For the record, no Western woman has summited Mt. Everest more times than Eddie Bauer First Ascent guide Melissa Arnot. When Arnot reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 26, 2012 for the fourth time, she earned the official women’s record due to her drive, her determination, and her viewpoint on perseverance. “My advice is you don’t have to practice suffering, you just need to be okay with suffering,” Arnot says.
In 2013, Arnot has her eyes set on a fifth successful summit and is back at her home-away-from-home: Everest basecamp. But not every element of Everest is a sufferfest. Some things about the daily routine—that might seem almost mundane—give her comfort with a shift in perspective. In her first 2013 report from Everest for the Live Your Adventure blog, Melissa Arnot reflects on her daily Everest routine. —LYA Editor
Word and Images by Melissa Arnot
There are certain things here at Everest Basecamp that are familiar and even comforting. They sometimes make me question my “normal” existence in the mountains. For example, I just took my first shower with a metal bowl and a teacup inside the vestibule of my tent. I caught myself thinking how warm it was and wishing I could somehow fit inside the bowl. That didn’t strike me as odd, but sort of nostalgic for the season I spent on Makalu with a similar shower set up.
Basecamp is strange that way. It readjusts your perceptions of a daily routine, the criteria for a regular day. I sleep on top of the cracks and pops of ice that is alive. Boulders tumble down the hillside behind my tent at all hours of the day. Excitement comes in the form of five o’clock, the decided hour that I put on my Primaloft Eddie Bauer pants.
Everest Basecamp is absurdly comfortable though. Sometimes when I’m here I feel spoiled and embarrassed by all the comforts; I have my own big dining tent, I have a cook who makes me three meals a day, I have a thick pad to sleep on and a pillow in my tent. I have friends surrounding the camp, everywhere from two to twenty minutes away. I’m not alone here and basecamp has a very certain social buzz.
But today is the day to which I’ve been looking forward. I’m organizing my things in order to start moving uphill. Tshering Dorje and I will go to Camp I tomorrow. I’ve been looking at the icefall and sleeping at its feet for the last few days, and I’m ready to climb. Tshering is incredibly strong and hardworking, like most Sherpa. It’s a small battle to get him to let me carry a load to camp, such is the Western-imposed culture of this place. It’s the economy – not good or bad – just the way things are. But we have settled on an agreement for moving our things up and the alarm is set for before sunrise.
Like the crack of the ice or the splash of a warm bowl shower, I’m hoping the nocturnal beeping of my alarm feels familiar and good. As I rustle around in the cold and head up to Camp I, I’ll be looking forward to spying basecamp from above; a good sign of progress in this slow climbing game.
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