What is meant by high altitude? Some "formal" medical definitions:
My plan was to make only two trips to ABC. On the first I would acclimatize by spending two nights at Camp 1 on the North Col and climbing to 7500m, and on the second I would attempt the summit.
Packing up: Kancha and Pemba are at right; the group at left are weighing everything.
By 9am, everything was packed, and we were about ready to leave, but there was a problem: the TMA said we needed 13 more yaks than Thamserku had paid for, and someone would have to pay for them. Since each yak costs 990 yuan (about $120) we needed $1560. The four of us had already split the cost of a $500 garbage deposit between us [to our amazement, we got it back at the end of the trip], and we weren't prepared to pay an extra $1560. Eventually, it was decided that Pemba would stay behind with 13 loads and would arrange with Thamserku for the extra yaks.
[When I got back to Kathmandu, I asked Mr Rai about this, since it is a
common problem not only for Thamserku's groups. He said that the TMA
tells him the yaks can carry 45--50kg, and that he had arranged things
accordingly. However, at base camp the TMA insists the yaks can carry only 40kg. This, he said,
was a scam by the TMA to extract more money.
Incidentally, the Tibetans were willing to carry 20kg to ABC for about $20, i.e., for about one third of the price per kilogram that the TMA charged for yaks. Of course, the TMA tried to prevent them doing this.]
We finally left about 1pm (David is in the white hat).
ABC is 24km distant from base camp and 1230m higher, and so we stopped at an Intermediate Camp. [The British had two intermediate camps, and so ABC is their Camp 3, our Camp 1 is their Camp 4, and so on.] David and I arrived at the Intermediate Camp at 5pm, and had a very cold wait until the yaks arrived at 6pm --- fortunately, I was carrying my sleeping bag. Within 5 minutes of their arrival, the Tibetans had their tents up and a cozy fire of yak dung burning inside. We were much slower.
Today we followed a moraine ridge between seracs.
[The moraine was actually only a thin layer of rubble on top of the ice of the glacier.]
A yak, probably carrying 45-50kg
Higher up, Everest came back into view.
More of the strange scenery
Today the yaks beat me to the camp site --- they are slowed by neither altitude nor steep slopes.
When I dropped some crumbs at ABC, I was surprised to see this tiny bird come and eat them.