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The North Face of Nuptse: Willie and Damian Benegas

Dispatch 9


Note EverestNews.com is covering this expedition, along with numerous 8000 meter expeditions this Spring 2003 exclusively.

Dispatch 9 Everest Camp 2: 14 Days.  That is the total number of days we have up until today been in BC.  I woke up this morning with the desperate feeling of needing to calm down the ants in my pants. Normally, I will not allow myself to sit still for more than 5 seconds, and now here, we have been sitting for 14 days!  But today is the day.  The weather is somewhat better, and Damian and I decided to take a little journey up to our Nuptse camp.

So, there we were, going through the ice fall, happy happy to get out of BC, but I was having just one problem.  My legs did not want to work in conjunction with my lungs.  I asked my brain to send an e-mail message to my lungs asking them to please slow down the rpm's.  And at the same time, to send another memo to my legs,  (please, we are not being paid by the hour here, move faster, okay?)   Making our way through the ice fall, we arrived at the first big crevasse. Or should I say, gigantic crevasse!  Four straight ladders across the sky span to make it possible to cross over the crevasse, with the blackest of holes waiting down there just below.  After taking a few steps out, I stopped and looked down.  And people trust me, it is deep down in there.  Deep enough for more than a couple of thoughts to come to my mind.  Deep enough that it looks to connect to the other side of the planet. Why spend $3 a minute to call my Jenita when I can have a perfect conversation with her just by screaming down into the depths of the hole?  I keep waiting for an Australian kangaroo to hop out of it.  And the only thing that is between me and the center of the earth right now is a simple aluminum ladder, proudly made in China.  Five more steps and then I was on the opposite side of the treacherous bridge. Then it was Damian's turn.

Earlier, back at BC, a friend offered me their MP3 player, after I complained about the weight of my CD player.  I brought it with me today, and I felt like a kid with a new toy!  Some people may think that listening to U2 turned up really loud in my headphones while passing through the ice fall at the same time is a little dangerous.  Especially when there are ice towers the size of building ready to collapse over you!  But my brother made sure I was paying attention, by launching generous pieces of ice in the direction of my head, from time to time.  Normally the time for a Westerner to go from BC to C1 is 4 to 6 hours.  And then there is the Sherpa time, of 3 to 4 hours, to which a Westerner couldn't even begin to compare.  Our time today?  With my music to keep me going, and ice balls flying at my head- I will let you use your imagination! 

Later, when we arrived to our Nupste camp, we found our poor tent looking like a snow crystal in the immensity of the Khumbu Glacier.  At first glimpse, Damian thought she had either gained a lot of weight, or she was constipated.  All of the Sherpas and climbers pass her on their way to C2 of Everest and Lhotse, and it seems someone had paid her a visit and taken shelter in her sometime during the last week of storms.  And that someone left the zipper on the door open a couple of inches, which was enough to let all of the snow of the Khumbu blow inside to keep her company.  Damian and I stood on opposite ends of the tent, and opened the doors, expecting to see each other through the tent. Well surprise surprise- the ENTIRE tent was completely packed with snow!   It took quite some time to empty her out and clean out our gear.

After all of that, we decided to do a little side hike over to C2 and pay a visit to my Sherpa friends. After 3 summits of Everest with the same group of Sherpas, we have become really good friends, and I know that if  I didn't stop in at C2 to visit, I would be in really big trouble.  We stayed for dinner, and I so much enjoyed all of the comradery.  To be part of this wonderful team is so amazing to me.  But, I did one huge mistake.  Cashi, the cook, was eyeing my MP3 player, so I let him check it out. From that moment on, the music came on and the rest of the world disappeared for him.  The next thing I know, I asked him for some mango pickle to mix with my rice, and he handed me green chile pickle. I realized his mistake when my mouth was instantly on fire and my face turned the same color as my TNF down jacket.  Of course for ego reasons, I could never turn down anything passed to me from the boys.

And that was our day.  Tomorrow, Damian and I will head back over to the base of Nuptse, and begin fixing the first few pitches of our route.  Good night to everybody,  Willie

Approaching the Snake

Dispatches

 





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