Hello from Everest Base Camp. I swung into basecamp, fit, well and acclimatised, on Sunday after completing the trek with nights in Chukung, Loboche and Gorak Shep. We have only just got the Comms Tent up and running hence the delay between dispatches. It's great to finally get here and get into my individual spacious 4 man tent after the nomadic existence of the last 2 weeks. Its quite a change from the tea houses we have been staying in with -15 degrees Celsius temperatures measured on the last few nights and avalanches going off like jet aircraft flying over the tents during the night. I've also managed to enjoy my first shower in 2 weeks!..yeah I know what what your thinking..and your right..tad smelly..but that's expedition life.!!.
That's pretty much chapter 1 closed and I now focus on climbing on the mountain proper with the first leg climbing to camp 1. This involves negotiating the Khumbu Icefall, which is the most dangerous place on the whole mountain. A mass jumble of ice with gaping crevasses and overhanging seracs as big as houses. The ice fall is constantly moving which makes this place so dangerous. In order to forge a safe passageway through, each team, pays a group of sherpas called the Icefall Doctors a fee, to set aluminium ladders across the crevasses (sometimes 3 in length), fix ropes and anchors and maintain all these safety features throughout the climbing season. At this time only half of the icefall has been fixed so we are on rest days for a while.
The other thing we must do before going on the mountain is have our Puja. The Puja is a sherpa tradition where prayers and offerings are given to the mountain in order to ask for safe passage. The ceremony is led by a Local Lama, goes on for a couple of hours and will see our climbing equipment, crampons, ice axes, harnesses etc also being blessed as well as a few cheeky wee beers and a chang chaser. It all cumilates in the central flag pole resplendent in prayer flags being raised on our Puja stone where it will fly till the end of the expedition.
So not much climbing to report at this stage but hopefully by the weekend we will be into the icefall. Sorry for the lack of pics but is just prooving too costly and difficult at this time.