It has been a long time since
you heard some news from me.
The human body is not
supposed to function at high altitude, let alone my laptop. The highest human
settlement is about 5000m in South America and I don't think they have
internet connection there. My laptop has been misbehaving and hence, the lack
of communication. But thanks to backup infrastructure, that allows me to send
this journal. We have now finalized our acclimatisation program and are
resting at Advanced Base Camp (5700m). I have been suffering from bronchitis,
commonly known here as 'khumbu cough', because of the dry air at this
altitude. We have been to the 'ice cliff' which is a huge cornice between Camp
1 & 2, at about 7000m. It gave us a sense of the route that lies ahead. The
mountain is getting very popular with so many climbers wanting to have an
8000m peak under the belt. Russell estimates that there are about 300 climbers
on the mountain. The weather has been cold and miserable as expected, because
we are shifting seasons from the monsoon to the winter.
I ran into my old good friend
Kinji Kundo, a well known Japanese guide and climber. I climbed Vinson
Massif in Antarctica with him 2 years ago. He came over to our tent to use the
satellite to send email and he gave us some Japanese treats which I consumed
on the spot.
Our members are in great
form. However, Francoise our 55 year old female dentist has decided to call it
quits, and she will wait for us down here, while we go for the summit.
All big expedition leaders
met here as we celebrated Patrick's 56th birthday. They all discussed their
plans for the summit push 'weather permitting'. Weather forecast favours the
23rd as our summit day "Inshallah". So this means that we head back up the
mountain for the final summit push the day after tomorrow (20th Sept). The
good news about this plan, is that we will be one of the first teams up,
leaving room for the busy crowd to follow our trail (some teams are still
arriving, as the case with my Japanese friend Kundo).
Prior to arrival at Camp 1,
you have to go up an ugly scree slope over 400 meters which is an exhausting
task and mind ***********. It reminds me of my nightmare on Aconcagua. I
shared a tent with Phuba Tashi (10 times Everest summit and he's only 34 years
old). He is the same Sherpa who short-roped me on my descent from the summit
of Everest after going a snow-blind.
Expedition life can really
take its toll. We are running out of books to read, and things to talk about.
Many miss their loved ones at home. I have to initiate some discussion with my
climbing mates to keep things interesting. Topics range from world political
views to aboriginal rights in Australia.
It's the waiting game now.
If I could invent an acclimatization pill that takes the human body from see
level to 8000 peaks, I'd be a rich man! It would save a lot of sitting around.
I hope to send
another journal before the summit push, if not I will notify Mr. Zubair at our
control centre in Dubai by Sat phone & or text updates of the summit
Till again, Cheerio
Sunday 18 September 2005 Cho
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