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Hurry up and wait, can you handle it?
10:46 a.m. EDT May 14, 2003
Tensions are high in BC right now. The early summit pushes that many teams were hoping for have been thwarted by high winds. The clock is ticking and just about every team on Everest is acclimatized and ready for the summit. Every day they wait in base camp looking towards the sky for clues about what weather tomorrow and next week will bring. Climbers sit by their computers, hitting the Send & Receive button again and again, like an unoccupied office worker – waiting for the latest weather forecast.

A visiting reporter with the American Commemorative expedition points out that it’s the teams who have mastered the, “Base Camp Hang,” that will fare the best in this waiting game.

The South Africans have fancied themselves cricket games to pass the time, the American Commemorative team engages in discussions about what is better, Ragu spaghetti sauce or Prego – or maybe a combination of the two. The Alpine Ascents team played chess, read books, strummed the guitar, and ate jelly beans last time they were waiting out the weather.

Exercise is another tool that teams use to pass the time – Scott Woolum’s Adventures International team made a day trip up to a nearby trekking peak, Kala Pattar and did some filming of the magnificent views. Back in base camp later that day, they horsed around on the computer and sent some video back to the Internet. Technology is a great time-killer.

Laptops with DVD players are commonplace now, and some camps have turned into movie theaters – DVD’s make their way around base camp from tent to tent, and pop-corn is popped while the feature is shown.

The reporter says that, “Those lacking in this important skill (Base Camp Hang) seem to find themselves in petty disputes with fellow climbers or simply mentally and physically exhausting themselves.”

Exhausted is not a good way to set off on a summit bid – those guys will need all the mental and physical strength they can muster when summit day does come - 2 am in the morning, boots are being laced up, winds are howling at the South Col, lungs are searing, and you are scared out of your gourd, about to step into some of the most inhospitable conditions the human body can handle.

Image courtesy of Luanne Freer

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