Big Step Upward – At EBC

Apologies for the delayed update – the Internet connection initially turned out to be unreliable, and it took a few days to address the underlying technical issues.

Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC) is where almost any summit attempt begins.  It is an impressive accumulation of colorful tents on piles of rock and ice, at an altitude of about 17,600’, right at the base of a gigantic ice fall that needs to be crossed on the way to the summit.

View of a small part of EBC with ice fall in the background
Another view of EBC from my tent

Due to its location at such a high altitude, EBC is difficult to reach.  The only motorized access is with helicopters, and even then, pilots prefer to land only in the mornings when the air is cold and stable, allowing the rotor blades to generate more lift for a takeoff, despite the thin air.  People typically trek into EBC – essentially the trek described in my previous blog entries.

I have my own tent, which is my “semi-permanent” home.  Unlike during the trek to EBC, where I was sleeping in a different place almost every night, I am going to stay here for the rest of the climb, including the summit attempt.

My “home” for the rest of the climb: a reasonably comfortable tent at EBC

Because we are on a glacier, the setup of EBC is by no means stationary.  Everything constantly shifts and changes shape.  When I returned from an acclimatization climb, I noticed that there is now a lake of ice water right next to the entrance of my tent that didn’t exist just a few days ago.  To prevent any unpleasant surprises, I may have to rebuild my tent platform soon…

EBC is where everybody is preparing for a summit attempt.  This includes acclimatization and developing climbing skills.  Acclimatization is absolutely essential in preparing for the high altitude conditions that the human body would otherwise not be able to handle.  It involves a lot of resting at altitude, and eating and drinking.  In addition, we are familiarizing ourselves with the climb techniques for safely (as much as this is possible) climbing through the ice fall.  More on that in my following posts…