Everest Base Camp—17,530 feet (5,343 meters)
N 28º 00.336' E 086º 51.504'
The chatter of Sherpa staff waking up and getting going is the first thing I hear, then the sun hits the tent and it is time to get up. Base Camp is a busy place, but I always think of it as the place that is ruled by the rise and set of the sun. As soon as the sun hits, it is too hot to stay in the tent and once the sun recedes, it is too cold to stay out. I like the simplicity of that; I don’t have to think too hard about where exactly to be.
If all goes well and the weather holds, this will be our final rest before the summit push. There is still so much to do, but plenty of time. At Camp 3 on the last rotation, it was a great test of how things will work, and what still needs to be done. Today, I look through the gloves that I can choose from for the summit bid. I scan my climbing clothing, seeing what needs to be washed one last time and what is ready to go. I count out the energy gels that I will use for the summit push, and tuck in a few packages of fruit snacks for good measure. Looking at all of this equipment, it is hard to imagine that in less than a week it will be tucked onto my body and my back, on my way to the summit.
Of course, so much has to line up. A week seems close, but in reality, it is still a world away. The weather has to be good, but also we have to feel good as climbers. Your body has to be strong and your mind open to the challenge that is ahead. On the summit push, I need to stay healthy, avoiding any stomach bugs or head colds that might be trying to come my way. If everything does line up, then you have to be open to the mountain’s terms. If I have learned anything, it is that you have to come prepared with health and strength but also humility and openness. Nothing is assumed. You have to be prepared to take this experience and enjoy each step of it, knowing that the mountains will give you exactly what they want to—that is the beauty of it.
These are the thoughts that are roaming through my mind as final preparations are being made for the summit. Somewhere between being aware of what the mountain is telling us, and which gloves I should pack, I realize that all the preparations (the mental and the physical) are the part of the experience that I value so much, the part that I can take with me on the next adventure. But for now, I will focus on this adventure.