As expected, the drive from Everest Base Camp in Tibet all the way to Kathmandu was an adventure it self. After an over 13 hours jeep ride in two different jeeps, on some challenging roads in the Tibetan High Plateau and on Nepal’s narrow roads, across some mountain passes of over 5,000m/16,500ft, I finally arrived late in the evening of May 15 in Kathmandu. I was tired but glad to be here and Kathmandu welcomed me with a Pre-Monsoon rain. Actually, this was fine for me since I have not seen any rain for over one month and the nice thing here was, the weather was so warm… Besides experiencing the bumpy roads, I had some very interesting discussions starting with Buddhism and the meaning of life in a place like Tibet and moving all the way to the basic discussions regarding the importance of excellent driving skills for a jeep driver on these demanding mountain roads in Nepal, situations we can rarely experience in our home countries. But what was interesting in both discussions, the underlying theme was respect: Respect of the other! Yes, there is so much to learn in almost any situation in this life!
Final medical check – and back to “normal” life…
The turning point…
I stayed one more day in Base Camp 5,200m/17,160ft and finally left on May 10 for the Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6,400m/21,120ft. The reason for this extra day was to make sure that I really had recovered from my cough and from the overall weakness which I felt since the beginning of the acclimatization period. While I was able to climb 6,000m/19,800ft and 7,000m/23,100ft peaks during the last few weeks, I never felt in the shape and condition I used to be on all other of my expeditions, including my 2011 Everest climb up to 8,600m/28,380ft.
So after ten days at Base Camp, I felt mentally ready to move up. For me, it was also a test to see if this recovery period gave me back the good condition I used to be in. The first day was OK, I reached Intermediate Camp which is about 10km/6,25miles away from BC at about 5,700m/18,810ft in about five hours, which was in the limits. I spent the night there and the next day I left early for the 12km/7.5mile hike along the “Miracle Way” up to ABC. First it was OK, but as higher as I came worse it got in terms of my strength and my cough. Actually, the cough came back and last, but not least, a strong wind came up and it started snowing. Well, snow and wind is part of any mountain climbing, but the other two factors did not fit my picture in terms of climbing the highest mountain in the world… It took me almost seven hours to hike up to ABC at 6,400m/21,120ft in these conditions. My mind went forth and back to figure out what this could be. My cough was hurting me and my legs gave me signals that something is not like it should be… I used my mental strength, moved up in the snow storm and finally arrived at ABC.
Coming down to Base Camp to recover…
April 29 was a rest day and I was very glad. Somehow I did pick up a very bad cough during the last few days. The cough was at times so bad that I got dizzy while hiking or climbing. Not a good thing to have up here! The next day we moved towards the North Col and the plan was to spend one night at 7,000m/23,100ft. I felt so bad that day that I had to turn back to ABC and Charlie suggested a move all the way down to BC, something that was also in my mind. One thing was clear, this cough had to go away and it was only possible at the lowest possible altitude, and this was at Base Camp at 5,200m/17,160ft. I hiked the 22km/13,75miles down to BC in two half days with a stop in Intermediate Camp.
Believed or not, while hiking down along the beautiful ice pinnacles, the ice broke while I was traversing a small ice filed and I got wet all the way up to my hips. Not a good feeling to be soaking wet up to the hips while having already a very bad cough! What to do next? Well, decision making was easy: Walking as fast as possible with wet pants, socks and hiking boots to the Intermediate Camp. Once there, we tried to try the pants, socks and boots as much as possible near a gas stove in the kitchen and the next morning I walked with almost try equipment down to Base Camp. During this long hike I had a Tibetan kitchen boy walking with me and helping me with my bag. What a great help he was!!!
Getting ready for the big mountain
On April 23, around 9:00am, our small group of seven people under the leadership of Charlie left Base Camp and we hiked up to Intermediate Camp. It took us about five hours, first along the Rombuk Glacier, then up the East Rombuk Glacer. We spent the night there and the next morning we moved up further along the “Miracle Way”, with many wonderful pinnacles. It was a long way up to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) and we arrived there early afternoon. The whole distance was 22km/13,75miles and a difference of altitude of 1,200m/3,960ft, I was glad when we finally arrived in ABC at 6,400m/21,120ft and I was very tired after these two days.
Acclimatization time in Base Camp April 17 – 22
The first night in the Base Camp at 5,200m/17,160ft was a cold experience. Welcome back to the Lombok Glacier area, were the days can be relative mild and the nights very cold. Our first day, April 17 was a rest day. Rest days are very important from now on because in the next few weeks we will climb up all the way to approx. 7,500m/24,750ft, and all this just for acclimatization reasons. Once we have been at these high altitudes and our bodies have reacted positively, (what is not always the case), we will come back to Base Camp and try to relax, eat well and recover from the high altitude experience. The reason for all this is that our bodies cannot recover above 5,200m/17,160ft, so staying as low as possible and get some physical and mental force for the next climb is very important.
The first rest day in K&P big dome tent was very nice. We have here real chairs, tables, heaters warm water, excellent food, huge tents for each climber, clean toilets and yes, even a shower…. So life at Base Camp in this environment is not too bad!!!
Beginning of the long journey
After a long trip and 9 hours waiting for a connection flight in Delhi I arrived in Kathmandu on April 7, around noon. On this day, there was a strike in Nepal which means no private cars on the route, so traveling to the hotel was a little bit easier than normal. I met that evening with Kari Kobler, the expedition leader and a Michael, climbing mate, who has arrived already earlier. Since I had still some extra days before the start of the expedition, I decided to visit Nagarkot, a village about two hours from Kathmandu in the foothills of the Himalayas. There were at least two good reasons to go there: (1) The village is at 2,100m/6,930ft which may help in terms of acclimatization and, (2) I was able to escape the smog and noise of Kathmandu. So Michael and I left on April 8 and spent two days in this beautiful area.
Welcome to my Seven Summit Blog – Everest Expedition 2013
Welcome to my Mount Everest 2013 blog. After Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, McKinley/Denali, Aconcagua, Vinson and Kosciuszko I will be back on Everest again this year. After my 2011 climb when I had to turn back at 250m/800ft from the summit (see 2011 Everest blog), and last year’s trip where I broke two ribs in a Tibetan village, I will be back on the North Side of Everest. I am excited to experience the mountain again and I am sure that it will be an exciting journey.
This year I will join the team of Kobler & Partner (http://www.kobler-partner.ch/en-home.html), today the most experienced and successful expedition company on the Everest North Side. Kari Kobler will be the expedition leader. He has summited Everest five times. We will be a team of six climbers and I am convinced that it will be an exciting journey which will start in Kathmandu. Once all the equipment is checked and the visa cleared, we will leave Kathmandu on April 11 and fly to Lhasa, Tibet, where we will have a chance to explore this interesting city and do some acclimatization hikes in the area. A few days later we will travel overland across several high mountain passes (over 5,000m/16,500ft) towards the Chinese Base Camp, our final destination. Along the way we will see some interesting towns, do some acclimatization hikes and take some rest days. From Base Camp at 5,200m/17,000ft the expedition will start up the East Rongbuk glacier to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 6,400m/21,000ft. From there the real climb will start.
Please follow this blog if you are interested to learn more about the expedition in general and the progress made on an ongoing basis. I will try to provide you with updates as much as the conditions will permit. However, conditions are not always predicable in Tibet and especially at and above 5,000m/16,500ft. Nevertheless, I will try to share with you as often as possible along the way my feelings and impressions as well as many pictures. This will be again a long and exciting journey into Tibet and back to Nepal. I am looking forward to meet again Chomolungma, “Mother Goddess of the Universe”, how Mount Everest is called in Tibet.
As on all my long trips, it is the journey, not the destination!
And once again, I would like to share with you my most important motto:
Reaching the summit is optional – Getting down healthy is mandatory.
Enjoy the blog!!!