Sunday, May 12, 2013

Go time.

A cup of coffee. A cup of patience.

May 12, 2013
Rest Day at EBC

I set out this morning to visit a friend at the Jagged Globe camp on the other side of EBC.  Along the way I found my progress bogged down by a film crew which in turn was bogged down by an elderly man making slow progress just ahead of them. I told myself to just accept the pace and enjoy the sunny morning, but the man in front was going sooooooooo slow that I just had to pass. Easing onto a narrow shoulder on the right, I skipped past the crew offering various greetings and apologies. But the space on the right disappeared just as I was about to overtake the man. Leaping awkwardly, I managed to get in front of him while only modestly cutting the man off. At this point I heard a voice shout “Cut” and I looked back to recognize David Breshears in the film crew and Reinhold Messner as the man I had just passed. 

The word around EBC is that two Hollywood movies are being filmed here. One is a reenactment of the 1996 Everest Tragedy, the other tells the tale of George Mallory’s fatal Everest attempt. I cannot substantiate either of these rumors. There is a third, and possibly related, rumor that actor Tom Cruise will be arriving here on May 20 to either 1. film a series of scenes for one of these features. 2. open a Church of Scientology outpost. Or 3. both of the above. No one talks much about the Reinhold Messner feature, which we know to be in production since he long ago insulted most of us by claiming that climbing Everest with the aid of anything more than aspirin is “cheating”. Our cat-like indifference toward him is an expression of our contempt, which we maintain until such time he actually walks into a camp and the occupants set about boot-licking shamelessly. 

It snowed last night, degrading conditions for our Team 1 departure from EBC. The launch was scratched at 3:00 a.m. and everyone went back to bed. After today’s sunny weather that snow will have settled considerably making it possible to reschedule the start of our first summit attempt tonight. If all goes well this team will summit on May 17. At this point Ty and I are still on Team 2, scheduled for a May 16 departure from EBC and a May 20 summit target. That is only four days from now, but most of us are already going a little crazy with all the idle time on our hands. Each morning we throw rocks down onto the frozen glacial pond in the center of our camp. Sometimes there is an arbitrary target. More recently we do not even bother with that. We are throwing rocks at ice and something about that creates a soothing sensation in our brains. By late afternoon the ice melts enough for all the rocks to sink through to the bottom. The pond refreezes overnight, and we start the next day with a clean unblemished ice surface. 

At night we gather in the movie tent with the Sherpas to watch a feature film. Though there is an external heater for this tent, it is so woefully inadequate that we usually do not bother to fire it up.  Bundled in parkas, our breath visible in the projector light, we settle in like chicks in a nest. Last night we watched The 300, the grizzly tale of 300 Spartan Fighters who stood up against the invading forces of may thousands of Persians. The dismemberment was on a scale that could make the first ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan look like an after school special. It was a real crowd pleaser, especially among the Sherpa who do not see much of that kind of thing this far up the valley. Regrets abound. 

It seems like so very long ago that i left home. Spring has happened without me. There have been Birthdays and Holidays. Appliances have broken and been repaired. The tabs have expired on my car. Now the pull of home starts to exert considerable gravity. I miss my family, my work, my town. But for the next two weeks I must do all I can to push that back and focus on what I came here for. There will be many years to enjoy those things that make up a comfortable life. But how I manage my mental game in the days ahead will determine whether that life will include a summit photo on Everest. 

May 13, 2013
Rest Day EBC

The best possible news! The weather window we have been targeting for a May 20 summit has taken shape with the jet stream now migrating to the north of Everest. This has both broadened the window and improved the quality of it. The peak of Everest should see very low winds for the period of May 17-24. Such a generous window should allow teams to make their summit bids in an orderly fashion, as opposed to last year when most of EBC tried to shoe-horn into just 2 days. Our team leaders have spoken with other expeditions to get a feel for when they will be sending their climbers up, so we may avoid the crowds, and decided to move our Team 2 summit bid up to May 19. We leave EBC in 2 days. This will be my last post until returning from the summit. 
If all goes according to plan, I should reach the summit of Everest at 5:00 a.m. on May 19 (give or take an hour). That would translate into about 6:00 p.m. PST on May 18 (Bellingham date and time). 
There is a group of 6 U.S. Air Force climbers that are part of our Team 2 Summit Group. Among the various cool technologies they bring with them is a GPS tracker that will post their progress up Everest in real time. As I am typically on pace with these climbers Readers may find it interesting to follow along at 
A special thanks to those of you who have written in comments of encouragement and positive wishes. I feel as though we are climbing this mountain together!
A big shout out to my friends at Meridian Middle School!
My love and thanks to Lin, Trevor, Chase, Mom, Jack, and Don for your support, understanding, and belief in me.