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  Canadian Mt. Everest 2005: Kathmandu and Camp One


©EverestNews.com

Update: Kathmandu and Camp One

Sean and Harold reach Camp One

Diary by Terry Kell and Harold Mah

Kathmandu (Terry Kell)

We left Gorak Shep yesterday and left Mount Everest far behind us. The helicopter was late arriving so we played a game of Frisbee with the sherpas. We had a great time and we left them the Frisbee. The helicopter was an old Russian warhorse and it flew us back to Kathmandu on the most spectacular ride I have ever been on. We felt like we were in an Indiana Jones movie as we descended and spiralled down the mountainside with some of the world’s most stunning scenery flashing by the windows.

Now we are back in the guest house at Kathmandu where we first stayed and we are enjoying hot showers, flush toilets and comfortable beds. We are still waiting for the hikers to join us – Lisa, Yvan, Katie, Keith, Chris, Dave and Wayne – and when they get here, on the weekend, we will have a celebratory party.

Our thoughts are with Sean and Harold because we know the level of comfort they have on the mountain.

Camp One (Harold Mah)

Sean and I have climbed to 19,370 feet – Camp 1. We gained 1,720 feet in an 8 hour climb and we are absolutely and utterly exhausted. When we arrived here we collapsed asleep in our tent until we were woken by the sherpas with tea and cookies. And, the most amazing thing! I had my tea while feeding cookie crumbs to a sparrow! I have no idea what a sparrow is doing up here at almost 20,000 feet, but Mother Nature has a way of reminding you about your precarious frailty.

Sean has found the altitude has upset his taste buds and everything tastes very acidic, so he’s having trouble enjoying his food. But, other than that, we’re both well.

Neither Sean nor I have ever done anything before, as stupid or as dangerous as crossing the Khumbu Ice Fall. It has so many challenges that it just beats the energy out of you. It’s totally physically and mentally exhausting. You have to deal with the altitude, the crevasses, the heat and dehydration, the cold and the wind. You’re climbing, jumping, descending, scrambling, using every muscle in your body and hanging on for grim death. It’s the wind that is so challenging. One moment it’s calm and warm in the sun; the next a wind storm has picked up from nowhere that threatens to throw you down the nearest crevasse.

The ladders across the Ice Fall were not as intimidating as we feared. The longest was 5 aluminum ladders roped together vertically and was a fairly safe climb. We passed huge ice boulders that you think will roll over you at any moment but seem to stay attached to the mountain.

The temperature has plummeted from +27 degrees (it was extremely hot and sunny today) to 0 degrees in 2 hours and we have been sleeping in our down jackets, in our sleeping bags, in our tents. The wind is so strong that it’s lifting the tent right now and it seems like only our weight keeps it from flying away.

I have gained so much new respect for the Sherpas today. They carry tons of gear up and down the mountain and they were having races down the Ice Fall. They did not even wear crampons; they just slid down the Ice Fall.

Camp 1 is quite different from Base Camp. We are perched on beautiful blue ice with excellent views of Mount Everest. Tomorrow, we’ll climb halfway to Camp 2. It should be a fairly safe climb up the slopes of the mountain and will be nothing like as hostile as the Khumbu Ice Fall. But then we go back to Base Camp, through the Ice Fall!

More later

Terry & Harold

Terry Kell is returning to Kathmandu, with most of the expedition party and they will return to Canada within the next 7-10 days.

Harold Mah is staying at Base Camp to support Sean Egan when he makes his summit attempt in May.

Dispatches

 

 

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