April 14, 2011
Chinese Base Camp
Today was a lazy rest day at CBC. The yaks arrived in the morning and were loaded with some of our gear for the trip to Advance Base Camp. They left for ABC in mid-morning. I finished my third book and started my fourth.
This was probably the prettiest day since we arrived at CBC on April 11. The air was crisp and cool, the skies were bright blue and were adorned with puffy white scattered clouds. For most of the day, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the entire North Face of Mt. Everest. I was able to see clearly the Second Step, where I turned around last year, just a few hundred feet below the summit. I thought back to May 23rd of last year when I made my decision in the blackness of the cold, blustery night to head back down to Camp 3. For most of the day, there was only a slight wind blowing off the top, making this a perfect summit day if only we were closer and the lines were fixed by the Chinese.
I feel terrific. I have an excellent appetite, I am sleeping well and I have no symptoms of altitude sickness, e.g., headache, nausea or loss of appetite. However, I long to start moving up the mountain. We plan to start our move up on April 17. More on that later.
Yesterday, we had some excitement to break up what would have otherwise been a boring day. Doug and I walked a couple of miles down below CBC to visit the famous Rongbuk Monastery and have lunch at the tent city across the road. After visiting the monastery, we ordered lunch at one of the tea houses in the tent city. After we finished lunch and were presented the bill, we realized that I forgot to bring my wallet and Doug had only US dollars, Nepalese rupee and Argentine pesos, which are no good at the establishments in the tent city. So, we sat there plotting our strategy to extricate ourselves from this predicament. Doug’s plan was for me to excuse myself from the tea house to find the nearest bathroom (essentially any open area outside the tent city). Then, Doug would bolt from the tea house and
we would hightail it back to Base Camp. I had a better idea, ala Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I would exit the tea house, commandeer the nearest motorbike and pass by the tea house at high speed at which point Doug would jump on the back of the bike and we would speed back to BaseCamp, ditch the bike and take refuge in our tents. Alas, our fantasies were destroyed when David and Mingma showed up and paid the bill.
On the way back to Base Camp, Doug and I approached the entrance to Base Camp. At the entrance, there is a small checkpoint manned by two Chinese police officers that look to be about the age of my youngest grandsons. They sit in a small room all day behind two wooden desks chain-smoking cigarettes and trying to find some way to pass the time. Their job is tocheck to be sure that everyone who enters Base Camp has the appropriate permits. In practice, everyone ignores them and passes by the checkpoint without stopping or presenting credentials or permits. It’s never a problem. Unfortunately, Doug was walking ahead of me, out of ear shot, and he was headed straight for the checkpoint. I thought to myself, please Doug, please, don’t enter the checkpoint or speak with the officers. Sure enough, he headed straight into the checkpoint and introduced himself to the
officers. For the next hour and a half, we pleaded, begged, cajoled and gestured with the officers, who could not speak any English and had no intention to let us through without seeing our names on a climbing permit. I am positive they knew exactly who we were and that we had all the right permits. But, we broke up their boredom, gave them the opportunity to exercise some authority and otherwise made their day. Finally, David showed up and quickly walked past the checkpoint. I flagged him down, explained our problem and asked him to send someone down from Base Camp to rescue us. Soon, the cavalry arrived and we were allowed to pass through. (I am sure you all recognize that these silly stories I pass along are the product of too much time with too little to do)
David and I have worked out our climbing schedule, and it is set forth
below. We will leave CBC (17,500 feet) on April 17 and arrive at Intermediate Base Camp (19,000 feet) on the same day. On April 18, we will leave IBC and arrive at Advance Base Camp (21,000 feet) on the same day. We plan a rotation up to Camp 1 on the North Col (23,000 feet) on April 21 and will return to ABC on the same day. We have our Puja at ABC on April 22. The Sherpas will not sleep on the mountain until the Puja has taken place. After the Puja, the serious climbing begins, and it is set forth on the schedule below. Of course, all of this is tentative and is totally dependent on weather, conditions on the mountain and line-fixing by the Chinese team.
One last point. The feedback I have been given by Sharon and Lisa is that you prefer written reports over the audio transmissions. So, I will send written reports whenever I have access to the internet.
DAY-BY-DAY ITINERARY FOR EVEREST CLIMB
06-04-11 Bus to Tibet; drive to Zangmu (2350 meters). Hotel and meals
07-04-11 Drive to Nyalam ( 3750m) Hotel and meals
08-04-11 Rest in Nyalam (3,750 meters). Walk around the local hills. Hotel.
09-04-11 Bus to Thingri (4,342 meters). Hotel.
10-04-11 Rest in Thingri
11-04-11 Drive to Chinese Base camp (5200meters). Camp.
12-04-11 Rest in Chinese base. Organize equipment and supplies. Camp.
13-04-11 Walk gently in the hills surrounding Chinese base.
14-04-11 Rest in Chinese base.
15-04-11 Rest in Chinese base.
16-04-11 Rest in Chinese base. Organize equipment and supplies. Camp.
17-04-11 Walk with the yaks halfway to advanced base to interim camp (5,800meters).
18-04-11 Walk with the yaks to advanced base (ABC) at 6400 metres. Camp.
19-04-11 Rest in ABC.
20-04-11 Rest in ABC.
21-04-11 Walk to Camp 1 North Col (7000m). Return to ABC.
22-04-11 Rest in ABC.
23-04-11 Rest in ABC.
24-04-11 Walk to Camp 1 North Col (7000m).
25-04-11 Walk to Camp 2, sleep at ABC
26-04-11 Rest in ABC.
27-04-11 Rest in ABC.
28-04-11 Rest in ABC.
29-04-11 Walk to Camp 1 North Col (7000m).
30-04-11 Walk to Camp 2, sleep there.
01-05-11 Walk Down to ABC.
02-05-11 Walk back down to Chinese base.
03-05-11 Rest in Chinese base.
04-05-11 Rest in Chinese base.
05-05-11 Walk to Intermediate camp
06-05-11 Walk up to ABC.
07-05-11 Rest ABC
08-05-11 Walk to Camp 1. Sleep there.
09-05-11 Walk to Camp 2, sleep there.
10-05-11 Walk to Camp 3, sleep there.
11-05-11 Attempt summit if conditions allow. Descend to C1
12-05-11 Attempt summit if conditions allow. Descend to C1
13-05-11 Attempt summit if conditions allow. Descend to C1
14-05-11 Packing in ABC.
15-05-11 Walk to Chinese Base Camp
16-05-11 Drive to Zangmu
17-05-11 Drive Katmandu
18-05-11 Fly to Base Camp