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David Morton and Melissa Arnot Arrive at Everest Base Camp
Posted on May 25, 2011

Story and photo by David Morton

Spectacular. Absolutely spectacular. Just can’t say enough about that helicopter flight.

We landed in Everest base camp a few hours ago. We’re sitting in relative luxury, drinking tea. That is, compared with our minimalist set up at Makalu base camp. I think we’re enjoying it. I’m not sure yet. It’s quite a shock to go from a base camp of about 15 to 20 people to another that is supposedly “deserted” and feels overwhelmingly filled with people.

Most here have made their summit pushes, succeeded or failed, and departed. There are now only a spattering of teams. I don’t know how many a “spattering” is, but it seems about right. There are more camps set up than people still making attempts on the mountain. We’ve quickly found ourselves in a bit of a “diplomatic issue” that we’ve hopefully resolved. That is, allowing us to still climb at this late date.

My impression as of this afternoon is we’ll likely be the last people on the mountain. That kind of gets me psyched, I have to admit.

Our flight out of Makalu base camp at 6 a.m. was unique to say the least. It was the first time that any flight had gone directly from the Makalu-Barun to the Khumbu over the pass that dumps one into the Chukkung Valley area. Our flight path essentially took us over the shoulder of Lhotse/Shartse—an 8-minute ride instead of 32 minutes. It was breathtaking. The flight path was due to the intimate mountain knowledge of one of the new pilots—a well-known climber in his own right who knows the Makalu region well.

Leaving Makalu has been tough in the wake of tragedy with such a small group on the mountain. Another climber did not make it back to base camp the day the small group of us went for the summit. She and I climbed through the French Couloir together and spoke about the time of day and distance to the summit when I chose to turn around at about 4 p.m. She chose to keep going towards the summit. It didn’t work out well. Though if I had made the same choice, it may have worked out fine.

I’m not sure there’s right or wrong and black or white decisions. I suspect most are gray. One can only hope to keep some balance in priorities while making them.

Melissa and I will be thinking lots about those choices here in the next couple days, though we know we have a time issue. We’ll be balancing priorities.

Author: - Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

  1. Myrle Bossart

    Impossible to grasp the experience Dave and Mellisa are having.
    So glad for their good judgement.
    Sending good luck for Everest.

  2. S. Howe

    Morton’s a good poster. Keep using him. Best wishes from another writer whose path has diverged. Cheers to all at FA and WM.

  3. Lyn Hunter

    I am continually amazed at your epic adventures. Thanks for posting so regularly (and so well!) and allowing me to experience all of it with you. Be well.

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