Everest V: Delays and Demons

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Delays begin to take their toll on morale.  Steve uses supporters’ messages to overcome his demons.

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Posted by Project 7in4 on Monday, 7 May 2018

Everest Day 19, 03-May-2018

Camp 2 back to Basecamp.

Last night up at Camp 2 I slept 11hrs straight. Camp 2 is at about 6400m and up there I normally have quite broken sleep in the thin, cold air. But last night I passed out at 19:30 and didn’t wake until 06:30. Maybe it’s my acclimatisation improving or maybe it’s just how exhausted I was after yesterday’s efforts on Nuptse, either way, it was a great night’s sleep.

After yesterday none of us felt like an overly early start, but we were keen to get back down to the relative luxuries of Basecamp. Breakfast was chapati, fried eggs, and masala tea then we packed up and got going. I left most of my gear behind to use on our Everest summit attempt so had a nice light pack to come down with.

I paced Jon back down and we made the descent from Camp 2 back through the Icefall to Basecamp in under 2hrs.

First port of call was a shower. The makeshift shower at Basecamp would rank up there with one of the worst I’ve had but feels so good under the circumstances.

Spam was then served up for lunch. Now I would normally never touch the stuff at home but sliced fried spam with a side of potatoes tastes so good up here. It’s all relative I guess.

After a bit of fun on Nuptse the past two days, we’re all set for an Everest attempt but the weather isn’t playing ball. The rope fixing team has been doing an awesome job and have already fixed to the South Col but with high winds forecast for the next week may be sitting and waiting for a while.

Everest Day 20, 04-May-2018

Day in Basecamp.

I was really hoping for an early Everest summit window but doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Jon and I are acclimatised, fit* and ready to go. We just need things to come together with rope fixing and weather. Until then we’re playing the waiting game.

Today was just spent in Basecamp. I cleaned my tent, did a bit of personal admin, watched a movie this evening, and generally killed time. I’m developing an irritating sore throat and cough which I’m trying to manage. The joys of these high altitude expeditions!

*Fit is a relative term. After months on the road poor nutrition, strenuous days, high altitude, tent living, battling minor ailments, etc, our bodies are constantly degrading but we’re “relatively” fit.

Everest Day 21, 05-May-2018

Another day in Basecamp.

I can almost start cut and pasting my daily updates: Wake up, have breakfast, do a bit of cleaning/washing, have lunch, have a nap, have dinner, watch a movie, play cards, go to bed…. Welcome to Basecamp life!

So yeah, I felt pretty sh*t again today so did nothing, much the same as yesterday. Problem is it becomes circular: You feel like sh*t so you rest. You rest too much which makes you feel like sh*t. You feel like shit so you rest. You rest too much which makes you feel like sh*t. You feel like sh*t so you rest….. I’m sure you get the point. That’s the cycle which I feel like I am in at the moment anyway. I do need to get out of it. Maybe I’ll wake up and do something tomorrow. Or then again, maybe I’ll wake up, feel like sh*t and rest…..

Throughout all the climbs to date I’ve been motivated to try and train on rest days, to try and do what I can to keep my strength and fitness up. Now with the end in sight, I just want to get up, get down and get home. These continuing delays are killing me. And unfortunately based on the current forecast we may still be waiting for some time yet. There are strong winds up high at least through to the 10th so no summit window in that time.

I was desperately hoping for an early summit opportunity on Everest, something early May. Being the last of the 7 Summits, as soon as I get up the clock stops so the earlier the better. Every day I sit and wait now is another day I lose. Early May has now come and gone and with it, the days on my 7 Summits clock keep ticking by. I need to try and remain patient and just be in a position to give it a shot at the earliest possible chance. Easier said than done.

Everest Day 22, 06-May-2018

Another day in Basecamp. The wait continues.

The weather forecast still has no good news so it is just a case of sit and wait.

Today I decided to stop moping around basecamp feeling sorry for myself and went for a walk up Kala Pattar. It was my 3rd time up this trip and lucky 13th in total since I first came here. It actually felt pretty good. I purposefully backed the pace off a bit, kept the heart rate down and breathing under control while I try and recover from whatever has been plaguing me the past few days. But taking it easy I was still up in 39min and felt really comfortable.

Back down from Kala Pattar I stopped in at Gorek Shep and jumped on the WiFi for a while. The WiFi at Basecamp is so intermittent and expensive I avoid using it. It just makes me more frustrated than anything else. But with semi-reasonable WiFi at Gorek Shep I downloaded emails and jumped on social media which I hadn’t done for a while.

Sitting at Gorek Shep reviewing posts to my Facebook page I was overwhelmed by all the messages of support. I guess I’ve been living in my own little bubble, focusing on preparing for the climb ahead and semi-detached from everything back home. But seeing all the videos and messages of support which family and friends from around the world have been posting over the past days was truly humbling. Some even almost brought a tear to my eye (as hard as that is to admit publicly). I’ve been on the road for several months now and while it has been an amazing journey, there is so much I miss at home. There is so much I just want to get back to.

For now, I stay squarely focused on getting up and down this mountain. I just hope the weather starts playing ball so that we’ll get a shot at it sooner rather than later.

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