Newsletter #1619 May 2013
Ups and Downs of Base Camp Life
While our Lhotse and Nuptse teams were climbing their respective mountains, life at base camp continued with its various ups and downs. A few weeks ago, our Japanese guide Shinji had developed a bad toothache, which he thought he could manage for the course of the expedition. However, when Doctor Jen found an abscess on his tooth, it became clear pretty quickly that Shinji had to go and see a dentist in Kathmandu.
Tibet seen from the summit of Nuptse
Fortunately, Russell is the patron of ‘Smile High’ ( www.smilehigh.net ) and Himex sponsored a dental clinic in Kathmandu, which is run by Dr Mingma, who trained in Canada, Fiji and New Zealand.
“It was good to know that I would be in good hands in Kathmandu and I certainly was,” said Shinji, who was able to jump on the helicopter that took our first summiteer of the season, David Tait, back to the Nepalese capital.
While Shinji was in the treatment chair of Mingma, an Al Jazeera film crew joined the Himex team at base camp. The two journalists used Himex as their base to shoot a film for the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest.
For the documentary, Al Jazeera was looking at the quality of the different expeditions, their styles and what the various operators provide and do not provide. During their four days at base camp, they also interviewed the Nepali man, who is intending to climb the highest mountain in the world without arms as well as the two men, who are vying to become the oldest summiteers in the world.
For their panoramic shots, they needed a helicopter from Kathmandu to take them up to 23,000ft. Once again, Shinji was lucky as he was able to catch another ride after he had his sick tooth pulled. “Mingma tried to save it but it had been ill for quite some time and the best treatment was to get rid of it,” he said with a toothless smile.
Shinji’s case is certainly not unique and it shows that the use of helicopters has made life easier at base camp over the past few years. Even though it can be a bit noisy when helicopters fly up and down the valley in the early morning hours, they are certainly saving lives, assisting medical evacuations and enabling some people to go on ‘holiday’ to Namche Bazaar. Fortunately, there is no need for Himex members to leave base camp as with our comfortable White Pod and Bob’s delicious and healthy food, we can perfectly recover here.
On Saturday morning, however, Evelyne Binsack from Switzerland decided to catch a helicopter to Kathmandu to recover from a cold. She did not think she was ready to go for the summit in five days, so we are expecting her back at base camp around the 21st of May. Weather-permitting she will attempt for the summit afterwards.
Tibet seen from the summit of Nuptse
On a different note, the Icefall Doctors are trying hard to keep the icefall as safe as possible, which is a very challenging job given the rising temperatures and the melting ice blocks. There have been some positive movements in the icefall with a huge mushroom-shaped ice block collapsing during a time when nobody was there.
We would also like to express our condolences to the family of the Russian climber, Alexei Bolotov, who sadly died just outside base camp. Alexei was a very well-respected and fine mountaineer and rock climber, who will be missed greatly.
Finally, I would like to point out that my blogger made a mistake regarding the wind direction on Lhotse in the last newsletter. What I meant to say was that the wind was coming from the Southwest and the team was climbing on the Northeast of the mountain, which means they were very well-protected. Apologies for this.
As far as our Everest team is concerned, they have all arrived safe and sound at Camp 2, where they will rest for one day before they move to Camp 3 on Tuesday. We will keep you posted on their progress.
Russell Brice at Everest Base Camp