I was certainly a cold night, though I couldn’t help feeling if my own fears made me feel even cooler. Crampon time, my hands felt cold, and I realized I was nervous, but more importantly I was tired. I’m really tired, not just any tired, I could feel my body wanting to take a nap, specially as I was done with my crampons and as the rest were getting ready, I kind of looked to a different side and took a “mountain nap”. I haven’t felt that way before, I think too many emotions, too many unknowns could have possibly taken my energy. But now I needed to focus, as still it’s the Khumbu and you can take it for granted.
The sound of the water underneath the glaciers stronger as they have been melting away. And so we started going, as always, all of us were being evaluated by the guide teams. So it’s not that we can slack too much, as too much slacking could have you turned around as you’d be slowing everyone else. So in all my tiredness, I needed to keep up.
Danny was on fire, he was way ahead of the game. Ang Dorjee went with him. I was keeping up with Lydia, Brian and Mark; Roy was a little behind climbing with Mike. And so the first steps came through.
Through our first big climb into the Khumbu, it seemed there might have been a small avalanche as there was a massive brick of ice, the size of a mini cooper car, in the middle of the route. Ever since we started walking through the Khumbu, seeing these always gave me the jibes. For me, at times it almost felt as if I was walking among a cemetery. I had never shared with anyone these weird feeling, though maybe I was walking among a cemetery. This area has been known to take the lives of many, many brave sherpa’s; many of them whom are not even announced by the news. I kept with my praying; and carefully walking.
We started crossing the ladders, the first big group of ladders, almost 45mins after our departure from crampon zone, which meant that we’d be taking a break after. Certainly it’s a blessing that we have the amazing work by the ice fall doctors/Sherpa’s whom set up the ladders; though because of all the activity, some ladders were showing worn out signs. The wobbliness was more profound, hence my praying got more highlighted.
First big break, and I could feel my tiredness. As I waited for the rest of the team, I took my ice axe and pressed it against a big rock and quietly started taking a small nap. I need to lay down. The big pieces of ice around me that looked as small caves, started calling me for potential nap spots. “I only need 10mins” is what I wanting to ask Lydia, Mike or Ang Dorjee; but I don’t think they would agreed. And after those stretched 10mins, we continued climbing.
For me, there was no longer a freakiness about the Khumbu, somehow all the previous rotations might have hardened the fears. I was more concerned about my digestive stomach which seemed to slowly be waking up and maybe start it’s daily chores. “Go back to bed” was the directive orders for my poop-to-be.
As we got deeper into the Khumbu, staying focus took all my energy. I kept almost challenging semi-shaming myself: “Come on Silvia, you have gone to so many raves and have partied way beyond your share at these times, hence pull yourself together; this is just your biggest rave ever, STAY AWAKE!!!!!!”. We were deep into the Khumbu, seracs and crevasses surrounding us. As we started crossing some ladders, specially those more wobbly, I just kept laughing sarcastically. I wasn’t too fearful of them; or maybe because the deep empty crevasses of unknown dark space were inviting me to fall asleep; to me in a very morbid way this was a win-win situation. If I was to fall on a crevasse, I might be able to take then take a nap!
We kept climbing, being careful, maneuvering through broken steps, large pieces of ice had now melted and that now were obstructing some horizontal ladders. Gone were the days of very sturdy ladders, here we had ladders that had been crossed over thousand of times back and forth and you could feel the real wear and tear We had to almost kneel and crawl our way through them.
And then suddenly, dawn, it was possibly close to 4:30am, and you can see that the sun was starting to light up the gorgeousness around us. The glacier alive and feeling a little warmer by the sight of light. A big break on a spot that I was familiar with natural light.
Danny definitely had gone up quite fast, way ahead of us. Mark, Brian, Lydia and I were walking together. Mike and Roy quite behind us. This is certainly one of the ultimate tests of endurance. You don’t get stronger at altitude, you only get weaker, the close to 50 days in the mountain has taken a toll on all of us, we all had lost weight and muscle yet it was now our heart and spirits that keep pushing the lifting. Even though we were all part of a team, this is very certainly an individual journey, falling behind wasn’t always good news. Sending good energy to myself and everyone would be the only thing I could do.
A beautiful opportunity to take some shots as we were pushing into camp 1. Just stunning to capture the amazing beauty of the Khumbu in all its majesty. The beauty of its seracs and crevasses, somehow they seemed more spectacular than before. Just stunning to be walking among these incredible monuments; feeling so small while passing such pieces of glacier. Feeling so humbled that we are able to make our way through them. It was just so stunning to watch. And then the final stair/rope/climb push to camp 1. And maybe the chance to take a quick nap!
As we got to camp 1, no time for naps, a change of equipment, leaving all our poles, from now on, it’ll simply be ice ax going forward; brief standing toilet if needed. We need to push to camp 2. I was barely staying awake. I felt so much gratitude that we had passed safely through the Khumbu, I said my prayers, though I could feel my body screaming for a nap. “Silvia, in 90mins you can take one” I whispered to myself. But first the ups and downs through the Western Cwn (Cwn is welsh for Valley) to make it to camp 2.
As we started the up and downs walls from camp 1 into camp 2, we came across the returning expeditions that had summited Everest 3 days ago. I felt a little bit of jealousy, as they had achieved an impossible dream, but they were also lucky to be returning alive. Some of their faces said it all – exhaustion, frost nips. Some of them shared it had been way too cold and not too enjoyable and were so happy to be descending. All my body wanted was to lay down. Making it to camp 2 and laying on my tent was the equivalent of going to nirvana, I decided that’ll be as far as I’ll let my thoughts go. After a good nap, I could continue obsessing with the next days. I first had to make it to camp 2.
The sun was just beaming to us, and it was so beautiful to see the extend of the Western Cwn, a broad, semi-flat, undulating glacial valley basin. We still had to push up and downs through various ladders and others, which made it still quite tiring for us. For me, I was operating on overdrive. Finally done with the last ladder, and we got greeted by one of our kitchen team from Camp 2. Lemon tea, which felt so good, and from now on, the last push to Camp 2. We had about about 45mins left, but my pace was so slow I made it in 90mins. As I saw the sights of camp 2 (still with another 45mins left), I started internally cursing that our camp was among the furthest from the entrance to Camp 2 and also a little on the higher side.
My poop was starting to wake up, and then the urge. As we reached the early parts of camp 2 my urge was getting out of hand. I started convincing myself to think of everything else but pooping and I fooled my mind for about 20mins, yet right after, I was suffering. The mission became to look for a bathroom we could borrow, and Madison Mountaineering were kind enough. With that massive relief gone, Nirvana (our Camp 2) was at close reach and the overdue sleep a must.
As we reached camp 2, the team on site congratulated us. We also caught up with Masha and with Claudia and Richard who were patiently awaiting for their Lhotse chance. Word was that a couple of teams were going to venture out into Lhotse in a couple of days.
All I wanted to venture out was sleeping. After hydrating myself well, I succumbed to my comfy sleeping bag, as the most comfortable bed ever my back had touched. Sooooo good! Goodnight everyone (only 11am) this was sleeping time!!! Though by 1pm, it was lunch time. Nap time will have to be continue, now it was time to keep eating and strengthening the body.
Agenda for the afternoon, more sleep and by 6pm, it was dinner time. The plan still stand for us to relax tomorrow, though the weather, semi-clear, didn’t seem sunny as I had thought. Nonetheless, having arrived to camp 2 safely was enough of a gift for me. That evening after dinner, I walked towards an isolated spot and gave my gratitude to all the valley surrounding us. As I looked towards the Everest direction, I could only dream that maybe beautiful Everest would allow me to get closer to it!
Treat for the Day – Guest Bathroom with Toilet paper!!