April 8: back to Dingboche

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On April 8, we awoke to a couple of inches of fresh snow at Island Peak base camp. The mountains were mostly in clouds, but our camp was mostly in sunshine. We were grateful that this wasn’t our climb day.

For eleven of our group, this day marked the end of the climbing portion of our trip. Our only summit attempt was Island Peak. We would no longer have need for ice axes, crampons, climbing hardware, climbing boots. So before proceeding, we re-sorted our personal gear and kept what we needed for the rest of the trip, and sent the things we would not need back to Khumjung until we were headed home.

For the remaining five people, the Island Peak climb was just a warm-up for Pumori, which was their real objective for the trip. At 23,440 feet, Pumori is not just higher, but presents a much greater technical challenge than Island Peak. So most of the group gear we had on Island Peak would go on with us to Pumori for these climbers to use.

We left Island Peak base camp and returned to Dingboche that day. After all our acclimatization to the altitude of the previous few days, the air at 14,000 feet seemed pretty thick. Everyone was feeling exhilarated, especially the eleven of us who felt the relief of having the climbing part over with. We celebrated by breaking out the bottle of duty-free scotch that we had packed in.

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