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sunrise over peaks Through the Icefall
Written and Photographed by Liesl Clark

Establishing Base Camp
Rock, snow, and clouds meet the sky and mingle with the day as a buzz of activity invades Base Camp. Paula unpacks food and equipment boxes with Ed as the "moving in" process for the expedition shifts into high gear. Now that tents have been established, the gear and supplies must be unpacked and put into place. David and Araceli set up the dining tent, complete with a communications and battery-charging corner. Tables are set up for computers and printers and the ever-critical satellite phone has its own designated spot. Inside, the tent starts to warm up from the sun while outside the wind chill brings the air temperature down to a just bearable 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

sherpas carring loads Looking down the glacier, a trail of porters can be seen making their way up to our camp—an endless stream of human load carriers. As the last of the expedition cases trickle in they are checked in and weighed by the Sherpas. Jamling directs where they are to go: Base Camp food, sacks of grain, potatoes, carrots, and cans of kerosene go to the kitchen tent; western canned and boxed food, food for the high camps on the mountain, and climbing hardware go to the storage tent (affectionately named the "Seven Eleven"); film equipment goes to the camera tent; office equipment to the "Communications Corner" in the dining tent; and personal gear to people's individual tents.

Base Camp Other expeditions slowly set up their camps around us, tents popping up like spring flowers that bloom quickly overnight. Team members wander around, checking out each other's campsites and catching up on news. David, who's been here over a dozen times, knows most of the expedition leaders. It somehow feels like a cult community of returning Everesters. Many of them come back year after year to guide or make another attempt (this time solo or without oxygen) on the world's highest peak.


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