April 21 – 1st round acclimatising
After a very windy Puja ceremony, the weather decided to change these last two days at basecamp. The wind disappeared completely and we have been baking here at basecamp. It was 35 degrees C inside the dining tent during lunch today. 25 degrees C outside the tent in the sunshine and when the sun goes down at the end of the day it drops to minus 15 degrees C.
Yesterday 46 or 47 Yaks turned up at basecamp here, accompanied by their very hard looking herders. After much weighing of loads, discussion and negotiation they took 1.8 tonnes of our equipment for the two day trek up to Advanced basecamp. This is 17km of horizontal distance (according to my GPS measurements last year) and around 1200m of height gain. Advanced basecamp being around 6400m elevation.
In days gone by, high altitude theft of equipment was a real issue on the North Side of Everest. Fortunately this problem became less and less over the years as the nature of the climbing teams who visited the North Side changed. However yesterday it was interesting to note the presence of a particular climber in basecamp who has built a reputation over the years for taking other teams equipment. As well as the ethical issue of stealing, taking other teams equipment from high camps has life threatening consequences. Oxygen, tents and food are literally the difference between life and death up high. Judging by the seriousness of how the Sherpa’s in certain teams especially where taking the presence of this particular climber, I would not like to be in his shoes if he does get caught taking anything this year. I guess at the end of the day it is his decision.
I have done one more round of basecamp and meeting with the teams I missed the other day. There is a rumor that one more team may be coming in, but I can’t find any confirmed information about who they are and if they even exist yet. Bill Burke may be turning up later in the season also after his attempt to summit from the south side but he is not here now so I am not counting him. I can fairly confidently say that the numbers here now for the summit are as follows:
Climbers for summit: 109
Sherpa’s/Tibetans for summit: 101
We leave for our first acclimatisation cycle today. We will be gone for 5 8 days depending on many factors e.g. weather and how people are feeling with the altitude. I won’t have a connection that I am aware of to update my blog during this time except for voice dispatches which I will make by Satellite phone. I am hoping that this cycle goes more smoothly than the last years first cycle when I ended up with H.A.P.E at Advanced Base Camp and had a struggle getting down.
Below is a team photo taken at basecamp just before the yaks and the Sherpa’s departed for higher up the mountain.
Back row left to right: Gelje, Tashi Chusung, Da Pasang Sherpa, Pasang Ongcho Sherpa, Pasang Nima Sherpa, Pemba Ngtar Sherpa, Ang Gelu Sherpa, Dorjee Sherpa, Chhedar Sherpa, Kami Neru Sherpa, Chhongba Nurbu Sherpa, Ngima Neru Sherpa, Tenzing, Tashi. Front row left to right: Phil Crampton, Luidmila Mikhanovskaia, Margaret Watroba, Ian Cartwright, Grant Rawlinson, Mark Dickson, Mark Horrell.</p>