NEWSLETTERS - Everest North Side 2005

Newsletter 722 May 2005

ABC Journal Entry

Hello from ABC, where everyone has settled back into life at 6,400 metres. It's very different to base camp, particularly weather wise, as the Tibetan winter continues to batter us with unseasonably nasty conditions. Apparently, the Tibetan calendar for 2005 has two Aprils and no May, so spring has bypassed us completely, leaving us constantly seeking warmth.

The cold weather and the seemingly endless wait for a large enough window to push for the summit has meant that use of the gas heaters in the two mess tents has been rationed, so warm clothing is even more important as we seek increasingly desperate measures to fill our time. The success of the base camp pub quiz has prompted a second fixture, which is scheduled for this afternoon - we'll keep you up to speed with the winners.

We even have a new one-armed ABC barber, aka Paul Vidal Sassoon Hockey, who was last seen attempting to style Bill Crouse's curly mop. Jez and Soren also fell under the demon barber's razor and there was even a queue of Sherpas, but they were possibly more interested in viewing rather than participating.

The card school continues to grow, but we have lost one of our favourite members, Chucky Cheese. Chuck Dasey finally made the decision to head for home two days ago, after battling back to health from pneumonia. A restorative trip down to base camp seemed to have worked, but a chest infection on his return to ABC left him increasingly weak. Continually deteriorating health meant that he eventually had to come to terms with the fact that this wasn't his year to summit Everest. We love you Chuck and we miss you!

But there has been one summiter amongst the Himex group. Mary Hobbs, who had come to Tibet to support her husband Charlie on his summit mission, finally made it to ABC, her own personal Everest, well above her previous highest altitude of 10,000ft. Others who will be bidding for their personal high, the final North Col group, arrive at ABC later today.

Despite our drawn-out existence at extreme altitude - we've just celebrated our 45th night under canvas - everyone is well and looking forward to a crack at the summit. A bunch of us headed across the Lakpa La yesterday, donning crampons to crunch our way across the glacier for a stunning view of the Kangshung face and Makalu.

We've also had the chance to see the first teams summiting yesterday and today, with a line-up of both westerners and Sherpas keen to view the action through Russ's telescope.The more that get to the top now, the less climbers there'll be on the mountain when we head for the summit.

We've seen a lot of totally drained climbers stumbling back through our camp, shattered by the physical exertion of climbing in less than perfect conditions. Two of the Koreans were being carried down by Sherpas, unable to walk under their own steam and showing signs of high altitude cerebral oedema.

So we're trying to make sure we stay healthy and strong, but it's a fine balance between over-doing physical activity and conserving our energies for the summit.

Peg and Grania (Double Trouble)