NEWSLETTERS - Ama Dablam 2013

The Daily Moraine - 8th edition1 November 2013

Team has reached Camp 1

On Thursday morning, our guide Shinji together with Rita Dorjee, Nima, Lhakpa Nuru and Gyalzen left our base camp at 6am to make more progress on the mountain and reach Camp 1, which they did. "They have established Camp 1 at about 6,200m and are on their way down now," Phurba Tashi told me on the radio. The conditions were the same as in the previous days with high winds and deep snow. Depending on the weather, another Sherpa team together with our guide Hiro will climb back up, stay a night at Camp 1 and have a look at the conditions further up on the mountain. "I have heard that about six teams have called their expeditions off on the normal route, the South-West ridge," said Phurba, who had just come back from a short trip to Phortse to see his family.

While Shinji and the Sherpas were working hard, some of the members also felt like doing something and went for a bit of a walk - or rather a climb. Greg wanted to have a closer look at the ridge and tackled the beginning of the exposed ridge with the assistance of Nawang Sherpa. Katharina and I followed them up to the saddle and watched them going further up, which looked rather intimidating. "That is some mountain!" Greg said when he came back down just in time for lunch. He looked tired but also chuffed to have finally laid his hands on our route. "It was amazing! The views were magnificent; the ridge was intimidating and without the hard work of the Sherpas and our two Japanese guides, I would have been out of my comfort zone," he said. "I could not imagine climbing this ridge 'Alpine Style'," he marveled once again emphasising the impressive work done by Russell's team. "Please make sure to mention how impressed I am with their work," Greg urged me just as I was writing this newsletter.

This is no different from what the two Mexicans said, who reached as high as 5,800m on Tuesday but turned around due to the cold. "I had heard about Russell's great team but now they have even gone up higher in my estimation," Mike, one of the Mexican said, when they came down. "We have to go home as our families and work is waiting for us but you will definitely have a lot of fun up there," he continued.

Katharina and I definitely had fun today when we climbed up to the saddle. "Even though I am coughing and I have a hard time breathing, it is great to go climbing," Katharina said with a big and content smile on her face. Unfortunately, her cough has not got a lot better so the two of us decided to go down to the lower elevations of Dingboche in the hope that her cough will get better. "Who would have thought - we are supposed to climb the North Ridge and now we are down in Dingboche in a comfortable lodge," she said, already looking better at 4,000m. However, as the Sherpas and Hiro will go back up again tomorrow to fix some more rope, there will be nothing to do for the members, so Katharina is certainly better off lower down to recover before we climb back up again on Saturday morning.

As far as our leader is concerned, Russell had to leave BC to go to Kathmandu to deal with a very exciting project Himalayan Experience is organising. I have just received an email from him, and by the sounds of it he had a rather exciting trip back to the Nepalese capital. Here is what he wrote:

"As the weather changed suddenly, I all of a sudden had to run down to Dingboche to be picked up by helicopter instead of BC. As it happened I ran down to the little huts at the bottom of the trek route where with good radio communications and amazing flying skills the Simrik helicopter appeared out of the cloud. All I could see was the head light of the helicopter, but was then able to talk the pilot. I then had one of the most scary flights I have ever had in a helicopter down through the river gorges back to Lukla, but at the same time felt incredibly comfortable with the pilot and the machinery. By this time it was dark, so we all had to stay in Luka for the night. Well, if I thought that this was difficult flying, I was in for a bigger surprise the next morning when we flew back to Kathmandu. We were just skimming above the clouds and then had to spiral down through a little hole just outside Kathmandu. I was so impressed with the ability of the pilots, and had total confidence in the machinery, but all the same one has a certain amount of "pucker in the behind".

With Russell dealing with his administration in Kathmandu and Katharina and I being in Dingboche, the three of us have sadly missed the Halloween party Greg threw at base camp last night, but we hope that the Japanese team tuned in and partied with him duly. "I will take a picture for the next Daily Moraine," Greg said on the radio before the party kicked off. So, if you want to find out how Halloween is celebrated at an elevation of 5,100I and how we are doing on the mountain, check out the next edition of the Daily Moraine.

Billi Bierling