News: The 3rd Day of Searching Eric Simonson - Basecamp Sat, April 28, 2001 5:45AM
Thursday morning dawned ugly at Base Camp. Then it got worse. By the 7am radio call the whole mountain was enveloped in clouds with a particularly nasty lenticular over the top. We heard on the radio that it was raining hard in Nepal. Later in the day we heard that mudslides had blocked the main road between Kathmandu and Pokara. Up on the North Col, Brent and Jake tried to go to Camp 5, and actually made it to nearly 25,000 feet before being beaten back by the ferocious cold wind that they estimated in excess of 60 mph. Later in the day Kami and 14 Sherpas climbed to the Col in blowing snow from ABC, to be in position to try to go to Camp 6 the next day.
It sounds nasty to put people through this, but its the price you have to pay to be in position when the weather finally breaks.
Up at 26,900 feet (1000 feet higher than the South Col on the Nepal side!) Dave, Tap, and Andy woke up after their second night at Camp 6. It was cold and windy, but they were determined to get another day of searching in. We couldn't see them much in the telescope during the day, due to the clouds, but they said it was just barely possible to function, with a continuous 30-40 mph wind. Amazingly (though not unexpected, since its something we've seen before) the conditions at Camp 6 were better than lower on the mountain, due to the wind shadow effect of the upper North Face. Their plan on this day was to make a thorough search of the area below the Chinese Camp 6, which they did, criss crossing back and forth across the face. In the mid afternoon Tap decided to go down to ABC. It took him three and a half hours, and he arrived just at dusk. Andy and Dave also worked until dark. In the late afternoon the clouds cleared and it was memorable to watch them as they made a final traverse, this time much higher, just below the Yellow Band, in the last rays of the sun, their down suits glowing in the alpenglow against the yellow rock.
Radio conversations were brief on this day, due to the high wind which made it tough to talk into the microphones. Everyone knew what they were doing and Jochen and I down at at Base Camp had little to offer, except for occasional words of encouragement. In the evening, Andy and Dave crawled into the tents, determined to try one more day of searching on their rotation.