Autumn Everest 2001: The American-Canadian Expedition

Arrival at Basecamp  August 21, 2001 Rongbuk Glacier

Hello from the Rongbuk Glacier and Everest Basecamp. After 8.5 hours traveling 70 miles along a road you would not believe, we pulled into basecamp yesterday, August 20th. The journey overland from Tingri makes it tempting to think that the most perilous part of this climb is over.

Kelly is laid up a bit today, nursing a very sore right shoulder from being bounced repeatedly off the door of the Land Cruiser. In fact, the word 'road' does not really apply to many of the sections of the route. 'Track' would be more appropriate.

We are emphatically overjoyed to finally be here. We are the only expedition in basecamp at this time. Basecamp on the north side is at an elevation of 17,000 ft. So none of us is exactly sprinting about just yet. Though we are the only expedition here, there are a few trekkers about. Interestingly enough, we met John Joyce and his daughter, Jaclyn. John is the CFO for IBM, and is trekking with a company called Wild China out of Beijing.

Our basecamp site is located on the only piece of grass in the area - the rest of the area is gravel glacier moraine. Our trucks departed for basecamp a day ahead of us, so when we arrived, the dining and cooking tents were up, and there were hot drinks waiting for us.

After relaxing for a bit, we set to work putting up our own tents and getting gear organized. Everybody was hustling to beat the afternoon monsoon rain showers that occur daily at this time of year. We had a couple of brief partial views of the mountain yesterday. However, today we had some truly spectacular views of the north face and the west ridge. We were able to glass over the upper portion of our planned route on the north face. This left me in deep silent respect, as it should for all of us.

Today we spent time just resting and acclimatizing. Tomorrow will be more of the same for the most part. On Thursday the 23rd, we plan on making a trip up to our interim camp and back for the purpose of acclimatization. This camp is approximately nine miles from here at an elevation of about 19,800 ft. This camp is enroute to our Advanced Base Camp (ABC) which is 13 miles from our basecamp here, at an elevation of about 21,300 ft.

On Friday the 24th, we are expecting 33 yaks to show up to assist moving gear up. On Saturday the 25th, we begin transporting via yaks all the food and materials needed for the climb up to the advanced basecamp. One night will be spent at the interim camp enroute to ABC. Although we will be resting tomorrow, we will also be organizing loads in preparation for that trip.

The current plan is that Brian, Karl, Kelly, Pemba and Man Bahdur will accompany the loads to ABC. The loads will be dropped on the morning of the 26th, and everyone will return to basecamp in a single push.

We then plan to start moving the entire team to ABC on or about September 1. If the route to the top of the North Col is in safe condition, we can start working it upward within a couple of days of arrival at ABC. If not, we will descend back down to basecamp and wait for improved conditions. Patience and mental tenacity are key factors in the safe success of this climb. Other than some minor headaches and loss of appetite from altitude, we are all doing well. We all send our greetings to everyone at home. Goodnight from Everest Basecamp.


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