Oh, holy crap! They're up there on 10th May? I had no idea when I picked up this book.
Ang Dorje and the Sherpas wanted to go for the summit. I felt good and strong, better than I had expected. I, too, wanted to go. I feared that every day spent waiting at this altitude would simply weaken me. Tomorrow the weather might change, the winds might rise again. Our chance would be gone.
However, both Bruce and Ian were feeling battered and tired by their passage through the storm, and favoured another 24 hours of rest. None of us knew what to make of the weather.
This was it. The decision. Stay back and miss the summit or press on and risk the weather. I listened to the circling conversation, edgy and impatient. I wanted to go and would climb just with the Sherpas if I had to. However, I was reluctant to go without the other two, after all we had been through together. Was it more important to keep the team together, with the risk that no one would reach the summit, or to split the group to grab a summit chance? I didn’t know.
The Sherpas agreed to wait one more day. For better or worse, the decision was made. The wind died in the late evening and the spectacular Himalayan star pattern began to peep through the cloud. At 11.30 p.m. we watched as the other teams left for the summit, one by one. As the tiny, gleaming head-torches slowly made their way off into the darkness in the early hours of 10 May, the unspoken question was whether we had made a terrible mistake. Rob Hall was on the way to his fifth ascent of Everest, a record for any Western climber. Scott Fischer was an experienced and immensely strong mountaineer. Both had decided the time was right.
At least it was our decision. It would be better to have done what we thought was safe and to have made a mistake, than simply to have followed people more experienced than we were, and then to have blamed them if things did not work out.