Bottom of Icefall, beginning of Khumbu Valley
I walked as far as I could today. OK, that sounded worse than I meant. I walked from my tent to the end of Everest Base Camp at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall.
As I left the noise of stoves, music, movies and yak traffic; a sound etched deep in my memory came into focus. It was the low roar of the winds ripping along the high ridges of Everest's West Shoulder. The plume off Nuptse rivaled Everest.
These high winds tell of harsh, unclimbable conditions right now. I remember laying in my sleeping bag in 2002 with winds so hard, the snow was catapulted right through the thin nylon walls. The sound today was the same as my memory recorded then.
Base Camp continues to be quiet. I saw only a few Westerners. The Sherpas were busy outside.
Some of our IMG Sherpas made a quick carry to Camp 2 today with their high altitude gear and oxygen. Kami, my personal Sherpa, told me he went from BC to C2 in 5 hours with a full load.
He reports the route is in good shape as is the Icefall. Six dedicated Sherpas, aka Icefall Doctors, establish and maintain the ladders in the Icefall.
There will be 8000m of fixed ropes this year - all high quality 10mm nylon. It will take 60 Sherpa loads to place the rope, anchors, ice screws in position. They route might be fixed to the South Col in a couple of weeks and to the summit in early May; weather dependent.
Tomorrow, Kami and I will climb to Camp 1 on Pumori for my acclimatization and also for the best view of the South Col route. Wednesday,we will enter the Icefall for the first time and on Friday climb to Camp 1 for two nights,then Camp 2 for two nights, before returning to Base Camp.
For as frightening as the sound of roaring wind is; it is also strangely comforting.
Memories are Everything
Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. He is climbing the 7 Summits throughout 2011. He has summited Vinson and Aconcagua already and leaves for Everest in late March. All to raise $1 million for Alzheimer's research. You can read more on his site.
Photo Courtesy AlanArnette.com