April 5: Chukung to Island Peak base camp

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This day we moved up to Island Peak base camp, at 16,400 ft. It was a crisp, clear morning, and it was like taking a walk among giants, with Lhotse hovering above us, still 12,000 feet higher, Buruntse with huge ice cliffs, and the great Nuptse wall with its yellow bands of sedimentary rock from some ancient ocean floor. The trail climbed gently but steadily up until we reached a long flat moraine at the base of the peak. Clouds began to build in the early afternoon as they did most days; much of the conversation of the day was about weather patterns, climbing time, and our strategy for the attempt on Island Peak. We helped set up base camp, broke out the bags of hardware, ropes, food and tents, and began sorting out what we would need for the climb.

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