Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Day in Base Camp

We slept surprisingly well last night in our tents- the largest hurdle was getting out of our sleeping tent to walk across the rocks to the toilet tents. RMI has set up quite a mountain home here- with a lending library, movies, board games, and outdoor games. Solar-lit pathways and a communications tent make it seem very high tech. And then with Kumar the chef and his crew, dining is a highlight each day. For the first time in 10 days, I didn't have boiled eggs for breakfast!

It was great to have the morning to lounge a bit, but then Lucy, Corell and I went it on the glacier with Linden and Phura for some ice climbing training. While I had had some practice with fixed -line travel in an expedition skills course on Rainier a few years ago, Lucy and Corell hadn't. Linden set up a course with a few sections so that we could practice ascending, traversing and rappelling. I really enjoyed the ice climbing, but I am worried about the 500-800 ft head wall that we'll need to tackle on the way to the summit of Island Peak. It's not the Lhotse face on Everest, but it's a helluva lot of wall for me. Hopefully my knees won't give out mid-way. Our arrival in Everest Base Camp marked a transition for us- most of the group will be heading down and out tomorrow, but Lucy, Corell and I are gearing up for this climb. We are still hoping for those down suits, but alas, I think they will stay at EBC.

After a wonderful lunch, Corell and I did our devotionals, and we are struck once again about some of the similarities between Buddhism and Christianity. The concepts of dying to self, of compassion, and of oneness resonate. After our brief discussion, I again spent some time trying to get out these posts but the coverage was very spotty and my luck has been poor. Instead, we headed out to the horseshoe pit that Jeff created, and proceeded to play as we watched the snow cloudscape drift ever closer. Thank God for those downsuits, because weather became almost immaterial. As Sasha says, "They are the bomb!". And so we played snowshoes...and the game is very different on ice because the shoes slide and bounce. It was great fun, and I know we all looked fantastic in our suits! For the record, Sasha and Laura are the ringers, but Laura is now the Khumbu champion!

I felt better today, so I was better able to appreciate the food that Kumar prepared- fried cauliflower, pasta, meat pie--- and for dessert a chocolate cake! It's amazing that he can pull all of this off- with the aid of an oven, a pressure cooker and huge stove- all at 17,000 feet. Impressive. Muscles evaporate at high altitude, so food is an ultra -important part of each day. It is obvious that they take great pride in their work, as each course is served with a slight bow, and a shy smile.

Its been a tiring day, even though we actually didn't do too much. At this altitude, walking to the toilet tents wipes me out, and tugging on my snow boots leaves me gasping for breath. The snow has been falling since late afternoon, obscuring the landscape and our earlier footprints. Linden and Jeff tell us that it should be warmer tonight because of the heat trapped by the cloud cover- so here's hoping I won't need to sleep in the down suit!

Love to all!!

Sent from my iPad

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