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Everest 2003: Charlie Wittmack
Dispatch 22


(Transcribed from satellite phone voice message received April 23, 2003 at 8:55 AM,)

Base Camp 17,600 feet

As the last chapter closed, Chris and I had returned to Base Camp after an exhausting week in the high camps.  Rudy returned over lunch and we swapped stories from the valley to the high mountain. The following morning Nathaniel reminded us of the arrival of Shawn’s wife, Gabrielle, that afternoon.

The thought of having a woman in our Base Camp was alarming to all of us and we pushed away our porridge and began our preparation. Three baths were drawn, razors dug out of packs, and laundry hung out to dry. By noon our camp was as good as a bunch of filthy mountaineers could manage, and while we felt our “Sunday best,” I’m quite sure our presentation remained less.

Robert, Danny and Shawn escorted Gabrielle in after lunch and we gathered around her tiny tent, laughing and sharing stories. The transformation of our group, in the presence of this new woman, was remarkable. Our usual descent on the dinner table (like a pack of wolves) was replaced with a civilized serving system.  Napkins miraculously appeared, legs crossed, and not a single [unintelligible] was aired.

Our conversation turned to politics over tea, and as we argued Tony Blair’s policies I caught one of our members raising his pinky as he sipped his tea. I laughed as I thought of  Kristin Scott Thomas’s appearance in “The English Patient,” transforming the English brute into a dinner jacket clad gentleman, and suddenly wondered if I had remembered to pack my “Black Tie.”

My primary concern was the infusion of new reading material. Having finished all of my books on the trek in, Chris’s classics, and Shawn’s collection of army novels, I have been faced with learning Flemish. Gabrielle’s arrival has delayed that somewhat, as during today’s rest I polished off  Your Pregnancy – Every Woman’s Guide … absolutely fascinating!

Tomorrow Chris and I are headed down into the valley for a couple of days to cure our colds and find something to read... Charlie

Dispatches

 





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