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  April 17, 2001
From: Jeff Evans
Everest Base Camp

Hangin on the Khumbu

Well, well . . .

What an adventure, up to now.

You know it's a big mountain when it takes 8 days just to get to basecamp. The journey to basecamp gave us all time to absorb the people, culture and topography of this mystical place, Nepal. The Mountain continued to be some distant objective -- still living in the pages of books and magazines -- but as we caught occasional glimpses of the touted summit, it began to take on a more palpable reality. Once arriving in basecamp, the image of the icefall dominates the panorama. This icefall, which I have heard so many exhausting and spooky stories. It looks a bit intimidating, now but not terribly frightening.

Three days later at 6 AM . . . we're in it. The tethered ladders, the bottomless crevasses, the greyhound bus seracs. Up to Camp 1 and back down . . . exhausting. That night I dreamt of dark holes and slipping falls.

Several days off, then back up again to spend the night at Camp 1. Mike O'Donnell, Erik Weihenmayer and I rise early to navigate the first half of the icefall. Erik does well and seems to feel comfortable crossing the ladders. This is most likely made easier by his impeccable balance and inability to see the deep slots we are crossing. He's strong, and we all feel good.

This basecamp living is lush. We are fed good meals, sleep on tibetan rugs, speak to our loved ones on satellite phones and talk to the world via e-mail (which occasionally works as planned). This is a bit different from my experiences guiding in alaska where we do the slog work. These sherpa folk are not only some of the strongest and most fit people I have ever come in contact with . . . they are truly tireless and genuinely pure.

That old M.O. of alpine climbing is so true here . . . "Make yourself as comfortable as possible for as long as possible. Then, suffer."

Our current itinerary gives us our first summit shot on my birthday, May 7th. I'm not sure about any candle blowing up there.

Erik continues to amaze us all. We know we are doing something big here. We will take it higher. Yeeehaw.

Much love to my family, friends and my sweetest thing.

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