Base camp!!!!!

June 29, 2018

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Whew!  I really felt the elevation today.  Base camp is at about 16,000 feet (4877 meters).  The route to get here wasn't very steep, just a gradual incline and very, very rocky, with several inches of compact snow on top of them, it was super slippery and tough to get good footing.  Eventually it felt a little like we were on the edge of an icefall, with giant chunks of ice towering over us that we had to maneuver through.  I was curious how close we were to base camp, and since it was still snowing I didn't have any visual reference so I started to pay attention to smells, and the presence of birds which usually hang out opportunistically at camp. Finally I started to see a lot of porters hiking in the opposite direction without loads, and I knew I was getting close. I thanked each of them and shook the hands of many.  Their skin so tough and calloused that it felt like they were wearing leather gloves.

Finally I could see the bright colors of tents and I knew that I was almost at camp :)  Things are still disorganized since it's been snowing for days and there's no sign of it stopping.  In addition to making it difficult to establish camp, the snow has soaked everything.  Most of my clothes are wet as are both sleeping bags, and there's a tiny river flowing from one corner of my tent to the other.  

I dedicated my afternoon to sorting through wet gear, and fixing my tent fly so that the ceiling wouldn't leak.  After the leak was resolved I created piles of clothes based on moisture content.  I usually pack all of my clothes in waterproof, plastic bags, but sometimes they get bulky, so this time I just stuffed my pants into any available space in my duffel.  While that made packing more efficient, the only dry pair of pants that I had was a pair of wool long underwear.  Everything else was wet and cold - some things so wet that I had to ring them out.  Eventually realized that body heat was the only tool I had for drying anything so I pulled on a pair of soggy pants down pants and got inside my semi-damp sleeping bag and shivered for a few hours until they were dry enough to wear.  And now I have dry down pants!!