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Dhaulagiri Expedition 2002

Thursday, April 11, 2002: What a relief from yesterday!  After our Sherpa arrived at Kalo Pani, we were greeted with news that the additional porters from Marpha and our strong willed Sherpa would be joining us this evening with all of the gear belonging to the expedition, not an easy task considering the heft of loads we have brought with us.
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Today's highlights included what may be a first descent by Wasatch Powderbird Guides owner Mike Olson on boots too big for his feet and ski's he was quite unfamiliar with. He made it look like as easy as carving a Ginsu knife through butter. At 45 years old, Mike is an extraordinary athlete.

The other highlight of the afternoon was a short out and about walk to punch in the route for tomorrows expected ascent over 17,000' French Pass and into our basecamp, a place that after 22 days of extreme cold weather and hiking/climbing I cannot wait to reach. It is an awkward sight when traversing the virgin slope of fresh powder to what will be our home for the next 30 days. Our 60 pound duffels some having already made half the trip lay scattered about the barren white landscape like giant nylon Buffalo carcasses waiting for the rightful owners to scavenge their undersides and unearth contents more rewarding than warm clothes, more rewarding than new climbing gear, folks there is only one thing I want from those bags: Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!
Dreams of chocolate- Ben Clark

Monday, April 15, 2002: We have just arrived at basecamp. It has been an extremely challenging journey so far; deep snow and high steep terrain have been slowing our progress. Fortunately for the expedition, we are working with some of the toughest porters I have ever seen. They are all from the Makalu region and related to Bhoka Llama who was part of our kitchen staff on the first American Team ascent of Kanchenjunga in 1989. Pasang, Bhoka's younger brother, is one of our climbing Sherpa. Some of the young strong Sherpa carried 81kg (180lbs.) double loads over the 17000 ft. French Pass.

The team is settling in to basecamp today. We are building tent platforms and the stone stupa for the Puja. It is by far the most awe-inspiring basecamp I have ever visited and we have the whole place to ourselves. That is pretty rare in this day and age.

Our route options at this point in time are either the more popular North East Ridge or the North West Ridge. Lahkpa Nuru, one of our team members, made the summit via the North West ridge in 1998 with a Japanese team. Lots to think about and investigate, this is one of the true beauties of mountaineering. No route work will start until our Puja, a religious ceremony asking the deities for blessing on a safe successful climb. I'm proud to report everyone is healthy, happy, and ready to go.

Robert Link Expedition Leader

Wednesday, April 17, 2002: April 17, 2002, our Himalayan adventure is nearly 4 weeks old, though relatively uneventful, much has occurred. The team has come together nicely. Each team member seems to have found his or her role and the experience of building camps has run like clockwork. Knowing that we will become an evermore-cohesive unit, we look forward to being tested together on the mountain.

Over the past month there have been many moments of total emotional connectedness amongst the team, including; the Buddhist Puja/prayer ceremonies in Pokhara and Marpha, the morning the trekkers turned for home, and the day that our porters dropped their final loads and bid us farewell and "good success". Perhaps the moment, which had the most profound affect on us all, was passing over the French Col, rising to the height of 17,000' and marking the beginning of our descent into basecamp. At it's crest the team was struck by Dhaulagiri's grandeur and breathtaking beauty. Although occasional glimpses and numerous photographs of the mountain were gazed upon by all previously, our preconceptions were dwarfed by its immediate physical presence. We dropped our packs and sat down on the pass, awestruck!

Basecamp, now established, has become a remarkable "little village". Surrounded by a massive natural amphitheatre of rock and ice, our new home rests at 15,000' beneath Dhaulagiri's north face. Having had time to reflect in this magical place, we find ourselves feeling incredibly fortunate and grateful to those who have made this experience possible. Unprecedented strength and heartfelt smiles on behalf of Nomad expeditions climbing Sherpa, porters and kitchen staff have gained our utmost respect. As for Mountain Link, there is no comparison. From top to bottom they have proven to be organized, knowledgeable, strong, and patient. Most of all, we are grateful to our family and friends without whose support, this dream could not have come true.

With Deepest Gratitude- Adam, David and Andy