Waking up at 3800 meters in -10 degrees is cold. Let me correct myself. It is COLD. We have quickly learned the ins and out of bag packing, dressing, and washing to minimize exposure to the frigid conditions. Once we are up and moving, however, no one can stop us! We are a lean, mean, cancer-curing machine.
It has been just nine days since we all joined forces in Bangkok and continued on to Kathmandu. Understandably, it feels like a great deal more time has passed in (almost) all good ways (except J -Rod and K2, who we are somehow managing to deal with). Five of us have now survived gastro, we have toured temples, eaten lunch outside in a thunderstorm, helicoptered into the Himalayas after spending three days together at the airport ("Yeti airlines. Yeti airlines. Flight 613. 615. 617."), trekked through complete darkness in the rain, eaten an unbelievable amount of yellow food, and huddled around many a dung-powered fire keeping warm four kilometers above sea level. I short, it has already been an Inspired Adventure and we still have more of the trip left than we have completed. Three days left until we reach Base Camp and then it is another five days back to Lukla, where we fly or chopper back to Kathmandu. This is the ULTIMATE Inspired Adventure.
Needless to say, today our theme was "doing it for the team" because there is no way we would have gotten this far without each other (okay, maybe without K2 - just kidding!). For our team, today was particularly significant. We passed the tree line and surged to 4400 meters, arriving in Dingboche just as the snow started to fall. In the morning we rose to brilliant sunshine and the bluest sky you can imagine. As morning turned to midday and midday became late afternoon, the clouds began to roll in. Following our path, they crept slowly towards us in a silent assault until we were completely enveloped. Their arrival signaled the return of our big jackets and a slight uptick in our pace to reach the lodge before they opened up and showered us with snow. It was absolutely breathtaking.
On a lighter note, it has been amazing to see how much little things can bring this team so much joy. Out here, where survival has become our primary objective and the modern world has all but faded away (save for this iPad that allows us to share our epic adventure), the taste of peanut butter, the smell of a yack dung fire, and the site of a porcelain squatter toilet ignite a level of happiness previously unknown. Today at our tea break, we came upon such a squatter. Wu (Wendy) came running (correction: we were at 4000 meters so she was walking briskly) into the lodge screaming "the toilet is so clean! You have to see it!" We then took turns inspecting and utilizing this brilliant piece of porcelain goodness. Hours later I could still hear people saying to each other " how about that toilet back there, huh? I really wish I had to go."
And now, here we are in Dingboche fighting the cold AS A TEAM united by a new-found appreciation for porcelain and doing it all for Cure Cancer.