NEWSLETTERS - Everest South 2011

Newsletter 57 April 2011

Lobuche Base Camp – almost home

The team is currently making its way up to Lobuche village (4,910m), where Himalayan Experience has set up a base camp for the acclimatisation climbs to Lobuche East Peak, which will start next week.

After having spent two nights in a lodge in windy Pheriche, this will be the first time the members will be sleeping in tents. “After our teahouse trekking, everyone seems excited to get into their own space but most importantly to the delicacies of our kitchen in Lobuche, which is headed by Kul Bahadur,” Adrian reported from a ‘super slow’ internet connection in Pheriche.

For acclimatisation purposes the group spent two days in the village, where some climbed up a ridge to enjoy the magnificent views from about 5,000 metres and others walked over to neighbouring Dingboche to find a faster Internet connection at the local cyber cafe. “Everyone is feeling great and the weather is fantastic but very cold! Even the pipes froze in our lodge last night,” Adrian said.

Himalayan Experience’s camp is situated just below Lobuche village and serves as the base for the acclimatisation climb to Lobuche East Peak (6,119m). When Himalayan Experience moved its Everest expeditions to the Nepal side from Tibet in 2009, Russell wanted to avoid going through the Khumbu Icefall too often and decided to do his acclimatisation trips on Lobuche East. “This is much better than going through the treacherous Khumbu Icefall. The climb is certainly more interesting and we have better views from up here,” Chris Jones, who climbed Everest with Himalayan Experience in 2009, said on the Discovery Programme. Chris will be attempting Lhotse this year.

While the group is acclimatising at our comfortable Lobuche camp for a couple of days before they head off to their temporary home at Everest base camp, I would like to introduce you to René Bergsma from The Netherlands and Mike Ortiz from the United States.

René Bergsma

Pharmacist René Bergsma from Amsterdam successfully climbed Manaslu with Himalayan Experience in October last year. The 53-year-old is completing his quest to climb the Seven Summits, with Everest being his last peak. His wife and sister are trekking to Base Camp with him.

How did you first come across Everest and who inspired you to climb it?

I wanted to climb the Seven Summits and in 2003 I started with Elbrus. Apart from Everest, I have climbed them all and it is a great way to see the world. It is a challenge to climb all the different mountains and I love climbing. My wife trusts me and she can see that I am going with a very professional organisation and that is very important. My wife and my sister are going to base camp with me and I am very excited about that. The first two weeks will be a nice holiday.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Scaling Manaslu last year was my biggest achievement. I felt good on the summit, however, as soon as I had reached the top, I thought about coming down safely. The most difficult part is coming down, and when you have reached the top you are only half way there.

What is your biggest challenge on this Everest expedition?

I think it will be hard to stay at altitude for such a long time.

How do you think Everest will change your life?

I don’t think it will change my life. I think the Seven Summits have already changed my life as during my trips I met a lot of people and I saw the world, which in itself is a very life-changing experience.

How mentally prepared are you for the possibility of not getting to the top?

Of course, it can happen and there is always the possibility that I am not strong enough. If I don’t make it due to bad conditions or the weather, then I have to accept it. However, if I am not strong enough then I will have to train more and come back. I tried Denali twice because of the weather and I have never not got to the top of a mountain due to lack of strength.

What will you carry to the summit?

A friend of mine gave me a plastic cylinder from a Belgium artist, which she wants me to fill with snow from the top of Everest.

Mike Ortiz

Mike Ortiz is a head trader of a commodity firm from Aspen, Colorado. The 54-year-old is trekking to Everest Base Camp with his 20-year-old daughter and his partner Bobby.

How did you first come across Everest and who inspired you to climb it?

I have climbed since I was 11 years old. In the 60ies, when I was a young boy, I was fascinated by climbers like Jim Whittaker and I adored the mountains. Over the years, I have become a technical climber and I used to do a lot of rock climbing. Now I am more into waterfall climbing in Colorado and Europe. I have also climbed some peaks in Alaska, but I was never really interested in climbing Denali – it is a cold and miserable climb. I have always wanted to go to the Himalaya and when I heard of Himalayan Experience, I emailed Russell asking him whether I could join his Everest expedition. Even though I had not been above Kilimanjaro, I was eligible with my technical experience. So I signed up.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

Building my trading company. Two years ago, I started from scratch and it grew from two to 90 people within 18 months.

What is your biggest challenge on this Everest expedition?

Having the time to actually complete the expedition in terms of my demands back at work. I am hoping that I will not be called back. However, if my company were in dire straits and my staff really needed me, I would go back. I have 90 people to look after, however, it would still be a very tough call.

How do you think Everest will change your life?

I am sure it will change my life to some degree but I think it will be more from the trip itself than the actual summit. I am a very driven climber and I have always climbed for new routes and lines. What will be life-changing for me, is actually being here with my family. I am not quite sure how the whole experience will change my life but I think it will.

How mentally prepared are you for the possibility of not getting to the top?

Of course, I will be disappointed if I don’t get to the top but I know that there are lots of elements that play together to make it a successful trip. You can be fit and ready to go but it might not work, let’s say because of the weather. I am certainly not set up for failure but if Everest becomes a two-year-project, it will also be fine.

What will you carry to the summit?

A company banner and a banner from my orthopaedic surgeon, who did my hip replacement in November last year.

If you want to follow Mike’s blog, you can check it out here