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.