Essay: Some ill-defined Electricity Dave Hahn - Basecamp Fri, April 20, 2001 7:00AM
In the morning we'll leave base camp on our way to the real search. Have we really been at this for a month already? Yes, and anxiously anticipating this push. Preparing our camps, preparing our ropes, preparing our lungs, preparing our legs, preparing our blood... and readying our minds.
This last rest at base camp has been a time to study the mountain and it's mysteries one final time from afar. The next information we become privy to will come while our lungs are burning on worthless and cold air. Our minds will have to take in answers at the same time that our crampons will be scratching out survival on some killing slope. And so we savor this chance at easy knowledge down low. Seventeen thousand feet above sea level may not be low elsewhere, but to us it has become rock bottom. It represents comfort and food and sleep... the things we take a stab at without much hope of attainment during our cycles up the mountain. With such luxury assured at BC, we turn to hours of study regarding George Mallory, Andrew Irvine, and the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition.
We can ask Jochen Hemmleb nearly anything regarding north side expedition histories, and we have. We've pulled out the aerial photos, we've searched the relevant films, and we’ve compared photos and angles. We've examined the artifacts of the season so far and committed their shapes to memory. We've hit the books hard while at base camp. Due in part to the success of our expedition two years back, there is a great deal more to read now concerning Mallory and Irvine. Much of the new literature is framed against the great tragedy of the '24 trip, naturally. And that means that one reads of this huge excitement building for George and Sandy as they did their own "preparations" and then there is, inevitably the line that goes... "That was the last time George Leigh Mallory and Andrew Comyn Irvine were ever seen alive." We know the excitement they were feeling during the buildup.
Ours is similar, despite the fact that the mountain has been climbed and despite the fact that some of us have climbed it. We are each full of some ill-defined electricity now at the chance to perform well in the 27,000ft labyrinth that has challenged us so profoundly in the past. We are each anxious to know more than is possible through books and "last seen alive" statements.
I'd guess we are each also somewhat abuzz with the slight fear of death brought close enough again by our first forays up the North Ridge, by our observations of its past month of storms and jet winds. And brought home by the books again, with their "after-chapters" describing families growing up without fathers and brothers. None of us wants some future author attempting to sift through our old motivations and dreams without our input. None of us wants our middle names appearing in text, describing our last days on Everest...