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Prayer flags above Dingboche. Lhotse and Island Peak in the background.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Direct from Base Camp

April 15, 2013

We arrived in base camp yesterday and after a little effort we now have a (somewhat) working internet connection.  We left Kathmandu on a bus on the 9th and drove to Kodari (Godari) (Tatopani) where we spent the night. As you know from my previous post, we crossed the border into Tibet without problems.  There was a little waiting while border security checked all our luggage for contraband. We spent two nights in Nyalam which is at 12,000 feet in elevation, for safe acclimatizing.  Nyalam is a depressing little town with dreary weather.  It is dirty and smelly and the food was not good.

After the second night, we got up very early to drive to Tingri at 14,000'.  We left early because Phil, the expedition leader,  knows the hotel there and wanted us in the new, nice side instead of the very old side with mud walls and floors.  Another group left about thirty minutes prior to us but we passed them along the way when the clutch in their bus failed.  This was good for us, but not them!  Our room was quite nice but the food was really bad.  I hardly ate anything and think I've lost four or five pounds as a result.

Tingri is located on a broad plain and is quite sunny but it is also very dirty.  There are lots of wild dogs and one of them bit a woman from another group forcing her to retreat to Kathmandu for rabies shots.  Her trip is most likely over.   I stayed within the hotel compound almost all of the time, although I did walk up a small hill and had some beautiful views of Everest and Cho Oyu. Two dogs came at me but I was able to fend them off by kicking at them.

Two nights in Tingri was enough so we left at 3:45 a.m. for base camp.  It was a 4 1/2 hour drive on a rough dirt road but the views of Everest were stunning as we drew near.  Our base camp is by far the best one here.  We have two bathroom tents, two large dome tents equipped with reclining chairs for relaxing, a very comfortable dining tent, spotless kitchen tent, a dining tent for the Sherpas, technology tent with laptops and a movie projector and storage tents.  Each client has a three-man tent for themselves. It was good to finally unpack and get my clothing and gear organized.  Last night we enjoyed sizzler steaks plus fries.  I am not hungry for the first time in four days.

Everest is incredibly beautiful but also quite intimidating to look at.  We are camped at 17,000' and Everest rises another 12,000' above us.  It is about 10 to 12 miles further up the Rongbuk Valley.  We are literally in the shadow of George Mallory and all those famous English expeditions.  The history is very cool.

I feel 100% and am really enjoying myself.  We have a great team of very different people and our Sherpa staff is the best.  Phil is a great leader and hasn't lost his sharp wit.


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