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  Canadian Mt. Everest 2005: Very happy Very strong.


©EverestNews.com

Update: Thursday 28th April, 8pm. Everest Base Camp
(EST is 9 hours 45mins behind Nepal)

Diary by Harold Mah

Sean and his sherpa are recovering in Dughla. They are both doing OK but plan to go on to Pheriche to get medical advice before coming back up the mountain. They want to make sure that they are receiving the best possible advice before proceeding.

Last night we had a dance party in our mess tent to celebrate my return, which was kind of bizarre. We had an eclectic mix of sherpa rock music, Nepali folk music and western rock music and we all let our hair down, a bit. My new name, from the Sherpas, is “Very happy, very strong”, and they take delight in grinning at me and calling out my name. I think it was the warmest night I have experienced at Base Camp because I managed to sleep without my gloves or toque for the first time.

Base Camp is very quiet. The climbers are coming off the mountain after their first acclimatisation ascents and are talking about the first summit window opening May 8th to 10th,  in about 11 days time. It’s an exciting and nervous time for everyone. The acclimatisation schedule seems to be to ascend to Camp One, where you spend a night, before having two nights at Camp Two, one night at Camp Three, one night at Camp Two and one night back at Base Camp. Then you head back down the mountain to Pheriche for what is called an “oxygen vacation” for a few days. When the climbers return to Base Camp they are ready to ascend again, hopefully all the way.

Today started as another sunny and warm day and after a fantastic shower I managed to get my laundry in hand, along with quite a few other climbers who had also returned off the mountain. We laid our clothes out on the rocks to dry in the midday sun, just before a snow storm swept in and covered us all in two to three inches of fresh snow. Consequently all my clean clothes are now covered in snow and frozen to the rocks! Unlike other days, this snow has not melted but hopefully it will and the clothes will thaw and dry before I need them.

It turns out that when we descended yesterday we missed a big collapse in the Khumbu Ice Fall when some of the seracs collapsed. Seracs are large isolated blocks of ice and when they dropped everyone was running helter-skelter for cover. No one was hurt, thank goodness, but one of the ladders that we’d previously descended was now hanging three feet clear of the ice, indicating the size of the fall a little while after we passed. The Ice Fall is a highly unpredictable part of the mountain and everyone is just pleased when they get through it safely.

A new party of climbers has appeared at Base Camp intent on climbing Lhotse, which at 27,939 feet (8,516m) is the fourth highest mountain in the world. Lhotse is connected to Everest by the South Col, a ridge that never drops below 26,200 feet (8,000metres) and it’s no less daunting than Everest.

Will Cross, the diabetic mountaineer who injects himself with insulin six times a day as he climbs up the higher parts of Everest borrowed one of my DVDs tonight – Vertical Limit, which is about a mountain rescue on K2. I guess he was just getting himself in the mood!

In an earlier blog, I reported that Willie Benegas was part of a shadowy group tangled up with hijacking and ransoming expedition mascots. I am happy to report that both the penguin and the giraffe have been returned to their homes, none the worse for wear, although I’m unable to tell you what ransoms were paid.

Thank you to all the people who have sent us emails – I managed to read them all today – from family and friends, to the school in Sherbrooke, Quebec to the folk in South Carolina, Eire and Taiwan. We don’t know everyone but we really appreciate all your messages of support and goodwill.

More later, Harold

Dispatches

 

 

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