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Day 12. Base Camp! (September 12, 2010)

Current Position
Position Date: 2010-09-13 03:10:02
Position Latitude: 28.0056
Position Longitude: 86.8579

Tshering picking his way the moraines of the Khumbu Glacier.Our morning started like so many for the past 12 days: Wake up at a guest house. Eat breakfast (normally a cheese omelet and potatoes). Pack up our gear and start hiking to the next village. While today's morning routine may have been the same as so many others, it's end would be dramatically different.

We spent less than an hour hiking on a well worn path before we took an slight right to head out onto the glacier proper. Picking our way around protruding ice junks and small glacial lakes, I was impressed by the rawness of the terrain. Rocks of all shapes and sizes were scattered haphazardly. Granite, Basalt, Rhyolite, some red and rusting indicating iron. Others green, white, pink, black, gray and more. Here, there were no plants or animals. In geologic terms, we were hiking across terrain that is hardly even a blib on the radar of the history of the Earth's surface.

Our views of Everest continue to be fleeting at best. The low hanging clouds have only allowed two brief viewing windows. The mountain is impressive and daunting at the same time. Equally important, however, it provides a tangible goal to our efforts.

Leaving Gorakshep, we paused briefly at a small lake to skip a few rocks. On Lake Superior, it is one of my favorite things to do when hanging out at the beach. Here, while still a reminder of pleasant memories, I couldn't help but think of how this area is changing.

'It makes me sad to see how much of the glacier is gone,' commented Tshering. There are some very real repercussions to this melting. As glacial lakes fill, there potential to break through and flood valleys increases. Already projects are underway to divert these threatening waters.

It is always interesting to me to see the difference between my imagination and reality. I have seen pictures and read about the Everest Base Camp for quite some time, but the actual set up is some what different than I anticipated... In the good way. We are only one of three camps here. My team, the Ice Fall Doctors and a Japanese team - maybe 25 people total. During the spring climbing season, there are nearly 500 people at Base Camp.

The other good news is the Icefall doctors have been hard at work and have fixed most of the route to Camp One. Using ladders they span gaps in the glaciers. Normally gaps will require two, three, four sometimes 6 ladders tied together. The largest span for us only required two ladders!

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