Newsletter 2022 May 2001
Asmuss and I are drill sergeants, barking orders to dress and depart. We want to move up and have been "brewing up" since 5 a.m. Ironically, the rest of the mountain is on a different schedule. The Sherpas are climbing up from Camp 2, Andy's gang is trying to crawl out of these tiny pup tents in which they could barely sleep. A certain lassitude has descended upon the team. Departure is delayed from 7 am to 8 am. Later this is updated to 9 am. We tell our gang to brew up...quickly.
Finally, unable to control ourselves, we begin replacing each climber's oxygen cylinder with a fresh one. The slower climbers are pushed out the door. The miracle of Oxygen begins to take place. Yesterday I climbed twice as fast as the team, today I can barely keep up.
Its a three hour climb, starting with rising traverses across snow covered ledges. Turn a few corners and the route steepens, going directly up long strips of snow. Off to our right, the summit pyramid rises, a snow covered triangle capped by a rocky crest. The true summit is just out of site, lost by the rounding effect of the long summit ridge.
We've made a deal with the Americans, to use a few of their tents at high camp. The deal is an old one: Russ and Eric Simonson, leader of the commercial American expedition have been swapping favors, fixed ropes, food, alcohol and just about every other trade-able commodity. Russ and Eric have been competitors and allies for years. Together they've formed the organization IGO-8000 (International Guides and Operators for the 8000 Meter Peaks), of which there are now a dozen or so members.
There is a tremendous strength in alliances such as these. When no one could seem to "break through" to the summit, Russ and Eric were planning on our combined efforts: twice the number of Sherpas, guides and clients, to push the route. Happily though, a sub group of Eric's, was able to bust through on the 19th. With the doors wide open, everyone's summit push was on.
As we were climbing to Camp 4, we watched others climbing to the summit. We could feel ourselves getting closer and closer. 15 of us climbed into high camp and were assigned tents. Naoki and I crawled into an American tent. If we were on our honeymoon it would have been ideal: a few boundaries and Naoki nicknaming me "Honey" and we managed to survive. Each climber was given three fresh Oxygen cylinders for the summit push. The discipline of melting water, preparing our packs, and eeking out some rest occupied our efforts. By 5 pm we dozed off and by midnight I was up again. "Honey, can you make me some tea?" "Honey, can you empty my pee bottle?"