April 29 was a sad day. A Jeep drove up from Tingri to the Base Camp. Jim had packed all his equipment the day before, so he was ready when the Jeep finally arrived after 9:00am. We took a few more pictures and he was on the way to the Tibet-Nepal border. It is a long drive and he was hoping to cross the border the same day. I really enjoyed the last few weeks with Jim. He is a great person and I am sure that he is an excellent pilot. He is flying for over 40 years and it was nice for me as a hobby pilot to discuss some of the real flying issues with a very experienced pilot like Jim. Beside that Jim is just a very nice and helpful person with a lot of knowledge in many fields. He was a great climbing partner and I will miss him during the next few weeks on the mountain. The rest of the day was washing, taking a shower (!!!), shaving and relaxing. Luckily, the sun was out for a few hours and it was nice to conduct these “household” tasks after having been in freezing cold temperatures for over a week.
The whole team: From left Tshering, Urs, Pasang, Jim, Phunuru, Rames, Lhakpa
Last picture with Jim: From left Urs, Lhakpa, Jim
Sad moment – Jim is leaving us
April 30, The next day started sunny again, but a few hours later it was snowing. Well, the program was relaxing, eating and getting the physical and mental force for the next climb, this time the plan is much higher than 7,000m/23,100ft. So that is what I did on this day. I also did some reading and reorganizing. Three of our four Sherpa’s were gone for two days. There was a kind of gathering of all Sherpa’s a few miles down the road from where we had our camp. I am sure that they enjoyed themselves and I am glad to learn that they had a a good time together. They really deserve it because they do basically all the work on this mountain, even when some of the big expeditions like to take the credit for themselves. In my opinion, much more credit should go to the Sherpas. In most cases it is the Sherpa who gets the client to the top. There is some more awareness work to done and I hope that I can contribute a little bit to this topic in the coming weeks and months.
Sunday, May 1, was another sunny day and turned into a very windy day in the afternoon. Today one of my goals was to find the Memorial Plaque of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine. I realized fast that not many people seem to know where exactly it is. I had only a general idea. After looking around on many of the moraine hills, I finally found it. As you can see on the picture below, there is small plaque of the “original” one left as well as a newer one. As most of you know, Mallory’s body has been found in 1999 but the debate if he and Irvine have been on the summit in 1924 goes still on. I found it fascinating to look for these elements, especially since I am currently reading about the 1921, 1922 and 1924 expeditions. After this I shortly visited the stone hills of the many people that died on Everest. Expedition members or friends have built small stone hills for each person and encrypted the name on a stone. Some had simple stones, others had some memorial plaques. The rest of the day I worked on my blog and did some reading.
May 2-5. We are still down in Base Camp. The weather did not improve, the opposite was the case: Snow and wind, a little sun and then horizontal snow storms, short, but intensive. Good thing we are down at Base Camp. The goal is to eat well, sleep and get all our force to move back up as soon as the weather improves. Talking about food, Phunuru is such an excellent cook. He really makes sure that we are eating well. The other night he made fresh Momos, the night before a Pizza, and today we had Spanish Omelet for breakfast ( see pictures). What an experience! And specially, all these wonderful meals are made in a tent with a few gas stoves on the rocky Rongbuk Glacier! This is a real achievement. We are still waiting for a good weather window that will allow us to move higher in the mountain. As mentioned, we had a few small snow storms during the last few days and Everest looked very white for a few days. Snow means more hard work on the way up, but it could make the traverse at high altitude a little bit easier. However, it may be all gone once we will move towards the top because of the strong wind (today it was reported 85km/53miles per hour). The second reason why we will have to wait longer here is that the fixed rope has “only” been installed up to 8,300m/27,390ft because of the bad weather during the last week. So it looks that we will have to wait here until next week. But waiting is an important part of every over 8,000m/26,400ft mountain expedition. It helps improve safety and is also a good mental training. I personally feel good here and I am enjoying the time “off”.
Tshering from Tibet: Without him the Base Camp would not be the same.
A new day starts… How much more snow?
A Spanish Omelet to start the day
Freshly made Momos…
Momos nicely served – What do we need more?
In memory of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine.
Some stone hills and memorial stones in front of Everest
Mount Chomolungma covert in snow
Waiting to move up again… When will it be?