Mount Everest North Side 2002
6th: The two of us woke up an hour to early,
very anxious to leave. At 7 AM we head for
Tibet. Hans knows the route from his three
miles before Kodari the tarmac road ends and turns
into a mud road. At 11.30 we arrive in Kodari, the
Tibetan border. All users of the Asian Trekking
permit are on one group visa and Hans takes care of
it. It takes an hour to get our passports checked to
exit Nepal. Another check at the Chinese border
followed by a very dusty trip in an open lorry to
Zangmu. All our personal luggage goes through an X ray
at the second Chinese border in Zangmu and again a
passport check. Tibetans try to earn some money by
carrying a part of our luggage. The Zangmu hotel had
has her best days, if there were any. At 8 PM we have
diner, 8 different courses with vegetables. We like it
a lot. After dinner a nice stroll on the only, paved,
road along the way are many women offering themselves for
specific services... But we go back to the hotel...
7th: The next morning only two of the three jeeps, as
agreed with Asian Trekking, show up. It is the Tibetan
Mountaineering Association who rules here and we deal
with a Chinese Liaison Officer who hardly speaks
English. He has different instructions and shows the
Chinese document to Hans. Hans gets the feeling they
try to rip him off and gets angry. This doesn't help
and only frustrates the L.O. Even apologies are not
appreciated due to a communication error. So we leave
with two jeeps for Nyalam (altitude: 12800 feet). The
hotels get worse an we share a small double bedroom
with three. The beds take 90% of the floor space.
The food is good: a lot of vegetables with rice.
Hopefully our cargo will show up again tomorrow. The
TMA is considering Hans as the expedition-leader of
the mixed Asian Trekking group. We have, besides Hans
and Wilco, a very noisy and a very quiet American
climber, a young Spanish
climber, two Germans and a
quiet Swiss climber. The noisy American will join
another team in Basecamp and we get two Italians in
return. Some climbers of the group have hired personal
Sherpa's. We are 12 in total.
8th: Hans wakes up with headache after a
sleepless night in Nyalam. He drank a lot of tea
at breakfast which helped. Today will be an
acclimatization day and we decide to hike into
the valley that leads to the Basecamp of Shishapangma.
We have been here before to attempt the South
West face in 1998.
route is not steep, the scenery grey. Springtime has
not yet begun. After three hours of hiking we decide
to stop at an altitude of 14,800 feet and descend for
Nyalam. We are ready to move to Basecamp.
9: Today we go to Tingri (14,400 feet). A lot of
snowfall during the past night doesn't stop us going.
We have an old Toyota Landcruiser without shock
absorbers. It takes 4 hours of bumpy ride on very bad
roads. Wilco is worried about all the electronic film
and communication equipment. We reach the Lalung pas
(17200 feet) in two hours. Colorful prayer flags blow
in the wind sending out the prayers to the world. We
have an beautiful view over the Tibetan plateau with
many peaks in the distance. After a short stop we move
on. We leave the snow-covered pas and drive into a
brown yellow colored landscape. I get pretty sick of
the ongoing roller coaster ride and the fumes of
gasoline in the car gives me headaches. Along the
route you see many signs of the ongoing progress
by the Chinese rulers, like electricity and new Chinese
names for the old Tibetan villages. When we arrive in
Tingri the diner is served. Hans notices that Tingri
has expanded since 2000, his last visit. The old
guesthouse is still managed by the Tibetan family. All
guest are invited in the large family room with a big
wood oven in the center. New is the TV set. They watch
it every night now. It changes rapidly here. Wilco
drinks a lot of milk tea which makes him feel better.
Tomorrow is another day for acclimatization and than on
to base camp (17.100 feet). All the travelers we
meet in Tingri are heading to Everest Basecamp.
10: Wilco had a lousy night due to the altitude.
He couldn't fall a sleep. After two aspirins he
felt better. Wilco is surprised about the
changes in his physical condition. One moment he
feels strong like a bear, the next moment he has
troubles with the altitude. After breakfast they
climb a 16,500 feet hill.
weather is great. Halfway the climb, at 15,500 fee,
they have a beautiful view on Everest, Pumori,
Makalu and Cho Oyo. The Spanish climber Jorge
and the Swiss Daniel are joining us. The pace is fast
and Hans and Wilco are in great shape. At the top of
the hill they watch the snow-plume from the summit of
Everest. They see only little snow in the north face,
but that is hard to determine when you are still 40
miles away. Wilco thinks about using his paraglide
from this hill, because the conditions are excellent.
But he has to wait. He has agreed with Hans to wait
with his first flight after all high camps are
installed. At lunchtime they return in the guesthouse.
Hans agrees with the L.O. to have Yaks available to
move to ABC on April 14th. They are on schedule.
11: With a brand new 4WD they go on the adventure
drive to BC. The average speed is 10 miles per hour.
At the Rongbuk monastery they stop to visit a prayer
session. Only a couple of dozen monks live in the
monastery. It looks like a tourist site. From here it
is only a 30 minutes, slow motion roller coaster, ride
to BC. Wilco is really impressed by the view of
Everest. Several teams are in BC already but our first
concern is our cargo. We count all our 16 barrels, a
sac and a crate and are happy that everything has
arrived. On a nice flat part we put our tents. We work
slowly due to the altitude. The Sherpa's put up the
dining tent and cook tent. Hans informs the TMA about
the Yaks to be available at the 14th . Hans and Wilco
want two days of rest before going to ABC. They get 34
Yaks. It looks like everything will go according to
the plan. After this good news Hans grabs a sac of
peanuts and joins Wilco in his tent. Both are happy to
be in BC.
12: The weather today is not as beautiful as
yesterday. Some snowfall today.... They install the solar
panels and put up a communication tent for the
equipment. The second sat phone will go to ABC. The
first aid kit is split in two to be put in the
backpacks. Many Yaks and Tibetans are already in BC.
Hans looks after the food and his own gear. Adrian,
one of the two American climbers on their shared
permit, complains about the coughing (due to the dry
air and altitude) he suffered from all night.
According to Wilco it will be everybody's turn to
suffer this soon.
When Wilco overlooks the teams present in Basecamp he
thinks that he and Hans prepared themselves in a
professional way. It is going to be an exciting two
months, and they want to go for it.
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