to see him go but wish him a quick recovery and safe journey.
Last few days have seen us enter the Icefall for the first time on a “recce”. This is something we have been looking forward to for a long time. The Khumbu icefall is part of mountaineering history.
Professional photographer Steve Brown and I also went to photograph and interview the Icefall doctors earlier this week during a rest day at base camp:
The Icefall doctors are the guys who fix the route through the Khumbu Icefall. Think ropes, ladders across crevasses, and generally keeping the complex route open. Without them it would be total chaos. They are employees of the Sagamartha Pollution & Control Committee and there are 8 of them on this hill, supported by two cook staff and friendly manager Tshering Tenzing Sherpa who invited us in for tea and a nice long chat after the photoshoot. We also spent some time with the Everest base camp ER doctors, who have already had to send down ten Everest hopefuls, mainly with HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). Our relaxed acclimatisation schedule significantly reduced these risks.
Those who know me well, probably appreciate that my tent might be a bit messy by now so its good that we’ve had some extra days to get organised here before moving further up the hill.
Today we had our base camp Puja ceremony. Set in the middle of our camp, a buddhist monk arrived at around 9am and the ceremony took just over two hours and included, putting out the prayer flags, banging drums and chanting, and drinking: first tea, then chang (local brewed alcohol from rice), and then beer.
Most importantly, the Puja is a blessing for the expedition ahead. All our climbing Sherpa are buddhist and while we thoroughly enjoyed the cultural experience this is a critical part of the preparation for going on the mountain. We fully enjoyed the morning.
Wishing Blake all the best down in Kathmandu.