Giant on the move
Nick (& Dave & Mark), the torch and Everest – Day 12
At an early press conference today the novel inclusion of information we hadn’t heard before briefly raised spirits in what has become quite a downbeat media camp.
As the weekend snowstorms destroyed the careful preparations the Chinese had made on the mountain and a second week in Tibet became an inevitability, there has been a lot of talk about going home. Not just from journalists, either. Many of the officials who travelled with us from Beijing or joined us at Lhasa airport barely attempt to disguise their low spirits any more. I don’t know whether the cause is the altitude, the cold, the increasingly predictable diet, the lack of showers or just day after day of telling news-hungry journalists that there is no news. One of the senior officials told me again today that he thought we were getting “closer and closer” to “our goal”, while another said he thought our fond farewells would not be not too far away.
Perhaps I’m clutching at straws.
Still, at today’s briefing, the full team of 31 Chinese on the mountain was listed so at least we have names, ages, sexes, and, quite interestingly, ethnic origins to flesh out the “climbers” we refer to in our stories. They are a bit more human now. The continuing good weather has also raised expectations that the end might be nigh. It’s quite windy down here but on the mountain, the tell-tale flag of snow coming off the peak suggests the wind is not too strong and is blowing in a westerly direction. A mountaineering official has told us that it is the east wind that brings snow.
So the hopes are high that they might summit on Wednesday or Thursday and we could all be off the mountain in time to celebrate Dave’s birthday with a few beers at the weekend.
Picture by David Gray