19 April 2008: Times have changed even for climbers...
Ngima and I crawled out of our sleeping bags at 6 AM. I would have been ready at 4 or 5 AM after so many hours trying to sleep. The wind was still blowing, but it was clear all night and this morning. We had some tea and some hot water to thaw our out water bottles. After packing all our gear up in the tent we locked it up. It may seem strange, but it is necessary to put locks on the tents to keep people from using the tent and gear. Times have changed even for climbers.
We headed down at about 7 AM. It was cold (~ 5 degrees) with the wind blowing. It took us more than three hours to get back to base camp. Several times we waited for twenty to thirty minutes for Sherpa’s and climbers to get up or down ladder sections in the icefall. On top of that you would get behind slow climbers and have to wait for a chance to pass them. Some climbers step aside quickly and let you by. Others ignore you and slowly plod along. For those times you have to unclip from the fixed line and move quickly by them when you can. Crowds inn the icefall are truly a problem when you consider that this is an area that you want to move through quickly. Hopefully they thin out higher up on the mountain.
Back at base camp I laid out my clothing and boots to dry and had a big lunch with Chet and our friends from HRA. Tomorrow will be a rest day.