Kelly here with another update:
I heard from Seth around 1:00 this morning, calling from Camp IV. He said it took six and a half hours of jumaring to get there from Camp III, during which time he only stopped a couple of times, either for water, a chocolate bar, or a brief rest. (A jumar is a device that attaches to a rope. A climber can use it to help ascend a steep slope by sliding it up the rope and then using it to pull their body weight up. A jumar only slides one direction – up, not down.) The weather was very windy – while we were chatting, he asked Damai to estimate how hard the wind was blowing, and Damai said 30-35 kilometers, which I interpreted to mean winds of 65-75 miles per hour. Seth said that during the hike up, he kept expecting Damai to approach him and tell him they would have to turn back because of the wind. However, Damai never did, and he never saw any other teams turning back, and so he trudged on, eventually reaching the South Col to crawl into their wind-battered tent. I may have misheard him, but I think he said the wind had blown one of the windows of the tent out. He also told me that as Damai was trying to lash the tent down to protect it better from blowing away in the wind, he volunteered to simply lie in it to keep it on the ground – but I get the feeling even that wouldn’t have been a guarantee, and I’m glad that Seth didn’t fly off the mountain in a tent-shaped Everest Kite.
Seth said the oxygen mask is working well. One problem people sometimes have is that it fits funny, messes with their glacier goggles, or ices up. Seth said his has been working and fitting well, which is a relief to me. He also said they got an updated weather forecast, and that while the weather was a bit nasty Thursday morning, it was forecast to be good well through his projected summit time on Friday.
From where he sat in the tent, Seth could see the route he would be following to the summit. He said it looked incredibly steep and he was obviously intimidated by the idea of continuing on, ascending another 3,000 feet, after resting for just 6 hours in the tent. Damai was telling him it’s not as bad as it looks; I guess we’ll find out soon enough! As I write this at 6am in Seattle, the team is getting packed up and ready to leave for the big day. I’m picturing them having spent the night huddled in the tent in their down suits, with oxygen masks on, with one sleeping bag between them. When I spoke to Seth last night, Kami hadn’t yet caught up with them since starting out of Camp II the day after he and Damai did. But he called again just now to let me know they were getting ready to leave for the summit, and by that time Kami had arrived and the three of them were getting ready to ascend together as planned.
So now it’s time for the push! If you are interested, you can click on the “Where’s Seth” tab of this blog. Seth is planning to turn on the tracker on his GPS device, which should broadcast to that tab every so often (maybe every 30 minutes?) showing his progress up towards the summit and back down. However, that device has not always been reliable, so if you’re trying to tune in and you see (a) nothing or (b) strange movement – like Seth popping over to visit a neighboring peak during his ascent, well, it’s probably not working right. If it *is* working, though, it’s a pretty cool thing to watch. Seth will be climbing all day today in the states – all night in Nepal. I expect to hear from him anytime between 4pm and midnight tonight (Thursday) that he’s either at the summit or has turned back for some reason. I will, of course, keep you all posted.
Whatever your method of sending good thoughts – be they prayers, vibes, or wishes into the atmosphere – please send them out strong today!!