Saturday, 30 April 2011
Anyway we arrived at C1 and got ourselves moved in for one night. Unfortunately it was pretty windy and snowy and as a result the trail was blown over. We were a little concerned that we may find ourselves heading to C2 and end up in a white out, in crevasse territory and with no way of knowing where the safe route went, so we opted for a second night at C1. This was a good and a not so good move. It was good in that when we arrived at C2 the next day we were all very well acclimatised from the benefit of 2 nights at C1. But it was bad news because when you have to spend 36 hours in a tent you go slightly stir crazy and when the sun comes up it is like being in a furnace. Solution?Open the tent doors. Unfortunately this wasn't quite as easy as hoped because the tent just started to fill with very fine spindrift being blown in - a bit like being inside a snow globe. Close the doors and it was overheating time again.
Anyway we survived the ordeal and made our way to C2 and everyone got there in around 3 hours or less - which is a brilliant time for the first foray. Not that we were racing. Just gently gently catchy monkey and suddenly we're all at 6,450m. C1 is a sort of temporary stop gap and now that we've used it once we probably won't need it again. Whereas C2 is permanently manned with a cook tent and a dining tent so being tent bound isn't as much of a problem.
So we heard that there may well be some snow coming in and opted to come on down after 3 nights on the hill. A fourth night would have been good but in the end we preferred to be at Base Camp if it snowed, than to be at C2. And guess what - it snowed. Having said that it was only a slight flurry but we are all feeling so much better for the drop in altitude and having had a shower and a great sleep.
The journey down was reasonably straight forward and everyone was down in 4 to 5 hours. Not quite sure how long we'll be down for but we envisage having a couple of rest days and then heading straight back to C2 for a 3 or 4 night foray with a visit to C3 (7,100m). We'll be chilling for the rest of today and we'll have movie and some snacks this afternoon.
Tomorrow we'll be doing drugs. I don't mean that we'll be sitting around smoking pot - but practicing drawing up and giving injections as well as swotting up on the high altitude drugs that we'll be carrrying (but hopefully not needing). Everyone will have their own supply - just in case. We'll also be having a session using the oxygen sets and masks so that we are getting tuned in and ready for the summit push - whenever that may be.
Friday, 29 April 2011
Monday, 25 April 2011
Sunday, 24 April 2011
The ascent of Pokalde a few days ago was a great success and everyone reached the summit in under 2 hours from the Kongma La. It was nice to have great views and be able to chill at just over 5,800m for ages taking in the panorama. Back down at the Kongma La camp (around 5,450m) Jen's artistic flair came to light when she decided to stamp out 'The Big E 2011' in 20 foot long letters on the frozen lake. Personally I would have preferred 'elmtreelodge-keswick.co.uk - vacancies available but book early to avoid disappointment' - but it would perhaps have taken up too much space.
EBC is quite a sprawling area and from the first tents we had to keep going for another 20 mins or so before we got to our camp. The whole site is an amazing area on a rubble covered glacier with another pristine glacier dropping down from the Western Cwm. Tomorrow we'll be venturing in to the Khumbu Icefall - which apparently is in great condition this year with the widest span across a crevasse being 3 ladders connected together.
The following day our intention is to pop up to Camp 1 (around 6,000m). When I say 'pop up' - it could take anywhere between 3 and 8 hours depending on how quickly folk can move in the increasingly rarefied atmosphere, how everyone takes to the ladder crossings and how much traffic there is. To put it in to perspective the Sherps tend to go to C1 in around 2 hours!
All being well we'll be at C1 for 1 or 2 nights and then on up to C2 (6,400m) for a night.
So we'll be off the air for a few days but hopefully will have some photos to send soon. We'll try and keep you all updated as much as possible but when it comes to summit push time we may go quiet for a while. Partly because we'll be on the hill (!) but also because we are aware that there are other teams out there who are following our progress (and therefore our weather forecasting as well). It would be somewhat silly on our part to shout from the tree tops (tent tops?) about our summit attempt to only find that it then made for a congested few days.
That's about all for now ... Tim and Co
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Here are some of the text based updates from the gang:
Team at Gorak Shep for tea and biccies, then off to Everest Base Camp (EBC), our home for the next 5 weeks. Let the fun begin!
Trekked through Scottish Winter Conditions Yesterday. Gloriously sunny this morning (at the moment but clouds are building!) Off to Sleep at 5,300m
Had a great night at 5,450m. Having a second night then we'll be at EBC on the 23rd. Then the real work begins!
Arrived at EBC in fine fettle! Snowing at the moment and apparently set in for the next 4 days.
Been rumbled. Kenton trekked to EBC in 4 days. Therefore it goes without saying we've just had two weeks on a beach.
A group who look barely capable of trekking to EBC have turned up. Turns out they are the Nepalese Civil Service Everest Team. OMG!
Word on the grapevine is The Khumbu Icefall is in this year. We'll go have a look in a day or two.
...On Pokalde (a tad over 5,800m) Great views all round. Heading back to Kongma La for second night.
Tim & Co
That's all for now folks. I'll keep posting to the blog as news comes in. apologies if the texts appear in the wrong order (it's how they come through and let’s not forget where they're coming from)
Monday, 18 April 2011
Trekking to Dingogma where there is a beautiful grassy camping spot and then on up to around 5,100m tomorrow to camp at the Kongma La. Temperature dropping to around -10 to -15 at night which is good training for the even lower temps we'll be experiencing at Camp 1 and Camp 2 on Everets where it will probably be down to -20 or lower.
We're all pretty well acclimatised now and our O2 sats are around 90 to 95%. At sea level you'd expect 98 to 99% O2 and if you went to hospital with some of the readings we've been getting over the last 2 weeks you'd be a very poorly patient and on oxygen immediately. Typicall, for a lot of the team, our sats dropped to 80 to 85% (Bruce managed a lowly 75%) and although we are now back in to the 90s we're going to be going higher soon and the sats will undoubtedly drop accordingly.
In 2005 my sats were below 70% and my pulse was above 100bpm for 6 weeks. The very day we decided to try for the 5 day summit bid, to catch an 18 hour window, my O2 popped up to 71% and my pulse dropped to 98bpm. I was so obviously ready and acclimatised!
We'll be arriving at EBC in 5 days and then after a couple of days sorting our gear and moving in we'll start exploring the Khumbu Icefall. We've heard that the ropes have been fixed to C2 (that was last week so probably further by now) and Camp 2 is being established so it's all very positive.
All we need to do now is get acclimatised to above 6,500m, spend many uncomfortable nights in various tents on the hill in desperately cold conditions with frost coating the inside of the tents, keep fit and healthy, stay hydrated, get all our kit and equipment to the right places on the hill, stay safe and wait for the weather window. Easy as pie!
And now it's thundering as well. Thankfully we are on a well earned rest day and so are staying put - but I do feel for all those trekkers who are now in the middle of their hike to their next destination. Particularly if they were hoping for views.
We're off tomorrow to a great little camp at a grassy meadow on the way to the Kongma La and then 2 nights camping just below the col with some of the best views in The Khumbu looking across to Baruntse and Makalu. We'll pop up Pokalde and then make our way to EBC.
Don't forget that you can e mail any of the group at firstname.lastname@example.org (abi, chris, giles, jen, partha, susan, tim).
Conditions are soon going to be getting colder and we'll be living higher - which is quite a stressful and arduous environment. Added to that the fact that everything is going to be getting much more serious and suddenly messages are even more welcome than usual and are a real morale booster.
Also you can text the team on 00977 98131 65232 - please start your message with 'For Abi' or 'For Chris' rather than 'Hey babe I had the most awesome dream about you last night ...'
So that's all for now and possibly for the next few days.
Cheers for now - Tim and the team.
Sunday, 17 April 2011
It's a glorious sunny day & we're heading to the lakes below the Renjo La. Only seen 2 westerners in the last 4 days. Awesome.
Played boules last night by the Renjo lake - a great setting. Everyone in fine fettle & ready for the Renjo La & down to Gokyo.
A superb day over the Renjo La, then prawn crackers & soup for lunch in Gokyo. It's time for a pits & bits wash. All fit & well
A longish day up to Nobby's View - about 5,500m. Unfortunately there wasn't a view to be had so we're asking for a partial refund.
Since then we have been over the Cho La pass and are now based at Dingboche for a couple of rest days. It's changed a little bit here - there are 3 internet cafes and a bakery. Needless to say that our first stop was the bakery. Having a rest day tomorrow so it's going to be showers and washing water all round - as well as a bit of time filling up on chocolate doughnuts and coffee.
Not a great deal to update re the team except to say, yet again, that everyone is very well and the acclimatisation schedule seems to be working wonders. Slept the night before last at 5,050m and not a headache in sight - which is exactly what we were hoping for. After Dingboche we are taking in a couple of high camps at the Renjo La (circa 5,200m) and we're going to have a pootle up Pokalde (just a tad over 5,800m). After that we're heading for Base Camp. After a couple of days sorting gear and getting acquainted with our new surroundings things will then take on a slightly different perspective when we start getting to know the route through the Khumbu Icefall and start spending nights at Camp 1 (6,000m) and Camp 2 (6,400m).
Hopefully our 3 week trek will see us fit enough and well enough acclimatised to be moving quickly (in Himalayan terms) and efficiently up and down the lower slopes of The Big E.
In the meantime I'll leave you with last night's anecdote. It was almost a full moon and we were out taking night time shots from Dzongla of Ama Dablam. Bruce just couldn't seem to get his camera to cooperate. 15 second exposure - nothing. 15 second exposure with a wider aperture - nothing. Manual override for all settings including the focus - longer exposure and wider aperture. Still nothing. Then there was the realisation that he still had the lens cap on! Doh!
After a 20Km trek up and down a 5,500m peak yesterday we are now based in Tagnag just below the Cho La pass and will be moving to our high camp (around 5,000m) tomorrow, before dropping down to Dzongla the following day.
The team are all connecting really well together and suffice to say we are having an absolutely brilliant time. Given the enormity of what lies ahead for pretty much the whole of May it's great that we are having a light hearted start to the trip (as well as a great acclimatisaion schedule). Everyone is in fine spirits and are already looking out for each other and concerned for everyone else's welfare. This was one of the underpinning objectives that I had for our acclimatisation trek, and has got to make us a stronger team when we are on the hill, rather than a group of disparate clients who are more concerned for themselves than their tent partners.
As with many funny episodes and anecdotes it is sometimes difficult for the humour to come across and often 'you had to be there.' So you may, or may not, be able to comprehend the funny side of following:
Giles has a bum bag full of games. Originally named the 'bum bag of fun' it is now the 'bag of bum fun' (titter titter). It makes us laugh every time.
Jen was telling us about her AA powered electric gloves (for providing warmth on the hill) and we wondered if Ann Summers may have a similar item but with different connotations? And what would be the implications of taking the wrong gloves to the South Col?
When asked 'whose is this battery?' Susan answered that it belonged in her bra! So electric gloves AND electric bras - hence the enigmatic smile.
Susan later managed to recreate a scene from Green Wing (when one of the characters is so moved by having her jubblies wobbled that she starts to sing an opera by Puchini) - and not only that, but it was full frontal (clothed) to the video camera that she didn't realise was recording. Youtube here we come!
We have also managed to come up with the theory for a solar powered head torch which is powered at night by a mechanism that is connected to the boots that generates light that shines from the helmet on to a photo cell which powers the torch. A Wallace and Gromitt style contraption - we have yet to make a working model.
Lastly Giles recounted a story of when he was younger and in some Scottish hills. Unaware that it would get dark at 3.30 in the afternoon his friend had left his headtorch in the car and Giles' torch had run out of juice - and they needed to read the map to be able to get down off the hill. 'No problem' said Giles and came up with the cunning plan of shooting the flash on his camera (pre digital) for them to instantaneously catch a glimpse of the map. The result? A purple rectangle imprinted on their retinas for the next 40 minutes. South Col with a flat battery? 'Don't worry Lakpa, I have a cunning plan ...'
But like I said - you had to be there at the time.
Just about to get the iPad and speakers set up and take in a movie so gotta dash.
That's all for now folks - but please keep the e mails coming in for the team - it's a tremendous boost. Or you can text your support to my mobile on 00977 98131 65232 and I'll pass on messages accordingly.
Ciao for now - Tim and Co
Sunday, 10 April 2011
Well so far so good. The usual exciting flight to Lukla and, being on the first flight, we were landed at around 7 and were having breakfast in Paradise Lodge by 07.15. Hit the trail around 9 and trekked to Monjo, stopping at The Everest Summiter Lodge along the way - which is run by Phendan Sherpa who I summited Everest with in 2005.
On to Namche the next morning for lunch and then on to Kyanjuma to stay with Tashi and Lakpa at the Ama Dablam View Lodge. Great friends and they looked after us a treat with fresh coffee and cheese toasties as well as a visit to their private chapel. Up to the Everest View Hotel for the usual spectacular view of The Khumbu. After lunch in Khumjung a few trekked bask to Tashi's whilst the rest of us went up and through the hidden staircase that leads up to the Mong La. Back down for tea and biscuits.
The following day was a reasonable trek up through Khumjung, over a pass to Thamo, and then on to Thame. Khumjung boasts the longest Mani Wall in The Khumbu and, strangely, two lampposts - one of which is in the middle of nowhere. We're now at 3,800m and so far we're all feeling tickedy boo.
Popped up to the monastery above Thame and had the most amazing puja this morning. The trek over to Thame and the trail up to the monastery are along spectacular paths amongst beautiful wooded hillsides. This morning we had the added bonus of walking along another spectacular Mani wall with some of the stones painted - a sight that you don't tend to see that much around other areas of The Khumbu.
We trekked on down to see a chap called Pasang Nuru who lost all his fingers and toes crossing the Nangpa La a while back and who now paints. And I tell you what they were absolutely amazing. A few of us bought various depictions of The Khumbu from the family and now we're back at Thame.
Probably going to take in a movie this evening on the iPad and then tomorrow we're trekking up the Thame valley and starting to gain more altitude. After a few days we'll be crossing the Renjo La in to the Gokyo valley and looking forward to some of the best panoramic views in The Khumbu from the top of the pass.
Monday, 4 April 2011
Friday, 1 April 2011
A quick turn around at the hotel, a fab Thai meal and a couple of sherberts at Sam's Bar before retiring, somewhat jetlagged, to bed at the Hotel Manaslu.
Having had breakfast and set some of the group off on their sightseeing tour I'm now sat in Java Coffee having a quick catch up with Kame, our Sirdar, so we can put the finishing touches to quite a complex logistical matrix.
Next stop is Iswari's office, our Kathmandu agent, for final paperwork and then some shopping for supplies.
Meeting the group shortly at Mike's Breakfast.