The situation has dramatically changed since May 1st. As planned, Ulrich would go home and descended via IC to EBC accompanied by Sembe and Ladja. Soon after they had left, Dawa reported that Dorjee felt ill. It was decided that they would descend as well. In retrospect a good decision as he was diagnosed with an acute appendicitis and is currently recovering from an appendectomy in hospital. This left Pasang, Kande, Ciprian and me in ABC with a weather forecast of snow showers.
Next morning what I had seen coming for some time happened: Ciprian quit. I think he lacked intrinsic motivation from the start and could not cope anymore. He descended with Kande who carried his luggage. That left me with Pasang in ABC with poor weather. I talked to Namgya and I decided to come down to EBC as well not only for WiFi and warm water to wash but also to recuperate. Although I had slept at North Col (7090 m) and this is well below the ‘death zone’ which starts at ~ 7500 m (i.e. the altitude at which due to the lack of oxygen human life cannot be sustained for more than 4-5 days and where you lose 1.5 – 2 kg body weight per day) I had started losing weight at an alarming rate. Since I could descend the 18 km and net 1200 m altitude of the Rongbuk glacier in a day, I could just meet Ulrich before he left. Amrit, the cook of Arun Trek (owned by Namgya’s uncle), cooked us a festive dinner. I know Amrit from previous expeditions and upon arrival he literally poked my ribs, shook his head and now cooks me three times a day a meal large enough to feed an orphanage (and Namgya and Amrit will sit in front of me making sure I eat it).
The day after Ulrich and Ciprian had left, Namgya dismissed Sembe and Ladja, not knowing Kande would fall ill the day after. Since Dawa has gone up to ABC to join Pasang, I am now alone with Namgya in EBC. Before he went up, I’ve had some discussions with Dawa. Normally, a rather strict separation between Sherpa’s and clients (e.g. with respect to eating, sleeping) is maintained. I asked him whether it would not be wiser if we would sleep in a single tent in Camps 1, 2 and 3. Not only would it be much warmer with 3 in a tent (although pretty cramped) but it would also save a lot of effort as bringing an additional tent to camp 2 (~7700 m) and camp 3 (~8250 m) is not a small enterprise. Dawa fully agreed and smilingly suggested I should then eat Dal Bhat (the traditional rice with lentils Sherpa’s eat) as well. The Chinese have fixed ropes until camp 3. As soon as they start fixing ropes beyond camp 3, I hope to be back in ABC for the final preparations before the summit push.