So, just as the guys predicted yesterday, they did not get up very early this morning.  I had been waiting for them to call in the communications tent for a while when I finally heard the radio.  Asier informed me that they had slept well and hadn’t felt the cold.  In fact, they were in the mood for getting their own back:  Edurne grabbed the walkie talkie and told me that she had taken a whole “Ensure”; in fact all of them had taken one.  “There you go, doc.  Stuff you!!”.  There is nothing like winding them up a bit.

 The sherpas had gone on ahead towards camp 4. Their task was looking complicated because there appeared to be a lot of snow at altitude, and so it turned out as by mid-morning the problems had started: Jamjbu announced that he couldn’t go on and that he was turning back towards camp 2. I was quick to applaud his decision. We don’t want the guy to feel obliged, and then run into diffuculties. It’s not a problem.

Passand and Mingma carried on, and at lunchtime they informed us that they had made it to their destination. It took them 12 hours to get from camp 2 to camp 4. The are tired, naturally, above all because of the large quantity of snow that they encountered but also because of how windy it is. They left some provisions well secured and turned back.

Meanwhile, almost 1000m lower down, Nacho and Ferrán were leading the way towards camp 3. Apparently, the two things which struck them the most on the way were the amount of people (which is good, as the snow will be easier to walk on) and the intense heat (which is bad in terms of dehydration and using up extra energy). Asier and Edurne were following just behind them.

Whilst some of the team were reaching camp 4, the others were arriving at camp 3. They had set themselves the task of setting everything up (all the gear was still in the storage containers) and it wasn’t too difficult a job because the temperature wasn’t a problem and, above all, because the “beds” had already been prepared, as we told you, during an earlier visit.

Everyone was still in a good mood. Things have all gone as planned, if not better. The only “problem”, the situation with Jamjbu, is no longer important because we found out about it in time. We will take this into account when we decide how next to proceed, and I am sure that we will turn it from a disadvantage into an advantage. We just need to make sure that he does not go to pieces now.

Those of us down here began the day with some bad news: we saw a funeral procession pass by right in front of us, and it stunned us all. It turns out that yesterday an 82 year-old Nepalese guy died. He was intending to make it to the top of Everest and become the oldest person to do it. Apparently, when he arrived at camp 1 yesterday he said that he felt unwell and died a few seconds later.

We have been able to chat about it with some of the people that actually bumped into the poor fellow on the icefall. As it turns out, Edurne and Asier exchanged a few pleasantries with him. He apparently made a terrible sight: the old mountaineer was apparently having to drag himself along, helped by a Sherpa who was pulling him and another two who were pushing him. A couple of comments that he made, such as : “I want to die on the mountain!”, seem to indicate that he suspected that something was wrong. The guy had apparently been a Nepalese government minister and now he was campaigning for greater care for the elderly.

He was obviously well respected as there were at least a hundred people gathered around his body at the heliport. It is now waiting for an aircraft to come and take it to Kathmandu, as the weather has prevented this from happening today.


And as those of us at base camp can only advance, we decided to go the the base camp at Pumori. Itziar, “Txo” and I started out determined to set foot on some grass, see some edelweiss and also see the tip of Everest … but we didn’t make it. The weather got worse, it began to snow and, most importantly, we couldn’t find the right path. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying: we went up and down crags of all shapes and sizes, followed loads of path markers … and it simply proved impossible, although we must have been very near. We are going to have another go.

This afternoon, just as Vitor had predicted, it snowed heavily. It wasn’t the heaviest snowfall that we have seen since we have been here, but it took as by surprise as it hasn’t snowed this heavily for a while. Oh well, it appears to be very slushy and so it won’t last long. As soon as the sun comes out …

During our last radio conversation with camp 3 the guys told me, defiantly, that they are eating the freeze-dried food that I go on so much about. With a bit of luck we will have correctly guessed how they are feeling at this stage of the adventure. If they like it and can keep it down, they will eat it no problem. If not, it is going to be hard for them to take my advice. OK, so admittedly I do go on a bit…

They also told us that it has stopped snowing and now they are enjoying blue skies, the sun is shining, and there are some spectacular views which they are keen to film. Well done Vitor!.

Thanks Josep, for telling us that the quote about good luck is from the book “Good Fortune” by Alex Rovira and Fernando Trías de Bes (it is always better to cite the author, don’t you agree?)

And since this phrase has got people thinking, I am going to mention my good friend Cachu. Cachu would like to remember the great Seve Ballesteros who made a similar comment: “The more I train, the luckier I get!”.

 

By Pablo Díaz-Munio
Doctor 

for the Expedition Challenge 14+1