Day 13 – April 23 – The yaks have arrived
About 50 yaks arrived at our basecamp yesterday morning, accompanied by their extremely tough Tibetan yak herders. Each climber had packed a duffle bag of personal items to be carried by the yaks the 21km to our Advanced Base Camp at 6350m. As well as personal items, communal gear including tents, food, kitchen gear, cooking gas etc had to be carried up as well. In total 1.37 tonnes of equipment on 40 yak loads, was weighed, distributed and loaded onto the yaks. Each yak can carry around 20 kg in each side, so in total 40kg.
Attached below is a short video of the yaks.
The Sherpa’s kept a keen eye on each load as it was weighed. As is usual there is a lengthy negotiation process between the yak herders and the expedition sherpa crew, as to how much each yak can carry, how much it will cost etc.
The Yaks and their herders really are remarkably tough. They will carry our gear up the Rongbuk Glacier, then branch off onto the East Rongbuk Glacier, all the way to our advanced basecamp – a vertical height gain of 1200m, (from 5150m here at basecamp to 6350m at advanced basecamp). This is an incredibly physically demanding job, in the very thin air and high altitude, coupled with the intense cold and wind, all the while negotiating a steep loose rocky glacial trail.
It will take us climbers 4 days to reach advanced basecamp. The recommended safe altitude gain for a person to ascend per day is 300m. Thus to get from 5150m here to 6350m will require us to have some stops along the way. We will use an interim camp at 5800m which we will stay at for two nights to allow our bodies adjust to the altitude.
I am starting to feel better here at basecamp in terms of adjusting to the altitude. During the last 3 days I started taking very short walks around basecamp with Jim, and we have both found ourselves huffing, puffing and panting in the thin air. Any form of more extreme exertion would bring on a headache very quickly. Mentally I was also struggling with basic things. I kept forgetting what I was doing and found myself making multiple trips back to my tent to pick something up only to forget what it was once I got there. All effects from the reduced oxygen.
Yesterday we had a longer walk (16km return), down to the Rongbuk Monastery. This is the highest monastery in the world (that I am aware of), and I went for a quick look though it.
I am not sure where the monks were as we only come across 2 ladies with 2 small children and a sheep, the sheep was much cleaner than the humans hence I had a photo with it. The kids were very cute as small kids always are however they looked malnourished and I don’t believe they would ever have had a shower in their lives.
Today we went up 500m vertically above basecamp to 5650m. I took the opportunity to give my body a blow out and test my acclimatisation and pushed things along fairly hard, gaining 500m in 1hr and 10mins. My lungs felt good and it was a great feeling to be giving my body a workout.
I am not sleeping that well at night and had stopped taking Diamox three days back, so started it again last night, it helped somewhat but the side effect of needing to pee saw my one litre pee bottle full by 1AM! In -15 degrees I was not so keen to get out of the tent and have a pee so had to hold on with a full bladder for the rest of the night.
It now looks as if the 25th will be the day we will leave for Advanced Basecamp and higher up to the North Col at 7000m.
Over and out from Everest Basecamp,