Brian Dickinson – Reader Blog 14
4/28/11 – Four days at Everest basecamp could very well drive me crazy. I have the personality to effectively multitask and to always be on the move working toward a goal; making the most of each hour. Rest days put a halt to that. Other climbers love the down days since they can lie in their tents and listen to music all day. I gave up that behavior almost 20 years ago in high school. With that said, I don’t have a choice. So I develop tasks to complete.
The first day I decided to do some much needed laundry. A Sherpa brought me a large and a small bowl of hot water. As soon as I douched my soiled clothing it began to snow. I quickly washed, rinsed and repeated until the water was a disgusting hue of brown. I rigged a line between tents with some climbing cord as well as inside my tent. I went to lunch and when I returned my clothes were frozen solid with icicles. I had to be careful since I could have snapped them in half if I handled them wrong. I brought them inside the tent and for the next 2 days allowed them to slowly thaw and dry. I have really learned to appreciate my Whirlpool dryer at home.
Yesterday was relatively warm so after 2 weeks of not showering I decided to get wet. It took 4 Sherpa to haul water and bang on the heating device, but they got it working. It was heaven! I frequently perform baby wipe baths, but my hair reached a point that I could stand it on any direction with a gentle comb of my hand. As fun as that may sound, it’s pretty gross after too long. After a couple shampoo treatments, rinse and towel dry I felt like Fabio whipping my tender brown locks in slow motion from side to side in the shower tent.
There has been a ton of press around 3G Internet coverage at Everest basecamp. Not true. NCELL offers 3G coverage from a village a few miles down the Khumbu Valley, called Gorak Shep. The 3G towers are run by solar panels so in bad weather and at night they are shutdown. And they don’t have the strength to send a 3G signal to basecamp. We get edge coverage, which works for cell phone calls and very poor quality Internet (almost unusable). To upload these blog entries, add pics to Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. I have to hike 30 minutes out of basecamp up on a ridge and climb a large boulder, which has direct line of sight to Gorak Shep. The view from the rock is the most amazing place I’ve ever been with views of the ice fall crawling up the mountain, the summit of Mount Everest and all of the surrounding Himalaya peaks. I’m sure NCELL will resolve the coverage in future years, but for now it’s a lot of effort to stay connected.
I just surpassed a month of being away from the family. I know that I’m on very close to reaching my goal so my motivation remains high. I have, however, reached a point where the food is no longer tolerable. At first it was interesting and we tried to make things out to be better than they were. But now we all tend to dread mealtime. It’s not the cook’s fault by any means; it’s just not what we’re used to. So today we requested fried rice and potatoes for every meal. If someone could please drop ship either a carne asada burrito from Roberto’s in San Diego or a double-double animal style from In-n-Out Burger I sure would appreciate it!
It seems almost daily that someone is being helicopter evacuated from basecamp for some high altitude life threatening issue. I’ve had a lot of people contact me about my early issues around headaches and swelling forehead. I truly appreciate everyone’s concerns and prayers. I could have skipped that blog entry and just focused on the glory (like most Everest accounts), but I want to be transparent in my journey so you can see what really occurs here. Like I mentioned in the past entry, when you have altitude-related issues you don’t mess around…you go lower to resolve them. I don’t think I had cerebral edema since I had a head cold compounded by the pressure of 17,500’. I’ve had swelling of the forehead before in Russia, Africa and Alaska when above 17,000’. But in all cases I wasn’t at those altitudes for very long so my exposure was limited. I feel I made the right move in going back down to 14,000’ to allow my body to heal and adjust to the elevation change and it obviously worked out for me. I was able to quickly rally, climb Island Peak in a very short amount of time and have great success at high altitudes on Everest (so far).
What’s next? On the 30th (tomorrow) we are heading directly up to Camp II (21,000’), where we’ll sleep for 2 nights. We will then climb the Lhotse Face to Camp III (23,000’) and descend back to Camp II. The following day we’ll climb back to Camp III and sleep on oxygen. That will complete our acclimatization process for a summit bid, at which point we’ll bring it all the way back to basecamp to wait for a weather window to make our attack on the summit!