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The Waiting Game
May 10, 1997
By Liesl Clark

When you're fit, acclimatized, and mentally ready to climb Everest, waiting for good weather can be excruciating. As the hours and days pass, we hear the glacier slowly melting beneath our tents. The creaks and groans of shifting blocks of freezing and thawing ice have been replaced by the drips of small streams and the sounds of large rocks tumbling down melting icehills. Time feels like it has come to a standstill upon the Khumbu Glacier, and all that we have to mark its passing are the subtle changes in our ever-melting surroundings. Members of other expeditions come by to pass the time and read our already outdated magazines.

Last night, we joined Henry Todd, John Tinker, and other expedition leaders in a memorial gathering for Mal Duff. Stories flowed around the human circle we formed around a chorten with burning juniper and dried yak dung. As the clouds above Pumori turned orange from the setting sun, Henry Todd announced that at that very moment, Mal's friends and family members were gathering at a church in Edinburgh. Ours was a small gathering of those who had been his climbing companions and friends over the years. He was certainly an Everest legend, and we stood in the cold thin air to share in the loss of a great Everester, as the winds over the Lhotse-Nuptse ridge blew plume clouds into circles in the sky. All will remember Mal in their staggered Everest attempts this year.

Today, one helicopter flew into Base Camp to lift out the Sherpa who died on the Lhotse Face this last week. His Malaysian team members carried him down to Base Camp from a crevasse at Camp II and through the Icefall so he could be lifted out to Kathmandu to his waiting wife and children. As the daylight wanes and the winds continue to blow, we are all reminded of the power of Everest and its ability to take the lives of even the most experienced climbers here.

June 10, 1997: Back Home (27)
May 25, 1997: Climbers Return to Base Camp (26)
May 24, 1997: Descending Toward Base Camp (25)
May 23 PM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Safely Off the Summit (24)
May 23 AM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Reach the Summit! (23)
    Hear the archived live audio broadcast from the summit
    Read the transcript of the broadcast from the summit
May 22, 1997: Bid for the Summit (22)
May 21, 1997: Helicopter Crashes at Everest Base Camp (21)
May 20, 1997: Moving On Up (20)
May 19, 1997: Poised at Camp II (19)
May 18, 1997: Departing for Camp II (18)
May 17, 1997: Dead Sherpa Found on Khumbu Glacier (17)
May 16, 1997: Jet Stream Winds Blast Camp II (16)
May 13, 1997: Receiving News from the North Side (15)
    May 13, 1997: RealAudio Interview with David Breashears
May 11, 1997: Five Climbers Presumed Dead on the North Side (14)
May 10, 1997: The Waiting Game (13)
May 9, 1997: Pulmonary Edema Evacuation from Base Camp (12)
May 8, 1997: A Hasty Retreat to Base Camp (11)
May 7, 1997: Sherpa Falls To His Death On The Lhotse Face (10)
May 6, 1997: Spin: A Passenger to the Summit (9)
May 5, 1997: Delayed at Advance Base Camp (8)
May 4, 1997: NOVA Climbers Leave Base Camp for Their Summit Attempt (7)
May 1, 1997: NOVA Team Prepares for Summit Attempt (6)
April 26, 1997: Indonesian Expedition First to Summit in 1997 (5)
April 23, 1997: Expedition Leader Dies at Everest Base Camp (4)
April 22, 1997: Japanese Expedition Pulls Out (3)
April 16, 1997: Traffic Reports on Everest (2)
April 14, 1997: Rescue Season Begins (1)



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