Shishapangma from Base Camp
11-Sep-09: Hello Summit Climb news
readers. Thanks for following our Shishapangma expedition.
Today we woke to tea brought to our
tents, and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Skies were cloudy in the morning and
we could not see much of the mountain.
After breakfast we walked up the
lateral moraine beside the Shishapangma glacier and tried to see if we could
reach "camp half". It's a very long walk on moraines before one needs to cross
the Shishapangma glacier and climb up to camp 1, therefore we plan to set up
tents at "camp half" in order to better acclimatize and break what would
normally be a very long day into two more reasonable ones. At least, until we
get acclimated, that is.
By noon we had reached a large plateau
in the moraine, and we figured it would take us an hour to cross, and that we
had gone far enough. So we descended back to ABC for a delicious lunch of
cheese pockets, salad, stir-fried veggies, sardines, and baked beans. After
lunch we hung out in the tents, relaxed, played cards, told stories, and
Today winds were light, with
temperatures ranging from 5 to 18 degrees C.
Today we were up early after "bed tea"
for another one of our expert cook Kipa's satisfying breakfasts of porridge,
pancakes, toast, omelettes, ham, and fresh fruit with tea, drinking chocolate
The team had a busy morning, reviewing
each member's personal climbing equipment, making sure their crampons fit
their boots perfectly, that everything was in order on their harness,
including ascender, descender, belay device, ice axe, and slings.
With six members from six different
nations, there are always different ways of doing things and that makes these
kinds of expeditions much more interesting and a learning experience for
everyone. After reviewing our equipment, we packed our rucksacks with
approximately 1/2 of the total weight of all of the personal stuff we will
need on the mountain and headed up the hill. We plan to bring the other half
up in a day or so.
We wandered along the Shishapangma
moraine and passed yesterday's highpoint. We continued along, traversing some
well-dodgy and rather rugged mud cliffs, with a fair amount of boulder
hopping. The entire way we followed an, at-times, difficult to follow track
marked by the occasional rock cairn or stone sentinel.
Finally, at 3:45 we ran into our two
pro-sherpas: Gyelzen and Jangbu, who had no difficulty at all persuading us to
drop our loads behind a boulder on a flat plateau above the Shishapangma
glacier. The sherpas told us that our chosen "camp half" was another 90
minutes away, at the base of the crossing point for the Shishapangma Glacier.
So we loaded the contents of our sacks into the kit-bags we had brought
specifically for the purpose and locked them up tight.
We noticed an obvious path heading up
slope above us, travelling toward ABC, although appearing to cross an obvious
scree hill. We headed in that direction and before climbing the hill, filled
our water bottles in a stream draining a high snowfield. After crossing the
stream we stumbled upon a massive rubbish-tip, strewn with hundred of blue
glass bottles, rusty tins, and ancient dried food envelopes.
On one side of the tip we found many
metres of 7mm steel strapping. Not sure what this could have been for, except
for tea-packing cases? Obviously a very involved cleanup effort is in order at
this location near "camp half" at 5860 metres/19,200 feet. Anyone interested
in joining in?
So, after viewing this despicable scene
of environmental degradation, we followed the obvious track up the hill,
reached a plateau and traversed at the level of 5950 metres/19,500 feet for
about an hour. The weather was clear and sunny, the best yet, winds being only
mild, and temps hovering around the 10-15 degree C mark. We marched along this
high plateau and the footing was excellent, with many flat shale rocks pressed
into the mud. We crossed a few occasional rivulets, following stone markers
placed every 200 metres or so, which led us down to a secret lake, hidden just
above advanced basecamp. A steep scree slope drops into one side of the lake
and a grassy marsh forms a crescent round the other side.
Walking to the downhill edge of the
lake, you can sit quietly and watch the winds trifle and play with all of the
tents of the various teams in ABC.
After sitting and marveling for 15
minutes, we strolled along a bucolic stream and arrived in our ABC at 5:45
p.m. Kipa and Chumey greeted us with hot lemon drinks and fresh fruit. After
changing into more comfortable clothing, we enjoyed an enourmous tea of home
baked pizza, pasta, fresh green beans, russian-salad, mashed potatoes, and
warm bowls of tinned fruit.
Well friends, thanks
Today we rose and enjoyed our tea and
breakfast. Then, Haris, Alejandro, and Richard decided to hoof it up to "Camp
Half" with the sherpas, while Bart, Karsten, and Dan chose to remain in ABC
and relax, taking hot showers and getting shaved and doing laundry in the 17
degree C warm sunshine with no wind and perfect visibility, no clouds.
About 9:45 a.m., a member of a
neighboring team walked into camp to say their team member was injured. We
went over to check it out and found him laying against a boulder in the team's
Apparently he had been walking,
carrying a fully loaded rucksack, along the Shishapangma glacier-moraine trail
when he came upon one of the many loose sections, stumbled and fell, striking
his side hard against a large sharp boulder. He said he heard a crack as he
We examined him and he seemed to have
quite a bit of pain in his side and said that he felt a "clicking" each time
he attempted to breath. He said whenever he coughed he had severe pain, but
was not coughing up blood, nor did he have any blood in his urine. We assumed
a broken rib and urged an immediate evacuation, because he was still able to
walk. Who knows if he could still walk in 12, let alone 24 hours? He said he
wanted to wait until he was really sure his ribs were broken, before going
down. He said that climbing Shishapangma was the most important thing in the
world to him and he was holding out hope that there might be some way he could
We called our very polite, friendly,
kind doctor Haris on the radio (who was at that very moment walking across the
plateau at 5950 metres/19,500 feet with sherpa Gyalzen) and Haris said he
would examine the fallen climber when he returned this evening. He asked if
the climber's vital signs were stable, and the team's radio spokesman said
they were, so that bodes well.
We will keep you up to date as soon as
we know more! Best wishes from all of us
September, 2009; We
awoke early to our miracle-working cook Kipa bringing us hot tea whilst still
in our sleeping bags. During the night, snow fell, and there was a dusting all
about under grey skies. Everyone seemed to feel better, so during our yummy
breakfast, we all agreed we would move up to ABC.
Slowly our little
interim camp was packed onto the backs of the yaks. The woman yak driver who
had felt poorly last night seemed to feeling much better, so our little
caravan set out into the green hills above the Shishapangma river.
We walked across hill
and dale, and spotted occasional old campsites, and masses of unique alpine
plants fed by the monsoon moisture. Truly this was an amazingly beautiful walk
through the higher reaches of the Tibetan plateau. We were all feeling the
altitude now, so really took our time with lots of rest breaks perched atop
Rounding a bend we
caught site of our ABC nestled in a moraine valley beside a stunning glacial
lake fed by the massive terminus of the Shishapangma glacier with its frozen
parade of giant ice pilgrims.
We are now comfortable
in our tents in ABC at 5610 metres/18,400 feet. We are blessed with some great
staff and superb equipment and especially soaking up the pleasures of one
spacious sleeping tent for each member, so you can really spread out!!
Thanks for following our
Shishapangma climb. More news tomorrow!!!!
September, 2009 : Today we
awoke early, and had a quick breakfast while many helpful yak drivers took
down the dining tent around us. We got all 20 of our yaks loaded and even tied
on the Alpine Ascents ski bag from Olympia, Washington. We packed all of our
tents and gear and negotiated the cost of the yak transport, and then we
headed up valley, across the grassy rolling hills of the Tibetan Plateau, and
entered a gorge, where we found a comfortable bench the size of a football
pitch upon which to set up a small impromptu "interim camp" at 5346 metres/17,534
Skies were grey and it
was a long walk with some elevation gain and a couple of members were feeling
the altitude, so they took a little diamox (acetylzolamide) and drank lots of
One of our yak drivers,
a woman from the local village, pointed to her chest and made the motions of
breathing difficulty, so our doctor Haris checked her out for pulmonary oedema
using his pulse oximetre, but found none. Her husband thought the entire event
was a great novelty and could not stop laughing. Just to be on the safe side,
Doc Haris gave her half of a diamox tab and instructed her to drink a lot of
water. We learned this is her first trip up the valley this year.
Our amazing cook Kipa
fixed us a very delicious dinner and we went to bed early, to the sound of
snowflakes dusting the tents and tinkling yak bells all around us.
Hello SummitClimb news readers. Thanks
for following the dispatches about our autumn 2009 Shishapangma expedition.
Well, today was an official rest day in
4998 metre/16,000 foot high basecamp. That altitude is from the Thuraya GPS
We awoke to sunshine and light clouds
with warm temperatures in the 5-10 C degree range, and no wind, although it
did drop below freezing during the night, as evidenced by the heavy frost on
the tents and solar panels in the morning. We also woke up to the Tibetan
kitchen staff bringing fresh coffee and tea to our tents at 7:00 a.m. Then we
had a wash and made it to our comfortable dining tent for a delicious
breakfast of omelettes, ham, cheese, fresh paratha, porridge and juice.
After breakfast we walked up the hill
and wandered around in the foothills above base camp, where we were treated to
great views and saw many large Himalayan hares springing about. Our high point
was 5247 metres/17,200 feet; again according to the Thuraya satellite GPS.
We chose an alternate route to descend
from the hills and walked back along a crystal clear stream through grassland,
where we saw many small fish in the pools, and a myriad of birds, including a
surprise over-flight by a seagull, of all things. On the mammal front, we saw
marmots, and also pikas.
Back in basecamp for a delicious lunch,
we met up with some newly arriving climbers, including Edmund Spoden, who Dan
met on Mustagata and had no equipment and was kindly loaned everything by
Manuel Weber. We also met several climbers from last spring's Cho Oyu
We spent the afternoon charging
batteries with our generator, washing clothes and taking hot showers. The yaks
arrived late in the evening and their drivers set up a tent in the evening
next to our dining tent, then the yaks laid down all around our tents and it
looks like we are camped in some sort of a zoo.
Well, today was a very relaxing day
with a bit of exercise and good food. Tomorrow we plan to walk up to interim
camp, so thanks for staying in touch and watching the progress of our
Earlier: Today we woke early in Tingri and said a sad farewell to our
Cho Oyu teammates. They are a great group of people and we will miss them very
much. It was super fun being able to hang out together all of this way.
We picked up Chumey, our loyal Tibetan kitchen assistant and then all of us
piled into two land-cruisers and we drove west, away from dusty Tingri, to the
base of the 4900 metre/16,000 foot Lalung La, then left the main friendship
highway behind to continue west. Suddenly the road became a rough-shod affair,
and our jeeps bumped along from rock to rock and rut to rut. At times, the
road disappeared altogether and we found ourselves crossing grassy meadows on
Upon veering off the highway, the Tibetan Plateau came to life and we saw all
sorts of new types of vegetation, lush grasslands, many stunning types of
birds, even the very rare sight of a majestic Lamergeir bird sitting beside
the road eating a rodent, looking ever so much like a massive golden eagle.
This bird, though perched, would have easily risen above my knee, and I am 1.9
metres/6'3" inches tall.
After crossing the secured gate into the Shishapangma Core Zone, it felt ever
more like we were in a remote wilderness, dotted with tiny Tibetan villages
nestled humbly beneath enourmous grassy-rocky hills. Next we traversed the
valley floor, and wound our way past the expansive and deep blue Pelku Tso
Lake, which lies in all of its enourmity at 4590 metres/15,000 feet.
Turning up a side valley (by the way leaving the "main" highway to sacred
Mount Kailash) we followed a crude track to a cluster of tents and were
relieved to see our remaining staff of Jangbu, Kipa, and other Tibetan Kitchen
assistant Tsewang (all of whom had driven up here with the equipment truck
directly from Nyalam to establish this basecamp) waiving and beckoning to us.
We said good-bye to our friendly and patient drivers, and dove into the
already set up dining tent for a delicious tea. Then we moved into our
comfortable sleeping tents for a rest followed by a delicious lunch.
It's very beautiful here at 5000 metre/16,000 foot-high basecamp, with a light
rain falling, and temperatures around 18 degrees. So far our objective Mount
Shishapangma, "Goddess of the Grasslands" has shyly secreted herself behind
snow-laden clouds, but we know she will show her face sooner or later.
Tomorrow we plan some acclimatization rest and a light hike of a few hours.
Thanks for following our expedition!
Earlier: 7 September, 2009:
Dear SummitClimb news readers,
Today we left Tingri and drove to Cho Oyu Chinese basecamp. This is just a 2
hour drive from Tingri, located on a riverbank at 4918 metres/16,100 feet.
When we arrived at basecamp, it was already set up by our awesome staff and we
were welcomed with hot tea and coffee. After this Samdien, our Tibetan cook,
prepared a delicious meal for us. It was a welcome change from all of the food
we ate on the road to get here. Some members spent their afternoon doing a
small hike, while others just relaxed in basecamp.
Our yaks, the animals that are going to carry our equipment up to ABC
(advanced basecamp), will arrive tomorrow evening. This means we will probably
leave BC on the 9th and move up higher on the mountain.
All members are doing very well, they are all healthy and strong.
More news will follow soon.............
Arnold Coster Expedition leader
Earlier: Hi there Summit Climb News readers. I hope you are well and
thanks for following our dispatch for 30 August, 2009, for Cho Oyu and
Today was quite a busy day for us as we prepared for our
expedition. We awoke in our comfortable hotel and after a fresh morning rain;
the sun popped out and dried out the streets of Kathmandu. I love this time of
year here as it's so clean and the city is so well washed. It's very quiet and
peaceful as locals relax and assume a slower pace of life. Also there are very
few tourists here so the normally frantic 'Thamel' neighbourhood is nice and
We had a delicious breakfast at our local coffee shop then got to work
checking member's personal equipment and going over the gear list.
There are three special members of our LeaderInTraining
programme and they have been working very hard getting us ready for the
expedition. They are Adam Dixon from England, Gavin Vickers from Australia,
and Ry Fable from Colorado. Also in town are two of our expedition members
Richard Pierse from Ireland and Alex Macrae from Aberdeen.
We went around the "Asan" neighbourhood with our kitchen staff and checked
food prices and quality at three different shops, and then returned to
SummitClimb's Kathmandu office to make final purchase decisions. Our food
lists and cook staff are looking good, so we will be eating very well. Then we
went on to review the equipment lists and sat with the lead sherpa from each
to discuss every item on the list in detail, so we have things perfectly
We are bringing lots of equipment like ropes, tents, radios, medical gear,
etcetera, so we are going to be very well prepared. In the evening we met for
a delicious dinner at a nearby bistro which serves the most delicious Italian
food in a lovely cozy classy atmosphere, then had one nightcap in a nearby pub
where we ran into old friends who are in town launching their expeditions to
various mountains around Nepal and Tibet.
All of the best for now, thanks for following our news
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