An early morning problem with Janey loosing a crown is quickly rectified with the services of a dentist from another expedition who will be moving up the mountain behind us. We break camp early and yak loading commences with the sherpas and Russell organizing the 1.5 tones of kit to be moved up the mountain in this load carry and a further load carry will take place in a couple of days. All our personal gear has been packed in barrels for transit and we pack enough kit in sacs to get us to IBC and on to ABC.
A colder night last night at around 4degC but still nothing like the deep freeze conditions we can expect up the mountain. Scott was called out early to deal with a bad cut on the eye sustained by one of the Chinese military that have a tent at BC since this valley is a major route for refugees going to Nepal. Also at BC are the TMA (Tibetan Mountaineering Association) rep. and the CMA (Chinese Mountaineering Association) rep. Russell's relationship with these guys is first class after many years of expeditions and all runs smoothly.
03 September 1999
The team is generally acclimatizing reasonably well with nothing more than the expected poor nights sleep and headaches etc. But we've got plenty of time on the acclimatization program so all should be well. A clear night last night pushed the temp. down to 7degC and the moon quarter crescent moon rise over the adjacent peaks was spectacular.
A morning hike up a nearby mountain to 5210m to help acclimatization was fine for all and on the way down we checked out a bombed out monastery reminding us of Tibet's recent troubled past when the Chinese moved in during the '50's. We were also treated to plenty of tibetan gophers popping into their holes scared by us or circling Lhamagiers (the huge tibetan bird of prey). A couple of snow hares and a gaggle of snow cocks (like tarmegan) crossed out path.
Dawned wet and humid. A short hop to the Chinese Tibetan border settled us in for 4 hours of beaurocracy in Zangmu. Oddly they were perfectly happy to let us temporarily over the border to get lunch provided we returned for passport inspection. Eventually we head out for Zangmu and make for Nyalam having transferred all the gear from Nepali trucks to Chinese trucks and the team is now moved to several 4*4's. The road is precipitous with plenty of partially washed out sections and spectular waterfalls and eventually we clear the pass at 4020m and pass from lush rich green vegetation in the dry sandy sparse country of the tibetan plateau. Nyalam is a one yak town with its own brand of mud and sports a good line in propoganda loudspeakers. We'll over night here prior to a days climbing for acclimatisation.
After a team party in the Rumdoodle Bar in Kathmandu till 3:00am we pulled out at 6:30am feeling nothing like a crack climbing team. Dodging cows, chickens, bicycles and kamakzi trucks dashing through Kathmandu's muddy suburbs blackened with the smoke of a thousand open fires and streets streaming with sewage and all manner of life was just what we needed! All the gear had left earlier in a 5 tonne truck with some of the sherpas and the rest of the team climbers and sherpas were all installed in a rickety minibus for the journey up to the border.
Team Up & Gear Up in Katmandu
The weekend was spent checking out the finer points of Kathmandu's bars and markets prior to checking and packing all equipment to cope with the 6 day road journey north. This will take us through Kodari at the Nepali border and into Tibet at Zangmu and then on to Nyalam and across the Lolang La (5050m) to Tingri. The Lolang La is the highest road pass in the world and will probably be a height record for some of the members.
We're expecting a spot of difficulty on the trail since much of it is on poor mountain road and the end of monsoon storms have washed out the roads in many places. This may mean unloading all the trucks and carrying around the obstacles and then reloading, we'll see. Although we'll be spending some acclimatisation days on the trip we expect to make base camp by the end of the week.
The team assembles, climbers, sherpas and trekking supporters.
The Cho Oyu '99 team is:
Russell Brice - Expedition Leader - New Zealand
Scot - Advanced Base Camp (ABC) manager and doctor.
Janey - Climber - UK
Sandy - Guide - UK
Denise - Climber - USA
Tony - Climber - UK
Sadeo - Climber - Japan, and three trekking friends
Takuya - Trekker - Japan,
Akemi - Trekker - Japan,
Konico - Trekker - Japan,
The trekking team will accompany us to ABC.