NEWSLETTERS - Everest Spring 2010

Newsletter 129 March 2010

Himex Everest Expedition 2010 is kicking off

After having put 59 people, including Sherpas, guides and clients on the summit of Mount Everest via the South Col Route in 2009, Himex is back on the Nepali side of the world’s highest peak. This year Himex owner, Russell Brice, is leading a team of 18 clients, 24 climbing Sherpas, five mountain guides and seven cook staff, and following last year’s success rate of 86 percent, the team will once again try to aim for the best.

The 18 clients are from 11 different countries, including Oman, Romania, Japan, China, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Denmark, Germany, Romania, France and the United States and Russell is working once again with his legendary Sirdar (lead Sherpa), Phurba Tashi from Pangboche, who has reached the summit of Mount Everest 16 times.

The climbing team has arrived in Kathmandu and is due to fly to Lukla, which at 2,700m is the gate to the Everest Region, on 31st March. From Lukla they will slowly trek up to Base Camp, which will take around ten days and will lead through one of the most dramatic sceneries in the world. They will pass through the Sherpa capital Namche Bazaar (3,300m), where they will start their acclimatisation process and rest for a couple of days. As a rule of thumb you should not ascend more than 300m per day, which makes the walk to Base Camp, at 5,350m, a leisurely one and gives everyone the opportunity to get used to the new surroundings and take in the beauty of the Himalaya and its people.

But before they set off on their adventure, the guides and clients will be busy preparing for their expedition with packing their barrels, doing last-minute shopping and getting briefed on altitude sickness, oxygen use and a short introduction of the Sherpa culture. Those who are new to the Nepalese capital will have the opportunity to have a look around Kathmandu by visiting historic sites, such as the Monkey Temple, Swayambunath, the Royal City of Patan and one of the biggest Buddhist Stupas in Asia, Bouddha. And, of course, there is the amazingly colourful social life of Kathmandu, which takes place in the tourist district of Thamel, where you find many bars and restaurants, where you can enjoy different cuisines from Thai, Italian, South Korean and Israeli to Indian, traditionally Nepali to Bhutanese.

Setting up camp

While the clients are busy experiencing the colourful life of Kathmandu, Russell’s Sherpas are already working hard at base camp, which at an altitude of 5,350m, lies on the bottom of the Khumbu icefall. After having shopped for gear and food, 12 of Russell’s Sherpa team left Kathmandu on 15 March to prepare two base camps: the main one at Mount Everest and another one at Lobuje Peak, a 6,119m-high mountain, which the team will be climbing for acclimatisation purposes.

So far, the Himex team has sent almost five tons of food to base camp and another ton of fresh vegetables and meat will be sent up during the course of the expedition. It took the team around three weeks to pack the food and equipment and get it ready to be flown to the Everest Region. Furthermore, around nine tons of personal equipment for the clients and guides will be flown to Lukla, from where it will be carried to base camp by porters or yaks within a period of five days.

Setting up Everest base camp is like building a small village as a total of 300 tents (including the sleeping tents for the Sherpas, clients and guides, and the kitchen and dining tents, two toilet tents and a shower tent) are being pitched to accommodate the members of the expedition and make their lives as comfortable as possible. One of Himex’s claims to fame is the legendary ‘White Pod’, a huge structure in the shape of a golf ball that features comfortable sofas, an espresso machine and a flatscreen television for the team to spend their evenings in a cosy surrounding. You may argue that this could be too much luxury for an Everest expedition, however, considering that the team will spend about two months at this barren place it is important to feel good, eat well and stay mentally and physically healthy.

But before the Sherpa team can start putting up the tents, they have to level the ground and build little platforms as the site lies on the Khumbu Glacier, a massive moraine that is covered in rocks. Those, who have been to base camp outside the climbing season might wonder how on earth this uneven terrain can be used for setting up a camp, however, the Sherpas do an amazing job at transferring it into a comfortable site for the team.

Like last year, Russell’s camp will be slightly below the traditional base camp, which avoids being cramped in with dozens of other expeditions that will be tackling the mountain this year.

Power to the people

Before the clients arrive at base camp on 9th April, Russell’s Sherpas will organise the food and equipment, make sure the dining tents are laid out with carpets and decorated with pretty plastic flowers, which add a bit of colour to the barren place, and the solar panels and generators are working in order to provide electricity whenever needed.

You will find that there is actually more power, or Bhatti as it is called here, readily available at base camp than there is in Kathmandu. Due to the shortage of hydropower in Nepal, the government has imposed 12 hours of power cuts per day, which means the people of Kathmandu are left with a mere 12 hours of electricity a day – six of which are normally provided in the middle of the night.

Finally, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Billi Bierling and I will be writing Himex’s expedition diary over the course of the trip. I will try and make the entries as interesting as possible and will do my best to provide the friends and families of our members with valuable inputs from the expedition.

Over the next few days I will be putting up short profiles of the members, guides and later also the Sherpas for you to get to know the team, which you may want to follow on their way up to the top of the world.

I hope you will enjoy the journey!