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Dhaulagiri Expedition 2002

March 30, 2002: A few days have passed and a few memories have been etched into our minds while hanging out at 12,000ft for 2 days now in the city of Muktinath. The morning, clear and crisp, brought forth striking views of our route on Dhaulagiri. Children here in the village have filled our courtyard with the enduring spirit of the Nepalese culture playing hacky sack and football with the team members. Tomorrow we leave Muktinath and trek 18+ miles back to Jomsom at 9,000ft, combining our two-day trek into one long day of downhill. Dhaulagiri's presence looms in the distance as the great monarch of the range lays still, covered in snow with the intimidating stance of a great cat waiting for us to grace her elegant flanks. With each seductive view relented by the clouds, the spirit of our climb is slowly taking flight as each member prepares for the mission to be among the few elite American climbers to summit the seventh highest mountain in the world.

Hope all is well in the USA. Ben Clark

Monday, April 1, 2002: Returning to Jomsom from Muktinath, we received news regarding the route to base camp. Dawa and the other Sherpa traveled with the porters carrying expedition loads towards base camp last week. However, due to heavy snowfall this winter, it has become incredibly difficult to carry all the gear over the pass. The team sat down last evening to discuss options on how to get 120 loads to base camp focusing on the most effective way.

One option is to hire additional porters to make it easier in traveling through heavy snow over the pass to base camp. The second is to helicopter the loads in with a couple of Sherpa and team members to base camp. That way we could descend from base camp kicking in a trail for the team and the porters ascending, which will make it easier traveling. Utilizing a helicopter has a hefty price tag. We also would like to provide additional work for the porters, which would help them economically.

So on April Fools Day, instead of joking around we are making some decisions, which will hopefully make things go smoother getting into base camp. Most likely, we will hire 15 - 25 additional porters, fly them from Kathmandu to Jomsom and start working our way towards Dhaulagiri tomorrow. In addition, the team members will be carrying loads along with the Sherpa. Even the trekking team members have offered to carry heavy loads in, which is not always the case. It's good to see that everyone is willing to chip in and suffer a little by carrying a little more weight.

Dawa Sherpa told us in the beginning, "getting into Dhaulagiri may be a bigger challenge than climbing the mountain itself", and it is starting to appear to be true. However, one must understand, that itinerary's are always subject to change, especially in the Himalaya. It's time to say good-bye for now. The team is currently doing laundry and I just got a whiff of my feet so I better get going and hang up my socks. 

Jeff Justman

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namaste March 31st: a local village