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  American Autumn Shishapangma Expedition 2005: Convergence at Shisha Basecamp

Sunset on Shishapangma from Base Camp


From Monty:


Base Camp.  Wow, it feels great to be here.  BC is on a large plain with small streams running through it.  There are a surprising number of adult Tibetans, plus children, goats and sheep running around. Both the adults and children have been eyeing all our gear, and we’ve heard to be careful with leaving stuff out.


The drive from Xigatse was over a couple hundred kilometers of slow and dusty construction, as the Chinese are putting a new road over the 5252m Gyatso La Pass.  We spent the night in Tingri, about which one team member described as a dusty sh*thole.  I took exception to that, as it wasn’t dusty (the wind wasn’t blowing).  Then across the plains to base camp, arriving by noon, where our sirdar, Pratap, and cook, Dorje, were waiting for us.


There’s been a major screw-up regarding tents.  We were informed that the outfitter was bringing them and frankly weren’t sure whether they were coming from Nepal or Tibet, but in any case, neither one brought extra base camp tents (or dining tent for ABC, or sleeping pads). Pratap assured us he brought everything he was supposed to and that the 'local outfitter' (in this case the C/TMA) should have brought them.  We called the C/TMA on the satphone and Mr. Nema immediately agreed to bring it all to Tingri.  He'll try to get it on the next expedition going to base camp but in case there is none, he'd like us to pay the $100-200 it'll cost to drive it in from Tingri.  Since we've already paid and it's their error, we don't feel we should have to pay (especially after they extorted an addition $2200 from us at the last minute!).  So we should have extra tents in a few days, and until then we're using some that Pratap brought from Kathmandu.


I've begun meeting the other groups, there are a number of expeditions here at BC, and one as far up as Camp2.  The teams ahead of us may fix the mountain above C2, which would simplify things for us,



From Val:


Kilometers of road: dirty road, dusty road, bumpy road, road with many stream crossings, hundreds of kilometers of dirt roads, a few kilometers of paved road, dry road.


Road, soldier, dog, hermitage, nunnery, bridge, stream crossing, dust, rainbow, greetings, beggars, musicians, sky, rain, yak, goat, sheep, horse, river, children, stones, wheat, barley, mask, clouds, concrete, ruins, driver, cook, porter, liason officer, power, generator, earth, puja, Buddha, lama, expeditions, four wheel drive, air.


Dry air, dry skin, dry eyes, dry dust, dry humor.


Dry, at-attention, Chinese, Tibetan, Nepalese, Sherpa, American, Italian, Australian, snow-covered, stray, dirty, bumpy, penetrating, bright blue, expansive, cool, permeating, silent, dirt, red, happy, small, natural, nomadic, eighteen, four, two, one.


One Tibetan porter, two drivers, two sherpas, four climbers, all coming together to form one team.


Form, stand, drive, play, fall, breathe, jostle, clean, eat, drink, smell, laugh, share, sleep, walk, learn, avoid, meander, construct, brake, stack, pour, inhale, observe, listen, occlude, communicate, remember, sing, coordinate, erode, build, shake, bark.


Barking dogs awaken us at 1 am in Tingri. Clouds obscure a view of Shishapangma for now; we have seen only the lower quarter of the mountain. Our base camp dining tent is becoming quite the 21st  century home with red plastic chairs, hot kala chia (black tea), our ibook, power supply, and music playing out our little speakers. We learn about each other, about Tibetans, and about Sherpas as we solve our unforeseen difficulties. Our sirdar Pratap is gentle and makes us at home. Our cook Dorje is small for a thunderbolt, but his first meal for us is great. Our porter/LO Bemba helps us solve our tenting issues with a call to Ngima. At BC, we are at 5024 meters--less than 3000 to go!



From Dave:


It took us eight days to get to base camp. Now we can climb.



From Eric:


Through all the construction mess, the brain-jarring, neck-wrenching road, we finally arrive at a plain that resembled what I thought Tibet would look like: expansive, desolate, beautiful, sun-dappled tan hills with short grass, occasional Tibetan herders in the distance, rectangular dirty-white mud brick buildings with surprisingly big windows.


After setting up camp through the other things the others have mentioned, I had a little interaction with the locals, who in every basecamp around the world, are a presence.


Unpacking some of my luggage, I found that a pack of Clif Gel had exploded, and the entire bag was coated with the sticky goo. So I go down to the river with a whole bagful of Gu to wash it off. Of course this attracted the kids, who are interested in pretty much anything that goes on. They would laugh and point to a seagull, laugh and point to a crow, make caw noises, and would sit very close to me as I washed the stuff in the river. Occasionally they would beg for the tantalizing packages of Gu, but after a few times telling them no, they stopped begging and just were very happy and interested in what I was doing.


It took probably a half an hour to clean all the mess, and by then there were 6 or 7 kids there. All happy, curious, and quite filthy. One

stepped in the river accidentally, and everybody laughed. They are a

very happy bunch. We have to be a little firm keeping them out of the large dining tent, or they will be into everything.


Pratap is a very friendly guy, always smiling, clearly glad to be alive, and Dorje also is full of smiles. It will be a joy being here with them. Looking ahead, I ask Pratep about returning to Kathmandu (he and I will travel together), and he thinks "one day maybe". That sounds good.


There are yaks near camp now, returning from carrying a load up high, the solar system is working great, the satphone worked great (thanks Mike!), and I am looking forward to climbing.



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