Update 3/31/2005: ABC, Cho
Chinese Base Camp opened
early because of me. TMA normally open April 5 but they were reasonable. I
think what also helped is that Inaki Ochoa tried to climb Shisha in the winter
and the Tibetan L.O. had to spend most of the winter in Nyalam. He was so glad
I did not have any interest spending the night in Nyalam. Acclimatization by
driving in the car is certainly fast as well as very dangerous. My head could
tell the story in the morning after the first night in Tingri. I decided to
stay 3 nights, enjoyed hospitality of Tibetan family which runs the simple but
clean lodge. I can not say the same about dinning. None gave me any
explanation why climbers and trekkers are forced to eat in Chinese "holes". I
can not use the word restaurant because it would not be appropriate. And the
food being served in these outfits ( again, these are Chinese restaurants in
Tibet) is the most disgusting and awful I have ever tasted. Maybe TMA should
look at this. The only meal I had with Tibetan family was simple but good and
offered with smile. Chinese businessman in Tibet never smile !
This year TMA LO for Cho Oyu
is the same fellow we had on Shishapangma last fall. His name is Dawa. He is
Tibetan from Lhasa and always very helpful. We left Tingri on typical day of
this time of the year. Clear sky and windy as hell. The same truck which
carried all my gear also brought TV & satellite for Dawa and others who will
spend the season at not very nice spot called Chinese BC, organizing yaks for
climbing expeditions under Cho Oyu. The road is fairly well maintained -
certainly not for climbers. Nangpa La which is with short distance from Cho
Oyu is the best escape route for Tibetans who simply can not take it any more.
And naturally Chinese military is trying to slow down this exodus.
I was glad to be out of
Tingri since my cook - Temba Sherpa could start his job and overdose me with
ginger and garlic, two tickets for prompt acclimatization. 7 yaks and couple
yakmen showed up - exactly as planned and we left for the mountains. First day
we pretty much followed the military road for about 5 hours. Yaks are funny
animals. They do not go too fast but they keep the same speed through the
whole day. And it is not so easy to keep up for person who just got to the
mountains from low altitude.
Weather changed, it got very
cold and windy. Yesterday morning, I just pulled my down jacket and mountain
boots which I use on 8000m peaks. By the mid day, regular blizzard arrived and
yaks were leading us the path they know for hundreds of years. On the way, we
met several yak caravans returning from Namche Bazar on the Nepali side of
Himalayas. There is usually one yak-man on every four animals. Nothing has
changed these highlanders, dressed in clothes I would not leave for afternoon
walk in the middle of summer. Jeeps and mobile phones - their lifestyle will
not be changed by anything.
It took us again about 5-6
hours to reach the spot which is known as Advanced Base Camp. The altitude is
anything between 5500 - 5700m. Night was extremely cold with temperatures way
below minus 20C inside the tent.
What is nice about Himalaya,
when it is really bad, then suddenly it gets better. Sun showed up this
morning, wind calmed down to almost nothing and we spent another great day in
the big mountains.
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