Base camp rituals vary by day but for the most part, after breakfast (usually at 8:00AM), people wander around the rock garden that is our home thinking of things to do until lunch!
Activities such as building a better tent platform, maybe one with a nice patio in front, is always a popular one as it gets you moving and lifting rocks of various sizes which is a good way to acclimatize!
Also, everyone always has an opinion about what you are doing, and are eager to “help” you create the perfect home, even though they rarely lift any rocks in the process (“helping” is usually done sitting on a nearby rock with a coffee).
Doing laundry is another favorite pastime, although the clothes are more just smelly than actually dirty. Everyone has a different way of getting the job done; some people scrub away with lots of suds and hot water while others merely give the clothes a “good enough” rinse. The truth is, we are pretty much a smelly bunch up here no matter how hard we try and clean up!
This brings me to my third activity – washing. Here at base camp we have a wash tent: a very tight 3’x3’ square tent that is about 7’ high, so you can stand up in it. The kitchen staff gets you a large plastic drum filled with water and you use a cup to splash the lukewarm water onto yourself. Once in the tent, stripping down is the first challenge, as space for any lateral movement is difficult. But once you are in your birthday suit (with your clothes piled up outside as there is no room inside for them), you have to approach the hair-body-feet-shaving (if needed) washing sequence strategically, while always remembering to not get the rinse water back into the clean water or it’s all over!
12:30PM is lunchtime. The meals change daily, but they are usually composed of soup and a small main dish of pasta or pizza.
Half the day is over which now leaves the rest of the day for other important tasks such as getting online to update your Facebook page or answer emails. Getting connected from base camp is not that easy, as it requires a satellite and notoriously fickle bits of equipment. Once online the connection speeds are very slow, so downloading Facebook and loading your Gmail account take a while. But since there is not much else to do we don’t complain too much.
By far the most popular afternoon activity is napping. After a nice lunch and some work done in the morning there is nothing like crawling into a warm tent and getting some much needed (and deserved) sleep…before the dinner bell rings!