Delayed at Advance Base Camp
May 5, 1997
By Liesl Clark
The roar of the wind heard above Camp II sent a clear signal to our climbers that it
was not a good idea to move up to Camp III today. All the Sherpas who went up to the
South Col (Camp IV) had to turn back due to the high winds. "We can hear the winds
roaring above us like a freight train while we sit in our tent," reported David
Breashears this morning. Today, the winds out of the southwest are reaching speeds
on the summit of up to 75 miles per hour and the temperature could dip down as low
as minus 36 degrees.
After deciding to remain at Advance Base Camp (Camp II) at 6:30 this morning, Ed Viesturs
radioed back to David Breashears and Pete Athans from his tent, "Well, we'll just augur
in." It won't be a day of just sitting around, however, as both crews (David and Pete
at Camp II and us at Base Camp) need to videotape radio communications sequences with
Doctor Howard Donner for our NOVA documentary. Today we are focusing on changes in
barometric pressure on the slopes of Everest.
Whenever you wait one day at Advance Base Camp, there's always the fear that it could turn
into many more days of waiting. We overhear David and Ed commiserating about last year,
when they spent 30 days at Camp II. All are hoping that this year will not be a repeat
in weather patterns. "We have only enough oxygen (16 bottles) for one try on the summit,"
explains David, noting the importance of this decision. "Once we decide to proceed higher,
all arrows point up."
Meanwhile, Howard Donner was interviewed by Daniel Zwirdling last night for a story NPR's
Weekend Edition did on wilderness medicine. As we hovered around the satellite phone in
the cold hours of the night waiting for Daniel and his team to "get into a recording
studio" at NPR, we sang what we could remember of the NPR radio theme song to Howard
in preparation for his interview (ever notice how similar it is to the Jeopardy theme
song?) Daniel introduced Howard as a Telluride doctor who regularly hangs a sign on
his door that reads "Gone to Base Camp." The interview went well and Howard went
back to his tent covered in the virtual ticker tape we regaled him with after his debut.
In the meantime, all is well at Base Camp and Advance Base Camp as we hope for better weather