Base Camp Christmas Day, 1966
Nick fixed an 11 o’clock breakfast at Camp II, after which we broke camp and began the long descent of the icefall. I took about 25 pictures before we reached the fixed lines, the scene was so striking. Nick had a fairly good load and was feeling very uneasy so Brian belayed him occasionally and I backed up Brian on the worst parts.
Picked up the one remaining tent at Camp I and started out about 3:30 or so. I had planned to leave my pack at the lowest rock and go back up to pull the fixed lines, but when I got to the top I met Nick and since he was having so bad a time I took his pack down to the lowest picket.
Eiichi was at the end of the fixed line and I called to him, suggesting he wait for Nick. Eiichi did me one better by coming back up to my pack and taking it down to his.
I went back to the col, took a last glance at the Camp I site and our track through the icefall, and descended, pulling the fixed lines as I went.
Met Eiichi at the last picket, to which he had ascended again to help Nick, who was slightly below, struggling with his pack. I passed Eiichi, taking the upper end of the fixed line with me, grabbed Nick’s pack as I passed him, and left it where mine had been and took mine below. In switching packs I dumped Eiichi’s (NGS’s) $400 Nikon which rolled out of sight into the thick cloud bank which had come up into the valley. Found it less than a thousand feet below, hopefully none the worse for wear.
Eiichi dropped the last of the fixed line and I dragged it behind me. The others came up from Base to the base of the slope and I met them there in a thick cloud. Left my pack there and gave them the end of the line to pull down, and started back up to find Eiichi and Nick. Met them a few hundred feet abov4e the bergschrund and brought Nick’s pack down, thus completing an inordinately complicated and trying descent.
Weather cleared very quickly and we had a fine view of Base the last few minutes. It was very good to get back; the place was in good order and it was the first time we had all been together since Friday, Dec 9 when Pete, Eiichi, and I left on our successful gasoline search.
Dick fixed a truly superb meal of steak, macaroni, peas & carrots and rice pudding for dessert—topped off with tea spiked with Sam’s cognac. All ten of us were squeezed into the Logan cook tent so it was pretty crowded but we brought in cans, pots, & coils of rope to sit on and it was my first sitting-up meal since we left Byrd, so our Christmas dinner was remarkable in that respect also.
Tomorrow we hope to toboggan northward along the west side of the range to scout routes for Tyree.