A day in Everest Base Camp

Between 5am and 6am light fills your tent and you rouse.
6.30 you hear the noises of BC:
The cooking crew going about their breakfast duties; Bonnie coughing; Ally and Rick quietly chatting; Tom coughing and sniffing; and me blowing my nose!
It’s freezing cold and there’s no motivation to move out of your cosy sleeping bag

7.30 the sun hits your tent and within minutes cosy becomes a sauna. Time to unzip the door to let some cool air in and grab the wet wipes and deoderant to prepare to face another day.

Only light clothing required for breakfast. The gong sounds at 8.20 for the stragglers.

Breakfast is cereal followed by eggs in various forms and toast that….well to put it politely….. is bread waved in front of a flame!! The left over toast will become French toast for a later meal.
Breakfast is a lazy affair. If no wind, sitting in the sun outside the tent taking in the view from the “patio” is glorious.
Our view?
The Khumbu ice-fall.

We watch the Water Collectors pass-by on their numerous trips for the day. Up to 50 trips collecting 30+L of water, snow, wind, cold or shine. They are so strong and wiry and have the most beautiful smiles. Regretfully I’m not sure I look that friendly hunched over my desk back home!

Cheeky little birds flit in as close to the entrance as they dare, in the hope of spoils.

After breakfast we have 3 hours of sunshine and warmth before the clouds set in.
We use this time wisely to wash clothes and bodies or air sleeping bags over tents and rocks. I’ve paid the cooking crew to wash my clothes to date but last night there was a slight mishap with the pee bottle so a couple of items needed a light rinse. Bim our head cook provides a bowl with warm water and you squat on the rocks outside the cooking tent to scrub away. A quick walk across the camp to toss the dirty water and back to Bim for rinse water. My clothes are now drying beside me on a rock in the sun.

Rick and Ally are also doing laundry. Bim and his off-sider “David” are busy with the breakfast dishes, their little radio blaring Hindi music. On Manaslu I played some Classical music for Bim. He didn’t think much of it!

The rest of the morning could be spent in the comms tent or just lazing in your tent, reading with the doors wide open to let the breeze through, though the warmth is fickle.

Around BC I can hear Sherpa at work chipping away. BC is always moving and a perfectly flat tent one day can resemble the Leaning Tower by tea time! So continuous construction / excavation work going on. The other thing they have to keep a close eye on are the rocks. Everything is sitting on ice. Some of the rocks look like mushrooms sitting on stems of ice. Better to do a controlled “topple” of them, than have them fall on an unsuspecting passerby.
Our camp is relatively quiet as all our climbing Sherpa are on the Hill preparing C3 and C4.

12:00 the gong calls us to lunch. It also signals time to rug up. Out comes the down jacket. It’s not too bad in the mess tent but outside the sun has been obscured by cloud and sometimes you can’t even see the mountains and it’s cold.

Lunch is a variety of fried dishes and cold salads. I’m rather partial to the chips! We have lots of pots of British condiments. The latest arrival caused rather a lot of gastronomic delight…Balsamic Syrup (thicker than vinegar; Mum and Dad it’s similar to what the Duck Inn puts on their delightful Bruschetta!..Hmmm I’m salivating just thinking about it!). I’ve developed a taste for Branston pickles (chutney to you Aussies) and a Chef Caesar dressing. They make any dish a gourmet experience or at least edible. That said most of the meals are pretty amazing given the conditions they’re cooked and supplied under. Well Done Bim.

After lunch some of us hibernate in our tent, some brave the growing cold for a chat or game of Pente. Occasionally we’ll get visitors from other camps or a trekker that one of us has a connection to.

The quiet afternoon hum is often punctuated by avalanches.

Invariably you’ve fallen asleep at some stage and the dinner gong at 6pm along with the now familiar cry “ Soups ready” forces you from your warm cocoon into the now freezing if not snowing conditions. A little bit groggy you’ve got to be careful negotiating your way through the maze of rocks, ice and ice-pools.

The mess tent is now a haven as the gas heater has been lit. Who ever is last in, is a) farthest from the heater; and
b) has to serve dinner

Entrée: popcorn or prawn crackers accompanying a variety of soups with garlic.

Main course is a combination of rice, pasta or potato; vegetables and sometimes meat (buffalo; you can see it in the supply tent).

Dessert varies between tinned fruits and freshly baked cakes.

Decision time:
Fill your water bottle with Tati Pani (hot water) and head out into the now absolutely freezing cold to your frigid tent and sleeping bag, clutching your hot water bottle
OR
Put off the inevitable and play a few rounds of Hearts or if the computer is powered up watch a portion of a bad American comedy!!

It’s at this point someone realises they’ve forgotten their head-lamp and has to borrow one (usually mine for some reason) for the quick dash back to their tent to retrieve theirs.

Careful walk back over icy rocks to your tent, throw the hot water bottle inside your sleeping bag and remember to empty the pee bottle that you’ve been using during the afternoon because you were too warm to walk the 20m in the cold afternoon air. (This was the step I forgot last night and it had consequences!)

Quickly remove layers and scoot into you’re sleeping bag that by now has a warm patch. Remove watch and headlamp and place them in the same spot that you always do so you can find them for the 11pm and 2pm pee! Oh one last check…. yes toilet kit in place, toilet paper ready to go!

11pm (and again at 2am) drag your self out of cocoon, quickly perform bodily function, all the while reminding yourself that it’s far more comfortable than getting dressed, opening tent and clambering across treacherous rocks to the pee tent.

Nightly ablutions are usually accompanied by the loudest, longest avalanches.

Back into cocoon to await the dawn.

I’ve now moved from my rock (the back of my neck was burning while my butt was freezing and getting jabbed by little stones) to my tent with the doors open. My socks and shoes airing in the sun, while I sit here and type.
Another hour to lunch.
Do I head to the comms tent or just lay back and snooze for a bit and post to you after lunch?

Zzzzzzzzzz

5 comments to A day in Everest BC

  • Martin Downing

    I am really enjoying your blogs. Good to know that things are going well.
    Having spent time in Edmonton Canada, where we regularly experienced temperatures below -20C, down to -42C (with a further windchill factor of -17)I appreciate what you say about cold conditions,….even though we were not in tents!
    Hope that your continued preparation, and the actual climb goes really well.

    Take care of yourself and the others.
    Cheers, Martin

  • Glad to see you discovered the joys of Branston – we’ll have some for you when you come home. L&K JSGs xxx

  • Sally A

    Hi Lynette,

    Lots of thoughts of you flooding through my mind at various times of the day each day, wondering if you have got a day yet for the final climb. YOu must be getting close by now!!!

    We had our first seroiusly cold day yesterday, coldest day since last August- thunderstorms, good rains and chilly SW winds- the year 8 campers were huddling up trying to stay warm, as I reminded them that 16.5 degrees (yesterdays max) is a lot warmer than where you are!!!

    Also watched a SBS documentary on TV last night about a team of intensive care specialists gathered from England and other parts of the world to undertake a research project on the effects of hypoxia on the body- muscles and organs- so they set up a research station in a tent on Everest!! moving from Base Camp upwards with all their equipment, including exercise bike! to measure the Blood O2 content and then biopsy various organs/muscles to determine the deathrate of tissue-(all good news to you!!) so that they can apply this knowledge to saving lives in intensive care units!!!!

    Have you volunteered for that yet???

    It was really interesting to see what daily life on Everest is like and take in the views of the Icefall- as you will appreciate, thought of you the whole time. Hope the ankle is getting better, and the oxygen tanks are full!!

    Glad to read that life in BC is pety civilised- toast is reminiscent of yr 8 camps!

  • Namaste Lynette

    I have been following your blogs and it is an amazing journey.

    It reminds me of my favorite saying “Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible”!.

    Congratulations on all your perseverance and 100 steps!!!

    My thoughts are with you…

    Namaste

    Nancy Fuller

    P.S. HEALING by Carma has been released to radio in Canada – Strength comes from within, climb the highest mountain, continue to ascend…

  • Hi Sally,
    Getting closer, next best guess is the 17th but the weather (winds) are being unpredictable.
    At breakfast yesterday, sat watching the mountains Lhotse on the left Nuptse on the right
    The wind off of Lhotse was blowing left to right, Nuptse right to left!
    How do you predict that?

    My sympathy to Year 8s
    We’ve actually had some beautiful 20’s quickly followed by -10 at BC.
    And no rain only snow, so no getting wet.
    But the rest of the time, down jacket by 1pm
    That said, right now I’m sitting in a tank top! Sorry kids!!

    The Westminster flag is up at Camp 2 awaiting my return to carry it to the summit.

    Namaste
    Lynette

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