Everest Base Camp—17,530 feet (5,343 meters)
N 28º 00.336' E 086º 51.504'
A messy weather picture has most teams pulling back from immediate summit bids. That isn’t so strange at this point of the season. It is not quite awful weather and not quite good weather... tough to commit a bigger team to a resource-burning summit bid without a bit more stability. And we hope that stability will be on the horizon soon, but in the meantime...
My team of Seth, Erica, Kent and Ang Kaji can still head up for our final acclimatization rotation, and we will tomorrow morning. The days are still shiny and blue each morning with messiness creeping in near midday. Wind, clouds and some snow showers roll in, and down here in Base Camp we retreat to the tents. But none of that should keep us from hopping up to Advanced Base Camp [ABC] and making an effort to sleep at Camp 3 in these next few days.
Whereas just a day ago, it seemed unreasonably tough to gear up for this mission, now that the decision has been made we are each eager for it. The only thing worse than actually taking risky, uncomfortable action at high altitude for four or five days is sitting down in Base Camp contemplating it. We are now set to get on with it.
There will be a few significant tests to this round. The first will be our effort to go directly from Base Camp to ABC without a night at Camp 1. It means getting up just a bit earlier and walking just a bit farther than we have, so far, but my guess is that we are capable of it. Then, it will be important to improve on our past performance in what will be our second climb up the Lhotse Face and to withstand the weirdness of a first night close to 24,000 feet [7,300 meters]. We’ll test out our oxygen systems in the place they were designed for and try to work out any kinks before the summit bid.
Despite the avalanche accident and a day that was anything but restful—smack in the middle of our time down low—we are now well rested, healthy and ready to get our work done. I believe that Peter Whittaker’s team actually has things a bit tougher now, having to keep their edge for an imminent summit bid while patiently waiting a few more days in Base Camp. This kind of thing happens a lot in mountaineering, they will do fine with it.