So ... Giles was at C2 and the rest of us holed up at The South Col. We could have perhaps made it down further but we were very tentative about the fact that we would have then been on The Lhotse Face in the heat of the afternoon having probably not really had enough to drink through the previous 4 or 5 days. Not a great combination. So we dived (crawled) back in to the tent and brewed up and rested. Effectively this made it our 3rd night at, or above, the South Col. Quite a long time to be loitering at around 8,000m but with a little bit of oxygen every so often and with pretty much constant brewing up we maintained and looked after ourselves and kept in good order. Well worth the investment in time and effort.
May 21st - up and away and down the ropes towards C2 (and Giles was off down to Base Camp). A longish day but reasonably straight forward given that it was pretty much downhill all the way. Nice to be back down to a more oxygen rich environment compared to the altitudes we'd just been subjected to for the last week or so.
It was a great shame to find ourselves sliding down the ropes past a dead Japanese climber. We'd seen him on the summit push - just sitting in the snow with his hand held out - but he'd already died on the 12th and the weather had been such that recovery of the body had been impossible until the 20th. The long and short of it is that we'd heard it was his 3rd attempt on Everest and, for whatever reason, he'd had an argument with his Climbing Sherpa. He'd told his Climbing Sherpa to piss off, which he duly did, leaving the Japanese chap to his fate. Anyway it was a poignant reminder about the environment we were in and a suitable focus to make sure that we were going to make it down to C2 safely.
May 22nd - Spent the night at C2 and then up (at 5) and away early (6) to make sure we were down through the Khumbu Icefall before it started hotting up too much. It was amazing to see the differnce between how it had been a fortnight ago and what it was now like. There had been many subtle (and some not so subtle) changes and movements and it was definitely better to be there early morning whilst everything was still cold and frozen.
Talking of cold ... when we got to Base Camp we were given the BEST bottle of coke EVER.