NEWSLETTERS - Ama Dablam 2013

The Daily Moraine - 5th edition25 October 2013

There is no expedition without water

Life is full of surprises and so is an expedition to a relatively new route with a base camp that hadn't been used for a long time. Just as we posted the last edition of the 'Daily Moraine', Russell got a radio call from Phurba Tashi at base camp, telling him the lake, which was there, seemed to have dried up or they could not find it because of the snow. Given the fact that this lake was going to supply us with the much-needed water, this was a bit of a "Katastrophe", as Katharina would say (it means 'catastrophy' and it's certainly one of Katharina's favourite words).

But there is always a solution to a problem and in order to find it, Russell decided to hike to base camp on Thursday to come up with a new water plan. "Nawang said that there is water below our current base camp, so we might have to shift the whole camp, which could be a lot of work - but let's see," said Russell. As the rest of us did not want to sit idle while our team was working hard, we decided to go to Gorak Shep - a trek that most people take two days for. So, instead of going to Ama Dablam base camp, Shinji, Greg, Katharina and I embarked on a hike up the valley while Russell, Lacchu, Loppsang and Hiro went to Ama Dablam base camp.

Shinji and Katharina on top of the pass above Dughla

Filming for Japanese television

Kazu, who is filming Naoki's adventure for Japanese television, stayed two nights in Dingboche from where he did some amazing nighttime shots. "I put my camera outside the lodge and let it take one picture every two seconds," he explained. As the battery only lasted for three hours, Kazu had to interrupt his sleep three times that night to replace the battery. When he showed as the photo sequence, we were all very impressed as you can see the stars move across the sky. "This short 30 second footage is very labour-consuming as I used 1,000 pictures for it." Once Naoki will join us at base camp, Kazu will concentrate on filming his climb, which will be shown as part of an adventure series as a 90-minute film.

Kazo filming for Japanese TV

Those, who walked to Gorak Shep, set off at 6.30am in beautiful sunshine, but cold temperatures. After about 3 1/2 hours we reached Gorak Shep, which was still covered in snow and looked more like a skiing resort. "I have never seen so much snow in this village," said Shinji, who has been there many times. After having had a drink and some food, Greg and I climbed up Kala Pattar, a nice view point at 5,500m just outside Gorak Shep while Shinji and Katharina went back down to Pheriche. After having walked about 25km, it was a long day for all of us and when we got back to our teahouse just before darkness, Russell and the team were hosting a guest. Garet Madisson from Alpine Ascents came over from Dingboche to spend the evening with us. "Even though we are officially competitors, we are all friends and usually work well together, especially on Everest," Russell said.

And those, who went to base camp, which will be our home for the next two weeks, were all pretty enchanted with its beauty. "It's a wonderful site; when I walked there I suddently noticed the peace and quiet surrounding me," said Russell, who took about 2 3/4 hours to get to the camp, which is nestled on the foot of the North Ridge of Ama Dablam at 5,200m. "Big boss is very fast. Loppsang and I took almost four hours to get there. There was still a lot of snow on the trail," said Lacchu marvelling about the beautiful panorama from the camp. "I now really appreciate the effort made by Sherpas and yaks to get through the snow on the trail. It must have been very hard to reach base camp about a week ago," Russell added.

Ama Dablam Base Camp with view of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse

Water supply

Fortunately, Russell's mission to find a water supply was successful, even though getting it to base camp will not be easy. "Phurba Tashi and I decided not to move the camp but to get the water from the glacial lake below." As the approach route to the lake is quite tricky and involves technical climbing, it will be impossible for a kitchen boy. For this reason, we have to employ two more climbing Sherpas, who will be solely responsible for getting water to base camp. "The water transporting Sherpas will have to arm-wrap down to the glacier on a fixed rope and climb back up again, each carrying about 20 litres of water," Russell explained. As we will use about 400 litres of water per day, these two climbing Sherpas will certainly not be bored.

Ama Dablam North Ridge seen on the right side

Being aware of the fact that water will be a rare commodity at base camp, we all used our rest day to wash and do our laundry in order to avoid wasting too much water further up the hill. As far as the route is concerned, the Sherpas have started fixing the rope, but the rock slabs on the bottom of the route above the Col are proving to be difficult because of the new snow. "I think it will be easier further up as there will be more ice than rock," Russell remembers from his 1980 expedition.

After having spent four nights in Pheriche, the team is now excited to reach base camp, where we will soon meet the rest of the team around Naoki, the film star.

View from Kala Pattar

So, watch the space and check out this site for the next edition of the Daily Moraine, which we will send from Ama Dablam base camp.

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