Well, I’m all alone at Advanced
Base Camp, apart from 2 cooks and Paddy, our newly named porter. We are not
sure what Paddy’s real name is, but he has become the new life and soul of the
group. He appeared about a week ago down at Base Camp where he started
bringing in hot water and soup. Lukpa our head Sherpa described him as a
‘Tibetan Hardman’ but really he is far from it- he has a great smile and is
always up for some craic!
The 6 summit climbers set off
this morning to spend their first night at the North Col. The are intending to
spend the night sleeping at 7030m, before climbing up to the next camp at
approximately 7700m, tomorrow. They will climb straight down without spending
the night at this high camp, and are due back to ABC sometime tomorrow
afternoon. The plan was to leave this morning at 10 o’clock, after a hearty
breakfast of you’ve guessed it- porridge, eggs and pancakes. The team managed
the hearty breakfast but the 10 o’clock departure was a bit more elusive.
Perhaps the boys were still running on Fermanagh time, and departure was
closer to 11 o’clock (and no, Fergal was not the last to be ready)!
The mess tent was spread from
one end to the other with crampons, water bottles, chocolate bars and climbing
harnesses. Each climber claimed that they could not fit another thing into
their rucksacks, and by the time they had packed in a huge down sleeping bag
and coat there was room for nothing else. Jonathan was even heard trying to
convince a Sherpa to carry his sleeping bag! Paddy came in at this point,
lifted Neill’s rucksack with his little finger and threw it up and down,
laughing at how light it was. If you consider that on the way to ABC Paddy
probably carried close to 4 stone, he probably did think it was light. Paddy
was already laughing hard at this stage, when Neill tried to put on a clean
pair of socks. As soon as Paddy caught sight of his white knees, that just
finished him off- he had to go into the cook tent to recover, and I haven’t
seen him since!
After numerous cups of tea,
and grunts to try and fit everything into tiny rucksacks, the climbers were
ready to set off. I have to say that they resembled a bunch of Duke of
Edinburgh Bronze Award Participants on their first hike, with cups and water
bottles hanging off their rucksacks.
I was half hoping for a day
where I didn’t need to speak to anyone, since living in such close proximity
to 6 hairy climbers is enough for any girl. My plans for a day curled in my
tent with a good book were soon destroyed. No sooner had the guys left, when I
heard a shout for the Northern Ireland Team. I was descended upon by not one,
but two other teams who had just called in for a chat- and incidentally if I
could fix it, an oxygen mask. So much for a good read and peace and quiet!
Several cups of tea later, and one fixed oxygen mask I finally got some peace.
By that stage it was of course time to write this blog. I hope you have not
been too bored by my recounts and I promise Neill will be here to entertain
you again in the next few days. Now all I have to do is remember how many
degrees the satellite phone needs to be tilted at, which direction it must
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