Episode 052: Back Home…
I Didn’t Die At Base Camp. It has been an intense few days out here. Ben is safe at ABC and resting up for the long walk home to BC. Last night I was invited to a late dinner by my Indian friends from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute Expedition. You cannot believe the true sense of celebration that these folks shared with me. Their team was one of the first to summit and they were celebrating on behalf of their success, and the success of Ben and of Kolyia from the St Petersburg, Russia, team. It was quite an evening. I’m sure you could hear the singing all the way up on the summit!
Underneath all of the celebration, however, is an intense desire to get the hell out of here. All of the members of Ben’s expedition have been here at Everest for 42 days. That’s just here at Everest…we left Colorado on the 4th of April.
I have been spending some of my time with the Roskelley’s, who just arrived back at Base Camp yesterday afternoon. You might have heard me mention Jess, and now I believe he’s in the media back home. He and his father (an American Mountaineering legend) made it to the summit on the 21st and secured Jess the title of the Youngest American to Summit Everest (he’s 20, 3 years younger than Ben).
Let me tell you, these guys want to go home! They’ve accomplished what they came here to do, and there’s no reason to put up with the discomforts of life here on the moraine any longer. It’s a sentiment shared by everyone. Also, just imagine one of both Roskelley’s current, minor ailments: they returned from the summit with frost-nipped eyeballs. They’re doing fine, it’s not serious, but still, you can see why it’s time to go home.
For me, it is time as well. I would be much happier with my cracked rib if I was sitting in the warmth of my sunny deck in Colorado. Ironically, the nights here have been getting progressively colder instead of warmer. I think Mother Nature may sometimes have a wicked sense of humor!
Then, at the end of the day, I just miss my wife so much, it’s hard to believe. I’ll be home soon, Heidi, I swear.
Every now and then I walk outside of the Russian Comms tent and think I see Ben walking down the rocky trail towards BC. I grab my camera and walk quickly (running at 17,000 feet is not the best of ideas) towards our camp and then realize that it’s a French or Swiss climber or just not him. It’s then that I realize that I’m literally shaking with excitement in the prospect of welcoming Ben “home”. I’m just looking forward to congratulating my friend and assuring that he’s safe and sound.
Then, we can go home.
Total Running Time: 21:17
Dispatch 50, May 25th, 2003: Mount Everest Base Camp
I’ve had 4 friends descend from ABC today and all pf them have confirmed that Ben is on his way down to Base Camp as I type this. In fact, he could be as close as 1 hour away. I just finished having some tea with my good friend Julian, who is close with Ben as well, and he walked a portion of the way down with Ben. Unfortunately, Ben is very tired and is making his way down the unbelievably rough path very slowly.
Fortunately, it’s only his body that is slow, Julian said that Ben was cracking jokes and smiling the entire time. Good news, indeed.
Ben wasn’t supposed to come down to Base Camp until tomorrow, but it has been suggested to all who submitted to get down as fast as possible to the fairly oxygen-rich environs of BC.
I hear Dawa on the radio with Ben right now…you’ll hear from us soon!