Its been an eventful day, its been an amazing day. In the morning just as we were fininshing our breakfast, Pertemba walked into the Eco Lodge. He had been away to Khumjung.
We set off at a leisurely time of 10 am at a steady pace. Soon we had left the flat pasturelands and started climbing the dusty hill to arrving on top of the rocky lateral moraine of the Khumbu glacier. The rocky trail meanders in out of dips and ribs of the uneven glacier. At the most exposed section, just before Gorakshep, you can see the tiny orange and yellow tents dotted at the base of the mountain. From Base camp to the its sloping end, the entire glacier is completely visible, smothered in rock and dust, scarred with gaping wounds of broken, melted and cracked ice, constantly moving and constantly changing.
As we arrived in Gorakshep village and the gap between the Everest West Shoulder and Mt. Nuptse become more apparent, we were privileged with a sneaking view of the highest point on earth, more than three kilometer up in the sky. Her dark rocky face both excites me and scares the hell out of me. I am now wishing I had brought my down suit and summit boots with me. This may be what they call summit fever.
We had a quick lunch at Gorakshep and were soon on the last leg of our journey to EVEREST BASE CAMP. Arriving at base camp, the first person we met was no other than our very own Will Cross. Quietly sitting on a rock with earphones in, he almost looked agitated as he took the music out of his ear and said “I suppose I have to say welcome to base camp again” after which he shook our hands.
Base camp is the same amazing plethora of human diversity. Tents in every imaginable colour, bodies in icy scurry and in sunny lethargy, faces of every race and ethnicity, voices from every corner of the world and prayer flags spanning overhead like fluttering rainbows. Rocks chiseled perfectly by the keen eye of the Sherpas adorn the highest point of every base camp. Some are already flying the prayer flags ubiquitous with climbing in the Himalaya, others are barren and waiting for the appropriate moment in the puja during which the post is raised to span the prayer flags. Somewhere nearby, we can hear the wailing songs of Sherpas, as they celebrate this, their auspicious and important puja day when they pray for everyone’s safety and success. Burning juniper leaves ascend the sweet incense smoke high up, to flatter the deity that lives here.
Our base camp is at the very spot we had last year. Our Sirdar Naga Dorje must have a GPS built right into his head. Linearly speaking, we are located in the middle of the rows of base camps but our camp boasts an open icy back yard flowing directly in to the first pinnacles of the ice fall. We are literrally at Crampon point.
Our camp embraces a gentle slope. At the top is the main kitchen tent and two members’ dining tents; one for the core Eco Everest Group and one for the Himalaya Alert group led by the Austrian guide Walted Laserer. Behind the dining tents stands our communications tent and dispersed around the dining tents are our personal sleeping tents, which I have fitted with insulating mats, sleeping mattresses, pillows and a reading light. Similarly, spread out behind the kitchen tent are the Sherpas’ sleeping tents. At the bottom of the slope are the Sherpa kitchen tent and the Sherpa dining tent. Placed at the fringe of our camp are three toilet tents and the shower tents.