Everest Base Camp & Other Stories

Dressing dry…

Woke up at 1.30am having managed 4 hours sleep. As I lay there, I could hear the gentle lapping of the breeze against the tent and nothing more. Complete silence.Outside, the night sky was alive with bright stars and the snow capped mountains appeared to glow in the dark. It was truly a spectacular sight.

The inside of the tent was filled with condensation which was dripping constantly onto our sleeping bags. They were saturated on the outside but dry and warm on the inside.

Laying listening to the sounds of the wilderness isn’t a great hobby – I found myself focusing on every slight noise around the camp. What were probably squirrel like mongoose became giant ravenous polar bear in my imagination.

Feck this.

I grabbed the kindle and continued to read about the amazing life of Elon Musk.

I reckon I grabbed another couple of hours sleep before we both stirred at 6am. As the daylight crept into our corner of the Himalayas, I chanced a look outside. It had snowed again. About an inch.

The peace of the snowy paradise was only broken by the sound of the kerosene burner sparking into life over at the kitchen tent.

Dressing dry was a challenge as the inside of the small tent was covered in frost and our sleeping bags were soaked from condensation. We took it in turns and finally emerged with toothbrushes and toothpaste to start (and end) the hygiene process. My water bottle has frozen solid.

Up by the kitchen tent, a gaggle of snowcocks have gathered to gleefully accept any handouts. They resemble large partridges and are very noisy and certainly not afraid of us. They are soon joined by some smaller brightly coloured species.

When the chef lets out a yell, I just about catch a glimpse of a red mongoose as he scurries through the rocks with the spoils of his raid on the kitchen.

This desolate, freezing place is teeming with life.

After breakfast, Ang Kami instructs us to put on our climbing gear and wait for his beck. He heads off uphill with a load of rope.

We suit up in climbing harness, helmet, ice axe, ascender, descender, safety ropes, climbing boots and all the warm clothes that we have.

The next 4 hours are spent getting instruction on how to get up and down Island peak without killing ourselves or him.

At the end of the morning, he is giving nothing away about our proficiency but I am certain that I saw him writing a will. Or maybe writing TO Will. Hopefully it was the latter.

While ascending and descending was hard physical work, we still could not keep warm. Ang Kami has told us to expect the temperatures at Island peak to be a good 10 to 15 degrees less. OMG.

Finally we finish with the training and while having a hot coffee, my mind starts to turn to getting home. In 24 hours we will be on our way back to Chukkung – having summited hopefully.

24 hours after that and we will be waiting in Kathmandu to board our flight home.

The adventure continues and has been amazing. A once in a lifetime trip. But there comes a time when you are ready for home.

We are almost there.

Oh, and we’re almost out of baby wipes.

God help the person in the seat next to us on the flight…..

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