The Daily Moraine 2015 #120 April 2015
I do not apologise for the lack of newsletters. I know that many others have been sending out messages, but they have had more time than me as I try to get this difficult season up and running. Not helped by the Ministry of Tourism who issue our Expedition Permits. Despite having a full year to discuss and decide how to honour credits for those effected from the cancellation of expedition last year, we did not actually get our Climbing Permit until 20.00 the night before we left the Hyatt Hotel at 06.00 the following morning to fly to Lukla to start our expedition.
Towards Everest Base Camp
Of course we had all along continued with our expedition planning and preparations so as we could be ready to receive members at Base Camp. However, it was a late start as when our Sherpa staff would normally be leaving home to start work at BC on 15 March there was about 2m of snow in Khumjung and Phortse their home towns. So it was not until 22 March that they were actually able to make it to BC, some 10 days later than normal. But even after arrival at BC they have experienced many snow falls that has hampered preparations.
We as members, despite the uncertainty with permits did arrive into Ktm on time, and departed on time according to our program, so we also arrived at BC on the program date, but of course BC was not up to its normal standard. However with hard work by our team of Sherpas and guides we are now up and running as per our normal high quality standards, but it has not been easy, due to the many snow storms that have come over the past few days.
Everest Base camp
Lobuche Base camp
This has also not made it easy for the Icefall Doctors as they have struggled to push the route to C1 through the Icefall. There has been much mentioned in the media about the change of route through the Icefall after last year’s avalanche accident. But can I just mention that this is now the same route that we took in 1981 when I first came to Everest and we had to spend 12 trips ourselves putting in the route as the Icefall Doctors were not around in those days. And can I also mention that Himex and several other operators have been requesting for the route to go this way for many years now. So we are pleased to see that at long last the route is going back to the more traditional and what we feel is a safer route. In fact it appears that the route this year is about 30 minutes faster than last years route.
On the 17th we sent a few Sherpas through the Icefall to establish C1, however due to deep snow and some of the ladders being damaged none of the Sherpas from several teams were unable to reach C1 and had to return with their loads. We had a meeting with the SPCC and it was agreed that they would make a concerted effort to repair the route and have it open to C1 on the 19th.
Russ and Purba
Of course everyone agreed last year to have a memorial day on the 18th, the day of the avalanche last year. So nobody went on the mountain and I also made sure that even our Lobuche teams were at BC that day as well. In fact this day was not so significant to the Sherpa community. I will try to explain. So for the families that were affected last year, they help a Puja immediately after the accident as they cremated the bodies. They then held a second Puja 49 days later. They then held another Puja about one year later, but according to the Tibet Calendar which is not the same as a Western Calendar. So this Puja was about one month ago, before we even arrived at BC. But actually all families that experienced a death in the family in the last year held a Puja at that time, not only the families that were affected by the avalanche last year. I know this is all very complicated and difficult to understand, and of course is a bit of a surprise to expedition members (and the many film teams that are currently at BC) that yesterday was a very calm and normal day at BC.
In fact much of the day was taken up by the circulation of two Petitions that are to be handed to the MoT. Soon after the first teams arrived at BC we requested for permission to fly by helicopter all the upper mountain rope fixing equipment from BC to C1. This is in fact 1,450 kg of rope, ice screws, pickets and oxygen. This equates to 85 Sherpa loads through the Icefall, where as if it was taken to C1 by helicopter would be just 6 loads which would take about 1 hour of flying. However the MoT refused this permission. Now as there are more teams here at BC there are more leaders and Sherpa’s who are disappointed in the MoT refusal. So one Petition was signed by all of the expedition Sirda’s and the second Petition was signed by all of the expedition Foreign Operators. The SPCC (Icefall Doctors) also supported these Petitions, so we really hope that the MoT will consider this favourably in the coming days. So really, I daresay that it was fitting that ALL TEAMS at BC yesterday did remember the 16 men who died last year and worked to make it safer for staff this year. All we need now is for those sitting in Ktm to also recognise this.
Himex White Pod
Inside White pod
Also of note, despite there being more than 30 teams here this year, and each team has paid $2,600 for a Liaison Officer, we could not find one such person here at Base Camp. Even the SPCC has established a tent for the 3 LO’s that the MoT say they will provide, for overall control at BC, but alas even that tent is empty.
Today the 19th the Icefall Doctors are working in the Icefall, and all teams agreed not get in their way by trying to take loads to C1 and 2. However we did have some of our Sherpas taking emergency gear such as rope, ice screws, stretcher and steel shovels to the Football Field which is about half way through the Icefall, and the same to the bottom of the fixed ropes. Tomorrow we will also take the same rescue gear to C1 so as this is all in place in case of emergency.
In the meantime our first members have already been camping on the summit of Lobuche as acclimatisation before they went by helicopter to Makalu or returned to Everest BC. Today our second team will spend the first of two nights on the summit of Lobuche 6,119m. Today is the first day of the new month in the Tibetan Calendar and this should bring fine weather, as does our weather forecast from Meteotest in Bern, so we now hope for better progress on the mountain.
As I mentioned earlier, it has been quite difficult to get a good satellite signal here, it appears that all teams who use Inmarsat are not getting a good signal strength, the reason for this none of us are sure, so of course the pressure on the two wifi providers at BC, Mercantile and Everest Link (who we are using) becomes intense. However with so much snow and cold temperatures the signal with these providers often does not work either. As I often tell my members, please remember where we are.
|Peter King||New Zealand|
|Richard Hunter||New Zealand|
|Michael Madden||New Zealand|
|Mark Woodward||New Zealand|
Everest Climbing Sherpas
|David McKinley||New Zealand|
Everest / Lhotse BC staff
|Russell Brice||New Zealand||Base Camp Manager|
Everest / Lhotse BC Cooks
Everest Camp 2 Cooks
|Simone La Terra||Italy|
|Bruce Hasler||New Zealand|
Makalu Climbing Sherpas
|Pemba Nuru (Sidar)||Nepal|
Makalu BC CooksGhanu Bahadur
BC Trek 1 Members
|Donna Fordyce||New Zealand|
|Angeline Kivido||South Africa|
|Geoffrey Martin||New Zealand|
BC Trek 1 Guides
BC Trek 2 Members
BC Trek 2 Guides
Swiss TV film team
We have a mixture of events, three summits to climb on, with independent climbers on each summit, but then some members attempting two summits and some even attempting 3 summits, which makes for a big challenge to our Himex Logistics. We are very honoured that we are providing the logistics for the Under Armour “Mission 14 Project” An interesting and ambitious project to climb 6 x 8,000 in the coming year.
Also a small Swiss film team with us just for a few days.
Due to snowfalls at Base Camp communications had been difficult and friends and family want to get news, Himex is doing its very best to get the newsletters out.