Position Date: 2010-10-19 01:55:04
Position Lat: 28.0056
Position Long: 86.8579
Just a quick update before I continue with a description of our Everest Summit. We are now in Pheriche on our way to Namche Bazar where we will meet Terramar's Jeff Danzer. The trip down from base camp was both exciting and sad. Walking away from where I spent the last month, I stole one last glance over my shoulder. A lot happened here.
As our summit was the first autumn summit in something like five years, the Sherpas have become something of celebrities here. We stopped frequently to talk and tell our story. Of course, at several tea houses we were offered congratulatory beers and felt obliged to accept the 'gifts'.
Passang and I had left earlier than the rest of the team as I had to get to Pheriche for an interview with CNN. We raced each other down the trail delighting in our newfound cardiovascular abilities - Passang leaping and catapulting himself pole vault-style with one of the Leki poles I had given him, me trying to keep up and not stumble in my somewhat altered state. We laughed and jumped passed other trekkers in what I can only describe as the simple act of enjoying life.
Now back to the summit story...
We made our way past the balcony about the same time the sun began to rise. We were treated to a spectacular scene and I watched the entire valley begin to unfold. Everywhere I looked there were different mountains and valleys to investigate.
Had we been climbing in the Spring, we most likely would have made it to the summit in about six hours. But now, four into our climb, we ran into a small road block: we caught up to the the rest of the team who was placing fixed rope slowly making their way to the South Summit. The next six hours of our climb involved Passang and I slowly making our way upward, then finding a comfortable spot to sit, waiting for up to an hour for the next section of fixed rope to get placed. Luckily the sun was out and we were able to stay relatively warm. I tucked my face deep inside the hood of my Sierra Designs down suit.
About the same time we were to reach the South Summit two things happened. One, we ran out of rope. Two, the clouds started rolling in - both did not bode well in my mind. To solve the rope situation, we cut some of the fixed rope from below us and relayed it forward. The impending whiteout, well, that just added to my stress.
At the South Summit, I seriously considered turning around. I could see the summit, but it was getting late - after 11 and the weather was turning really sour. We still needed to get down and now that we had removed much of the fixed rope through several dangerous sections of the route a hasty retreat would be slow and arduous. I asked Chhering what he opinion of the devolving situation.
'No problem,' he said.
Unfortunately, Chhering had slighty frost nipped his hand and therefore Nima (Kalla) led through the Hillary Step. I didn't think we would get up. Slowly, he kicked steps and cleared snow and eventually made it to the top. We followed slowly and carefully reaching the summit about 200 meters later.
It was a relief more than anything, but more than celebrating success I was more worried about getting down in the impending storm.