This weekend marked the mid point of the six weeks scheduled for the expedition, and should have seen a change of gear from preparation & acclimatisation to moving up the mountain.
The long first three weeks - sightseeing in Lhasa, bouncing down the Tibetan roads to Tingri, acclimatising at Base Camp then Advanced Base Camp, and forays up the hill (including staying overnight at Camp One last Thursday and then moving up to the top of the ice cliff, 6700m, half way to Camp Two) - has been slow and necessary preparation. During the last week, Lopsang, Phurba & Russell have established Camp Two, so we are well poised for the second phase of the expedition.
After a second rest day on Saturday, on Sunday we walked through the morraine field above ABC to the 'lake' half way to Camp One. The route meanders and careful attention to the waymarking wands is required. Whilst not expecting an inland ocean, the 'lake' turned out to be more of a glacial puddle than a sizeable water feature. Saturday night was spent at the 'tea house' across the ABC campsite - probably the highest pub in the world!
The following day, we retraced our steps to the spectacular water feature and then continued up the steep scree slope to Camp One (6446m). Depositing our loads, we rested gratefully before sliding back down the scree and across the morraine in deteriorating weather.
Base Camp to Advanced Base Camp
These updates are being sent via the Indian Ocean INMARSAT satellite.
Friday 7/9: Now acclimatising at Advanced Base Camp (ABC) after a long day yesterday. Spent an extra day, Wednesday, at BC after Russell predicted bad weather. The team joined the yaks & sherpas at BC. What could have been a long afternoon was taken up in an animated game of Monopoly in which Yamada's grip of commercial opportunism & ruthlessness won out. To make sure this Japanese grip on games doesn't hold, we plan to play Scrabble next!
Kathmandu to Basecamp
27/8: The team assembles in Kathmandu: Yamada Atsushi from Tokyo, Graham Blackmun & Simon Fitzpatrick from London. Sightseeing in Kathmandu includes the temples at Bouddhanath, Swoyambhu and Pashupati, where the riverside funeral pyres are carried out, recently used for the tragedy within the royal family.
28/8: Early morning flight for team members to Lhasa while Russell and sherpas prepare to take the long and landslide-prone road route to Tingri.
Russell Brice - Expedition Leader. Knows the hill - been up more times than anyone else.
Lopsang Sherpa - 16 expeditions with Russell, 3 x Everest, 2 Cho Oyo summits.
Phurba Sherpa - 7 expeditions with Russell, 2 x Everest, 2 Cho Oyo summits, doubles as lama at the Puja ceremony.
Lachhu - best cook in the business; uniquely experienced at ABCs of all 14 8,000m peaks, 14 expeditions with Russell, just made pizza for camp one.
Kasang - Tibetan yak man by background; trained by Russell, with ascents of Cho Oyo & Quomolongma (as he calls it). Has his eye on Shishapangma..