sorry for lack of communication- i decided quite last minute to pack my pack and head down into the valleys for some proper rest whilst we wait for the weather window. You see, festering at BC is not much fun after er... one day!
After talking in my last blog about fantastic weather, i think i went to sleep that very night, and woke at 4 in the morning to find my tent roof inches from my nose- it was weighed down with 4 inches of snow, and i could still hear the storm outside.
Base camp unsizpped its tents to a winter wonderland like no other- in the shadow on Mount Everest, there we stood, puffy eyed in the snow, wearing our crocs and sandals and wondering where on earth the bloody lot came from. It was deadly quiet.
After breakfast people mulled around, and what do you instinctively do when surrounded by fresh, fluffy snow? Well, i started throwing it, and a huge snow ball fight ensued between us and the sherpas.
The fight was ferocious, military, and lasted well over an hour. BC is perfect for such a fight- huge boulders to hide behind and more ammunition than we could ever need. There were ambushes and targeted assaults (usually on me by 6 or more sherps)
Rob, who is good at everything, could through a snow ball for miles and was our main asset. I was more of a liability. But the true hero was sundip- another camps water porter. HIs job is to collect water from a glacial pool- he makes this trip 50 times a day. But his true talent lies in snow ball fighting- his aim was spectacular and we all suffered.
Suddenly, after pelting us for an age, he put his hands up and announced "okay. I tired now" and just like that, the fight was over. We were all exhausted- doing anything at 5000m is tiring. But as we all collapsed in the mess tent, talk became of the weather up high- we knew there and then that we wouldnt be going anywhere for a while.
So, a couple of days ago Rob, Fi and James announced they were heading down- the bad weather meant no one was going onto the hill. As usual- i was in my tent reading and doing my back no good on a wonky thermarest.
"OI, NORRIS", it was Rob coming to say goodbye. i poked my head out, blinking into the light- hair a mass of 'rats tails' as my mum calls it. Rob spun a story of comfy lodges with blankets and fires and lemon tea and good dahl baat. I was sold- i packed there and then, leaving Kenton to hold fort as the only Brit on the team.
We ended up leaving the next morning, James had to bail after spending the night regurgitating his supper. "Better out than in" in his own words. So one man down we set off for Pangboche at 3,950m- a bed, a shower and most importantly- thick air, awaited us.
We skipped down to pheriche, every step filling our lungs with more and more oxygen. It was a 5 hour walk to this point, and i was loving it- my legs were moving! they had spent days plomped on a chair or flat in my sleeping bag- i was wondering what use they were. But now- they were dodging rocks and yak poo, striding up hills and jogging back down the other side- not used to the oxygen i felt like a super charged human, especially now with the rugby player thighs.
At pheriche, Fi decided to stop and do the last leg to pangboche the next morning- so it was just me and Rob for the last part- walking up the side of a ferocious river at dusk. The two of us out of the original four made it to the lodge after dark, and were greeted like old friends by the Sherpas who run the place.
We settled down into the corner, and, warmed by the wood burner and covered in blankets, had the most fantastic Dahl Baat i have ever eaten. The night was finished with a movie and the luxury of a room each and huge quilts on the beds. Best nights sleep for a long time.
Since then, Fi has arrived and Rob has gone down to Namche to see an old friend.
Fi and I (the only two Brit chicks on Everest this year) have done nothing but rest, read and eat. Fi's Bhronchitis has gone, and i am aiming to put on a pound a day as everyone keeps saying how much weight i've lost. We are basically preparing and fuelling our bodies for the summit push- 6 of the hardest days of our lives, plus a 17 hour marathon on summit day- the longest of my life. It is so important to be healthy before we set off, and this is one of the best ways of doing it.
We leave tomorrow (9th) for the 15 mile walk back to basecamp, which on the way in took 3 days- but now we are acclimiatsed and fit, will do in one long push.
News up high is that Adrian and sherpas from Russel Brice's team fixed rope to the summit on the 5th. There were more sherpas on the summit on the 6th, and the first western climber- Lucille, summitted yesterday and is now safetly back at camp 2.
It was a cool moment standing with Everest Legend Victor Saunders, listening to the radio transmitions from way up high in the death zone as they battled towards the summit. All of a sudden- it felt real, this is finally happening.
Our team was aiming for the 8th- today. But weather forecasts left Kenton and Henry uneasy, and they made the best decision to hold off whilst its early. Still, it was crushing to see the summit in beautiful skies with no winds yesterday morning- we could have been there. Shoula Woulda Coulda.
Congratulations to Lucille- we met on the Lhoste face on the way to camp 3- she is a lovely lady (not sure where from) and i pray for her safe return to BC through the ice fall.
There has been some un-rest in Nepal. Kathmandu is almost a no go zone to tourists- there are no internal flights in the country. Thousands are on strike.
As a result, hardly any trekkers are coming up through the valleys, and up at BC, things are, thankfully, pretty cut off from the troubles.
However, the Maoists have started moving through the Khumbu- they have closed the schools- threatening to bomb the Hillary school if classes resume, and even turned up at BC one morning asking for money.
Yesterday, Maoists came to our lodge and demanded money- Nima had no choice- she handed over some Rupees and they left quietly.
We have no idea what is going on. We have heard of gun fire between the army and the maoists, but who knows what is true.
For now, we are safe up here in this remote part of the country- if Maoists do come to BC again, there are enough westerners with ice axes to make sure they dont cause any hassle.
For Nepal though, i hope this ends soon- they are peaceful people who do not deserve such unrest.
Thanks again for all the messages- i hope to get in touch when back at BC, though things might move pretty fast, in which case i will send updates from the sat phone.
People are talking about getting the summit 'over and done with'. I keep quiet- i am loving every minute of this expedition- what will be will be, i dont want to wish it away.
Over and out.Bonita x