Newsletter 316 April 2001
On the Move: Leaving Base Camp and Establishing Advanced Base Camp
126 yaks, each loaded with over 40 kilos (88 lbs.) of equipment, food, propane gas cylenders, rope and oxygen bottles are plying the pathways of the Rongbuk and East Rongbulk glaciers this week. Our team is moving up the hill.
The journey from Base Camp to ABC follows a 22 km (13 mile) trail, climbing to 6400 m. (21,000 ft.). ABC is situated along a thin strip of rock covered glacier, perhaps 50 meters wide and 300 meters long. This leaves hardly enough room for the 26 expeditions that hope to climb Everest this year. With a shortage of space in mind, Karsang, one of our Sherpas, ran from BC to ABC on the day he arrived, claiming a choice peice of real estate for our team.
Four days later, the rest of the climbing Sherpas and the first group of 60 yaks begin their two day journey to ABC. Today, a third of the climbing team left BC for interim camp, a camp we place half way along the route. Tomorrow, six more climbers, Russ, Asmus and 60 more yaks will leave. On April 18th, Chris and four North Col trekkers will finally wave goodbye to the relative warmth and comfort of BC.
Advanced Base Camp is really the launching point for the climb. This camp is the highest place that the yaks can climb to. It is probably the highest place in the world accessed by yaks. (Camels climb a bit higher on Mustagh Ata, a mountain in Kashgar).
It will be good to move above BC. While it is lower, warmer and more hospitable in most ways, we are here to climb some this hill we've been gazing at for a week now. A lot of us are getting antsy here, despite the excellent peaks we have been climbing and the wonderful moments of relaxation we have earned, (it is hard to beat the simple pleasure of laying in a sun warmed tent, reading a book). Most of us feel as if we are getting too fat, here. The food has been so good, and Russ has stocked up on all sorts of goodies. While we have plenty of potato chips, fresh yak meat and chocolate covered Easter eggs, we are consuming over 0.5 kilos of coffee every day. Do the math: we brought 25 kilos for a 60 day expedition.
By the evening of April 2Oth all of the climbers will be in ABC. I'd imagine that by that time, some of our Sherpas will have struck out for higher camps, establishing at least a simple tent at each of the four high camps, weather permitting, in barely a week. Meanwhile the rest of us will start the long, hard process of stocking each camp with the sleeping bags, oxygen, stoves, cooksets, medical supplies and other gadgets we will need.
At this stage in the expedition, everyone is healthy and happy. Not even a cough can be heard among us. We're cautiously optimistic.
A quick weather report: we arrived to a black mountain, with the thinnest of snow cover in the deepest couliors and barely any snow patches on the faces. Two days ago it snowed, dumping 3 inches at BC, but over a foot high on the mountain. Since then a little more snow has fallen. High winds have blown some of the faces clean, while creating cornices on many of the ridgelines. The high winds would prevent any work from being done high on the hill either yesterday or today. Base camp is clear of snow, windy but warm.