April 21, 2009


Virgil, who is considered the greatest of the Roman poets, once said that “fear is proof of a low born soul.”  Shakespeare agreed observing that “of all base human emotions, fear is the most accursed.”  That may be true, but neither Virgil nor Shakespeare ever crossed a ladder in the Khumbu Icefall.

Tomorrow morning, a group of us will make our way up the dreaded Icefall for the first time this trip.  We will probably make 3 more trips through the Icefall before we make our run for the summit.  Most members of the first team that left this morning, came back because of a collapse in the Icefall that damaged or destroyed one of the vertical ladders.  There are 30 ladders in the Icefall this year, some horizontal, crossing gaping crevasses, and some vertical, scaling giant ice seracs that can be more than two stories tall.  I don’t mind the vertical ladders.  It’s the horizontal ladders, some strapped together, that unnerve me.  As you cross these horizontal ladders, you are forced to look down into the inky, icy, cold darkness of the crevasse because your boots and crampons must be perfectly placed on the rungs of the ladders so as to avoid getting stuck as the ladders sway to and fro with the movement of your body and the force of the wind.  Check out the photos of me on the ladders in the 2007 photo gallery on my website.

The Khumbu Icefall is the most dangerous part of a South side climb of Mt. Everest.  This is because of the multiple crevasses, the ice seracs that can topple over at any time as the glacier moves down the mountain, and the constant avalanches.  Most of the deaths on the South side of Mt. Everest occur in the Icefall.  In 2007, as I was moving up the Icefall for the first time, I was caught in an avalanche, which was on a bearing headed directly towards me.  I removed my backpack, clipped into the fixed line on the mountain and started snapping photos.  I think I posted some of those photos in my 2007 photo gallery.  Fortunately, the leading edge of the avalanche fell harmlessly into a crevasse, and no one was hurt.

We will be leaving early in the morning (around 4 am) and will return to Base Camp in the afternoon.  The reason for the early departure is to move through the Icefall before the action of the baking sun melts the ice and creates very unstable and dangerous conditions.

Everything is going aok.  The food at Base Camp, so far, has been great.  I’ll describe the food in more detail in another post.  Some hiking friends from San Diego gave me 5 bottles of hot sauce on a Mt. Baldy climb before I left for Nepal because they were aware of my affinity for hot sauce.  I added 5 bottles from my personal collection and hauled this little treasure up to Base Camp.  Everyone on the team loves this hot sauce, even the Sirdars and Sherpas!  It gives a great flavor to food that can otherwise be kind of bland.  So, thanks Rick & friends.

I took a shower this morning in the shower tent, so now I feel fresh as a Himalayan daisy.  The shower tent is very small.  Water is boiled by the cooks and placed in a small pump.  The pump is used to water down before applying soap.  After soaping up, the pump action is repeated to remove the soap.  Again, check out the photo in the 2007 photo galley.

My DVD player is on the blink.  Darn!  All the great movies I brought for those late nights in the tent are now useless.  I have a contingency plan in the works.  More on that later.

Bud is feeling much better today.  Yeaaa.

It is freezing cold, and has started to snow


There are a few photos posted at the bottom of the April 19 post on the Asian Trekking site.  I see Bill in two of them, the second photo he is practicing on the ladder and the third photo he is on the right going up the rope.
Click here: Asian Trekking Expeditions

Kenny Green, yes Bill did receive the crystal Steuben piece.  It’s beautiful and he will write you when he returns home.

Sharon Burke