We have now been up here at Advanced Base Camp for three days waiting for the Tibetan Mountain Association (TMA) to give us a date as to when they will be sending up their climbers to put the last 600 metres of fixed rope in place, so that we can make a plan as to what we do next.
We have even suggested that we put the ropes in ourselves but this was met with indignation and a flat ‘no’! They are very proud and constantly remind us that we are here through the kindness of the Chinese Government and must toe the line. Our plan is to try and work with them and assist them where possible which seems to working thus far, otherwise I can see that we will have a major problem. Obviously, there are other teams in the same situation and we are all talking together and trying to push the TMA into getting up the mountain. All very frustrating!
Every day brings new dramas and it is rather like a daily soap in which we are all the stars. The script is colourful but underpinning it is the fact that we need to position ourselves within an ever-changing weather window and the TMA keep strong-arming the key dates; and to cap it all off, the more days that we spend at this altitude are not doing any of us any favours. You could not dream it up, eh!
Believe it or not we are all on good form though. Nothing changes in that we are all dying to achieve our aim of standing at the top of this regal piece of rock as everyone is missing home and our people and just wants to be heading back to them. We have now been here for 50 days tomorrow and are excellently acclimatised, fit and have all our high altitude camps set up so we just need these ropes fixed and the weather to hold so that we can be hot on the TMA’s tail. Tomorrow is another day, but as it stands now they are heading up on the 18th and we will move up to the North Col at the same time. We will then bump up to Camp 2, 3 and then make our summit push on consecutive days thereafter, i.e. hitting the summit on 21st with a full moon for support. This looks like it might work as our latest window shows slackish winds up to the 21st. Unfortunately, the winds pick up dramatically thereafter.
We are back to moving up the mountain as a single team which is good as it simplifies all the high altitude logistics which are a complicated affair. The other bit of good news is that Rikki has re-joined us having spent the last seven days down at Zhangmu (2000m) trying to get over his chest infection. We were worried when he went there that he would have to summit by himself. Now he has turned up he is going to be the best rested and recharged. Lucky bugger!
So there we are. Tune in tomorrow for the next instalment of ‘Everest, there is no easy way’. Final thought for Mrs P and the rugrats – io amo tutti.
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