Two more trekkers did not make the trip to base camp (EBC) due to altitude related issues and they headed back to Katmandu via helicopter. Both are doing well at lower elevation. The rest of the group trekked around three or four hours through rolling terrain to arrive at EBC in the afternoon. Although the trek was not steep, at this altitude every step takes a lot of effort and even small inclines leave each of us gasping for air. Dr. Michael assisted “ginger” trekker that was weak with some GI issues after vomiting all over the trail but was determined to make the trek to EBC. When we arrived, we were greeted with warm orange drink by a friendly Sherpa.
Soon after we arrived, snow began to fall. The sight of EBC during a light snowfall was beautiful. The terrain is a lunar landscape. The area is mostly rolling hills filled with boulders and rocks with craters filled with frozen water dotted throughout. The craters vary in size and some are the size of small ponds. There are 42 expedition teams here. Each team has an area where they set up two man sleeping tents and dining tents. In all, there are about 2000 people here and hundreds of orange, yellow and blue tents. EBC may be the biggest village we have encountered since we left Lukla. We were all warned not to stray from our particular camp without a Sherpa guide because the terrain is dangerous to navigate and crevasses exist below the frozen terrain. The “bathrooms” were pointed out and it was explained only pee in the pee tent and only – well you know the rest. In an effort to keep EBC clean, all “solid waste” is caught in large buckets and carried out by a porter to be buried in Gorek Shep. After a very good lunch (the food is much more palatable at EBC compared to the villages along the way), we were assigned our tents and got settled. Our tents are set up on the rocky terrain along the hills or next to the craters. We all put on our warm clothes in anticipation of a cold night. Nights fall to 12 degrees this time of year.
After we got settled, Wongchu took a couple of us “tent hopping” to the other expedition tents. We met the climbing group from India who kindly offered us some Indian delicacies. We also met the medical personnel (2 docs) and the climbing leader for the Austrian expedition. EBC is truly an international village and everyone is very friendly.
We all gathered for a filling dinner before heading to out tents. Some of us that stayed up late (past 9 – lol) and were treated to a visit by David Breashears in the dining tent. David is a world renowned videographer and filmmaker as well as one of the most accomplished mountaineers in the world. He is also a pretty good looking guy and incredibly nice. We had an engaging discussion about climate change and glacier melt that was very informative. David knows these glaciers as well as anyone and is currently involved with a research project that measures isotopes that helps to more precisely measure the glacier lost. We could have talked all night but the two bulbs providing a dim light in the tent went dark at 10 pm to conserve power.
The night was frigid was we headed off to our tents with our water bottles filled with hot water to ward off the chill. But sleeping in a tent at 12 degrees with little oxygen is a challenge.
Brrr from EBC – MJ (hi KM!)