Ground hog day to the max over here. The past few days have blurred together and it's definitely becoming a mental game now. The end game is in sight though, so we just gotta sit it out and be patient.
In the meantime, we've been doing hikes up to Pumori Camp 1 to break up the monotony and yesterday we hung out with our neighboring team, Furtenbacher Adventures, doing some ice climbing in the lower Ice Fall. Good times. Also doing a lot of in-tent memory (and other mind stuff) training. There is a LOT of down time here right now, but that'll change once we start moving.
But at least things are moving here and there around Base Camp. Some teams decided to head up today on their summit push. Our Sherpas carried the ropes up to Camp 4 the day before yesterday and are finishing the rope carrying today. Once those ropes are there, the fixed rope to the summit can be put in (it hasn't been decided who will fix them yet). The weather forecast looked good yesterday, which is why some teams decided to leave despite the ropes not being done just yet. But this morning, according to our weather forecasts it looks like the jet stream is returning as of the 13th. So let's see. These weather forecasts can change over night, so who knows? Might as well be throwing chicken bones in the air. The one thing we do know is that we're in no rush and the longer we wait the warmer it will be. I like my toes and fingers, so that sounds like a plan.
I'd like to pause for a moment here and address some comments I've received on my blog recently. Apparently how I spend my days climbing this thing seriously bothers a few people, not sure why. I hate having to bring up mountain politics, because that's not why I climb, but some of those ignorant readers apparently need a little mountain knowledge.
Those readers gave me a bit of heat for dropping down lower and staying in a hotel for a few days to rest (mind you, I was also making sure my ankle wasn't broken...you know, so I don't end up endangering other people on the mountain by being the asshole climber climbing with a broken ankle). I was told by these readers that I should instead be on the mountain helping fix the ropes myself and that I should also be putting my hotel money towards it.
Okay, let's get some facts straight for these folks (simple googling could have helped them figure it out, but I'll help them).
To climb Everest, every climber has to pay a fee to the SPCC (the rope fixing committee). We ALL chip in to pay the Ice Fall doctors and to pay for the ropes and rope fixing through the Ice Fall. That's a government sanctioned fee. We pay it. And that's that. We also pay a separate fee that goes toward the rope fixing from Camp 1 to the summit. We pay that too.
Can we pay more? That's a hard question to answer. Who would we give the money to? It's not like one Sherpa is fixing and even if we did pay one Sherpa more to specifically fix "HERE, go and fix the ropes please", it's not that easy. And are there teams that don't pay this fee? I'm sure of it. But Altitude Junkies is not one of them. End of discussion.
Secondly, I can't fix the ropes. Nelson Dellis, amateur climber, can not and will not fix the ropes. For one, I'm not strong enough. No way in hell. If you want to berate me for being a weak climber, that's absolutely fine because I know I can't do what the Sherpas can. Period. For two, the Sherpas get paid to do this. This is their job and livelihood. Again, I don't want to get into this kind of discussion but the Sherpas are paid extraordinarily well for their job. The national average salary in Nepal is around $300...A YEAR. The Sherpas comparatively are paid like kings. They work hard for two months on Everest (some a bit more if they work on other peaks throughout the year) and make enough money to support their families for the full year. Many can afford to live in Kathmandu, many can afford to put their children through great schools, many can afford to open their own tea houses in the trekking regions and run a side business. They have it really good. Is their job dangerous? Sure. But they aren't forced into taking these jobs. They do it because the money is great and so is the prestige. Is it bad that their well-paid job exists only because of us climbers wanting to spend a lot of money to climb Everest? No. Why would it be? It drives millions of dollars into the Nepal economy each year and provides incredible job opportunities for Sherpas. How is that a bad thing? And if you expect the Sherpas to be paid Western salaries (which I would love for them to because they work hard enough to earn it), you're living in a fantasy world. That's just not how the world works. That's an issue to take up with the Nepali government, not me.
Finally, remember 2013 when there was a scuffle between Sherpas and Westerners? That all started because some Western climbers pushed too close to the rope fixers (the Westerners even tried to fix ropes a bit after) and that caused some major tension. The Sherpas pride themselves on their job and they don't appreciate us intervening.
So to call me a "freeloader"? I don't think so. Get out.
And seriously, last point here, mind your own fucking business. Simple as that. I climb for two reasons. 1. Because it makes me happy. 2. To raise awareness for a cause (Alzheimer's) that is meaningful to me. I don't claim to be a good or expert climber (this mountain is hard as hell), but I enjoy it and saved a lot of money, trained excruciatingly hard, worked my ass off to get sponsors to help support me, and got here on my own two feet. If you don't like what I'm doing, don't read my blog.
And if you still feel it necessary to send me more hateful comments then do what you gotta do, but email them to me personally rather than hiding behind an alias, posting anonymously on my site. Criticize me respectfully like a proper person, give me your name, and let's have a discussion. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
On complete side note, congrats to Alex Mullen for winning the 2016 USA Memory Championship! I wish I could have been there to defend my title, but it is what it is. Congrats buddy! You deserve it!