Notes from the Field: Summitting or not, the work doesn’t stop
The last time we heard from Phil Henderson on this blog, he had returned to Everest base camp with a bad chest cold. He was unable to heal quickly due to the elevation, so he descended and took over the team’s communication.
There was about 10 days before our next rotation on the mountain, which would be our summit push. I didn’t have time to get better. I ended up taking some antibiotics in base camp and it still was about 12 days before I was back to 95 percent.
It’s easy to go, ‘Oh, I’m sick, I’m just getting out of here,’ but the rest of the team still needed support. We needed to get things out to sponsors, things out to National Geographic, and a lot of logistical things. That’s what I do here in my job at NOLS every day. It was a natural fit, and I wanted to continue to support the team that way.
It was awesome. It was great. It was a success. There had been so much up and down prior to that; every member of the expedition had gotten sick at some point, or sprained an ankle … Things weren’t looking good at one point. The weather wasn’t cooperating.
When it was all said and done, five of eight climbers ended up summitting, and that was pretty successful. For me personally, it was a disappointment, but I have no regrets in terms of not going on that summit push.
Once everybody came down, we had to break down base camp, as well. There were the logistics of getting out, which I was doing while the team was making the summit push. With there being so few summit windows, everyone on the mountain went at the same time and left base camp at the same time. All the climbers wanted to fly out at the same time. But planes were grounded because of the weather.
Phil managed flights, luggage, and expensive cameras and gear over the next nine days before being the last to leave Kathmandu and return home. Over those nine days, he visited the Everest Days festival in Namche, witnessed the first annual Outdoor Festival in Kathmandu, and interacted with “the broader community, in terms of outdoor industry, in that part of the world.”
“It was a good ending to a good expedition,” he concluded.