Sunset on Shishapangma from 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
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.
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.
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,
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
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 skin, dry eyes, dry dust, dry humor.
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.
porter, two drivers, two sherpas, four climbers, all coming together to 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.
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!
It took us
eight days to get to base camp. Now we can climb.
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.
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.
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
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
the river accidentally, and everybody laughed. They are a
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.
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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