Everest – Days 16 and 17: Training in Base Camp

April 14 (Sunday) and 15 (Monday)

After spending one night at base camp, Andy had to head down (although usually a permit is required to sleep at base camp, our head Sherpa arranged for that).  I was a little upset…  It’s been 2 weeks already of continuous walking, we were high at 17,500 ft, and we haven’t even really started climbing the mountain yet!  And now I was losing one of my best companions…

In order to stay healthy and ready to go further up the mountain, we had to get well and acclimatized to the elevation of Base Camp.  It was actually imperative that we feel good at this elevation; otherwise going higher would not make any sense, we would get altitude sickness in no time.  However, instead of just sitting on our behinds, our guides made us ‘actively acclimatize”, meaning we did little physical activities everyday so make us breathe deeper and thus adjust to the thin air more effectively.

After breakfast we went out to train on the nearby ice, just a review of how to use an ascender, glacier travel, and such.

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sun reflecting off the ice made the temperature rise!  We trained on the vertical wall right ahead of us

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our guides attached ropes to the vertical ice wall to mimic the conditions we would encounter in the Icefall and on Lhotse face

We also walked on aluminum ladders wearing our boots and crampons in preparation for the real thing in the Icefall.  Each ladder had a rope on each side.  In order to correctly and safely cross on a ladder, one must lean somewhat forward and pull on the ropes to stabilize themselves, or ask somebody on either side of the ladder to put tension on the ropes for them.  It is a little easier when someone applies the tension to the lines.  Engagement of the core is essential for optimal balance.  And then comes the proper placement of the feet; you really have to take care of putting the spikes of the crampons on each rung.  It was a bit challenging, even with the ladder suspended only a few inches off the ground.  I really didn’t want to think about the actual ladders in the Icefall with the abyss underneath…

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tension on the rope applied by another person makes the crossing a little easier!

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I’m preparing to cross a training ladder

cautiously getting on the ladder

cautiously getting on the ladder

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successful passage to the other side of the ‘crevasse’!

 We met up with the remaining 3 climbers.  Two of them had decided to sleep in a hypobaric tent at home (one that imitates high elevation, thus inducing changes in human body as it would at real altitude).  This investment saved these guys 3 weeks of the trip!

DAY 18 – Puja Ceremony

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