Audio Dispatch from Mt. Everest
After twelve days of trekking through the Khumbu valley we finally arrived at Everest Base Camp on Wednesday under snowy skies. Base Camp sits on top of the lively Khumbu Glacier at the base of the infamous Icefall; a dangerous crevasse field that climbers must cross to gain access to the upper reaches of the mountain. Camp life is everything but uncomfortable; complete with a dining tent stocked to the zippers with food that would make your doctor cringe and a movie tent for down time between rotations. Our head chef Kadji has already won me over with yak steak sizzlers and mexican burritos. And despite being at 17,500ft my appetite has held strong!
Upon arriving at base camp I was greeted by my Sherpa climbing partner, Decha. A 29 year old father of two from the village of Phortse, Decha has reached the summit of Mt. Everest five times. When not scaling the world’s highest mountain Decha is also a competitive marathoner and has completed the Everest Marathon three times in the top-five. Decha has a handsome, compassionate face, one that elicits the “where have I seen you before” reaction. When I reached out to shake his hand he smiled and gave me a big hug and just like that our friendship was formed.
We spent the past few days training in the icefall, practicing ladder crossings and ascending fixed lines. The ladders are used to bridge the crevasses in the icefall, and are roped together to span wider crevasses. So far this year the biggest crossing is three ladders-wide, but the ice is always moving and in previous years the crossings have been up to six ladders wide!
Today we are heading back down the valley to get ready for an acclimatization climb of Lobuche (20,000ft). Traditionally expeditions begin their acclimatization rotations on Everest however our team will first climb Lobuche instead to avoid unnecessary time spent in the ice fall. Once we begin our rotations on Everest, we will already be acclimatized to the height of camp one which will enable us to move fast through the most dangerous section of Everest.
This past week I’ve been battling an upper-respiratory infection which has made life pretty miserable. However I seem to be on the mend now after a course of antibiotics. I will do my best to post an audio from the summit of Lobuche!
***POST update: Climbed to Lobuche’s summit early yesterday morning, below is an audio dispatch from my satellite phone: