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  Canadian Mt. Everest 2005: The sherpa highway


©EverestNews.com

Update: Wednesday 27th April, 8pm. Everest Base Camp
(EST is 9 hours 45mins behind Nepal)

Diary by Harold Mah

Sean and his climbing sherpa have made their way back to Gorak Shep where they are resting before continuing to the Snow Lion Lodge in Dingboche. I have not managed to speak direct to him so I don’t have an update on his health.

I got back to Base Camp after a five hour descent down almost 4,000 feet with my sherpa. We descended through 80 degree heat, a couple of snow storms, thick fog and weather that varied from warm and sunny to cold and gloomy. On the way down we bumped in Gabriel Filippi, who we had met at Base Camp, who is starting an acclimatisation ascent and plans to spend the next six nights on the mountain. Rather him than me!

I never thought I’d be happy to see my little Base Camp tent again but after three nights on the mountain it was a real pleasure to collapse back in it again. To celebrate our return to Base camp the sherpa cook made me my favorite meal – Nepali dumplings. When I was young my parents fed me all sorts of strange and spicy Asian food which I grew to love and it’s paying off in Nepal. I just love the meals the Sherpas serve!

Tomorrow I will be having a welcome rest, washing clothes and showering! Our replacement cable has also arrived so I will try and fix the system and pick up all my emails, once again.

Base Camp is very quiet now. Most of the teams have their climbers on the mountain, at various stages of acclimatisation, so there’s lots of space to move around. It’s a strange thought to look up at the mountain and realize that there are so many people perched on the side, sleeping in wind-battered tents, sub-zero temperatures and with little oxygen. All hoping that the conditions in the next month will give them a window to get to the top. A lot of the Sherpas accompany the climbers too and it’s made me realize the strength of the “sherpa highway”. There are no yaks or helicopter rides above Base Camp. Everything that is taken up the mountain, in readiness for an assault is carried by the Sherpas. Our food, kerosene, oxygen tanks for the higher altitudes, folding tables, collapsible chairs and tents are all carried on the back of a sherpa. It’s quite phenomenal. The highway also acts as a communication system as bits of information are shared between the Sherpas as they pass each other on the mountain and at the camps. So, they quickly know what’s going on, with each party.

The weather is starting to warm up a little. Spring is coming and the nights are not quite as cold. We can have half an inch of snow in an hour but it melts quickly and there is now some flooding in the lower parts of the camp. As I lie in my tent I can hear water running and gurgling somewhere deep underneath the ice. It’s great to be back.

More later, Harold

Dispatches

 

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