icons/avalancheicons/bootscompassfacebookicons/gloveshandsicons/hearticons/helmeticons/ice axeinstagramminusmountainicons/pathsMap Pinplusicons/questionicons/guideicons/ropeicons/gogglesicons/stafftenttwitteryoutube
Everest with Mountain Madness

Up Kala Pattar and to Base Camp

April 30, 2009 Gorak Shep

Deana has told us many times through­out the trip, objects in the dis­tance are larg­er than they appear. We sat at the base of the seem­ing­ly mod­est look­ing Kala Pathar, fig­ur­ing to be at the top with­in the hour. Two false sum­mits and a lit­tle over an hour lat­er we were final­ly star­ing at the peak. Need­less to say, we all made it with­out inci­dent. At the top, some uf us hung prayer flags, which were left to spend the remain­der of their exis­tence star­ing down the steep cliffs and across at the incred­i­ble views. After­wards, we all took the time to take in the over­whelm­ing sites in front of us: Moun­tains Pumori, Nuptse and Ever­est among a few oth­ers, and look­ing close­ly you could even see the yel­low-orange of Base Camp.

Mak­ing our way back down the shat­tered black rock that is Kala Pathar, we stopped for a leisure­ly pic­nic before head­ing on to Base Camp. It did­nt take long to get to the edge of camp, but walk­ing through it to our des­ti­na­tion was anoth­er sto­ry. Phys­i­cal­ly, camp was noth­ing at all what I had imag­ined. Find­ing a piece of flat on the glac­i­er was no small task, and every­thing was so scat­tered, almost with­out rhyme or rea­son. With tents every­where, it is hard to believe any­one knew where any­thing or any­one else was. We final­ly got to our tents, dropped off our day packs and filled up with tea and cook­ies before a few of us ven­tured out to explore. We met a num­ber of peo­ple in the short amount of time we were there, most notably two of three sev­en­teen year olds attempt­ing to sum­mit the moun­tain. We also spent a con­sid­er­able amount of time talk­ing with the camp medic, who had more to say than any­one prob­a­bly would wish for. Nonethe­less, he had a lot of inter­est­ing facts and sto­ries from his four year tenure up here.

A lot of those we spoke with described the camp as strange or bizarre, which I am not sure I would dis­pute after our short stay, but I will say every­thing seemed pret­ty method­i­cal. It actu­al­ly remind­ed me of a bee-hive, every­body had a role and was doing what­ev­er it was they need­ed to get done. Despite every­thing being so spread out, it did seem like a colony. Every­one seemed to know each oth­er, and were very out­go­ing and will­ing to take the time to speak to us (aside from the under­ly­ing fear that we were bring­ing in out­side sick­ness to the climbers). I was sur­prised to see that none of the climbers we spoke with had any appre­hen­sion about ascend­ing the moun­tain. The doc­tor did say that the climb was more men­tal than phys­i­cal, so maybe this was a kind of pos­i­tive prepa­ra­tion for them.

The night was cold and would have been unbear­able to sleep if I had­nt been wear­ing three lay­ers of cloth­ing. Dur­ing the night we could hear count­less avalanch­es all around us, which would be pret­ty dis­turb­ing in any oth­er envi­ron­ment, but here it was just exciting.