Mountains

My father was an outdoor education teacher, both my parents are avid lovers of the outdoors. I compled a ten day mountaineering course in 2008 and have been getting high ever since.

Cabin Fever

As I reported last, we were initially happy when Mal found his missing half meter of snow yesterday. However, we were less than pleased to see it continue, and continue, and… Last night tent poles broke under the weight of the onslaught. Bish and I woke every hour or so to bash the walls of the tent clear of snow. Towards early morning our bashing became more enthusiastic, yet futile, as the tent became almost completely buried save for a small pyramid at the very top of the dome. Poking our heads out of a small gap at the front vestible like two confused meercats, we were met with a post apocalyptical world of white: here is my impression of what we saw:

Cabin Fever part 2

One word to describe 7 men sleeping in a teahouse, Farty. We woke to, you guessed it, more snow. Mal went down the hill a bit to check the conditions but soon he was back with grim news. The steep slopes we struggled up to get here are now all packed with snow and ripe to avalanche. The team at high camp have yet to surface and we have serious concerns for their safety. I am sorry for the lack of jolly metaphors but really, we are ready to be lower, on the move again and off this damn hill.

After lunch, the following day we decided move, we heard that a team have pushed a trail halfway up the hill to us and are sure that this is as good as it will get to move lower.

A short highlight reel of what followed:

-We beasted ourselves down the glacier to Tagnak to be met by a jolly team of French climbers, also suffering cabin fever, but waiting to go up.

-Eat, take some photos of the mountain, sleep.

-Cruise down the valley trying no to dwell on nasty rumours flying about of the fate of the other team up high.

-Get to Khote.

-Set up tents

-Email family members to say Hi.

-Buy Pringles chips and bliss out in the sun writing this.

We are going to tackle the pass tomorrow and hopefully get to Lukla by the 21st, or there abouts. In the meantime I will be washing my skanky, oily shoulder length hair and attempting get my jolly-metaphors back.

More soon.

Note: This blog is a recollection of my personal adventures. I maintain this blog purely for my (and hopefully your) entertainment. I have resisted the urge to re-tell unconfirmed stories of peril, frostbite and death up high. My lighthearted approach to story telling should not be confused with a blase philosophy, or flippancy about others’ traumas. Should any of the unconfirmed reports that we have heard prove true, my heart truly does go out to those affected and their families. If you want actual news about what recently happened on Mera Pass, or the entire Himalayas due to this storm I suggest you look it up on a reputable news station.

Ben – forced rest days

Forced rest days

In my last update I said that on rest days Mal would be looking at weather forecasts, scratching his head and trying to find the missing 1/2 metre of snow we were promised. I am pleased to report that he has found it, on our tents this morning. We have been forced to abandon plans to leave Khare today due to a dump of snow the likes of which would have opponents of Global Warming Studies rubbing their little coal mine owning hands with glee.

The snow is so deep and persistent that we have abandoned plans to tackle Mera Peak- anyway, who wants to trudge through waist deep snow for eight hours for a 360 degree view of whiteout? Our plans to continue up the Hinku Valley and over the pass may also need revising as this could prove too dangerous for our porters. We may need to backtrack to Lukla (where we started 10 days ago), then continue up the Khumbu valley (past Ama Dablam) to Island peak, then retrace our steps to tackle Ama Dablam. The main concern with this plan is that a few of our team (I won’t say who) have said they got nervous upon seeing a picture of this mountain. Upon seeing the beast in person they might well scuttle off down to Namche Bazaar with a little yelp to spend the rest of their time here at the “End of the World Bar”, drinking Khukeri Rum….at least they would have warm hands and feet, and possibly even a crackling yak dung fire to warm themselves near. What am I doing here again?

Blue toes and happy (cold) feet!

Ben

Ben – Meet the Team

So day ten on the trail I have realised that I have yet to properly introduce you all to our team … how rude of me, but considering I am the kind of host who always assumes because I know everyone at a BBQ that everyone else should be allright, this is no surprise. So, introducing our intrepid little team:

Mal Haskins

Our illustrious leader, Mal is a professional mountain guide based in Wanaka, NZ. He is the guy guilty of introducing me to mountaineering in 2009 and the chap whose humour and gentle (sometimes not so gentle) encouragement got me up and back down Manaslu in 2011.

Bish

Andrew Bishop or Bish. Prior to this expedition, I last saw Bish at Univeristy in Hobart, Tasmania where wine cask roulette on a rotary clothes line and nicking roadworks signs was the height of entertainment. Despite his 194cm frame and size 50 boots, Bish is proving to be a most agreeable bloke to share a tent with: he appreciates the need for organisation, loves a joke and does not snore.

Dave (or the Hobbit)

Our shortest and possibly most witty member \. Dave is a British doctor who has been based in NZ for the last two years. He joined this expedition on his way home to marry his long term partner in crime Rach. I have thoroughly enjoyed trekking with Dave as we both love a good nerdy medical chat and are both keen explorers. Everyone is working hard on convincing Dave that his current scraggly beard would look smashing in wedding photos (sorry Rach). Dave is still trying to figure out what to do when he grows up…my kind of guy!

Harry

Fresh out of Uni, Harry is a talented rockclimber who is trying to decide where to direct his energies. Mal and I (and the rest of the crew for that matter) are probably the last people you want in your son’s ear during this time, “Be a climbing bum…” “Don’t worry too much about collecting stuff…” Enjoy life bro…do whatever makes you happy.” Harry is a proper Brit, he loves tea and speaks in an awesome grumbly Cambridge accent.

Shaun

A fellow Tasmanian living in Legana, Shaun is a quarrantine officer with a brilliantly droll Aussie humour about him. Despite his slender frame Shaun eats for two people. Every night we check our oxygen sats with a fingertip monitor, and everynight, between shovelling impossible amounts of carbohydrates into his face, Shaun beats our readings with a ridiculously low pulse rate and an oxygen saturation which suggest he is a sea level, not at 5000 meters above.

Brendan

A Canberran who works for Heward Packer, Brendan helps to manage the Australian Taxation Department’s Interweb space thingy – despite enthusiastic questioning, he cannot give me access to adjust my tax rates! Being an IT dude, Shaun loves his tech. He has a monitor set up at his work linked to his SPOT tracker (like mine on Redrucksack.com) that tracks his progress. When I said he should have changed the “Checkin- Okay” message to read, “How’s work going Bitches” he was gutted he didn’t think of this first.

Rest days

Rest Days

If you have been following my blogs (and why wouldn’t you?!) to date you would probably have realised that there is more to climbing big hills than booking a ticket to Kathmandu and strapping some gear (and tins of spam) to a yak, then staring down big, steep slopes with icy blue eyes while making ridiculous understatements into your Go-Pro, “It’s a bit cold…a bit steep here…”

No – getting to the start of a climb in a fit and jolly state can be half the challenge. Rest days are crucial to success. As I write this I am in Khare (5000 meters up so be gentle with my speeling. and Grammer!). It is sunny and all the boys are sitting in a circle fiddling with gear, or reading a book and making new red blood cells by the thousand. Being a rest day we got to sleep in today, 6:30am – oh the luxury – after lunch we are going to stroll up to the glacier to test our crampons and rope skills before retiring to spend the rest of the day relaxing:

-I will be feeding my Suduko addiction

-Bish will continue to read his cinder-block sized Sci-Fi book while stroking his increasingly biblical beard.

-Mal will look at weather forecasts and try to figure out why we are not getting the 1/2 meter of snow we were promised.

-The Brist will drink tea as I tease them about their cameras lacking a panorama function (losers!)

-Shaun will eat any carb in sight and Brendan will chill out, fiddle with his techy things and try not to dwell on all our eccentricities.

Following our rest day we will be moving to base, then high camp at Mera Peak before attempting a summit. After the climb we have an epic climb/trek down to Decaca (spelling?) so likely this will be my last update for a while. Even if I did post a bloglikely all I could manage would be, “Cold, miss Jette, hungry, tired…call me a WAAAAMbulance!” so I will save up for a more lucid post when we are all back and intact after our first challenge of this three mountain expedition.

Meanwhile you can watch my SPOT map on www.redrucksack.com/ama-dablam to track our progress.

Blue skies and happy feet

*Note: These being sat phone update I cannot share photos, but the mountains around us are truly amazing, something like this

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