Days 18/April 8, 2009 (Wednesday)
Even the best-laid plans require rethinking when conditions merit, and today was just such a day. Another chilly and snowy afternoon led to more of the same last night, making the trek up rather steep terrain to Pumor Ri Camp I ill-advised. With climbers and trekkers coming and going from IMG's EBC this morning, it would've been chaotic to get underway in reasonable time anyway, so the new plan is to tackle the Khumbu Icefall first thing tomorrow: 0500 breakfast, 0530 underway, after a brief stop at the puja altar to throw rice respectfully towards the summit, as juniper burns adjacent.
Of note, I gave Danuru his SPOT unit today --- his callsign is SPOTDanuru. You'll be able to track the two of us in the weeks ahead as we take our rotations up the mountain, and ultimately to the summit and home...
To shake my legs up a bit today, I traveled down the glacier about 20 minutes to visit the Himex camp, along with Discovery photographer Matt (who is staying with us in the IMG camp, but filmed with Himex on the north side of Everest in 2007). Russell Brice was a kind host, having just trekked into camp the night before. We had a couple of cups of tea with him and briefly toured his impressive campsite for ~28 climbers this season. The majority of his climbing team is expected in the next day or so.
To make a fine day even finer, the sun broke out this afternoon, and the gas-heated showers were recently installed. Rinsing off a week's worth of filth and stench, and changing into fresh long johns was a real treat. Not that I'm prone to Paul Bunyon-type beards --- most people don't even recognize light stubble on my face (!) --- but I carefully shaved as well. This isn't so critical here at EBC, but a very slight amount of oxygen leak can result from a beard on summit day. I want absolutely everything going my way on summit day... Keeping more or less trim along the way makes the summit shave that much easier.
The Icefall Doctors have made excellent progress on the route, and anticipate finishing the fixed lines and ladders to Camp I in 5 days or so. In the meantime, it's all about staying healthy and continuing the acclimatization process. Danuru and I will go up perhaps 1500 feet to the "popcorn" section of the icefall tomorrow at a gentle pace, enabling me to find my rhythm in this jumbled terrain once more. I feel exceptionally strong right now, perhaps even better than this phase of the climb last year. I attribute this to prior experience on this mountain, and exhausting training before ever boarding the plane for Nepal.