It's 4:00AM and Krakauer is currently preparing to make the trek to Camp Three, which sits at a brisk 24,000 feet.
In order to reach Camp Three, he'll need to ascend the Lhotse Face, a "vast, titled sea of ice" (7.7). Should be easy peasy, right?
Wrong. Krakauer considers turning back out of fear of frostbite, but before he can, Rob Hall buzzes over the intercom and tells everybody to turn back around for Camp Two.
Turns out that Krakauer isn't the only one who's struggling. John Taske, a doctor from Australia, is actually beginning to suffer from minor frostbite.
Hansen is even worse. His toes—damaged from his previous Everest attempt—are particularly susceptible to frostbite and other nasty maladies. And that's not even getting into his throat illness, for which he had surgery mere weeks before coming to Everest.
Given all of this, the mood at Camp Two is gloomy. Plus, it doesn't help that Hall is currently beefing with "the leaders of the Taiwanese and South African teams" (9.14).
Two days earlier, Ang Dorje (along with other guides from Hall's and Fischer's teams) was supposed to install fixed rope lines up the Lhotse Face with Sherpas from the Taiwanese and South African teams. Those dudes didn't show up, though.
The leader of the Taiwanese team apologizes profusely. Woodall, however, chooses instead to cuss Hall out and accuse Ang Dorje of lying. Charming.
To add to this, the Sherpas are upset that two clients from Fischer's team are having sex on the mountain, which they consider offensive. They also adorably refer to this act as "sauce-making" (9.19).
Of course, it's totally acceptable to get down while at Base Camp—there's even a blossoming romance happening between a Sherpa guide and a woman attached to an IMAX film crew. This is explained to Krakauer by Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa, the lead climber on Fischer's team.
Lopsang is actually the nephew of Ngawang Topche, and is understandably shaken by his uncle's status. Still, he'll need his focus: Lopsang is one of the top four climbers currently on Everest.
He's the LeBron of climbing. After climbing professionally for three years, the guy had already reached the summit of Everest three times without using supplemental oxygen. Like a boss.