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Dhaulagiri Expedition 2002

April 18, 2002 Jerry Clark: Attached is an adobe acrobat file that will assist you in locating places near the mountain.  It is in 2 parts, 8- /2 by 11 so you can print it and put it together and see the trek from Jomosom to Dhaulagiri Base Camp.  The mountain peak is south of Base camp.

At the present time, the main body of the group is at Base camp (Dhaulagiri Base Camp on the map).  The red line is the trekking route followed in and out of there to Jomsom. [We are working on a way to show you this map....]  For those of you who don't know Lindsay Rinehart, she is Ben's girlfriend from Atlanta.  

The Long walk home

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She went on this trip to be the Technical Advisor and to stay in Base camp and relay messages while Ben made the climb. Tuesday night (April 16th) here, Greg Rinehart, Lindsay's father called us and informed us that Jane, Lindsay's mother was seriously ill and Lindsay needed to immediately return to the USA.  Jane had cancer that looked like it was arrested prior to Lindsay going on this trip.  She was all in favor of Lindsay going and no one expected this sad situation.  Please pray with us for Jane in the days to come, as her current outlook is not good. As you can see from the map and from your knowledge of this trip from the previous dispatches, this area is extremely remote and travel conditions are very tough.

This news started a chain of events that is now playing out.  We sent a text message to the iridium phone for Ben and Lindsay to call us ASAP and for Lindsay to call home before calling us. They called us Wednesday (April 17th) morning at 2:30 AM. They were in the process of planning how to get Lindsay out and Ben was trying to decide what to do about continuing the climb given the circumstances. We didn't sleep much more after that call. 

Ben decided to accompany Lindsay (with Sherpa assistance) back to Jomsom where she will catch a small plane and fly to Pokhara, then to Kathmandu. Karma, with Nomad Expeditions in Kathmandu will assist her in Kathmandu and see she has everything she needs there to get on a flight to Bangkok, then on to Los Angeles and Atlanta.  All arrangements have been made for this extraordinary extraction and it is now in process.

After Lindsay is safely on her way out of Jomsom, Ben and the accompanying Sherpa guides will trek back in to base camp. We are really proud of Ben for his decisions he has had to make. Our only advice to him was to do what he thought was right. He seems to have done that. 

This morning (April 18th) at 7:30 AM CST they talked to Anne, my wife.  They were at Kagbini? Or some such name.  The location is called "Camp" on the map and is located within the red circle.  They arrived there after leaving base camp at 15,500 ft, climbing over the pass at 17,000 feet and then started the descent. They have the iridium phone and one or two Sherpa with them.  Lindsay is one strong woman, but Anne said she was absolutely worn out from this leg of the trip.  They now (8:30 PM CST, 7:15 AM Nepal Thursday, April 18) should be on the way to Marpha (second red circle).  This is a grueling 8,000 feet descent and from talking today to Dan at Mountain-Link (Dan was a trekker on this trip who has returned) it is a very tough day also.  Once in Marpha, they can rest and then the following morning at daybreak, take a horse to Jomsom. Lindsay will have to fly out from here on a small plane to Pokhara and then on to Kathmandu.  She will rest in Kathmandu until the first available plane to Bangkok.  Layover in Bangkok is about 12 to 16 hours, and then on to Tokyo and Los Angeles, then Atlanta.  Right now, the plane arrangements out of Kathmandu are tentative due to her arrival and full aircraft - she is booked on standby at the moment.  If everything works as planned, she should be in Atlanta Monday night or early Tuesday morning. 

We can send short text messages - 120 characters max - to the phone direct using e-mail.  They have to turn the phone on to get them.  We have sent enough to give her some idea of the schedule and arrangements and have asked them to call upon reading.  We will either hear tonight or in the morning our time.

I can tell you that Julie O'Neil at Mountain-Link in California has been absolutely the rock in getting things organized for Lindsay. Mountain-Link and Julie have made arrangements for flights, for Lindsay to be met in Kathmandu by Karma, the Nomad Expedition Guide Service, hotel rooms and all. Julie - you are truly outstanding! I am trying to act as a conduit for communication.  I get the iridium calls because the computer is at base camp to lighten the load and I call Julie and Greg to coordinate details. We will keep you posted on both Lindsay's progress back here and on Ben's progress back to base camp.  Please keep both of them and the Sherpa's who are accompanying them in your prayers. Jerry Clark

April 18/19, 2002 Ben Clark: Fighting tears, a restless night, knee-deep snow, and the worries about the rapid spread of her mother's brain cancer, Lindsay's walk up the moraine and over two 17,000' passes was easily one of the greatest triumphs of spirit and inner strength I have ever seen in the mountains. The night of the 18th was spent at Kalo Pani reveling in the pain and anguish of a hard, hard day in the mountains.  Were it not for the Greek and our porter Khanshe the day would have been enough to will myself away from this mountain. April 19 was a better day.  After taking the 7,200' drop out of the snow and into the dusty reaches of the Kali Gan Daki valley, our small groups spirits elevated to epic proportions.  I don't know whether it was the four sugar loaded soft-drinks we had with the tomato mushroom pizza's or if maybe it was the fact that we could finally wear shorts again, but it was certainly a pleasure to see the smile on Lindsay's face as she was riding a horse the final 40 minutes of the walk into Jomsom as the Greek, Khanshe and myself accompanied her side.