Continued tracking of Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey’s ascent of Mount Everest, these latest updates both over the weekend on his Facebook page.
Please note that on Tuesday, the mayor will take part in the Coronado City Council meeting via satellite, which is likely the highest altitude government meeting ever. Not to mention the highest elected official.
Everest Day 8 and 9 Recap
On day 8, we made it to Everest Base Camp – 17,500 feet high, this section of the trail is what makes the trek to EBC worth it. As you hike the last few miles into base camp you are surrounded by the tallest mountains imaginable and have a crystal clear view of the Khumbu icefall.
The trail today was very crowded as most people were finishing their seven-day trek to a notorious rock that is the unofficial official mark for the start of base camp and end of the EBC trail.
At this point nearly everyone has a cough commonly known here as the Khumbu cough. Once you have it, it’s very difficult to get rid of and can turn into pneumonia or worse without treatment. Fortunately, no cough for me.
If you like hiking and a little adventure, I can’t recommend this hike enough. It’s beautiful, safe (lots of solo hikers), accommodations are definitely passable (despite my earlier venting), and you get to see the tallest mountains on Earth.
I walked past the EBC rock recognizing it represented the end of the first chapter of this adventure and beginning of the next one.
Everest Base Camp is its own temporary village. Beginning in March, the expedition teams from around the world stake out their territory and begin establishing camp. There is a friendly rivalry between the teams and each year they attempt to outdo each other with better amenities to attract more and better paying clients.
This year there are 454 permits issued to climbers on 39 teams from over 45 countries. China has the largest representation with 96 members, followed by the US at 87, India at 40, Canada 21, Russia 19, France 13, and Austria at 12.
The vast majority of the time you keep to your own team’s camp because every team is challenged with rationing supplies. It’s also a pain in the butt to get around. The one-mile long base camp terrain in very uneven, rocky, and slippery as it’s situated on top of a glacier.
After arriving to camp, we settled in, unpacked and met other members of the team – one climber is blind, another is completing the explorer grand slam (might be next on my list), and another climber is mentoring a group of Afghan women to help them achieve education and freedom. All truly remarkable and more to come on them. The rest of climbers are already doing their rotation on the mountain.
First night sleeping at base camp was not the easiest. The accommodations were very comfortable but I tossed and turned a lot – it was cold and I had on a lot of layers which made resting difficult.
In addition to the coughs, zipping and unzipping from your neighbors’ tents, loud cracks and booms are heard throughout the night. These sounds are nearby avalanches which don’t pose a threat to us at base camp but they are a major consideration when navigating through the icefall to camp 1. Sweet dreams haha.
Day 9 is a rest day. Literally just relaxing in the communal tent, drinks lots of fluid, eat lots of food, listen to music, read, and allow your body a chance to adjust to the altitude.
Each breath at base camp generates about half the oxygen your body receives at sea level. At the summit, it’s a third. Your body can adjust to this lower oxygen level but it takes time. Pushing too high too fast leads to altitude sickness which is a terrible experience and can lead to death.
Most climbers begin oxygen at camp 3 at 23K feet. The reason you don’t begin oxygen sooner is because if your oxygen system freezes on the way to the summit, the acclimatization you’ve done to allow your body to adjust to lower oxygen will give you a fighting chance to get down and live. If you started oxygen at base camp or camp 1 and your system freezes at 28K feet, you’ll blackout within minutes and become a landmark.
Preview of what’s ahead:
Tomorrow – training day in the icefall
Monday at midnight – leave for camp 1
Tuesday at midnight – leave for camp 2
Wednesday – spend a second night at camp 2
Thursday – move to camp 3 and return to camp 1 or 2
Friday – hike out to base camp
Saturday – rest and begin waiting for weather window to summit.
One last note – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of your comments and emails of well-wishes. I am so excited to be where I’m at but it is very lonely at times, even with great team members. So thank you all for being on this adventure with me!
(Also the pizza the other night did not hit the mark – backed to boil eggs)
Everest Night 9 and Day 10 Recap
On night 9, a few hours after dinner, our Expedition Director, Nims called all the Sherpas in the communal tent. A few hours from that moment, the Sherpas would be moving high up the mountain to establish camp 4 and lines to the summit. I couldn’t understand what Nims was saying because he gave the talk in Nepalese, but I asked one of the bilingual guides after and he said that Nims was giving everyone a pep talk. He concluded by saying that their safety was his responsibility and that if anything happened to them, it was his responsibility to take care of their family. This is my second time climbing with Nims, and I’ve never met anyone like him. The people working for Elite Expedition take pride in being part of his team and I can see why.
Day 10 is a training day. After a restless night sleep I am excited to get out on the glacier. I woke up with a slight sore throat but otherwise was feeling great.
After breakfast we bring our gear to the guides for inspection and they take us out to a nearby glacier that is set up as a training course for ascending, ladder crossing, traversing and rappelling.
This training is specific for the Khumbu icefall which will be our first stop when we head up the mountain. Some parts of the training was a refresher for me and other parts were new. I didn’t get a video of my first attempt crossing a ladder and, to be honest, if I had I wouldn’t have posted haha. Crossing a ladder in crampons is easy your tenth time, but the first couple crossings were pretty embarrassing.
Ascending up the glacier takes a good amount of strength and some technique but after awhile it becomes second nature. With the crampons digging into the ice, you can practically scale of vertical wall.
The day was exhausting but fun.
As I walked back to camp I got hit with the chills and it wasn’t from the 20 degree weather. A quick stop into the medical tent confirmed that my early morning sore throat was a precursor for a 102 degree fever – not good. I changed into my summit suit for extra warmth, took some medicine and went to sleep.
It turned out to be the best sleep I’ve had since arriving.
Believe it or not I actually had a dream/nightmare of a city council meeting. Speaking of which, the next council meeting is on Tuesday and I’ll be participating remotely via satellite phone. I’ve never missed a vote in my ten years on the council, let alone a meeting and I’m not about to start. So at 3am on Wednesday morning Nepal time, I’ll be calling in from a satellite phone for what will be unofficially the highest altitude government meeting ever conducted – I’m submitting an application to Guinness Book of World Records to have some fun with it.
My fever broke at least for now and I’m heading to dinner. I’m sure it’ll be an early night for me.
See all of Bailey’s Everest summit posts here.