Acclimatization at ABC, 18.04-24.04.

18.04.2004 Rest at Advanced Base Camp (6400m/21000ft)

At 7:30am, when the sun hit the tent, it was -9 Centigrade in the tent; by 9:30am it was +23. The tent acts as a glass house.

Spent most of the day basking in its warmth and reading the book of the 1924 (Mallory-Irvine) British expedition.

At dinner Hugues told us on his attempt on Chomolungma a year ago, a twenty-nine year old member of his group had seemed fine, but when he didn't show up for the second breakfast at base camp they had found him dead in his tent.

19.04.2004 Walk

Went for a short walk above the camp.

Advanced base camp

A large group of Korean and Arun Trekking Sherpas climbed to the North col quite quickly fixing ropes. They are the first to reach it this year.

David took advantage of the calm weather to put his tent up on the North Col.

20.04.2004 Walk

David left after breakfast with a small load for the North Col. I walked up to the glacier below the North Col (6580m/21600ft), passing three very slow climbers on the way. One seemed to have no idea of how to move efficiently at altitude --- he would move very energetically for a few seconds and then have to rest. The others were merely slow.

Near the top of the walk.

When I returned, Pemba had arrived with the 13 yaks, to everyone's relief.

21.04.2004 Walk

Today I walked up to glacier in my double boots, and continued on to the start of fixed ropes (6650m/21800ft). I had promised to be back for lunch, and so was unable to go higher. Beautiful.

I met most of Brice's climbers including an Australian guide. They put on their climbing belts, so I asked them if they were going up the fixed ropes: no, their boss hadn't given them permission.

Most of the large groups have already roped off areas at Camp 1 on the North Col. David had accidently put his tent up in the area claimed by the Indians, and their Sherpas had taken it down. [But the Indians are a friendly lot and made their Sherpas put it back up again.]

22.04.2004. Puja

I had arrived at ABC with a cold and a bad cough, but to my relief I had recovered. Now my cough was, as David put it, no worse than anyone elses.

The Sherpas won't go up the mountain without having the puja.

I told Pemba that I hoped that this year's puja would be better than the last two, which had not enabled us to reach a summit, but he told me that the puja's purpose was to appease the gods so that they would not be angry with us. Since nothing bad had happened to us, they had been effective.

Several groups had their pujas today, and the Sherpas competed on who could get the longest run of prayer flags. Ours stretched across a small gulley, but another group ran their flags half way up a cliff.

Ang Babu, who had spent ten years training in a monastery, led the puja

After the puja: Chandra (cook), Pemba, Kancha, and the kitchen boy.

Normally on 8000m peaks, the large groups arrange to fix the ropes together and the smaller groups pay them for the use of the ropes, with part of the money going towards the cost of the ropes and part going to the Sherpas who actually put the ropes up. [The commercial groups promise their clients fixed ropes.] Today Russell Brice called a meeting to arrange this, but it broke up inconclusively with the Sherpas accusing him of pocketing the money intended last year for the Sherpas.

23.04.2004 Walk.

Kancha carried a 3-man North Face tent and some snow pickets up to the North Col.

I went for a walk to about 300m below the camp and back again. When I returned, some of the guides from the commercial groups were teaching their clients how to climb on the glacier near our tents.

The Sherpas from the various groups had their own meeting to arrange the setting up of the fixed ropes, thereby cutting Russell Brice out.

24.04.2004. Rest

During night it had snowed.

Although there are occasional snow storms, the winds cause the most problems on Chomolungma. Day after day the weather looks fine, but there is a plume on the top of Chomolungma indicating high winds. There are only a few days per year without high winds on the summit, and on many days the summit is in the jet stream. Up to the North Col the route is fairly sheltered, but above it is impossible to move when it is windy.

Today there were high winds and new snow, and so no one went up to the North Col.
After breakfast, Hugues and Maryse went down to base camp.
Tomorrow I plan to go up the North Col and sleep there.