We had some very good news today. The fixed ropes are in!
Interestingly it was Sherpa from my team, Madison Mountaineering, combined with the Gurkha team who finally got the job done rather than the consortium that was supposed to do it. I am very pleased with my selection of Madison. Garrett, the company owner, as well as all of the guides are simply top notch. The fact that Garrett jumped in and partnered with another team to get the rope fixing done was significant. All teams on the mountain will now benefit from his initiative.
So obviously with the ropes being fixed to the top that means a number of Sherpa summitted today from the South side for the first time this season. There will likely be a number of non-Sherpa summits in the next day or so as there was a very small weather window available. Most teams did not try to hit that window as the ropes weren't in and a better weather forecast is on the way. Generally, you only get one shot on summit rotation from an energy standpoint but also oxygen tank usage.
Given the rope situation and improving weather, a number of us went on a hike to Pumori Base Camp. It was the same hike I did a few days ago on my own. I felt good. It is amazing how much more I can do now vs. when I first arrived at base camp. Here is a shot from Pumori Base Camp, which is about 1,500 feet higher than Everest Base Camp. You can see the highest point, the black mountain, is Everest. The Khumbu icefall spreads out below and out camps to this side of the icefall.
Conan enjoys erecting rock sculptures whenever the opportunity presents itself. He's pretty good at it too. While resting at the top of our hike today he created this one. No doubt tonight's wind will take it down.
Also because we are getting so close now, we got out the oxygen masks and practiced with those. We practiced putting them on, connecting and disconnecting from the oxygen tank, using the regulator, etc. We will wear these from Camp 2 to the top. I took this back in my tent. Not sure I have the oxygen flow high enough. 😉
I only have one slightly negative thing to report. I have finally succumbed to the Khumbu cough. It is believed to arise from the constant cold, dry air hitting our lungs creating irritation. It feels like a tickle in your lungs that you think you can just cough away. Unfortunately you can't. For those who have it bad, it is next to impossible to suppress the cough reflex. It kept one of our team members up most of last night. The only thing to do is continue to wear my buff over my mouth and nose, even when sleeping. Maybe find some cough suppressants. But for now it is not too bad.
But, the mood is definitely turning. There is excitement in the air. As I type this I hear music from the Ghurka camp next to us. I also hear rounds of cheers from other camps. Presumably all of this in response to the rope fixing and first summits from this side of Everest. My chance is coming!