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Life in Base Camp and Final Push

19 May

The fixed lines have finally been laid to the summit and we have our 1st summiteers (the rope laying team Sherpas) for the season. It is not usually normal for fixed lines to be completed so late in the season, but I’m just glad that its finally done and teams can now proceeded to the summit. The hybrid team from IMG, along with many other teams, has positioned themselves strategically in C4 ready to push off for the summit during the narrow summit weather window on the 19th and 20th. Today, we had some of the 1st summits from the climbing clients of this year’s expedition. There are over 250 climbers (sherpas and clients) on the high camps on the mountain at the moment ready to opportunities on the weather window on the 19th and 20th. The IMG classic team (which includes me) is waiting it out at base camp for the 2nd weather window which opens on the 25th.

Everyone in base camp is anxious but trying to keep calm at the same time waiting for the start of our summit push. We’ve been staying healthy and taking the occasional treks to GorakShep and Pumori Camp1 to stay acclimatized. Since everything has been so intense till now and all my blog posts have been so nerve wrecking, I have decided to calm myself and my readers down a little before I leave for my summit push (which most likely will be on the 21st). Many may be wondering what happens in base camp when climbers are not climbing. Thus I have decided to dedicate this blog post to describe base camp and its surroundings and what happens during the many rest days when we’re not climbing on the mountain.

A typical rest day begins at 8am when the cooks bang pots and pans indicating that breakfast is ready. Then we have about 3h before lunch at noon. Usually if nothing is planned, the team takes it easy by enjoying the morning sun, reading a book and doing other personal administrative work like tidying up our tent, laundry, shower etc. There is only about 1-2h of strong sun where we can consider ourselves comfortably warm everyday and everyone maximizes on the opportunity. The clouds usually come in by the afternoon and the temperatures start plummeting. So, usually lunch is followed by a movie session in the coms tent using our laptops/ipads/iphones etc. Dinner is at 6pm and there usually isn’t much activity after the sun goes down. Everyone usually hurries to the warm comforts of their sleeping bag and calls it a night at about 7.30pm. On other days, there are short treks, oxygen clinics, food packing sessions, medical talks arranged for us.

Below are some photos that have been taken since my arrival in base camp. Enjoy!

Base Camp:

Our spaced out tents in base camp all across the moving and melting Khumbu glacier

Airing our sleeping bags and down jackets on top of our tents during the sunny mornings

Relaxing with a book and an ipod and enjoying the rare sunny warm moments in base camp

The luxurious comfortable toilets at base camp. The amazing thing is that its built on top of glacial rocks and ice.

Our kitchen where all the sumptuous meals are concocted. Our humble cooks hiding amongst the condiments

Our communication tent and our recharge station. Solar, battery and generator powered. The 2nd most important place after our kitchen tent.

Our ingenious system of getting heated water for daily use. The barrel on the top has to be manually filled daily. The barrel connects to a communal tap at the bottom via a pipe and the propane gas tank helps heat the down coming water. This is our communal shower, laundry, washing and shaving area.

The bane of staying in base camp for a long period is that you’ve to do laundry by hand and most of the time, the clothes freeze before they can dry in the sun. Me doing laundry after my once weekly shower.

Oxygen clinic

The oxygen clinic we had in the coms tent

Trying out how it would be like on summit day with full gear on.

Seeing how I’d look like on summit day

Treks out of base camp

Ice melting randomly leaving huge boulders like this in precarious positions. There was a campsite situated at the bottom of the slope and everyone prayed that the boulder wouldn’t slip before the end of their expedition.

Dr Luaan Freer and Dr Ashish, members of the main HRA team. Together with myself and Dr Gayathri in the HRA medical tent in base camp.

Everest, Lhotse, south col, north col, Nuptse and the ice fall as seen from Pumori Camp1 during a trek up on one of our rest days

My NUS MIR friends who decided to pay me a visit on their way to climb Lobuche peak

Some medical friends i met along the way down to Pangboche. They were raising funds for a clinic in Cambodia through a pioneering and ingenious way. “Trek for Fund”

A Buddha statue located beautifully with Ama Dablam in the background just above Pangboche

This is going to be my last post before I set off for my summit push on Monday. Expected date of summit is either the 25th or the 26th depending on weather conditions closer to the date. Everyone who is left in base camp is feeling twitchy and can’t wait to get this expedition over with. It has been dragging on for too long for anyone’s good.

At this juncture, I would like to thank everyone who has been there through this epic 4 year journey of mine. What started as a ridiculous arbitrary dream in 2008 after climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is moments from being realized after 4 long arduous years. I would not have been able to come close to where I stand currently without all the people who have helped me in one way or another. Thank you all! Special mention to my family and Gayathri who have been so supportive of everything I’m doing despite all the risks and dangers in my journey that they had to endure more than me.

Regardless of the outcome of summiting or not, I’m grateful to god for having letting me experience so much at such a young age. Learning new things, seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing new cultures. I’ve already been enriched far beyond my expectations. As I always believe, the journey is more important than the destination and indeed the journey has been beyond my wildest dreams so far. The destination – The Summit, will come has a bonus to me but I will put my full efforts into attaining this bonus after such a long struggle. Whatever god has planned, will be.

I’ll see you guys on the other side.

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5 Comments

Posted by on May 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

5 responses to “Life in Base Camp and Final Push

  1. Dr M Chandrashekhar

    May 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Nice pictures & well written anecdotes. Now that quite a few teams have summited in the first window, I can understand your anxiety. As Ed Viesturs says,” Reaching the Summit is Optional. Getting down is Mandatory.”

    Come back safe !

     
  2. Joanne Soo

    May 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Dr, stay well, your time for the summit is near and it will come. Your positive attitude has brought you so far, and that has been your greatest strength. Just be sure not to watch too many movies on your iPad, keep that endurance for the mountain :D And you will secure your bonus. Safe climbing.

     
  3. Swee Chiow

    May 20, 2012 at 1:51 am

    yah, stop watching so many movies lah! save the energy for the climb of your life. Stay calm, focus and be safe.

     
  4. Angie

    May 20, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Hey Kumaran !

    Thanks for all the pics & updates ! Hey dude ! Composure !! Composure !! Focus !! U’ll be fine !! All the best !! Keeping U in prayers

    Cheers,
    Angie

     
  5. oldalazó gnóm

    May 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    http://www.mountainguides.com/everest-south12.shtml

    CONGRATS and looking forward to another great storytelling session (i’m from MIR 11)! :)
    The May 25th Summit List
    4. Mr. Kumaran S/O Rasappan, REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE

     

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