This morning was sunny and warm in base camp. It was celebrated by all except for the kitchen staff. As the climbing team left for more technical climbing practice in the lower Khumbu Ice Fall, the kitchen staff knew it would be an afternoon of hard work.
For as soon as the climbing team returned from practice, the requests began for showers. In most any other place the requests would be routine, but not at Everest Base Camp. I will give a sense of what is involved in just providing a shower. First someone has to haul the water into camp. Our water supply is at least a 20 minute walk one way across two steep ravines. Water weighs about 8.3 pounds per gallon and each trip yields about 10 gallons of water. It is incredibly hard work.
The old-school Base Camp shower was a bucket of warm water hoisted overhead. But our camp is not old-school, we are living a much more comfortable and modern existence!
We have a shower tent (yellow tent in lower right corner of the photo above) that is fed water through a hose (normally frozen) from a large barrel positioned on top of a hill next to our camp (upper left hand corner of picture). If carrying water into camp is not hard enough, it is then hauled to the top of the hill and poured in a barrel to create water pressure for the shower.
The water then feeds a gas heating system that is controlled within the shower.
All that is left for the climbing team member to do is to listen for their name to be called and to have soap in hand. This is an example of expedition life. It illustrates a couple of realities: the day-to-day is not always glamorous and it is rarely easy, and that none of it would happen without the incredible effort and support of our camp staff.
We are now all clean here in base camp and getting hungry. Our kitchen staff is exhausted and hoping for a cold and cloudy day tomorrow.