Why amenities at such a remote spot
Welcome to part 2 of my Everest Base Camp EBC coverage. Today I shall introduce you to food and water, sleeping and energy.
Food and Water
Those who aim to climb Everest must utterly consume two things: food and water. Since nothing grows at the altitude of EBC, basically all food has to be delivered to the camp from the lowlands. Typically, this is done by good-natured yaks, animals which carry unbelievable loads. Also porters carry goods to EBC. Urgent deliveries are helicoptered to camp.
To give you an idea about the scale of food needed for an Everest expedition, an unbelievable 5000 eggs were brought to our BC. All food is stored in a food storage tent except the perishable food.
Perishables are kept superfresh by using the most obvious resource: the ice under us. Your metabolism does not function properly at this altitude due to a lack of oxygen saturation. Add to this the physical strenuousness, one needs to eat a lot of calories. This determines the character of high-altitude expedition food. Fresh and rich in calories and carbs. And lots of garlic which thins your blood. See below pictures for a typical breakfast and lunch.
All dishes are prepared freshly in the kitchen tent. It is stunning to see how our head cooks Lacchu and Ganu Sherpa together with their crew cook one delicious meal after the other. Even fresh cakes sweeten our evenings. Each plate is a mouthwatering miracle. Is this luxury? No, since excellent, fresh, high-quality food is the essential basis for a summit success not only on Everest. We are literally „fattened up“ before to counteract the weight loss of climbing days. On these days we burn between 8000 and 10000 calories.
While some operators use kerosine to cook, Himex choose gas. It is more eco-friendly. All cylinders are returned, cleaned and refilled. As Himex is determined to leave no trace of rubbish in nature, gas is the perfect solution.
Water is another key factor to success. One must sufficiently hydrate at this altitude. This means litres of fluid. Each thirst requires an incredible amount of water. There is no spring on the glacier. So where does the water come from? Again, a simple and obvious solution. From a nearby glacier lake. And it is unpolluted which has been one aspect when choosing our campsite.
The water is filled in little barrels and then carried to the kitchen tent where it is brought to a boil. And this is how we quench our thirst. Unpolluted fresh water is as essential to a successful expedition as food.
Some water however is used for a totally different purpose: hygiene. Probably the strictest rule in EBC is to wash and sanitize hands before each meal and after the toilet. One nasty little germ can ruin the entire expedition.
You are now aware of the three fundamentals of a successful expedition: fresh food, unpolluted water and strict hygiene. These are no luxury amenities. They are fundamentals. No compromise!
We all sleep in tents. In base camp, we have individual tents which give us maximum privacy. To recline for a few hours and be with oneself is vital to stay focused. However, at anywhere up on the hill we share tents with a climbing mate. This is because each tent has to be carried upwards by our Sherpas thus reducing the amount of tents needed if shared. I sleep on a cushioned mattress with an isomat that shields off the cold from below. A pillow is provided for an important reason. Elevating your head helps acclimatising a lot. No amenity, but a helpful tool.
My tents is rather uncluttered as I prefer a distinct order with the least possible stress to find my stuff. Typically German? Most climbers do it like this. Mess is stress.
All gear is packed in two kit bags, one contains the „iron“ like crampons and ice axes while the other one has all clothes. I use stuff sacks, individually labelled with a number. Finding this number on a checklist helps me finding quicker whatever I search. My gear weighs about 39 kilos. Poor yaks…sorry. I use the ceiling to hang private essentials like pictures of my partner and daughter. Boosting confidence, stay connected and feeling less alone.
This ends part 2 of my EBC coverage. Part 3 may take me a few more days, in fact I expect it being online not before early May. We are soon getting very busy here…