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  Mt. Everest 2005: Martin Minarik: Chinese Base Camp opened early because of me.


Cho Oyu Copyright© Jason McMillan

Update 3/31/2005: ABC, Cho Oyu.

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.

Martin Minarik

Dispatches

 

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