Thursday 12 April

Base Camp


We got here on 10/4/12 afternoon. It is such a beautiful place with lots of scenery to enjoy. But it’s very high, almost to the height of Mount Kilimanjaro. There are lots of tents around from different climbing and trekking companies. The area looks like a deserted mining site with lots of rocks and sand around. When one looks very close you will notice the whole camp is on top of ice/glacier. So already we are camping on top of ice, Khumbu glacier.

On my two nights of sleeping here every night I hear ice cracking under my tent and I pray that God will not let my tent or this camp sink! I have heard of ice covers that form on top of a glacier river or ice lake and when one walks over it there is a great chance of falling in it. Too bad the depth isn’t known.

Our camp is looks better than the others; each one of us has his/her own big sleeping tent – nice to move around but a bigger space to warm up for one person. There is about a 25 square metres kitchen and 40 square metres dining tent with 2 inflatable sofas, 2 side tables, and a big dining table for 12 people, a cabinet for drinks, cups, plates, spoons and a cabinet for snacks.

I have just finished my lunch. The rest of the group went for a hike but I am here for training. Training was good and difficult. It was just for 2 hours but I felt like I have walked for 6 – 7 hours uphill because of the gain in altitude. I had to wear those big boots and crampons and then walk steep up a hill on the snow and ice wall. The steepness varied, from 30 degrees to a 60-degree gradient. I learned how to repel down an almost 90 degree wall using rope, a descender and crampons.

I have just learned a new phrase: ‘walk like cowboy think like Sherpa’. This means when you have your crampons on you walk like a cowboy and you should think with care like a Sherpa. When a Sherpa walks he carefully watches his steps.

Tomorrow is a prayer day. The Sherpa’s have great faith in this prayer. They have to ask the mountain goddess the permission to climb Chomologma (Mount Everest). It will take about 2 hours. All the climbers are recommended to take their crampons and harness to the prayer so that they can be blessed.

I am going for my first ice crampon training at the icefalls. I saw it the other day and it looks scary but I will manage. I will need harness, crampons, ice axe and high altitude boots. This training will enable me to walk up vertical walls during the acclimatization day, which will start on 17 April and the climb to the summit sometimes early May.

We will be doing two different sets of acclimatization between 17 and 30 April. This will include climbing to Camp I (6100 metres) and Camp II (6760 metres) (This will break my own record and be highest I have ever been to before). We will have a rest at Camp II and do acclimatization and more ice climbing on Lhotse face. Then we will descend down back to Base Camp for a rest and then will do another set of acclimatization going through Khumbu icefall to Camp I then next day to Camp II. From Camp II will be going to Camp III (7500 metres) (even higher than before) and have a rest before we descend down to Camp II then to Base Camp. Upon return to Base Camp the decision will be made by Mike Robert (Chief Guide) and his team whether to descend even down to at least 4700 metres for proper acclimatization or not. This will be based on the weather conditions and how the 5 of us have properly acclimatized on this altitude.

After lunch we had another gear check for tomorrow rehearsal on ice fall. I will be getting another rehearsal because I have never been on crampons, rope ascending or descending, walked on glacier and climb ice walls. Everyone has either brand new or better equipment than what I have. My rented boots are worn, quietly worn and had to be glued several places including sole and sides so it won’t penetrate water. May be they will order another pair…..not sure yet because Mike is unhappy with the look of the boots. So tomorrow is the day for everyone to get to know better of climbing and walking on the ice fall. Then on 14th April we will do ladder crossing. Yes, I mean those aluminum ladders; they put them as bridges on crevasses….

Today (13/4/12) morning I am hearing this rumor that someone still in Tanzania is seeking sponsorship to become first Tanzanian to tackle Mt. Everest. Well, he may be if I won’t make it this time but if I do please let him visit then go to dispatches Everest 2012.

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