April 20, 2009
Today was our last Puja. A Lama came up and blessed our trip up the mountain and all of our gear. Of course, this includes the Sherpas who will travel with us on our climb of Mt. Everest. The Sherpas place huge importance on the Base Camp Puja and will not start up the mountain until this Puja has taken place. They believe that success or failure (even tragedy) in climbing the mountain can be traced back to the Puja. The Lama sits before a large alter adorned with prayer flags, scarfs, food, tea, liquor, rice, powder, butter, and our climbing equipment. He chants prayers seeking safety and success for the climb. After the prayers have been said, the food and drink are shared with everyone attending the Puja. The Sherpas and climbers then form a semi-circle, arm-in-arm, and perform a simple traditional Sherpa dance, called a Shebru. The ceremony takes about 2-hours.
We have divided the group into 2 teams based on the fact that some members of the group arrived at Base Camp before others (e.g., Will Cross & Mogens), and on the fact that there are not enough tents at the camps to accommodate all of us at the same time. The rotation for Team 2 (which includes Bud and I) is as follows (Team 1 leaves one day earlier):
April 22: Base Camp to Camp 1, then back down to Base Camp (leave Base Camp at 4 am)
April 23: Rest at Base Camp
April 24: Base Camp to Camp 1, and sleep at Camp 1
April 25: Camp 1 to Camp 2, and sleep at Camp 2 for 3 nights
April 28: Camp 2 to Base Camp
The rotation for subsequent trips up the mountain will be set based on weather and how everyone is feeling.
Bud and Nick have indicated that they may postpone their first move up to Camp 1 a day or two in order to allow themselves to fully recover. I have not decided what I will do if they decide to postpone their trip.
The medical doctors at the medical tent at Base Camp have told us that this is the worst season at Base Camp for gastro intestinal disease they have ever experienced. Two of the big commercial expeditions have had 50%, or more, of their members down with this ailment. In many cases, they picked up the bug below Base Camp.
In case you are wondering what I do on those long nights in the tent, last night I watched 2 hours of the series “24.” I also have Godfather I & II, Casino, Band of Brothers and The War (by Ken Burns). I have already read 3 books.
Tomorrow I take my first shower and Base Camp and make my first change of clothes. I have been wearing, and sleeping in, the same clothes for almost 1 week. Good thing we have 1 person tents at Base Camp. On the mountain we share 2 person tents.
Confirming my audio post last night, we have the best Base Camp location of any team at Base Camp. The Khumbu Icefall is right behind our tents.
Thank you again for thoughtful comments to my blog posts. Sharon reads many of them to me and I will thoroughly enjoy going over each of them upon my return.