Weather talk at base camp
Paul climbs a ladder on the way down through the icefall. Photo Fiona Adler.
Location: Everest Base Camp
Local Time: 8pm, Sat 13th May
Weather: Cold & Snowy, Max 0C
Hi Everyone, it's Fi here,
With cold weather we've spent most of the day inside the dining tent chatting and drinking copious amounts of tea.
Strategising and Mind-Games
Now that we've finished our acclimatisation rotations, we're resting here to recuperate for a least a few more days. The atmosphere and talk has changed in nature to intense discussions on when the right time to summit will be. It seems that it is this stage of the trip where the mind-games begin with different theories floating around about when to go, when not to go, etc. Everyone has already been on this expedition for 6-8 weeks and it seems that many people's thoughts are turning to home and "when we'll get this darn thing done". But this is not a place for itchy feet and Paul and I are trying to exercise patience so that we can make our move at the right time (for us), rather than blow our chances too early.
Many people have already left for their summit push - making their earliest possible summit date the 17th May, with the high rope fixing planned for the 16th. The weather forecasts are currently saying moderate-highish winds speeds, but as this timeframe draws nearer, the forecasts seem to be becoming slightly more favourable. Although it did not seem to us as a particularly good weather window a couple of days ago, it may turn out to be perfect. We hope it turns out well for them.
Many others are still down-valley (some as far as Kathmandu), while others are about to head down for a few days in some lower villages.
At the moment, we are resting at base camp. Our Sherpas have gone down-valley to rest and visit with their families but will be back here on Tuesday, so the earliest we will be leaving is Wednesday (giving us 5 full days of rest). But of course, everything from there on depends on the weather.
Reading the Weather
Today we have spent some time looking at the current weather forecasts and learning how to read them. The main factor for the summit climb is the wind speed at the summit - as this largely determines the effective temperature. (The temperature is really the limiting factor as climbers would get frostbite at lower winds than they'd be able to climb in - something we're very keen to avoid!).
As there are no weather stations anywhere nearby, the forecasts are all based on satellite data and information from airplanes flying nearby. Although it seems that there is one core set of data, there are many different interpretations and hence many different weather forecasts - some which are freely available on the web, but most which are subscriber based. IMG subscribes to one particular forecast, but there are many rumors floating around base camp now and teams and individuals are paying close attention to each others movements.
When we have looked at past years, it seems that there has always been one or two very clear weather windows (even last year, although it was so late). So we're hoping this year will be the same. We certainly don't want to be going up if the conditions are not right.
Passing the Time
Someone asked how we pass the time aside from reading and listening to music. It's amazing, but time seems to have a different quality up here - I guess it might be to do with the altitude, but it's similar to when you go camping. As sad as it seems, at basecamp, our days tend to be structured around mealtimes. Every meal is a chance to get together with our fellow teammates and chat - sometimes we sit around talking so long that it's time for the next meal. Such was the case today as it is one of the least pleasant days outside. There is a practical purpose to this as well though - we are all trying to make sure that we're constantly well hydrated (usually having come off the mountain at least partically dehydrated).
Chores like having a shower or doing our laundry tend to take the best part of half a day. Sometimes there are other chores like gathering up food to take up the mountain on our next trip or fixing a piece of equipment that needs repairs. Aside from these things, we definitely do a lot more sleeping than we do at home. Someone asked if it was the standard 7-8 hours. Well, no - it's closer to 12 hours for most of us (5-6 would be normal for us at home). And that's if we don't take an afternoon nap! Although it sounds like a very simple life, I don't think anyone here is bored or looking for ways to pass the time faster.
Someone asked whether at high altitudes we think clearly, and if not, do we know that we're not. There are lots of examples when people at high altitude have made very poor decisions due to the way the altitude has affected their brain. Neither Paul or I have noticed this happening on this trip (yet). One of the reasons that we decided to hire two Sherpas was to mitigate against this exact risk - particularly when on our summit push. We figure that we might want to separate due to differences in speed, but we don't want either of us to be making decisions alone - we figure two minds are far better than one! When we've been up high on this trip, I guess we can tell that our thinking is a bit slower, but we did manage to derive the formula for converting Farenheit temperatures to Celcius at camp 2!
What sort of camera are we using? We have 2 here but almost all the photos we've posted have been taken with our Canon S80??
News on the dog? I heard a rumor that one climber wants to take it back to the US with him - unconfirmed!
Kirk - when we mentioned that Everest wasn't technical, we meant in comparison to some other mountains. It definitely has a reasonable degree of technicality to it - some sections are vertical or very steep, and there are hardly any other mountains with ladder crossings. However, if these obstacles were at sea level, they'd be an absolute cinch for most climbers - it's the altitude that makes it all difficult.
MC - The icefall doctors continually monitor and fix up the lines and ladders in the icefall and all the way to camp 2. Already we have seen sections of the route change several times. Above camp 2, it's up to the individual climbers to repair any anchors that need maintenance (however, they are all backed up by each other so the danger is minimal so long as you are clipped in!)
Mum - Just wanted to wish you very happy Mother's Day for tomorrow - I'm so sorry I can't be there with you and look forward to seeing you in a few weeks.
Nana - Thanks for your lovely message. Have a wonderful Mother's Day as well.
Mama and Oma - Mary wishes you both a Happy Mothers Day too.
Happy Mother's Day to all the other mums and soon-to-be mums out there.
Big hello to Jack. Glad to hear you made it to Kathmandu and hopefully you are in sunny Thailand by now. Take care - we look forward to catching up with you later.
Congratulations Mark & Fi on your new baby Alexander. Look forward to seeing your pics when we are back on a normal internet connection.
Karlyne & Kate - the Hen's plan sounds excellent. Full seal of approval.
Well, that's all for now - time for yet another meal.
Posted by: Chris & Bridget (Stockholm) on May 14, 2006 02:49 AM AEST
Sounds like the resting is going well guys! Hope the weather forecasts are as good as they can be, and that all the different plans, strategies and rumours aren't distracting. Is it quiet round camp with others having gone down?
Is a bit cool in Stockholm today, have got out the 'genuine' North Face warm tops we bought in Kathmandu! Still, nothing compare to where you are.
Chris and Bridget
Posted by: Mark R -- Mountville PA USA on May 14, 2006 02:53 AM AEST
Hi Fi & Paul
Fascinating weather and forecast info, Fi. Being a Weather Channel junkie, I find that stuff very interesting. And now, to you guys there at BC, weather is everything.
Regarding the "technical" aspect you discussed.....I wonder about your and Paul's thoughts on the Hillary Step. Like you said, at sea level, the Step would pose no problem to climbers such as yourself. But with it being at 28800 ft, and after probably 10 to 12 hours of climbing and very little sleep, it could be a pretty awkward. Someone should create a replica Hillary Step at a wall climbing facility....the PR would be easy: "Climb the Hillary Step, right here in Paduca!"
Life in BC sounds good to me....any daily routine that revolves around the next meal is OK with me!
Take care and rest up.
Posted by: Inna and Tim on May 14, 2006 03:15 AM AEST
Hi Mary, Paul, and Fiona,
Mary, we are so proud of you! You look great on the photo... I remember this hat from when you were here in Boston :) We look forward to more messages from you. Paul and Fiona, wishing you luck with the weather and good rest.
Love, Inna and Tim.
Posted by: Paul & Michael on May 14, 2006 04:38 AM AEST
Just checking on how Jim is doing.
Posted by: Shanda in Glencoe, California USA on May 14, 2006 05:37 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
I've greatly enjoyed following your climb since I came back from the Khumbu myself a few weeks ago. I was five days behind you on the trek in to base camp. You were on your first trip up the icefall the day I was there, and you may be the ones I could see with my binoculars.
Now that I've climbed Kala Pattar (not an easy feat for a 55-year-old asthmatic!), I have a whole new appreciation for what it takes to summit Everest.
Good luck on your final summit push. I'm rooting for you, and I'm proud of your effort--whether you reach the summit or not.
Posted by: Donavan on May 14, 2006 05:53 AM AEST
I wonder if a dog could summit Everest?! Probably not without some assistance (Hillary Step?)? Do you think a dog could acclimate to those kinds of altitudes and conditions?
Has a dog ever made is as far as Camp 3?
Continued good luck to everyone!
Posted by: MC on May 14, 2006 08:46 AM AEST
Hello Fiona, Paul, Mary and all...
The photo of Paul descending the ladder down the icefall is spectacular! Love the smile! All of your photos are National Geographic quality. Truly!
Just for fun, I looked up info on some of the revered Gods of the Nepal region. Found this: Another widely venerated god is Ganesh, one of the sons of Shiva. Ganesh is revered in Nepal as the god of wisdom and the deity responsible for deciding between success and failure.
Well, I am confident you will make good decisions and I hope the weather will provide excellent "windows" for everyone on the team.
Sending everyone positive energy...MC
Posted by: Valerie & Rummy Apollo Bay Victoria Australia on May 14, 2006 08:57 AM AEST
Greetings, Fiona & Paul. You've posted another fantastic photo. The photos are even more wonderful when you click on them to see even more detail. I wish you all the best as you rest up for your summit push. I'm tragically disappointed that I will not be able to be around a computer for the next 4 days. I'll truly miss the daily updates, but will catch up on Thursday pm. Stay Safe--Climb Well
Posted by: reynold belletete on May 14, 2006 11:11 AM AEST
while climbing,are crevases ususaly visable which alerts you of the danger ahead.keep safe
Posted by: Dad A .Melbourne Australia on May 14, 2006 12:15 PM AEST
Hi Paul, Fiona and Mary ...('the BC mom')! hey that's a nice tag that you have been given, especially as today is Mother's Day back here. This photo of Paul comming up the ladder is awesome. Now, I do have a question .. what is it that you refer to in a earlier post as 'the yellow band, or is it yellow ridge'. Mary, sorry that all your family cannot be with you on Mother's Day, but we are in spirit! Love, John xxx
Posted by: Rose Gropel on May 14, 2006 01:38 PM AEST
Hi Paul, Fiona and Mary
Just love hearing what you are all doing and CONGRATULATIONS Mary on a fabulous achievement - love the pink hat? You look wonderful - Happy Mothers Day - you are an inspiration to us all! Paul and Fiona - you just leave me speechless with your determination and strengths. Thinking of you all. Stay safe and may all your dreams come true. Much love Rose Gropel
Posted by: William Popper on May 14, 2006 02:49 PM AEST
Thank You for the most interesting narrative and images. My thoughts and best wishes are with you both. The full moon must have been incredible there.
Posted by: Elizabeth on May 14, 2006 06:38 PM AEST
I really enjoy reading your updates, it sounds like everything is going well. I was wondering, do you have any idea when you will start a summit attempt? If so, when? Once again, thanks for all the wonderful updates!
Posted by: sue w on May 14, 2006 08:10 PM AEST
Congratulations on your big walk in, just shows what a bit of training can do. It is a lovely photo of you doing the washing - a woman's work is never done! But it does show that you really made it. Hope you are not so breathless now, what an experience. Good luck to Paul and Fiona for whenever they set forth next.