Today life at Mount Everest Base Camp can be a bit like being home from home. It has changed considerably since the days of the early British expeditions.
Courtesy of www.alanarnette.com © reproduction prohibited without authorization
Back in the 1920’s George Mallory would have been content sat in his tent writing letters to his wife Ruth, filling in his daily journal or reading a book while waiting at Base Camp to climb the mountain. His Sherpa’s would play cards, drink and smoke, there was not a lot else to do while waiting around killing time.
How things have changed over the years!
Base Camp today can be the size of a small village with hundreds of climbers and many dozens of brightly coloured tents that have arrived from all over the world.
The morning starts with a much welcomed hot cup of tea that is brought to your tent by the cook boy, this is usually before sunrise. Outside your tent you will hear the crunching of snow made by climbers and sherpas on there way to the icefall (if you are on the South side). Mornings tend to be well below freezing and most climbers who are not heading up the mountain tend to stay in their tent until the sun hits Base Camp, making it more bearable to leave the warmth of your sleeping bag.
Breakfast and the evening meal is usually served and eaten in the warmth of the dinning tent. The kitchen/dinning tent is the hub of any expedition. It is here that the climber and Sherpa will be fed and watered with an amazing selection of tasty food and beverages. This tent would also be used to keep you warm on a cold day.
Nearly all the expedition companies that set up home at Base Camp to climb Mount Everest have an entertainment tent for their team members and Sherpa’s to enjoy. You can go into this tent and watch a film on DVD, listen to music, have the occasional beer, contact home via satellite phone, surf the internet, read and send emails or just relax with fellow team members, playing cards or just chatting.
Today a communications tent is a vital part of any expedition. It is in here that you can get the latest updates on the weather and where leaders from different teams talk about strategies higher up the mountain.
The Everest ER is the tent to go to with any medical problems. The volunteer doctors deal with anything from a climber with a headache to having a tooth pulled out to the more serious problems such as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and High Altitude Cerebral Edema. It is always nice just to pop in and say hello, you never know when you might need there help.
The main thing you should be concentrating on doing is relaxing or recovering, eating, drinking (not too many beers) and taking things easy while waiting for your turn to climb up the slopes of Mount Everest.
Some climbers prefer to retire to their tent and spend many hours catching up on sleep, especially if they have just been up to a higher camp, write out their daily diaries or read a book until the early hours.
There are always the daily chores that need doing, washing your clothes, having a shave or taking a much needed shower.
More important chores would include checking and testing your personal equipment, rope and ladder practice and the use of your oxygen apparatus.
With so many people in Base Camp you might decide to go for a wonder to catch up with old climbing friends you may have not seen for a while. You may even get a visit from trekkers who have come to see Mount Everest from Base Camp. Although you need to be careful with this, the last thing you want is to catch a bug or cold from someone putting your climb in jeopardy.
Some climbers prefer to have an active rest day. The climber may be fed up of waiting for the weather to change before going back up the mountain and may decide to go for a day hike to get over their boredom. The most popular hikes are to Gorak Shep and Pumoir Camp 1. At Gorak Shep you have plenty of choice to visit a tea house for something a bit tastier than you have been having. You may make the most of a better internet connection while there too. Trekking to Camp 1 at Pumoir the climber would be rewarded with the splendid view of the Khumbu Icefall.
Mount Everest Base Camp is made up with hundreds of people who all share the same goal, that is to stand on the highest summit in the world and return home safe and well to share their adventure with others.