This is a summary post just to provide a quick update. More detailed posts will come next week.
After 6 days in Namche we returned to Base Camp on the afternoon of the 17th.
There were weather windows opening in the next few days and we could have headed straight up the hill but Tim, now back down in Base Camp after his summit the day before, insisted that it would be too busy and there would be huge crowds. Probably correct but after our 6 days of doing nothing in Namche (and being trapped for one day due to bad weather), plus missing out on the summit of the 16th, we were itching to get moving. Tim advised that he can provide a Sherpa if I really want to head straight up but he won’t be coming.
There was a good window in a few days on the 21st which most teams were heading up for and despite the potential crowds, Rory, Jon and myself wanted to jump on it. Meanwhile we were being told that we should wait until after the 24th when there is a much better, longer, stable weather window which should present perfect conditions and minimal traffic.
We were torn. Especially as Ronny, who is climbing Lhotse not Everest was heading up straight away! The thinking behind that decision was that Lhotse has a fraction of the climbers therefore will not have queues. He should summit on the 21st.
By the 18th, Base Camp was empty. We felt we were the last fools left. It turned out there were a few more teams waiting around for the later window but this information didn’t provide much respite.
It’s now the 20th and we are still sitting in Base Camp. We keep hearing of a few summits here and there with a lot of people turning around due to the high winds.
According to the news, tomorrow morning (21st) should see a lot of summits. Possibly a hundred or more. Having said that, the winds have changed again and are supposed to be ripping tomorrow morning when everybody should be heading to the top and then calming in the afternoon (you don’t climb up in the afternoon).
To be honest, it doesn’t sound like the best situation. Big queues plus high winds equals Frostbite. Thow in climbers with inadequate experience or simply too slow at climbing with some poor logistics (insufficient O2 supply) and serious problems can arise.
I hope tomorrow morning goes smoothly for all and everybody comes back down without issue, summit or not. Remember the priority is not to summit but to get back down safely.
As I type this, it makes me realise that waiting a few days for the chaos to clear is not such a bad thing. We have been here two months, three or four more days won’t hurt. The only reason I want to head home with such urgency is to see my wife and baby girl, I thought I would handle this time away better!
We leave Base Camp tomorrow morning at 3am to begin our summit rotation. We plan to be on top sometime around the 25th/26th. The weather will dictate the ideal date.
This is it. Our final push and last chance. A summit would be nice but coming down in one piece with all my digits is my priority.
What I am most excited about is being home in less than 10 days!
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