We woke up at 4.00 am and I asked God to guide us down safe and sound. It was so cold. After just 4 minutes and I was kind of handicapped. I couldn’t do anything because my fingers were frozen. I couldn’t believe these fellows from London, Sweden and Poland were complaining about the cold! I had 4 long minutes to think about whether or not to put on my crampons. Of course I must because there was no way I could walk down to Base Camp without crampons. Thanks to Mike who had taught me the trick of using pliers to pull the crampons straps. So I used my Swiss arm kit. It does make a huge difference!
Having fallen after trapping myself with my crampons I decided to make sure my crampons were tied properly and walked carefully. When walking with crampons on no matter how tired you are, your feet and legs should not ‘think tired’ at all as it is very easy to fall with them on. After one hour some of us were at Camp I putting on our helmets. We left camp at 5.30am. Then we start the clip-on-clip-off section (football field and popcorn area). It is a very dangerous area because of the icefall and avalanches. I was warm as soon as I started to walk from Camp II but as soon as we started clip-on-clip-off section I was back to the 4.15 am feeling. I was aware this area was dangerous. This was the second time we were going through here and I could see our Sherpa, Ang Dorjee looking cautiously up and around saying something (praying) and asked us not to stop. After a bit of walking we came at the section where a Sherpa fallen and died when crossing a ladder. It was spotted with blood! It was scary. Scary! ¾ of the way to Base Camp I was already tired and ready for some rest. We got off the danger zone, took off some of our layers then proceed on. Just before we got off the glacier we were all welcomed by camp manager, Caroline with lemon and milk tea and can juice. It was such an auspicious welcome home.
15 minutes later and we were at Camp. Everyone was longing for a shower, real food and rest. I was 4th in line to get my shower and did some laundry. I felt like I had off-loaded significant amount of weight and exhaustion and was felt brand new and ready for something. I wanted to sleep in the afternoon but I couldn’t as it was so hot in the tent and lunch was coming soon. Instead I found myself reading a book. I started by reading “Touch the void” by Joe Simpson before lunch and then “High Adventure” by Hilary after lunch.
I started falling a sleep when I heard someone shouting “bwana mzee, bwana mkubwa” (it’s like sir, or big man) and I thought it was Mike playing around with my mind; but wasn’t. It was Eric, a Norwegian who had been living in Mombasa, Kenya for 10 years now. He was sent to me by Jeff from First Ascent. It felt really weird to speak Kiswahili with him here. We talked a lot for at least 1½ hours. He told me he is climbing Mount Everest as a sign for peace in Kenya during the elections. He is a vegetable farmer and he sells to big hotels and small markets. After a long chat we walked to his tent site.
I walked back to the camp. Deano was sitting in the dining tent. We started to talk about becoming IFMG. Right now I think its most difficult career one to become since it requires one to know how to ski, rock climb, ice climb and be a mountaineer guide.
Mike had told me the boots were here so I collected them from the production tent and went ahead try them. They fit fine but not sure how they will work in a long run. I read a few pages of ‘High Adventure’ then I moved into dining tent since there was heater and I continue reading ‘Touch the Void’. Dinner was announced and the tent started to fill up which made Neil, Iza and Yohan and myself move away from heater. I have never had this soup ‘misoshiru’ (fermented soya beans) then our main course, which was sushi and chips. I said to myself that I would never have sushi because I knew it was raw fish. Guess what – it was very delicious. I never judge anything before you test it!
After dinner we watched the movie Top Gun. I was cold but not freezing. After the movie I had to refresh my hot water nalgene (hot water bottle) then head out to my tent for a good night’s sleep. I sent a few text messages to my wife, sisters and mother and was soon as was catching my sleep. Then my mother called me. It was very nice!
It will be even more challenging on our second rotation and final push to the summit as we will have to select our own meals and cook for ourselves at Camp III and Camp IV. I will have to be careful what I choose!