Everest North Ridge
Departs: 8th April 2019
Leader: Di Gilbert
I have hijacked the blog from our formidable leader Di didi. We left the luxury of base camp for interim camp on the 21st. Di came a little later after doing final negotiations with the Tibetan Yak handlers but to be fair the Yak handlers didn’t have a chance and for once there was very little negotiation. What a star!
The walk to interim felt long and we all felt the altitude. The route was straight forward but we all finally felt like we are on this magnificent mountain.
We arrived at camp in what can only be described as bleak, cold and miserable weather. But as always the Sherpa team had made it as comfortable as possible.
After a long night we had an early start as the Yak handlers needed our big bags. We were told 7am for bags. However, the Yak handlers were a bit early but Di was quick to point out 7am means 7am. They quickly backed off.
We set off for advanced base camp 6500 metres approximately. It felt like a very long walk which got harder and harder with each step and the lack of oxygen. Nick was thinking what am I doing here. Paula was thinking when will I eat next and I wasn’t thinking. We arrived almost together at camp which never looked so good. With less than half of the available oxygen to breathe we were breathing heavily.
After our first night in our new home and a few headaches and restless sleep we are resting today.
We can see the route up to the North Col but right now it’s a struggle to walk to the wee tent. Hmm!!
Near disaster in the dining tent last night when the Sherpas got a bit overly excited pouring the Cognac over the sizzlers and then lighting a match. Not a normal hazard when mountaineering but ….
We asked each team member what their most prized possession is at this moment in time:
Kirsty – her phone which has one very special photo of her family on it.
Paula – the Adventure Peaks news updates since she knows her family are reading and knows she is well.
Nick – a hard decision between the Daddies brown sauce or his phone with the family on it. In Nick’s words – like Brexit, 51/49% for the phone.
Di – a stupid bit of orange string around her neck that was blessed in Lhasa from the Llama.
The LMAX rugby team arrived in camp in good spirits so nice to see some friendly faces.
Brace yourself but tomorrow we are starting our journey upstairs. We say goodbye to luxury and are looking forward to reducing the every expanding waist line and popping headache pills. To be a high altitude mountaineer you have to be comfortable in suffering. Our suffering starts tomorrow.
Next update from ABC in a few days.
Last night’s evening entertainment – Guardians of the Galaxy – big thumbs up.
It was so quiet last night that you could hear your neighbour snoring. We awoke to a beautiful morning in CBC. No wind and no clouds.
After breakfast the big job was getting loads weighed with the yak men. It’s funny how a 30kg load suddenly becomes 35kg. Instead of using primitive methods we sourced the electric scales so no underhand tactics were used. In the end everybody seemed happy with the 20 yaks and their 800kg loads.
Nick, Paula and Kirsty continued with their acclimatisation walks whilst Di and Phurba dealt with the loads. After this, Phuruzee did his best trying to not kill himself by setting up the base camp radio.
Phursemba, Norbu, Dawa and Pemba have now moved to intermediate camp before continuing onto ‘upstairs’ – the cool term for ABC.
It’s going to be a big day tomorrow since the LMAX rugby teams arrive so Team Summit have all agreed to be team host for the day. This has nothing to do with the fact that it’s 28 new people to meet.
Far more important is that we are no more stinky mares – all very relative but having not had a hot shower for over a week the feeling is truely fantastic. With the sun out there has been a line of people waiting for their bag of hot water. Wet wipes are great but they have their limits.
Good news – We made the correct movie choice last night – a bit of Mission Impossible which got a big thumbs up from the Sherpas.
When we retired to our individual palaces it was full on blizzard conditions. We are learning that Di and Kirsty can sleep through a storm whilst Nick and Paula can’t. In fact the first sign for Di that it was windy during the night was in the morning when the first casualty of the trip was evident. Thankfully it was just the toilet tent which had blown over.
Last night was by far the coldest night so far with wet wipes, water and so on freezing, but once the sun comes up things start to thaw out. After breakie it was time for our Puja. However since it was still blowing a hoolie we had it in our store tent. Stu says it’s the first time he’s known an indoor Puja so it must have been windy! After numerous offerings to the big man upstairs a quick dash outside for more offerings before getting blown back inside for more offerings. Offerings generally consist of chocolate, rice whisky, beer, coke and more beer. You get the drift.
CBC is a bustling hive this morning with lots of yaks arriving to start the moves up to ABC. With our Puja done this morning our Sherpas are busy getting themselves ready for the long march to ABC which will take place tomorrow for them. They will do this in one push whilst the mortals in the team will take 2 days.
The team are now sorting their personal equipment and high mountain food ready for the move to intermediate camp and then onto ABC. After lunch we did our radio checks and Kirsty and Paula checked the high altitude chambers are working.
It’s still blowing hard in camp and although it’s like standing on the Cairngorm Plateau it does mask the various boom booms coming from various team tents. We’re British so that obviously wouldn’t be happening from our tents
There is no electricity in camp today having been damaged by the wind which is causing much distress since this might curb this evenings entertainment. Oh, the trials of CBC life.
We made a poor movie choice last night – Fight Club. Not quite sure what the Sherpas made of it. We have said from now on only family fun ones to be shown!
It snowed last night at CBC, but not to be deterred we went for an acclimatisation walk up to 5700m this morning. We managed to get up and down before the clouds rolled in thankfully.
Everyone is doing well. There have been more people trickling into base camp today and it sounds as if the route to ABC is getting established.
Yesterday the team left New Tingri pretty early so that the CTMA guys could get back to Lhasa the same day. A lovely drive over a high pass at c.5200m for some breathtaking views of Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Shishapangma. We arrived to Chinese Bass Camp to be greeted by our Sherpa team. We spent most of the day just pottering around, mainly working out how the telly works with hard drive ready for the evenings movie. Our conclusion of day one is that we have far too much food to eat and far too much movies to watch.
Chinese base camp is pretty quiet to be honest but as the days pass more climbers will start to trickle in.
Today (Tuesday) is our first whole day in CBC. The weather pattern is generally nice, clear and windless in the morning which gradually mings out by 11am. Nick, Kirsty and Paula went for a morning stroll down to the caves whilst Di and Phurba start to get wheels moving for the logistics.
Mixed comments about ABC – some say lots snow others say no snow. One thing for sure, Everest certainly looks white. No news of the fixing team yet.
For an expedition of this size there is loads to do so in the afternoon we sorted out the high mountain food – trying to work out how much you think you will eat and how much you actually eat is one of the biggest challenges. We plan to be at CBC for a few days now – gently getting our bodies used to the higher altitude – base camp is at 5200m.
Our Puja will be held on the 18th and the following day some of our Sherpas will start to move up the mountain and start preparing our Advanced Base Camp. In the meantime we will do our best to work our way through the food and movies.
We are all doing well
Despite numerous rumours about there being no access to Tibet and banned operators, here we are starting our journey through Tibet – congratulations to Adventure Peaks on their 18th Everest Expedition via Tibet and the North side of Everest. Today is day one of our journey towards base camp leaving Lhasa (3,600m) for Gyantse, our overnight stay at 3950m. We took the old road to gain valuable acclimatisation as this takes you over several of Tibet’s high passes at around 5000m. The Kampala La gave us beautiful views of the turquoise lake Yamdrok Tso, one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. Karo La was our high point of the day at 5010m before dropping down to Gyantse (3900m) for our overnight stay. Despite the 7 hour journey we have still been able do some short acclimatisation walks to stretch our legs. Tomorrow we head to Xigatse, the second most important city in Tibet.
It’s the girls flying the flag today – Paula, Kirsty and Di started the day with a mooch around the very famous Potala Palace. Without doubt the hardest part of the day was walking up the bazillion steps to get into it – bit pathetic really since we are here in an attempt to climb Everest. It’s not the most relaxing experience being squashed with lots of other tourists in what felt a bit like, getting in and getting out as fast as possible, but it is brilliant to see it first hand. After this we headed to the Sera Monastery to watch the Buddhists debate and see lots more sculptures and statues. An overload of culture which probably isn’t a bad thing as we prepare for our journey tomorrow to Gyantse.
10th April – The great news is that Nick, Kirsty, Paula and Di have made it to Lhasa – with all their bags. It was raining cats and dogs in Beijing, grim in Kathmandu and toasty warm in Chengdu. The temperature in Lhasa is pleasant and being nearly 3600m in altitude everyone is sucking air. Everyone is slightly jet lagged and are relaxing now ready for a day of power sightseeing tomorrow.
9th April – Di sent a quick email to say the team had successfully arrived into Chengdu. They have done a little bit of sightseeing and will be flying to Lhasa in the morning.