Cho Oyu 2002: Mark Kosmider

As a former sufferer of an eating disorder, I propose to use my forthcoming ascent of "Cho Oyu"—the sixth highest mountain in the world—to raise funds for, and awareness of, the Eating Disorders Association Of Western Australia. At the height of my suffering in my early twenties, my weight fluctuated wildly: from a healthy 80kg down to 56kg.

The Eating Disorders Association Of Western Australia is a local organization administered by a committee, and staffed by unpaid volunteers, run entirely on donations. Due to the lack of funding, very limited services are currently available. Unlike similar associations in other states, the Eating Disorders Association Of Western Australia receives no state or federal funding. It is my aim to raise sufficient funds so that the services offered could be increased, such as: provide free or subsidized treatment to people who do not have private health cover, or are too ill to support themselves.

About Myself…I originate from Jersey in the Channel Islands. I emigrated to Australia in 1993, becoming an Australian citizen in 1996. I work as a contract Safety Professional. I would describe myself as ambitious and adventurous by nature: I thrive on challenge. I consider myself to possess a high level of mental and physical stamina.

I first became interested in high altitude climbing after reading about the exploits of the highly respected New Zealand Climber, the late Rob Hall. My appetite was further wetted when I read about Matt Dickinson summiting Mount Everest in 1996 by the more difficult North Col / North-East Ridge route, without any prior climbing, let alone high altitude experience. My previous experience at altitude includes trips to “El Misti”, a 5885-metre volcano in Peru, and “Huayno Potosi”, a 6088-metre snow and ice climb in Bolivia.

The highest mountain I have summited is “Aconcagua”, (See below) at 6962-metres it is the highest elevation outside of Asia. (Aconcagua is also one of the “Seven Summits”: the highest elevation on each of the seven continents). I was a member of an eight-person expedition led by Ray Brown (Ray is the only West Australian to summit Mt. Everest). This expedition was highly successful, seven out of the eight reaching the summit.

The mountain I am climbing is Cho Oyu, which is located approximately 15 miles North-West of Mt. Everest in the Tibetan Himalaya. At 8201-metres is the sixth highest mountain in the world. The Cho Oyu expedition will start (07 April 2002) and finish (16 May 2002) in Kathmandu, Nepal, lasting approximately 40 days. A variety of accommodations will be utilized—from hotels to tents. I have attached myself to the permit of Windhorse Trekking, and will climb independently above ABC. The route up Cho Oyu will be by the classic “West Face” route.

In conclusion: I hope that my attempt to climb Cho Oyu will inspire fellow sufferers to break the cycle of destructive behavior, and realize the full potential of their lives. I would like to thank the following companies for their contributions:

·        Ardeco Antiques (Western Australia)

·        Australian Geographic

·        Fallright International (Western Australia)

·        Joss Bork at Peregrine Travel (Western Australia)

·        Mike Thompson and Allweather Window Cleaning (Western Australia)

·        Mike Wood and staff at Mountain Designs (Perth - Western Australia)

·        Singapore Airlines (Western Australia)

 

Best regards,

Mark Kosmider

The Trip Report: EVERESTNEWS.COM POST-CLIMB SUMMARY

This story is testament that not all ascents of 8000 meter peaks end up at the summit. My own Spring 2002 ascent of Cho Oyu was stopped dead in its tracks at approximately 6000 meters – at the bottom of the scree slope leading up-to camp 1…

Over the preceding 18-months, I had invested much time and effort organizing this climb. As with many other climbers, I had worked all the hours under the sun: often working several jobs, in an effort to realize my goal. When my training regime—3-4 12km runs per week, and hypoxic swimming on the off days—was added to this equation, it came as no surprise that there were never enough hours in the day. I was convinced that physical and mental stamina were key elements of my preparation…especially as I intended to climb without Sherpa support above ABC, and without bottled oxygen.

Arriving in Kathmandu was a cultural shock to me…one of my everlasting memories of this trip was the unconcerned way in which people cleared their throats, then spat the contents into the street – especially the cooks that prepared our food in Zhangmau, Nyalam and Tingri. Unthinkable behavior in a Western kitchen!

The days prior to leaving Kathmandu for the border were spent in a whirlwind of last minute shopping for outstanding equipment and provisions. Ang Karma of Windhorse Trekking greatly assisted here (As did Seth), offering advice on where to search out the best deals in town. His hospitality when taking me to his home to share a family meal was greatly appreciated. It always seemed as though nothing was too much trouble for him.

I was very honored to meet the redoubtable Miss Elizabeth Hawley during my stay at the Manang Hotel. She took great pride in showing me her 1950s VW Beetle – which was kept in pristine condition by her driver.

The other two climbing members on the Cho Oyu "International" permit were Vicente Lillo and James Milne. Vicente was from Spain, and James—arrived at ABC 3-days earlier than Vicente and myself—was born in New Zealand but now lives in the USA (Conversations with James established that his climbing CV was indeed very impressive, as was hi capacity for hard work). BC was left in the capable hands of Kuma. Dala Bahadur Thakuri (cook) and Nima Wangdi Sherpa (Who also doubled as high-altitude Sherpa for Vicente) took care of ABC.

After acclimatisation visits in Zhangmau, Nyalam, Tingri, and BC, we finally arrived at ABC. 

Once at ABC, the usual chores had to be seen to: setting up the mess, kitchen, toilet and personal tents etc. It was at this point that one of the Western members of our expedition showed an aversion to any kind of work that would benefit the community, preferring instead to handball it onto the Sherpa staff. Although it often seemed foreign to them, I tried at all times to treat the Sherpa staff as equals: in reality their capacity for work far outweighs that of all but the elite climbers. I remember sharing with Nima and Dala Bahadur some of my personal stash of sweets brought from Australia – they both seemed very embarrassed and kept refusing, almost as if it was foreign to them that they should be treated in this fashion.

At ABC my intuition began to tell me that all was not right. The headaches and dehydration seemed to be more extreme than normal. The dehydration began to worry me greatly: my body – to the point where my kidneys were beginning to hurt, was ejecting all the fluids I was consuming.

However, after 3-nights and 2-days at acclimatisation at ABC, we were to embark on our first sortie up the mountain: a carry up-to C1. Nima had suggested an early start, so I set my alarm for 06.30. 

The dream worried me greatly, I did not leave my sleeping bag until well after 07.00 thinking about the hidden meaning!?!? In the dream I cracked open a vial of Dexamethasone, to offer to a fellow climber in distress. Rather than giving the vial to the climber in distress, I ended up taking the medicine myself: I can still remember clearly, the cold fluid running down my throat. Thinking rationally, how could I not go up the mountain on the strength of a dream? I could just imagine the ridicule of my friends (And sponsors) when I told them "I had this dream…so I decided to pack-up and come home". The doubt about the dream notwithstanding, I resolved to pay particular attention to my performance that day.

I started out feeling strong and enthusiastic, or as enthusiastic as one can be at altitude. About one and a half hours into the sortie, I began to develop shortness of breath, a headache, a cough and lethargy. As I continued up the mountain, my headache was becoming more severe and my cough "wet". Not long after, I decided it would be propitious to turn myself around. I hesitated "Was I giving up too easy?", "Yes I was!" I continued up the mountain. My breathing was becoming very labored, my headache was now impairing my vision, my cough wetter and now, I was becoming decidedly unsteady on my feet. Survival mode kicked in…I decided to turn myself around once more. Every so many steps I would collapse into the snow, continuing my journey when I had regained my composure. At this stage I feared HAPE and HACE. Somewhere along the route I was overtaken by Jochen Haase (Leader of the German expedition), on his way down from C1. Concerned for my wellbeing, Jochen offered to help me down to ABC. I remember Jochen asking several passing climbers if they had any "dex", they all replied in the negative. So whacked out of my brain was I, I completely forgot about the dex I was carrying in my medical kit. On the way to ABC we also passed Richard Dougan (Leader of the Northern Ireland expedition), who kindly put his emergency oxygen at my disposal. Jochen stayed with me all the way to ABC.

At ABC I collapsed – exhausted and hypoxic. Peter Fessler, doctor to the German expedition) took charge here, and after administering dex tablets, soon had me in their "Hyperbaric Chamber". My altitude was lowered to approximately 3500-metres. I was advised to descend immediately.

After hastily packing away all my equipment, and organizing a Tibetan porter to carry my rucksack, we arrived at BC about 7-hours later. A jeep evacuation to Kathmandu was organized for the next day. Suffice it to say, I had a sleepless night. 

Two days later I arrived in Kathmandu, after first negotiating the Maoist terrorist strike: Ang Karma organized transport – at great risk to the driver.

After several medical appointments, I arrived back in Perth - Western Australia three days later. My girlfriend Ann was greatly relieved to see me back in one piece, as were my family and friends.

From the German expedition I would like to thank Dr. Peter Fessler, Elio Schylen and Jochen Haase for their care and assistance. I would also like to thank Richard Dougan from the Northern Ireland expedition, for putting his emergency oxygen and medical supplies at my disposal. He also offered to descend with me, as did James Milne: I refused their offer, as I did not want to interrupt their acclimatisation process.

In hindsight I am very lucky, I could just as easily become another statistic…

Am I disappointed? No, not at all, there are plenty of positives to focus on from this trip!!!! I am reminded of a quote I once read:

            Don't chide those who try and fail, but chide those who fail to try!

Will I have another try at an 8000-metre peak? I think it is inevitable that I will try again!?!?!?

Once again, I would like to thank the following companies for their contributions:

·        Ardeco Antiques (Western Australia) 

·        Australian Geographic

·        Fallright International (Western Australia)

·        Joss Bork at Peregrine Travel (Western Australia)

·        Mike Thompson and Allweather Window Cleaning (Western Australia)

·        Mike Wood and staff at Mountain Designs (Perth - Western Australia)

·        Singapore Airlines (Western Australia)

 

Best regards

Mark Kosmider

Copyright Mark Kosmider: The photo is of me holding the Jersey flag at the summit of Aconcagua at 12.54 on 12/01/01.