Everest Base Camp - Day 12
25 - Nov 15, 1998
Today we accomplished our first set goal of our trip (woo-hoo!!) We also completed what
was possibly the mission or purpose of our being here. When we woke, Jeff and Manny were
excited and ready to blaze ahead to base camp while Mike and Emmy where having second
thoughts with there morning tea and throbbing headaches. They almost went down to Lobuje.
After two ibuprofen 2 liters of water and a breakfast of fried eggs and Tibetan bread (a
fried puffy pastry like bread) with jam, and a bit of prodding from Manny and Jeff they
felt better and ready to go.
At about 9am we set out, the walk took about 3 hours up and down hills, across 150
meter walk along a ridge that fell straight down on both sides (sure death to those who
stumble) and then across a dirt and stone covered glacier as old as time we traveled about
1 hour over loose rocks where we saw deep ice caverns and huge green pools of frozen
water. At the beginning we passed what appeared to be a several newly built chorten's in
memory of Rob Hall, Andy Harris, Doug Hansen, Mrs. Yasuko Namba who had died on 5-10-96
and where a tragic part of the story of Jon Krakauer's book into Thin Air (we
had heard that Jon Krakauer had been through the area with his family just 10 days before
We finally reached Everest base camp at the foot of the Khumbu (Everest) icefall, an
enormous wall of ice chards that changes and moves on the average 1 meter day. We saw and
heard huge chunks of ice fall and crash.
The Khumbu icefall, along with the Hillary Step (the ridge immediately before reaching
the top) are the two most dangerous parts of the climb to summit Mount Everest. All around
us we could see and hear rock avalanches. it was truly an amazing place. Only one mile
away from china but days of climbing required to get there.
Although we had heard Base Camp was littered with debris of past expeditions. We had
found that it was mostly quite clean. Base camp is a large open area on the glacier
consisting of large boulders and small man-made plateaus of dirt and rocks where tents
were once placed. There where still some broken tent poles that remained and even some
bricks that had been charred with smoke from cooking fires.
After soaking up the energy and eating our lunch (powerbars, cookies and Worthers
Candies) we set about the task of building a chorten in honor of Luther Jerstaed. This was
a request of his friends and family that we had met in Dugla after his tragic death. it
was a powerful and passionate endeavor as we all had ideas as to how and why we were going
to build a monument to the man none of us had ever met. in the end we decided to build a
small chorten between two large and more permanent chortens and drape the prayer flags
from the family over all three. Because the glacier moves so frequently we felt this was
the only way to assure it stayed in place for more the a few days. On a flat slab of stone
we wrote with marker:
in Memory of Luther "Lute" Jerstead
First All American Expedition to Everest - 1963.
Gave His Soul to the Mountain 10-31-98
After about an hour we decided it was time to head back to Gorak Shep. Manny however
decided it was time to walk onto the Khumbu icefall. "
just to take a couple of
pictures and then i'll catch up." We knew there was four hours until sunset and felt
confident that that was plenty of time for all of us to return to the lodge before dark.
The walk back through what appears to be distances that are not that far, took nearly 3
hours almost the same as the walk to base camp because we were not walking directly down
more like up then down, up a little then down a little. The trail in many places was
non-existent and Jeff, Emmy and Mike were not the sherpas they believed themselves to be.
We had to turn around several times, but finally parched and drained of energy we reached
our lodge at 4:30. We knew Manny was about an hour behind.
As 6:30 rolled around and the sun had dropped at least a half an hour earlier. We began
to worry and assess our options. Manny had not yet returned.
To go out and look for him was nearly impossible because we had miles of space where he
could possibly be. To stay in and wait was not only painful for us but also insured death
for Manuel of hypothermia if he were trapped outside without shelter at night.
Luckily neither option was necessary: At 7pm we saw his headlamp approaching the lodge.
it turned out that after sunset Manny decided to wait for the moon to rise and help light
his way back. The night before on Kala Pattar the moon had come out full bright and early
but this night it didnt come out until close to 9.