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On the Way to Everest Base Camp

Iím on the way to Everest Base Camp. I want to use the next four days to get even better acclimatized. The weather looks like itís going to be pretty good the next few days.

I want to really take advantage of the time so Iím totally prepared when a summit window opens Ueli at Everest Base Camp May 2012up Iíll be ready to take on the big mountain. Maybe I am the Swiss Machine. When it became clear that it wouldnít work out for the ďKhumbu ExpressĒ (Northfaces of Cholatse, Tawoche and Ama Dablam) I totally changed my focus to Everest. I guess Iím just pretty simple in that I need a clear goal and clear ideas.

Ama Dablam together with Freddie Wilkinson was a good acclimatization expedition. Now, however, I donít want to waste any time or let the weather wipe out any plans so Iím putting all my efforts to Everest. Along the way Iíve reflected a bit on how focused I actually am. I just canít in such a case like this motivate myself for something else. I have to follow my own path. Iím really happy now and feel quite relieved that Iím on Everest. Now Iím working on my next goal, and I hope that it works out this time.

Iím also noticing how Iím changing; I think Iím getting older. The wildest phase of my life is now behind me. Now on Everest Iím toying with the thought to try the West Ridge; however, the conditions are really icy. This year in particular, for some strange reason, is a really busy one on Everest and in the Himalaya, although next year is the 50th anniversary of the first climb via the West Ridge. But now, there are two large teams in the area and the entire surrounding area is outfitted with fixed ropes, even on the tough West Ridge. That means whether you do the normal route or the West Ridge, it doesnít make a lot of difference.

Maybe I will have the chance to do an ascent like the one on Makalu without using fix ropes. Or the one on Shisha Pangma last year, as I was on my way completely alone.

I notice that Iím perhaps a little less driven that I used to be. If it all works out then pedal to the metal! But when the conditions arenít quite right I can accept it better now that thatís the way it is, and itís just better to do something else. Somehow thatís a good feeling. Iím happy about it too. Iím just not so prepared to take big risks. Still, the fire is burning inside.

I still need athletic challenges just as much as before, but the risks have to be considerably less. Iím looking forward to the return from the expedition. Iíll get to go running, then plan to take on the Jungfraumarathon and then New York Marathon. Those are huge challenges for me. I am noticing too how I can still make such huge progress. Iím not a good runner but I can for sure get better. And thatís what itís all about Ė working to develop yourself further, to make advances.

And thatís what fascinates me about Everest. Itís the highest mountain in the world, and I just want to experience one time what itís like to stand on the top. You canít go higher; the air will never be thinner.

 

Ueli Steck

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