Dispatch—Day 47: May 12, 2009
Whiteout Stalls Trip to Camp 3
Photo: A powerful jet stream whips snow off the summit of Nuptse
By Dave Hahn
Photograph by Jake Norton

Camp 2 [Advanced Base Camp]—21,200 feet (6,460 meters)
N 27º 58.811' E 086º 54.160'

This was a great day for staying put. That said, it sounded like everything outside our little tents was moving around. The forecast called for snow and wind—the reality was exactly that. I was wide-awake at 5:40 a.m., listening to what sounded like a 20-minute train derailment: an avalanche pouring off Everest’s Southwest face. Several times I zipped down the tent door, only to see that we were still in the milky midst of the turbulent powder cloud thrown off by the slide. I knew the actual debris couldn’t possibly hit ABC, but it was a reminder to me that it wouldn’t be a day for wandering around. The decision had been made the night before that our expedition business would be put on hold. No Sherpas shuttling supplies or camera memory cards. No members going on upper mountain “hikes” in a whiteout.

My gang was due for an ABC rest day in any event, but lack of morning sun and abundant frost shaking from tent ceilings kept us all deep in our sleeping bags this morning. Pathetic as it may sound, we were too lazy to even get up and begin resting.

Once up and about, we were granted breaks in the cloud that allowed us to dry our gear and view the mayhem up on the heights. Huge ribbons of snow and cloud tore back and forth across the mountain faces and circled us. The Niagara Falls noise of it all eventually became accepted background to our head tunes and reading.

Not much thought was given to an Everest summit today. Our radio traffic with Base Camp just confirmed that the rest of the team was wisely pushing back climbing plans. It can be difficult deciding whether marginal weather should dictate climbing plans. Thankfully, that is no longer a problem. Real Himalayan storms don’t invite calculation and outfoxing. Rather, it is an obvious time for patience, for rehydration, for resting and recharging... and the tying down of loose objects.

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