It is already 1.15 in the afternoon when we are finally at the highest point on earth. A few clouds have formed and the view is limited. I recognize the dry, high plateau of Tibet to the North. I can also recognize the Makalu peaking out of the clouds. How completely exhausted I was then, all by myself on the summit. It doesn’t bother me that we only have a limited view. I pretty much know the entire panorama. Everything seems very familiar. I feel like I know exactly where I am standing. I can orient myself – it doesn’t seem strange or new! I take a few summit photos with the Sherpas. I can’t see Tenji yet, but decide to start descending nonetheless. The first have already taken off.
How easy the descend is. A new feeling! I am tired, but since we’re going down now, I’m moving along well again! I run into Tenji just after Hillary Step. I ask him if everything is okay. He seems to be doing well and answers “Yes, but very slow!” I encourage him and tell him that it’s not much farther – and that it’s normal without an oxygen mask! I see a smile in his face. I see his will and recognize that he’ll go to the summit! I continue my descend and get to South Col at 4.15pm. I hardly recognize Camp 4 anymore as it turned into a small village. Dendi, his daugther and the entire team we shared the Base Camp with is at South Col now. Tomorrow will be their summit day!
I’m happy that I made it. But you have only succeeded on a mountain once you’re back at Base Camp. I’m waiting for Tenji at South Col. He arrives three hours later. Originally we planned on descending to Camp 2, but it was too late now. We decided to stay in Camp 4. About 150 climbers were heading for the summit that night. What a spectacle! Tenji and I spent another night at almost 8,000 meters (26,000 feet). This time we both slept like bears during hibernation.
In the morning, at about 5.30am, the sun awoke me. I had breakfast, packed up our gear and continued descending. I was longing for Base Camp. Tenji slept in a little longer. I made it back to Base Camp just in time for lunch – now I have successfully summited Everest!