While Breashears and the Sherpas battled to stock Camp Five, the rest of the expedition waited out the storm. For Sue Giller, one of three women on the expedition hoping to become the first American woman to reach the summit, the long days confined to camp were in many ways more difficult than the arduous climbing that had occupied the first eight weeks on Everest.
I cautiously stick my head out of the sleeping bag at 8 a.m., hoping to see sunlight on the tent. But all I see is dull gray, and all I hear is the monotonous rattle of snow on the tent fly. It will be another stormy day at Advance Base Camp--our sixth in a row.
I know exactly what the day will be like, an exercise in whiling away the hours until it is once again time to sleep. Even getting out of the sleeping bag for breakfast has become a chore. The four of us in this camp at 21,000 feet have grown tired of each other. We know what will be said over breakfast; we have been making the same small talk each morning for five days now.
After our meal, listlessly eaten, we return to our tents to deal with the day. Some read, or daydream, or just stare at the tent walls and listen to the never-ending whine of the wind. Few dare sleep, because sleeping during the day means staying awake during the dead of night.