15 2002 Advance Base Camp, Everest.
out of the mess tent door, the north east
ridge of Everest cuts the sky in two in one
direction; the North ridge divides it in the
other. Black and fissured with myriad gullies
and ice-filled cracks, the north side of the
largest mountain on earth is almost too large
for the mind to comprehend. What is even more
awesome is that just on the other side of the
North ridge is the rest of the north face, the
mighty Kangshung Face.
beneath it all, miniscule and puny, we
climbers move like ants around the edge of the
glacier, making what little homes we can out
of this bleak landscape. But humans have
become adept at creating comfort out of
hardship, especially in these days; as I write
Will is unwinding rolls of Wet Wipe for his
daily body wash, not a pretty sight and one
which his fiancée Rebecca in Australia will
no doubt be nodding her head in understanding.
today was fried salami (crisped to a blackened
coin), sardines in tomato sauce, Tibetan bread
and a frozen apple. Gallons of Nepali tea,
sweet and milky, is consumed to keep up our
rehydration schedule. Also important is rest
and I rose groggily at 10am this morning for
corn flakes, eggs on toast and more tea (oh
yes, my months of planning included such
luxuries) after which there was some fairly
intensive relaxing, followed by exhausting
reading and some deeply physical sitting down
and doing nothing. Will went to the toilet
once which I found tiring just to watch.
serious events are looming.
first big push has been to 21,450', known as
ABC, and it has been no easy task. Not from a
technical point of view but simply slogging up
glacier after glacier at altitude and trying
to ensure our bodies acclimatize. Deep inside
our bone marrow, workers are busily churning
out extra red blood cells rich with oxygen to
compensate for the lack of it up here in the
but with increasing efficiency, our insides
are getting used to being here. And now we're
going up again! Climbing Everest is all about
getting your rate of ascent right and allowing
those little bone marrow workers enough time
give our muscles enough oxygen and strength to
go up. So Will and I rest, and eat and drink.
But we're also mindful of the size of this big
hill outside and the dangers that accompany
any expedition to attempt it's distant peak.
So we check gear, test crampons, try on boots,
make cows tails (a highly technical term for a
bit of rope coming off our harness with a
jumar attached to the end with which we attach
ourselves to any fixed ropes we or any other
folk may put in) and talk tactics.
much gear to take when, what to take, whether
to put a tent up at 7000 meters etc etc. If
you imagine putting in four camps above us and
the sheer physical exercise in doing it, then
our tactics are all-important! Pooey to those
armchair critics who say it's all easy with
Sherpas and ropes and Piccadilly Circus on the
top - come and sit here and learn something!
had loads of good luck messages, I mean loads.
It's so wonderful. A school in Oregon is
following our progress - hello ! and many
friends and associates have been effusive with
their support. It means a lot, thank you, we
appreciate every word and thought. Some people
have asked us to bring back rocks from the
summit, and I am currently negotiating with
Will on just how many kilos he can
realistically carry. Watch this space! I want
to thank Graham Robey of Energy Development
Co-operative for his solar equipment. It is
quite brilliant and just think of this - no
more batteries, ever. Lightweight, effective
and relatively cheap, Will and I are convinced
of it's practicality and environmental
efficiency. No really, it is true.
also to Chris Tiso. One of my best friends and
personal sponsor to me and for the kit we are
now using up here. Chris, you're a star, thank
you so much. Best dressed, best equipped, no
question. Ever since Graham Tiso was supplying
the Bonington trips in the 70's, Chris has
maintained that same standard of absolute
quality. And no better manufacturers to use up
here than Berghaus and Rab.
am Mr. Berghaus at the moment - only my
undergarments are from some back street
Kathmandu vendor! Everything else is top
quality Berghaus clothing. When it comes to summiting
we'll be into some serious Rab down gear, more
of that later. Will has a personal message for
the Ardclinis clan, a complete mystery to
anyone except those in the know - you wouldn't
get away with grass skirts up here Mal!
it's goodbye from us - goodbye, and I'm just
off for a visit to the toilet with a view.
Gav and Will