Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Sunday, April 1st
April Fool's in Pengboche
After our exhausting summit day on Saturday, I collapsed in my tent, and slept from 7 PM to what I thought was 6:15 AM. Dead to the world, I awoke when the cook tent crew called out, "Namaste! Tea?". Still oblivious to the time, and feeling pretty good about my chunk of sleep, I headed/slid down the treacherous "path" to the outhouse--the plastic bag in the rocks. Upon my return, we were being called to breakfast, and at this point I realized I had messed up. Bags were supposed to be tent-side, and my tent was filled with the explosion of the day before. And so, after another breakfast of boiled eggs and toast, the team had to wait for me as I shoved stuff into my bag.
That meant for a later start than we'd hoped, and we had hoped to make it all the way down to Pengboche (where Lama Geshe had blessed us with the kata scarves on our way up valley). While descending from high camp, the sun was warm and reflected off the snowy rocks. We commented that we were all glad we hadn't tried to make it down to base camp (our original plan) immediately upon our descent from the summit. While I could never speak for Linden, Lucy, Corell and I all felt a bit ragged after the climb.
We spent hours walking down the rocks, then hours walking through the rocks, until we reached the more fertile altitude of Pengboche. What began as a warm day turned rather quickly into a cold, windy one. It felt as if we were racing to our new destination- and perhaps we were.
Surprisingly, we didn't discuss the climb much at all. Sometimes it is very awkward to hold a conversation with someone a few feet ahead of or behind you, and facial expressions and intimacy are easily lost. Linden did mention that that was the longest Island Peak summit day he's had. We clocked in at 13:15 hours tent flap to tent flap. Our descent took a lot longer because of the snow- which made the footing, already precarious, even more so.
And so on we motored, reaching Pengboche by around 4:15 PM. We had been eagerly awaiting calling our families, as we'd yet to reach any of them. We were also eagerly awaiting showers, but, as Lucy says, "Showers are overrated," and we elected to forego them. No, that wasn't altitude-induced psychosis, but rather a realistic appraisal of the risk of a cold trickle of a shower and an outdoor hike back to our rooms in the cold. At some point, we rationalized, cleanliness was just stupid. When we saw Linden a bit later and he cautiously informed us of his no-shower choice, he seemed relieved that we wouldn't give him too much grief.
After checking out our plywood rooms, we were delighted to find adjoining rooms with a shared bath. How awesome to not have to go down the hall! The air was thicker and warmer since we had dropped down about 3300 ft. On our way back up to tea hour, we heard our names called, and there was Jeff! He had booked it from Everest Base Camp to walk out with us. He's amazing. And what a treat! And I guess Linden felt like the time was right for sharing, because after telling us for weeks what his dress would be for the next day, he admitted to not bringing long johns with him. While he must have suffered in silence, we are fortunate temps were not colder than they were. I'd have frozen without mine!
After an average dinner of Sherpa stew, vegetable fried noodles, and fries, we were able to call home for the first time in days. It was so great to hear from everyone- and so great to tell them that we'd had success. It is also funny to realize that although we summitted two nights ago, we still have a long walk out to the plane from Lukla to Kathmandu.
Hope all is well back home!!
Sent from my iPad

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