Everest April 2006 – Blog and Diary

27 April 2006

Zopkios crossing a bridge

Zopkios crossing a bridge

Back at Base Camp

Back at BC after two nights up at Camp 1. Camp 1 is at the top of the icefall at 6000m and at the start of the Western Cwm. We had good clear weather and could see all the way up to the Lhotse Face and even the summit itself. We went for a walk to Camp 2 having set off at 6am. In order to do this we had to wake up at 4am to start melting snow. There was a very cold wind blowing from the north and after two hours Ben decided to turn round back to Camp 1 having gained enough height for acclimatisation purposes. Tom, Mike and Geoffrey continued to Camp 2 before turning round back to Camp 1. The icefall is truly breathtaking – huge seracs (blocks of ice) and seemingly bottomless crevasses to be negotiated on ladders (sometimes several ladders tied together). We have some great video footage and photos… The plan is to rest at BC for a few days, time to wash, eat and recover, before heading up to Camp 2 for a few nights. This will allow us to acclimatise to the higher altitude of 6400m before again returning to BC. Last night the wind picked up considerably and although the day dawned bright and sunny, it is still very windy. We hope the wind will drop before we next go up. Thinking of you all, Ben and Tom. PS we probably won’t have any more news until end of next week (May 6 – blogmaster) when we come back down to BC from Camp 2.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Situation update


As you may have gathered, the blog at the previous address has been down for some time now and with it looking unlikely that the site will ever get back up I have decided to create a new blog on this website.
Tom and Ben seem to be doing well, settling into the Everest routine. There has been a lot of snow recently, postponing forays into the icefall. The other major news is the sad deaths of two sherpas who died last week when a serac collapsed.
The picture, left, (from explorersweb) shows a climber making progress through the icefall, which gives a good idea of how treacherous it is.

The other drama at the moment of course is the political situation. It’s quite a sobering to realise that if Tom and Ben had gone with the same company and same route as they had in 2004, they would have got themselves caught in a the crossfire of a gun battle! Adventure Peaks reported last month how they stumbled into a skirmish on the way to Tibet, the gateway for routes up the North Face. Fortunately no one was injured.

At the moment, King Gyanendra appears to have bought some time with his offer to re-instate Parliament. But the situation is still very unstable. Rubbish is piling up in Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu. And the only means of transport out of the city open to climbers at the moment is by chopper. Hopefully, by the time Tom and Ben return, things should be up and running again. If not, it’s reassuring to know that everyone values the tourists, even the Maoist insurgents.

The story so far

Picture above shows Everest, far left, and surrounding mountains taken from the west. This is the view the boys would have got had not snow conditions prevented them taking their originally planned route to BC.

Beautiful sunny day today with small amount of snowfall last night. Tom washed his hair and had a shave from Tim with his cut throat razor – he did a good job considering it was Tim’s first attempt! Minor cuts!!! Feeling clean. There has been an unusually large amount of snow fall for this time of year but now things are looking up. Yesterday we ventured into thew ice fall for the second time and went up to 5700m. Some very large and exciting crevasses were crossed on rickety ladders – Ben has it all on film! Tomorrow (24th April) our group (Tom, Ben, Geoffrey, Andries and Doctor Mike) will set off at 4.30am to spend a couple of nights at Camp 1 at the top of the ice fall. This will take about 5 hours. The following day we will climb to camp 2 before returning for another night at camp 1 and then come back to basecamp to rest on 26th April. It is hard to send emails and updates due to weather and poor battery charging facilities. Sue (Henry’s wife) has arrived at basecamp and will be updating their site at if you are hungry for news while we are up the hill!

Morale is still high and looking forward to next push to camp 1. Missing you all at home…

Sent 20/4

Playing monopoly in the mess tent at BC due to lots of snow (foot and a half in past few days). Tomorrow (Friday 21st) will head to Gorak Shep and maybe go up Kala Pattar to avoid sitting in tents for yet another day. Weather set to improve in two or three days when we hope to head towards camp one. Solar panels not fully working due to snow and lack of sun. Hope to email more frequently soon. All the best Ben and Tom

Sent 19/4/06

Hi Tarks… In haste due to batts…
Last night it started snowing at base camp and has not yet stopped. We are digging tents out and its probably snowed about a foot. At least we are not stranded like the Jagged Globe team at camp one. We think the snow will delay things until the sun comes out again and the route through the ice fall is made good again. We had hoped to go further up the ice fall tomorrow but this now looks like it will not happen for a while. Yesterday we went up about 300m and crossed some huge crevasses on wobbly ladders. Great fun. Morale is high. Love to all. Tom and Ben

Sent 16/4/06

Arrived at Base Camp on the 14th after a walk through stunning scenery. We ha to change our original plan to go over the Cho La Pass as there was too much snowfall, so we went the “normal” route in, up towards Island Peak to Chukung where we went up a few little peaks to acclimatise before turning round back to Dingboche to go up the valley gaining a lot of height at Lobuche and Gorak Shep. Lobuche was full of people, trekkers and climbers and we nearly didnt have anywhere to stay until we found a few spaces in a bunkhouse full of porters! Base Camp is in a spectacular position at the foot of the icefall which tumbles down from the Western Cwn which will be hidden from sight until we reach the top of the icefall. As we approached BC it was impossible to know that the Western Cwm existed and we imagined how hard it was for the early pioneers to know which way to go. We have our own tents at BC pitched amongst the glacial moraine, and we all share a mess tent. Fourteen tonight in the mess tent, and its the best place to be especially when the heater is on under the table! Today we had our puja ceremony which is to bless all the climbers and sherpas on the mountain. A lama came from Pangboche to coonduct the ceremony and we all sat in front of the altar listening to the chanting and looking up to the mountains. It was a cold day and we were happy to get up and throw rice and flour up to the gods while prayer flags were raised to bring our prayers to the mountain gods. Every so often we hear avalanches thunering down the sheer mountain sides around us, but we are at a safe distance from the debris! Tomorrow we go up into the icefall for the first time to practice our crevasse crossing on ladders that have been rigged by the icefall doctors (sherpas whose job is to establish and upkeep the route trhough the icefall). We will only be going for a few hours before coming down again. The next time we go up we may go all the way through. We are both in good health and look forward to being able to give you more news in a couple of days.

Sent 7/4/06

When we arrived at the airport to fly to Lukla it was a mad rush. People everywhere, jostling for their places in the queue. We passed through the xray machines and were frisked not very well! We quickly boarded an 18 seat plane and flew 30mins to Lukla, about 12,000feet in the hills to start our trek. I realised upon arriveal that I had left my SLR camera at the Xray machine! I thought I had lost it for good. One phone call later on a radio phone and it was found and put on the next flight up! I am a lucky man – proof that the Nepalese are good and honest people! Ben and I walked on to catch the others up at the Mount Kailash lodge. We were slower than them as we were doing a lot of filming along the way. That evening we met the legendary Kenton Cool (who is leading the Jagged Globe Expedition who are sharing our Everest permit) We played cards, swapped stories and drank too much hot lemon! That night it rained heavily and we were relieved in the morning when it had stopped. A damp and cloudy morning gave way to a bright sunny day. The track followed the river with several fun crossings over swaying suspension bridges before we started a long, steep, dusty climb up to Namche Bazaar, an ancient trading town at 3,400m which now serves the trekking industry with many lodges and lots of building work. We were to spend two nights here to allow our bodies to acclimatise to the altitude.
After a good nights sleep we woke to bright clear skies and took the opportunity to go up to a viewpoint to see Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam bathed in sunshine. After that we went for a 6 hour walk up a valley to gain a bit of height before descending again to Namche. Tomorrow we will set off again towards Dole, a village 8 or 9 hundred metres higher than Namche. It will be a tiring day and we will probably start to feel the effects of the increased altitude with inevitable headaches.
As we walk on the dusty paths we come across tiny villages and the children come running to us asking for bonbons or pens! Woodsmoke and the smell of pine fills the thin air adding to the atmosphere of this wild place.
Morale is good, this will be the last update before Base Camp, so we’ll update you then.

Sent 4/4/06

Our gulf air flights were delayed and forced to wait 9 hours in Muscat (Oman) Really dull and not much to do but then flight eventually came in and we arrived at 10.30pm. It took a further hour to get visas sorted. A poor little girl behind us was being sick into a bag – obviously had eaten something dodgy! We were greeted by Iswari’s team and driven to Hotel Thamel. The others are staying in Hotel Vajra the other side of the river. We had to pack our basecamp bags last night as they were being flown out by chopper to bc today. We finally hit the hay last night at 2.30am and were woken to the bustling sounds of KTM this morning at 7am! We can’t quite believe we are back here again! We met with our good friend Inaki for breakfast (a well known Spanish climber who has climbed 11 of the 14 8000m peaks – this time he is climbing Mansalu and possibly Kanchejunga if he has time) We fly to Lukla tomorrow to begin our trek to BC. Moral is high.
We are not going bulk standard way to stay clear of the crowds and also because we get much better views of Everest bu going over the high pass – we also will aclimatise much better.