Leaving Base Camp
While I am writing this basking in the unseasonably warm sunshine, the Himalayan Experience base camp is slowly being dismantled around me. “The last Sherpa loads were carried down from Camp I this morning and now all our equipment is off the mountain,” Russell said feeling relieved that all his Sherpas have been up and down the Khumbu Icefall safely. “It was hard for me to send the Sherpas through the icefall after I had made the decision to cancel the expedition due to the looming dangers there, however, we had no choice as we had to bring down around 250 loads,” he continued.
The reasons why Himalayan Experience is pulling out
Over the past few days, many websites and blogs have reported about Russell Brice’s decision to cancel his expedition, speculating on his reasons. In order to preempt rumours and gossip within the climbing community, here is a list of reasons behind this decision.
Himex ends Everest expedition
The current dangerous conditions in the Khumbu Icefall and on the Lhotse Face have forced Himalayan Experience to abandon its expeditions to Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse this season.
Dangerous Rockfall Thwarts Everest Expeditions
Brief update from the Everest region
Exodus from Base Camp
Last night the Himalayan Experience camp stirred to life at midnight with half of the group getting ready to leave for Camp II. This time, the ‘Yetis’ (Greg, John B., John C., Joe, Jeff, Javier, Hector, Valdes, Kristina, Amanda, Annie as well as our guides Adrian, Jaime and Brian) are a day ahead of the ‘Yaks’ (the Walking with the Wounded Team, including their cameramen Alexis and Petter as well as the three ‘civies’ Mark, Sergej, Pierre and our guides Harry, Bruce and Woody), who will leave at 1am on Saturday morning.
Dangerous tradition in the Sherpa culture
The tragic death of one of the climbing Sherpas at Mount Everest base camp last Wednesday gave us some food for thought here at the Himalayan Experience camp. For Russell, this event was particularly sad as he had known Karsang Namgyal Sherpa for many years. “He used to work for us and he was a good and strong guy, however, his drinking habit made employing him increasingly difficult.” During the almost ten years that Karsang Namgyal worked for Himalayan Experience, the company tried to help him on several occasions. “We sent him on three rehabilitations but it did not seem to work,” Russell explained.
Blessings, Briefings and Base Camp Life
Over the past two days, the whole team has been united at base camp and even though everyone was supposed to be resting after having used up lots of energy on Lobuje East, things have been happening here at 5,350 (17,600ft) above sea level. On Tuesday, the Everest crew received their radios as well as avalanche beacons, which they will use it for the trip through the icefall. As mentioned in a previous newsletter, it is not yet common practice to use these detection devices on the mountain but with the icefall being as dangerous as it is, it is an imperative devise for Himalayan Experience.
Practicing icefall skills
All the Yaks and Yetis are back at base camp and on Monday the rest of the crew, including Trekkers as well as Nuptse and Lhotse climbers, is due to arrive boosting the population of our little hamlet to almost 100 people. The Sherpas have been setting up more tents and the kitchen staff is busy preparing food, hot water and everything else that is needed for another small influx of people.
Yaks are back, Yetis still up on the hill
Life has come back to Everest Base Camp with the Yaks having finished their acclimatisation rotation on Lobuje East. They returned to base camp on Friday and according to our guide Adrian, everyone performed really well on the mountain. "It was good to see that most people were moving fast and confidently," he said. He and our Russian member Sergej even got to ski down from the summit. "The skiing conditions were mainly crap but it was fun to ski down Lobuje East. I dont think it has been done very often before," Sergej commented looking very pleased with his achievement.
Acclimatising, Rope Fixing and Sad News
The members of our first group, dubbed the ‘Yaks’, have spent their first night on top of Lobuje East at 6,129m (20,225ft),which should catapult them forward in their acclimatisation process. “We are basking in the sun up here and everyone is feeling great,” I heard Adrian say over the radio. On Thursday morning, Adrian and some Sherpas fixed the rope to the central summit and those members who felt like exercising a bit, followed their footsteps. “The views were amazing from up there,” said Dan, one of the members.
Everest Base Camp - Behind the Scenes
While the Everest climbers are acclimatising on Lobuje East having all summited the peak in the past two days, life at Everest base camp goes on. “We have a lot of little jobs to do and now is the best time to do them as the camp is empty,” Russell said. As I am writing this sitting in front of the White Pod gazing at Everest’s West Shoulder and Nuptse towering above us, the Sherpas are busy cleaning and organising the camp. “I don’t think I have ever seen such clean toilets in a camp,” said Nancy, a trekker from Arizona. “It makes going about your daily business much more pleasant.”
Heading up Lobuje East
Finally, the real climbing has begun! The first half of the Everest climbers is on its way up to Lobuje East peak on their first acclimatisation rotation....
Medical checks, short walks and climbing practice
On their second day at base camp, some of the members went for a stroll up to the main camp while others did their laundry, enjoyed the White Pod or in the case of the Walking with the Wounded (WWTW) crew, went for a brief ice climbing practice just outside our camp. In between these small activities, the members popped in to see our expedition doctor Monica to undergo a brief medical test to make sure they are adjusting well to the higher elevation of base camp.
Arriving ‘home’ on Easter Monday
After 10 days of trekking through the beautiful Khumbu region, the Himalayan Experience team has finally arrived at their temporary home, a village called ‘Everest Base Camp’ lying at an altitude of 5,267m (17,380ft). Our Sherpa crew and cooks, who have been setting up our little hamlet for the past three weeks, welcomed the trekkers and climbers with a big smile and a hearty lunch. “It is good to finally be here. Everyone is doing really well and we have spent the afternoon settling in and making our tents as cosy as possible,” Adrian reported.
Snowy Days in Pheriche
After having enjoyed a magnificent day during their walk up to Pheriche, the team experienced some heavy snowfall once they had reached the village. “We...
The only way is up
I have just spoken to our guide Adrian, who together with the team was basking in the sunshine having lunch on their way to the next stop in Pheriche. This Sherpa village lies at an altitude of 4,240m (13,990ft) and is home to a clinic, which is run by the Himalayan Rescue Association, a non-profit organisation. The health post is open during the trekking season and serves trekkers as well as porters for altitude sickness and other ailments and is usually staffed with two western volunteer doctors. It also offers a daily talk on high altitude sickness, which will certainly be a good lecture for our team to visit on Friday afternoon.
Relaxing in Khumjung
The Himalayan Experience team has been resting in Khumjung for the past two days, enjoying the stunning mountain views and the clean air, which is a huge relief after the dust and pollution of Kathmandu. On Monday morning, they climbed up to the Everest View Hotel, which was built by a Japanese businessman in 1968. This famous hotel lies at 3,880m (12,779 ft) and used to be frequented by Japanese tourists, who flew to the nearby airstrip in Syangboche. However, the sudden rise in elevation often made them altitude sick and even though the hotel offers oxygen in every room, it is now mainly frequented by trekkers and climbers, who just want to enjoy a nice cup of tea while taking in the stunning views of Everest. Unfortunately our team was not lucky enough to get a glimpse of ‘Sagarmatha’ (the Nepali name for Everest meaning ‘Mother Goddess of the Sky’) as the skies just would not open for them..
BASE CAMP STAFF
Russell BRICE New Zealand
Daniel MAJID United Kingdom
Monica PIRIS CHAVARRI Spain living in United Kingdom Doctor
Another Everest season has begun
The time of year has come, when hotel lobbies in Kathmandu are filling up with blue mountaineering barrels, gear shops are teeming with climbers doing their last-minute shopping and the Himalayan archivist Miss Hawley and her team are running through the streets of Thamel hunting down mountaineering expeditions to find out about their plans.