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  American Autumn Shishapangma Expedition 2005: Advance Base Camp - Advance Base Camp 18,500ft (5630m)

Sunset on Shishapangma from Base Camp


From Monty


It's interesting seeing each person's dispatches; especially the style each writer takes.  Mine tend to be very straightforward and climb-oriented (we're here, this is happening) and others take different approaches.  We hope you enjoy reading them and the different perspective each team member lends to the updates.


We've made it to ABC and will be living at 18,500ft for most of the next month.  I can't help think of my first international climb; El Pico de Orizaba in Mexico.  I reached this altitude (summit) stoked on Diamox and was gasping uncontrollably for air.  And now I feel pretty good, ‘living' at this altitude, on nothing stronger than gingko and aspirin. The team's generally doing well.  Aside from a case of the sniffles brought from the States, we've had no respiratory nor gastro illnesses yet.  Pretty good, considering that we're through the worst of the travel (Lhasa, Xigatse, Tingri, and Base Camp) and now we're in greater control of what we eat and to whom we're subjected (infected?).


Acclimatization is mostly going well, although we recognize we should have taken an extra rest day at BC, and we're paying for moving too fast with headaches.  Oxygen saturation levels are in the high seventies-low eighties, and we're taking a few rest days here before carrying to C1. Dave's the only one who's really been debilitated by reaching ABC, with a splitting headache and nausea yesterday, despite respectable ox-sat level.  Our biggest acclimatization problem is Pratap, our BC manager (or sirdar).  He moved from Kathmandu to BC in two days (about 10,000ft jump) and is suffering from severe altitude sickness, with ox-sat levels as low as high 50s.  He's staying at BC for a few more days and will come up with the extra tents that the C/TMA was supposed to have supplied. 


In the meantime, our cook, Dorje, is doing all the meal prep and cleanup himself, so we've agreed to each help at one meal; since I suggested it I've got first ‘duty' and will be his cook's assistant for preparing lunch.


ABC looks and feels just like a Himalayan BC should.  There are about

four big teams here, and it is placed right at the foot of the glacier leading to C1, adorned with penitentes that are multiple stories high! We're enjoying getting to know the other teams; there are Slovenians, Russians, Spanish, Italians, and many Americans.  Most everyone here is really, really nice and out to help each other as much as possible. Although the harder sections up high are getting fixed, it seems no one has fixed the route to C1 thru the crevasse field, instead just taking their chances on a (potentially deadly) fall.  We've decided we'll use our lines and gear (and Bemba) to fix this section, hopefully starting tomorrow.


-- Monty


-Eric's Post: Spent the day today relaxing, eating, and talking with other climbers at ABC. There around 7 teams here. Spent some time talking with Camillo from Boulder, a very interesting guy. He told us some stories about climbing K2, we shared the same places we knew in Huaraz, Peru, and a tragic expedition to Colombia. It is hard to believe we will be on the mountain for as long as planned, but we haven't actually started climbing yet. Another couple days, and it will be showtime.





Val's post: After almost two weeks away from home, yesterday we were finally hiking. Starting at 5000m of course. After days spent in airplanes, on couches in airports, touring new cities, and bouncing along dirt roads, we could finally stretch our legs and head toward the big, snowy, magnetic peak. Navigating partially by our map, partially from descriptions from others, and partially from the trajectories of yaks with 70 kg loads that were behind us, we made it to a middle camp. We then continued on to ABC when Bemba, Dorje, and our yaks appeared and told us it was only one more hour to ABC.


Mornings are good, as Shishapangma shows herself. Afternoons tend to cloud up, but the sun tends to peak in and out as we shed and replace layers.


We are settling in to some routines: one-wet-ones baths in the morning, tea at sunrise, washing water after. Tea time even when it is unexpected, like three quarters of the way through the hike yesterday when Dorje (our little smurf thunderbolt, with his bright blue warm hat with a bob on the top) appears with hot lemon and cups for us. Waking in the night once, twice, three or four times to tell us that we are well hydrated. Resting when our bodies tell us to, like when the headache at 5600m tells you to drink, sleep, and drink some more. Pulse-ox readings after every breakfast and every dinner, recorded to track our progress and help us stay self-aware.


There is also the mental preparation. Seeing the penitentes for the first time yesterday: they are awesome, and we will soon be crossing them many times. Seeing the route: tackling it one step at a time, one camp at a time. Sharing our thoughts, fears, and expectations with our team members. Beginning to talk and coordinate with our little community on the mountain. Feeding our addictions to the high Himalaya.




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