After 3 hours’ tough slog, we’ve made it to Base Camp at Barafu. We’re back up at high-altitude, around 4,650 and we’re all feeling confident.
Leaving camp this morning, we were overtaken by ‘speedies’ flying off up the mountain like trains. As I stared at my dusty Meindl boots and concentrated on getting my breath, I couldn’t help notice the fancy gaiters on one pair of dancing legs, as she swished her blond hair out of her Oakley shades calling ‘pole pole’ (slowly slowly) to her team as she flounced past in a cloud of volcanic dust.
As the day wound on, our slow steady pace began to eat up the ground and we passed them out again. They seemed to need more stops than us. We stopped every hour for a couple of minutes, with no other breaks in between and it seems to be working. We reached Basecamp a few minutes before them and I wondered for a moment if it was wrong to feel smug. Then I just felt smug… One of the team commented that it was a classic example of ‘the hare and the tortoise’. Boom! It’s not really being mean to think like this. It’s a head game. When everything hurts and doubt is hanging out around every corner, you need to take your victories where you can.
We hit into a rhythm today and the kilometres just disappeared. This is the pace we will follow tonight, the only problem is, we have to do it for 8hrs, in the dark and cold.
Earlier this morning we were woken by a young woman from another team who had heard ‘Pat Falvey’ was on the mountain and wondered if he’d assess her friend for mountain sickness. He was happy to oblige and we later met them again on the mountain, taking a steady pace like us. It’s reassuring to be taking on this challenge with the best.
After lunch and a brief rest in our tents, pitched precariously on the side of the cliff, we get to have another acclimatisation walk. We’ll spend about 2 hours scrambling a route that we will need to climb again tonight in the dark.
Already conversation has turned to what we’ll wear tonight; fleece trousers or leggings and waterproofs, full layers or heavy pack. So many decisions and so many questions.
Dinner is at 6, then bed for a few hours, and at 11pm tonight we go to the summit…..