Months of preparation, weeks of what I euphemistically call “camp living” but which Malcolm would rightly christen a “shithole”, then days of packing…now we’re hours away from the summit of Everest. Amazing.
We waved goodbye to the team yesterday as they set off for the North Col to begin their final ascent. Were they nervous? Course not – or they weren’t showing it. Meanwhile I’ve bitten my nails into non-existence, re-checked the weather a dozen times to make sure we’re not sending them into a blizzard a la Into Thin Air and made myself ill reading Dr George’s wilderness medical book on all the delightful things that can happen at extreme altitude (faecal impaction, anyone?).
Seriously though: we’re well-prepared, well-resourced, everyone is healthy and the weather has finally tipped in our favour. Graham and I remain at a rather deserted ABC where we monitor the radios, check and forward the weather to the team, email updates, and assemble an emergency medical tent should anyone have to turn back (I seriously hope not).
We’ve already had a couple of radio schedules with the team : they arrived at the North Col safely last night, and as I write, they are heading to camp two – the highest they’ll have been so far at a dizzy 7600m.
The sun is shining, the snow has melted, and we keep squinting at the summit with butterflies in our stomachs. I don’t wish I was there – but I’m delighted that maybe, just maybe, our chaps will be standing atop it in less than 48 hours.
They just better not lose the bloody Iceland banner.
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