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What do climbers do when stuck at high camps because of weather? Example Everest C2, C3 etc. when stuck for multiple days. Is this time spent inside the tents exclusively? I assume because of weight restrictions bringing "entertainment" is out of the question.

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    Welcome to The Great Outdoors! Make sure to have a look at our tour to see how things work at our site. – Paul Paulsen Mar 6 at 18:50
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    Also, I hope you are not asking this while stuck in a high camp :D – Paul Paulsen Mar 6 at 18:50
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    He probably is and wants to find anything, anything that could be proposed instead of what mountaineers always do when idly sitting around: Recounting partly true stories of the worst/greatest/most dangerous/hideous/... endeavours they have been on (usually the lesser part is true). – imsodin Mar 6 at 22:07
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    Sleep and tell stories. That's all I've done :D – Ricketyship Mar 7 at 6:13
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    Surely what you do is tell tales of other climbers being stuck in high camps for so long that they ran out of food and had to eat each other to survive. – Separatrix Mar 8 at 8:52
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Although the question asks specifically about high altitude camps, my answer is about camps high on a wall, i.e. on big walls, because that's all I know. I also believe portaledge camps are unbelievably boring.

A further disclamer is that this answer is also sort of indirect, since I have never been stuck for longer than a couple days. Some of my climbing partners, however, have been stuck for up to two weeks, on ascents that took them 28 days, and I remember the stories.

  1. Sleeping and telling stories is OK if you are not extremely acquainted with your partner, but if you've known each other for some time, silence settles in after a while (you already know all the stories). If silence doens't come, you start being a little pissed off about being forced to talk, and this can mark the end of a belaytionship.

  2. Books are an absolute necessity. A Kindle can go for almost two months with a single charge, and bringing one is an extremely good idea, even though there's the possibility of dropping or breaking it. A friend of mine said that when he got stuck for a week due to a huge storm, he read more than 100 pages a day. Kindles can carry thousands of books and weigh less than a single book, so they're perfect for the job.

  3. Always bring cards, and know how to use them. They're light and virtually indestructible, if made of plastic. Playing some cards while betting on cookies and pieces of cheese is a great way of sharing the burden of boredom, instead of swallowing it all on your own. (I don't advise betting on food if you're starving, though. Bet on who's gonna deal with the shit tube, instead.)

  4. Meditation is great. Learning to meditate in the middle of a storm on the wall will be virtually impossible, so perhaps this is limited to those who already have some experience with it.

  5. In cases of extreme boredom, weird measures can and usually will be taken, and it's fundamental to be safe about them. Example: After more than a week stuck during and after a storm, climbing being impossible due to everything being wet, a friend of mine tied 3 ropes together and abseiled more than 150m to a ledge, just to walk for a while, even though he didn't know if he'd be able to get to it. In the end he did, strolled for some hours and then jugged back up, very tired, saying that he would either have walked a little or gotten insane. He did everything safely, even though deep inside he was wondering if he was becoming insane.

  6. Sleep. Not sleep: hibernate. Put yourself in a state where you wake up to read, get sleepy from reading, then sleep, and repeat the cycle. This makes you unimaginably hungry, but it's a good idea to remember that you don't need to eat, since you're not really spending any energy. Food rationing during long periods being stuck is fundamental and can be the decisive factor in you climbing that wall or being stuck and going back home empty handed, all that pain being useless.

  7. Organize material, fix haul bags, clean gear, etc. Home keeping is awesome to distract you, but unfortunately it comes a time when everything is already organized and there's nothing left to do. These times you start to see the weird phenomenon of your partner, or yourself, organizing gear by manufacturing year, then by brand, or color, or size, then mixing it all together to start doing it again. Don't fight it, you're just losing your mind. Nothing serious.

  8. Music. I don't like music during any physical activity I do, but when stuck in a portaledge, man... Music is a bliss. I have a dedicated MP3 player that I bought only because its battery lasts for more than 40h. If you have one of those GoalZero solar panel systems to recharge your stuff, even better. In this case I'd even bring a cellphone absolutely infested with movies.

All I described weights little, but remember: If you're considering the possibility of remaining stuck for days, you're already bringing stuff for days. If you're carrying a 35kg haul bag, adding 1kg of boredom-antidotes is totally fine.

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    This answer would be even better if kindle got replaced by ereader ;) Also I like that the productive point is 7/8. – imsodin Mar 10 at 14:28
  • Interesting read, thanks. – mxmissile Mar 11 at 13:35

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