Newsletter 1427 April 2012
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.
Most of the ‘Yeti’ team had arrived at Camp II by 10am with Amanda, Annie and Jaime stopping at Camp I for the night. “The three made it to Camp I in six hours, which is just within the cut-off time. However, they only arrived at the camp at 6,100m at 7am, which is pretty late in the day to make it to Camp II comfortably as it can get very hot,” Russell explained. The Cwm, which is the U-shaped glacial valley leading from Camp I to Camp II, can get as hot as 40C in the sun slowing the climbers down significantly.*
While the ‘Yetis’ were making their way up to Camp II, the ‘Yaks’ were being briefed on their trip through the Khumbu Icefall in the White Pod. “I am very excited to finally get to the mountain, even though the Icefall is a bit of a worry,” Pierre said. During the briefing, the crew was told what to bring and what not to bring as well as what to wear and what not to wear. “Try and keep your gear to the minimum but make sure you have your warm clothes with you,” Woody told the team. Apart from their personal gear, including their downsuits, everyone will have to carry food for one day, which they will use during their acclimatisation night at Camp III.
“We will stay at Camp II for four nights during which our kitchen team will provide us with food,” Harry explained during the briefing. The guides also emphasised that the amount of edibles to be taken to Camp III should be kept to the minimum as appetite is usually pretty limited at the altitude of 7,300m (24,100ft). ‘You will find that even your favourite food will not go down well at this high elevation,” Harry continued.
During their four days at Camp II, the team will go for a walk across to the ‘Bergschrund’, which connects the Western Cwm with the Lhotse Face and generally rest there to be acclimatised well enough to climb up to Camp III on the fifth day.
Lhotse and Nuptse Teams
The acclimatisation rotation has also kicked off for the Lhotse and Nuptse teams, who have been at base camp for the past four days. On Friday morning, Rene, Chieku, Alec, Naoki, Ellen, Jing, Martine as well as your blogger Billi and our guides Francoise, Narly and Shinji left for our Lobuje camp to do the same rotation as the Everest climbers did one week ago. “It will be good to finally start climbing after all the downtime at base camp – and I am really looking forward to the amazing views from Lobuje East,” Ellen said.
Base camp should be very quiet for the next five to six days and if everything goes to plan the Everest as well as Nuptse and Lhotse teams should be back on or around 3rd May. For our kitchen team this also means a bit of rest after having had to cater for around 100 people for the past four days. “It has been very busy and we are all very tired. Our day normally starts at 4am and we work non-stop till 10pm,’ our head chef Tashi said. This does not mean the team will be basking in the sun though as they will clean all the dining tents, wash everything to be washed and do chores they normally do not have time for when the camp is full.
As internet facilities are very intermittent or rather non-existent on Lobuje East, I will probably only be in touch again at the beginning of March.
*At the time of writing this, an avalanche struck the Western Cwm. Fortunately all Himalayan Experience members, guides and Sherpas had arrived safely in their respective camps at the time of the avalanche.
Billi Bierling at Everest Base Camp