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Day 26. Unknown Quantity (September 26, 2010)

One of the many ladder crossings through the ice fall.Maria likes to remind me that I'm going to be 40 soon. It doesn't really bother me too much (I'm still on the short side) until I think back and remember my dad's 40th - over the hill they called him. I don't really look my age which is nice and most days I don't feel it either - except today.

This morning was one of those days where I really could have used another day. Even though I was 'resting' in base camp, my previous two days were still fairly active - hiking Gorakshep/Kala Pattar and Pumori Camp 1. I felt kind of worn out.

Any time I go out on an adventure, my goal is to eliminate as many variables as possible. Today, I was dealing with fatigue, the journey past Camp 1 to Camp 2, increase in altitude, an upset stomach the day before, and the worry about new terrain and dangers - in other words, a lot of unknown quantities.

The nice thing about being almost 40 is that the years have left some experience and even a little wisdom. I've been just about every kind of uncomfortable before. I also know that brut power really isn't my strength. Endurance, afternoons and evenings - that is where and when I tend to excel.

I fumbled slowly through the ice fall for the better part of an hour. 'Just concentrate on the next step,' I thought to myself. I still didn't feel good, but I was making upward progress. After another hour, I wasn't sure if I was going to feel better after Camp 1 but I also knew I wasn't going to feel worse.

'One more step.'

By the time we reached Camp 1, I was actually feeling pretty strong. My slow deliberate pace had paid off. Chhering and I took a short break and then headed up to Camp 2. Passang and Dawa who had arrived here first found a nearly completely covered in snow Sierra Designs Mountain Meteor tent.

The route from Camp 1 to Camp 2 is fairly moderate as the slope decreases substantially. We made steady progress all the while marveling at the stunning blue sky and striking mountains. In clear view now, Everest loomed formidabley.

'That is where Camp 3 goes,' Chhering pointed. 'There is the yellow band,' he added.

We finally arrived at Camp 2 - nearly 21,000 feet, had a quick drink and headed back down. The terrain was pleasant to walk down but with enough of a slope that I was sincerely wishing for my madshus skis. In about an hour, we were back at Camp 1.

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