Dispatch 34 from Everest / May 18, 2012

Erickson: Patience -The art of Waiting

Two Ascents, Both Seek Summit — Southeast Ridge Team to Focus on Education and Science; West Ridge Team of Anker and Cory Richards to Retrace Route of First American Ascent on West Ridge.

Climb to Be Covered Online Starting March 16 at natgeo.com/oneverest and www.thenorthface.com/everest. Real-time Updates from West Ridge Team to Start April 16 on National Geographic Magazine App for iPad

Some things are easier experienced than explained, and the ability to teach patience isn’t always so easy. As days drift into weeks, and the weeks into months, this expedition forces each of us to dig deep and ask difficult questions of why we choose to pursue such a daunting task.

The climbing is hardly climbing at the technical level we enjoy at home and the dangers are greater than most we will ever experience in a lifetime.  Yet we are all here and all willing to put forth the effort to make the summit a reality.

The Everest Enigma is a unique question we all struggle to answer and for each of us the answer is different.

Why climb the highest point on earth? Because it’s there, or maybe more deeply because of the challenge associated with the difficulties in the personal struggle found along the way.

Either way the reality of what it takes to climb Mt. Everest lies in weeks or months of effort, sometimes in the simplest form of being able to wait. For some on the team the time in base camp can fly by but for others there is less responsibility and the time can leave one wishing for something to do.

We all find ourselves wishing for the comforts of home at points during the expedition, but for Sam and Emily this is a hard first expedition and they are more than eager to get back to the lives they know in the states.  Hilaree misses her boys, Conrad has been fighting for weeks in the thickest of red tape Nepali bureaucracy, hoping to now join our South East ridge team and I struggle to balance my responsibilities as a team leader with my role documenting the expedition.

Climbing Everest is providing each of us with a unique opportunity to learn more about ourselves, and the difficult questions you can’t run from with distractions of everyday life. The reality is nothing is easy about climbing Everest.

As we wait these last few days for our final opportunity to push back up the mountain there is no easy way to teach the value of waiting.

Over 300 people are currently waiting on the mountain to try and summit, not waiting like us here in the comforts of base camp, but waiting high on the mountain in the death zone at 8000m. Those teams poised at Camp 4 on the South Col are banking on the weather holding steady and their window of opportunity providing a safe summit bid.

With so many teams going for the same summit day it would be difficult for us to be there preforming the geology and science we have planned for the top. Unfortunately that means letting others go when we’ve been here the longest. Having arrived to base camp weeks ago, more than nine of them, I had hoped to go for the summit in early May, yet with the chaos of a dry season and now so many teams looking to try for the first window of opportunity, I felt it was better to wait yet a little more.

In all reality I can only hope that making the call for the later window will allow our team to have a safer summit day. I’m hoping there will be less people waiting on the lines, lower winds, more daylight, warmer temps, all pointing to a greater chance of the team being able to attain all of our lofty goals, but then again we have to wait. 

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