A wee bit of snow

Dear Family & Friends,

We awoke this morning to clear blue skies and a landscape blanketed in a thick coating of snow. A few tents got damaged during the 2 day storm and the sherpas spent the morning doing repairs and digging out our camp site.

    

At this stage the plan is to let the snow consolidate up high for the next 48 hours before moving back up for our second summit attempt – this means leaving for C1 on the 29th and aiming to summit on October 2nd.

The ‘Turquoise One’ – she who must be obeyed – is looking a bit wind swept but is otherwise indifferent to the chaos caused by the unexpected blizzard.

 

 

 

Soren

 

Surprise, surprise….

Dear Family & Friends,

The ‘Turquoise Goddess’ is not happy and basically blew us down her slopes this morning. Our first summit push came to an abrupt halt in C1 after a restless night listening to the howling wind trying to tear our tents apart. “Windy…” said our Argentinean weather man while adjusting his suspenders; “…..this is not windy, let me tell you a story about Aconcagua…..”

  

Anyhow – we retreated down the mountain through 1 foot of snow and arrived back at ABC wet, cold and wind blown.

And what about Colin you ask? Truth be told we all forgot about the fella for a while – easy to overlook and all that. Anyway when we rediscovered him in Camp 1 he’d been on his lonesome for many days and we all agreed he’d become a somewhat one-dimensional character….

 

The weather down here at ABC is pretty miserable at the moment  – getting to our tents involves trekking through thigh deep snow…. – and we’re all hanging out in the dining tent with 2 heaters on full boil.

Soren

PS – All expeditions are off the mountain and back in ABC and a couple are even pulling the pin completely due to the unseasonal weather.

 

Final preparations at ABC

Dear Family & Friends,

We woke this morning to strong blustery winds at ABC and conditions high on the Turquoise Goddess looked particularly cold and unpleasant. Naturally we all gathered in the warmest place – the kitchen – enjoying freshly brewed espresso coffee while watching Rabin make delicious breakfast crepes…

    

The weather forecast is looking very promising for the next 4-5 days and we’ll leave for C1 tomorrow expecting to summit Cho Oyu on the 28th.

The only official item on the agenda this afternoon is a demo of the oxygen system we’ll be using during our summit attempt – that and a couple of games of AMS (a card game well suited to life at 5700m!).

The team is strong, focussed on the task at hand and I’m confident we can succeed.

Next dispatch will be after our return on the 29/30th, so until then we welcome your thoughts and prayers!

Soren

Final rotation

Dear Family & Friends,

As planned we returned to ABC yesterday after spending a night in C1 and a night in C2. At 7100m we didn’t exactly sleep soundly – in fact most of the night was spent tossing and turning trying to get comfortable while asking our tent buddy every hour or so how he/she was doing…. – but at least we all woke without any major headaches. A good sign at this altitude.

Claudia & Ang Kaji above C1
Ang Kaji & John on top of the Icewall

 

 

 

 

 

    

Warren, Louis & Tommo in C2 @ 7100m

Our 3 sherpas left early to do a load carry of 12 oxygen cylinders and 3 tents to C3 @ 7500m in preparation for our summit push and so after scoffing down some porridge and a cup of coffee we began our descent to ABC. Conditions were freezing initially, but it soon became incredibly hot and we were forever taking off/adding layers. The day finished with the usual snowfall…

While at ABC we’ll try and get an accurate weather forecast for the coming week so we can plan our summit attempt. Currently there’s a major depression in the Bay of Bengal that could potentially affect us so we’ll be laying low at here at 5700m for the next 36-48 hours.

After reviewing their progress on the mountain I advised Claudia and John to remain at ABC and not to attempt the summit.

Soren

Weather….

Dear Family & Friends,

During a recent and particularly wet period in Sydney, ABC local radio presenter James Valentine asked listeners to call in and complete the sentence; “It’s so bloody wet that…………”

The winning entry was;   “It’s so bloody wet that I just bumped into Harold Holt”.

While the weather up here hasn’t exactly been fantastic – it’s been cloudy and snowing every bloody afternoon… – there has never been any risk of ex-prime ministers suddenly floating down the glacier.

The weather this morning did look extremely promising for a while and we enjoyed clear skies and excellent views of Cho Oyu. Almost the entire route up the mountain was visible from base camp and snow conditions up high looked to be superb.

Of course as soon as I began writing this blog it once again started snowing.

That’s mountain weather for you….!

We’re all well and looking forward to returning to Camp 1 tomorrow and C2 the following day.

Soren

ABC quake

Dear Family & Friends,

At about 18.20 last evening – Nepali time – we experienced a brief earth tremor here at ABC. I just want to reassure everyone at home that we’re all ok and that no one was injured and no material damage was reported during the 10-second quake.

Dinner last night was magnificent – chicken for the first time in weeks. Or was it chicken….? The size of the drumstick suggested something more akin to a baby ostrich, but no matter it sure went down a treat! The meal was finished with a beautiful birthday cake.   Thank you Rabin.

  

Soren 

 

 

Hot at the Icewall

Dear Family & Friends,

Although our first night in C1 wasn’t 100% comfortable everyone pulled through and we all set out – on September 17th – for the ‘Icewall’ approximately ½ way between C1 and C2. It’s hard to believe that at 6800m this feature is almost the same height as Ama Dablam….

    

The Icewall @ 6800m

Even at this altitude temperatures reached a scorching 39˚C and a couple of team members woke up at ABC this morning wishing they’d applied even more sunscreen/zink….

Cho Oyu from ABC – the Icewall is right in the middle
Our ABC camp with the Nangpa La pass in the background

Today and tomorrow are much needed rest days before we head back up the mountain for our final rotation – the aim being to spend 1 night in C1 as well as C2 @ 7000m.

Soren

PS – Tillykke med Fødselsdagen Annika!

 

 

First trip to Camp 1

Dear Family & Friends,

The team is back in ABC having a well deserved rest day after a successful first load carry to Camp 1 @ 6400m yesterday. All members and our 3 sherpas made the trip to C1 and left a cache of food, sleeping bags, tents, stoves and gas canisters. The sherpas spent a couple of hours digging out tent platforms and the site is ready for our return tomorrow, September 15th. The plan is to spend 1 night in C1 and then climb ½ way towards C2 on the 16th and descend to ABC that afternoon.

Starting the climb to C1…..
John pointing at the infamous scree slope

Colin also came up to C1 – although he didn’t contribute much in the way of load carrying – and is in fact spending a couple of nights up there by himself…..

    

Meanwhile everyone’s busying themselves at ABC with various important and un-important tasks; the first shower in several days was a real treat for many (Warren, Graeme, Louis, Tommo, Neddy, Claudia & John) but there’s an increasingly isolated pocket of individuals who think wet ones and the occasional swipe with a deodorant is enough…

Our Argentinean genius Angel spent several hours fixing our dining room heater armed only with pliers, a cut up can of ‘Red Bull’, a few meters of electrical wire and a whole lot of patience.  What a legend!

  

Neddy decided to do some much needed laundry – in the snow…!

Claudia & John fired off a couple of emails and are planning to spend the afternoon watching movies.

All is well at ABC.

Soren

ABC Puja

Dear Family & Friends,

The expedition Puja took place this morning and Karzan – our Tibetan kitchen boy – officiated. Having spent 14 years in a monastery he was clearly the man for the job. The beers were cold and so was the Khukuri Rum…..

    

The Turquoise Fellowship & friends
Tommo & Neddy at ABC

Mother Nature decided to participate in the ceremony and parted the clouds momentarily giving us a great view of the Turquoise Goddess. At the conclusion of events we all went for a short walk towards C1 before returning for a late lunch and an afternoon hanging out at ABC.

Angel on the moraine above ABC

All is well.

Soren

 

Cho Oyu ABC

Dear Family & Friends,

Tashi Delek” from Cho Oyu Advance Base Camp @ 5700m!

Apologies to everyone following the blog but due to technical dramas we’ve been unable to update the blog until now…..

We arrived here on the 11th and have spent most of the last 1.5 days establishing ABC – digging out platforms for our personal tents, the kitchen and dining tents, toilet and shower tents, putting up solar panels etc…. We’re all well and excited to finally be at ABC – everyone’s healthy and acclimatising really well. ABC sits high on the glacial moraine with spectacular views of the Nangpa La (the border with Nepal) directly to the south and Cho Oyu looming large to the east. Our first foray to Camp 1 @ 6400m will be on the 14th, but before we set foot on the mountain we’re all looking forward to the expedition Puja on the 12th. At this ceremony various bits of our climbing equipment will be blessed and we might all share a beer or two.

Below is a summary of our time in Tingri and CBC.

We arrived at Chinese BC @ 4900m after a short drive from Tingri on September 7th and was welcomed by our 3 sherpas – Lakpa T, Lakpa S & Ang Kaji – and our Nepali kitchen crew of Rabin (cook) and Anil (kitchen boy) who’d gone ahead a day earlier to unload all our equipment and set up camp.

Chinese BC

The bulk of our time at CBC was spent resting and hanging around the kitchen tent waiting for some of Rabin’s excellent meals, but to avoid any of us getting too fat and lazy I threw in a few acclimatisation walks for good measure…

The biggest walk was to a 5450m point above camp and the view towards Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La on the border with Nepal was particularly impressive. We spotted 12 Blue Sheep, a couple of Pikas (tail-less rodents) and 2 huge eagles on our way to the top.

Here’s Colin…!

25 yaks and 1 truck – yes the Chinese are determined to build a road all the way to ABC – were booked for the 10th when we ditched our vehicle and departed on foot to Intermediate Camp and as expected we arrived at Cho Oyu ABC on the 11th. (The majority of our loads were weighed and loaded onto the truck on the 9th and left early for Intermediate Camp and ABC.)

    

 

Intermediate Camp

The town of Tingri has a distinct ‘Wild West’ feel to it and is built along a 500m stretch of the recently upgraded Kathmandu to Lhasa highway – low weather beaten houses, shops, restaurants etc sit side by side on this dusty high altitude road. The Chinese have done an amazing job of sealing this road and it is a far cry for the dirt track that used to lead to Lhasa.

  

  

 

Cho Oyu from Tingri

Having been to Tingri before I was expecting the accommodation to be pretty basic and had warned everyone accordingly. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at what is basically a brand new – although not quite finished – hotel with very comfortable beds and attached bathrooms…   Not what you’d expect to find at 4300m on the Tibetan Plateau! However the hotel dining room and courtyard are still caught in a time warp and haven’t changed one bit since I first visited in 1993. Apparently they’re next on the upgrade list.

That only leaves the menu……!

Soren

Tibet – finally….

Dear Family & Friends,

It would be very unusual for everything to run smoothly on an expedition in the Himalayas and so I wasn’t entirely surprised to find us stranded in Kodari on the Nepalese side of the border. The major surprise was that we ended up spending a total of 3 nights there…… The entry date on our Chinese climbing permit and visa didn’t match up and so we had to wait – patiently – while this bureaucratic mess was sorted out and we finally crossed the ‘Friendship Bridge’ into Tibet on September 3rd.

Friendship Bridge
Kodari
Zangmu

The Chinese have recently upgraded/sealed the road from Zangmu (on the border) to the town of Nyalam @ 3750m and the spectacular drive took a mere 50 minutes.

After breakfast this morning we all set out on our first serious acclimatisation walk and huffed and puffed our way to 4540m on a nearby hill.

Tomorrow we drive to Tingri @ 4400m for 2 nights – and a couple of acclimatisation walks –  and I expect us to arrive at Chinese BC on the 7th.

    

We’re all well and extremely pleased to finally be in Tibet.

Hooroo to everyone at home from Warren, Claudia, Louis, John, Graeme, Angel, Tommo & Neddy.

Soren