The death of Ueli Steck, the impromptu departure of a troubled member of our team and the inclement high altitude weather has taken a toll on the team's mood over the last few days.
Some of the team knew Ueli well, others, like me, had only met him once or twice. However, regardless of this disparity the sense of loss was felt by all. It was an intensely sad day - much letting of emotion, the likes of which I have rarely seen before. In an odd way, I felt privileged to simply witness this passing.
The day passed and people woke to the contrast of beautiful blue skies and weighty newspaper obituaries. People read deliberately and no doubt learnt far more facts about this extraordinary man than they knew when he lived.
Post breakfast Kenton, Rob and I decided to take a turn up the moraine and climb to Pumori Bc for little more than to take the fresh air and finally escape the gloom and boredom of Bc - the weather forecast was still insulting and suggesting no end to our depressing wait.
We set off at 9 and arrived back at BC at 11, but during those two short hours we laughed endlessly. Perhaps a symptomatic response to the previous days grief, perhaps not, but it seemed our minds and bodies demanded it. As we walked we played ABC of cars, films and actors/actresses. It may sound infantile but some of the answers offered up, in particular by Rob (Kenton's client), were so funny I found myself literally on my knees laughing! It was the relief we needed.
We returned to discover a distinct improvement in the 3-5 day weather forecast. The high altitude winds that had prevented both logistical and hence climbing progress are anticipated to drop to levels considered workable. One can only pray that this forecast remains stable and that we become green lit for an ascent.
The hugely important shuttle of equipment (tents, cook sets and oxygen) has been thwarted by the winds for five days now. The problem is that even though there is now a viable weather window(s) on the horizon, the requisite equipment is not yet in position. This situation was not helped by a failed load transit early this am by our sherpa team owing to yet another icefall. This ballet is set to continue.
And so we wait - it is hard to express how hard this is for me. I feel it acutely. Pictures, mails and any form of message from home takes on an ever increasing importance - one is engaged in mental mortal combat.
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David SJ Tait MBE
3 St Georges Place