Yesterday we arrived at Everest base camp in the late afternoon, tired but very happy. The trail up from Lobuche to base camp had been full of trekkers going up and down, plus a steady stream of yaks and porters toting huge loads. It's obvious that the base camp community requires a large and steady supply of food and goods to support it. Many trekkers seem quite willing to walk hours from the last village (Gorak Shep) and back in one day to see the base camp, even if only for a few minutes.
During our first evening in camp, David Breashears walked over from the "Working Title" expedition site nearby to welcome us, a very gracious and appreciated gesture. It feels great to finally be at our destination, not having to pack up and move for awhile. We spend the next morning getting settled in and oriented to our new surroundings.
Meanwhile, the Sherpas bustle about preparing for today's "puja", a Buddhist ceremony that will purify and bless our camp, our gear, and ourselves. A large stone chorten has already been built near camp for the ceremony. The climbing Sherpas clamor up on it to erect a central pole for the five strands of prayer flags that will radiate outward from the pole. As the wind blows over them, prayers will be sent to the deities.
By late morning, a local Lama has arrived at our camp to perform the ceremony. The wife of our team Sirdar is visiting from Pangboche, and she kindly helps with many of the food and other ceremonial details. It's a stunningly clear and pleasant day, very auspicious for a celebration. With the Khumbu Icefall and surrounding peaks as a backdrop it's hard not be both inspired and humbled. As fragrant juniper smoke perfumes the air around us, our thoughts focus on why we are here, what we hope to achieve, and how events might unfold.
© McMillan Associates 2004-6. All rights reserved.
When we arrived at base camp we were greeted by friends from the "Working Title" filming expedition. Here Nawang (yellow parka) catches up with Ed Viesturs, David Breashears, and Lakpa Sherpa (who was Advanced Base Camp Manager for our 1998 Annapurna South Face Expedition).
Settling in at Everest base camp (17,500ft.)
Although the summit of Mt. Everest is not visible from base camp, the huge and deadly Khumbu Icefall dramatically dominates the scene.
In the evenings, the dining tent is the warmest place to be, thanks to the propane heaters stationed at each end of the table.
Our expedition and the Himalayan Rescue Association medical clinic share the same base camp facilities, which makes the experience more fun, interesting, efficient, and exciting for all of us.The presence of the delightful doctors who run the clinic, Denise (shown on the far left part of the group) and Luanne (back row, second from the right), adds a huge measure of safety, care, and expertise to the base camp community.
Geology comes alive here. The amphitheater of peaks and cliffs around base camp is full of hanging glaciers, teetering seracs, avalanche slopes, and loose rock and dirt at the base. Things are cracking, slipping, or crashing down every day and night. Knowing where it's safe to walk--or camp--is very important here. Sleeping with earplugs at night is helpful.