Newsletter 417 September 2001
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.
This phase should have started today, with a move up to Camp One and on to stay at Camp Two. A watery halo around the sun, and lenticular clouds on surrounding hills suggested otherwise. With a couple of days still in hand, we chose to sit out the changeable weather in a further day at ABC. Key among mountainteering attributes is patience, and alongside the high-tech kit, a selection of good books is crucial equipment to cope with the waits. Another group having taken tents to Camp Two chose to bury their loads not erect them; a sure sign that they too think the weather will dominate for the next couple of days.
The tactical decision ahead of us is whether to follow the classic pattern of nights at Camp One & then at Two, followed by rest back at ABC and then Camps One/Two/Three, or to consider moving up to Three after the first visit to Two. Preferences change as quickly as wind direction. The waiting at ABC will soon be over, as the clock ticks towards a latest return to Kathmandu in first few days of October. (SJF)