This part of the story is entitled “Sniper At Camp 3” and goes into more detail about how the climbers were treated by the Nepalese army while preparing to make their climb. We all knew that cameras, both still and video, as well as sat phones, were prohibited until after the May 10th deadline, and Alan tells the story of one man having his gear searched for a video camera while having a gun pointed at him. But Alan also points out that while these scenes were disturbing for Everest veterans, after awhile everyone got use to living under the cloud of constant surveillance.
Eventually the climbers stopped worrying about the conditions in BC however, and started worrying about their summit chances. The climbing schedule was completely thrown off thanks to the restrictions imposed by the Chinese. While teams should have been able to climb as high as Camp 3 and spend the night, as part of the typical acclimatization process, the ropes weren’t even fixed that high yet. At best, teams were able to go to C2, and soon a well worn path made it’s way up the mountain. That is, until May 1st arrived, and no one was allowed to go beyond base camp.
The rest of the story includes Alan’s thoughts upon finding out that the Chinese had finally reached the top (or did they?), and the climb beginning in earnest. The Nepalese army disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, with a simple “thank you for your cooperation” message, and in the blink of an eye, thinks returned to semi-normalcy.
The past few posts I’ve made on Alan’s dispatches, I’ve remarked at how great his writing is, and how well he sets the scene. That is evident once again in this article, but I think I’ve been negligent in not mentioning Alan’s wonderful photographs. Each part of his debrief has some wonderful shots of the mountain sprinkled throughout, and between the writing and the images, you really do get a nice snapshot of life on Everest during the spring 2008. A year unlike any other on the mountain I’m sure.
Next time, we’ll get into Alan’s summit bid and closing thoughts on the season.
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