News: A Lull in the Action Eric Simonson - Basecamp Thu, April 19, 2001 5:00AM
This past week has seen weather and conspires to put the hold on progress. It has not been a waste of time, however. Instead, it has been a good chance for all of us, members and Sherpas alike, to take a break, get some good food and rest, and get psyched for the next phase of the expedition. We've also gotten a chance at playing host to our trekking group, which picked a good time to show up.
On April 13 Panuru and his team were able to carry again into Camp 5. We now have 7 tents and 54 bottles of oxygen up there waiting for our search and summit bids. Several of the Sherpas continued beyond Camp 5 and fixed to over 8000 meters. In the afternoon, the weather started deteriorating, and by the time they got back to the Col it was snowing hard. I decided to pull them all down, since the Col can get quite treacherous (due to avalanche danger) when the snow piles onto the lee east facing slopes. The next day, the 14th, was also bad, with more snow and wind. It seemed like a good time to pull everyone down. With the exception of cook Mingma and four Sherpas to make sure ABC didn't blow away if they weather got really bad, everyone came back down to BC.
It was good timing, because at the same time, our trekking team, led by Heather Macdonald, showed up at BC after traveling via Kathmandu, Lhasa, and walking four days from Tingri. It was great to see some new faces, receive mail and magazines, and get caught up with some old friends.
The last several days have been busy ones at Base Camp. Pemba tells me we have been going through 100 kilos of food a day feeding all the members, trekkers, and Sherpas! The kitchen at BC has been a constant source of amazement as Pemba, assisted by Padam, Tara, Kami, and the two Sherpa cooks with the trek (Shari and Nima) have been turning out a big variety of different dishes, along with pies, cakes, fresh bread, cinnamon rolls, muffins, and other taste treats for the team. The Sherpas, all dedicated carnivores, have managed to eat three whole dried sheep and about 30 kilos of yak meat in the last few days as they bulk up for their next trip up high. We also managed to go through six cases of Lhasa beer and two cases of Coke.
Now itís all up to the weather. For the last two days, winds at 8000 meters have been in excess of 100mph, based on our weather forecasts from England. The jet stream is just south of the mountain, and the upper slopes are getting blasted. There has been a huge snow plume blowing off to the east of the summit. This high wind of the last few days has scoured much of the snow that fell last week away from the North Face. In fact, all this high wind up is the best possible thing for us right now, as it will leave the upper mountain free of snow again.
Yesterday I initiated our initial search by sending Dave, Andy, and Tap, along with Kami and his crew, back up to ABC. Today the weather is still bad, so they are holding there at ABC rather than moving to the Col. Panuru and his team, along with JR, Brent, and Jake are still at BC, all ready to go. Our plan is for them to be a day or two behind the first search team when they move up.
So itís been a good week for all of us, as we took advantage of some bad weather to regroup and get fit, fed, and healthy. With a bit of a break, this next phase of the expedition should be exciting!