20 2002 Advance Base Camp, Everest.
Click below to listen to Gav's latest
don't come more windy and noisy than the one we
had before our second carry to the north col.
Will reported the tent virtually turning inside
out on him, so that at one point one of the
poles was jabbing him in the face.
in the distance we could hear the steady mammoth
roar of the wind blowing over the summit, like
hearing the boom of the surf without actually
seeing the sea; then above that an insidious
hiss, a sort of high pitched whine of the wind
gathering itself over the north ridge which came
rolling down the valley at terrific speed so
that lying in your tent, you find yourself
tensing up for the impact. When it did, there
was a frenzy of wind, flapping tents, ropes
snapping taut and boulders being broken loose on
the slopes around us. Our toilet tent was the
first to go, flimsy guy lines snapped free and
the whole structure carried clear and thrown to
mess tent, sturdily held with numerous ropes
tied to 30 kilo rocks, held firm thankfully. But
Will and I slept little. Our second carry to the
north col began with deep concern. Neither of us
felt up for it, faces drawn and puffy from the
lack of sleep; Will murmured something about a
rather necessary toilet visit, only to find no
toilet tent. There was a panicky search for
large rocks. it took ages to get a rhythm;
getting your stride and breathing right at high
altitude over loose moraine and then wind-swept
glacier is not easy. It takes practice and for
much of the first hour or so I sounded like a
donned crampons at the beginning of the ice and
trekked onto the glacier. Crevasses need to be
negotiated, although they are not wide this
early on in the season, and we plodded on. At
intervals the two of us leant on our poles,
aware that our legs felt like two pieces of
cooked spaghetti. it was going to be a hard day!
At the base of the headwall we put on our
harnesses and started climbing. We were the only
westerners on the face carrying gear. Sherpas
doing carries for commercial expeditions waltzed
past us with smiles and lots of chat. They
seemed impressed by our determination to go up.
In fact, amazingly, we knocked a full forty
minutes off our time from the first time we went
to the north col.
little tent we had put up was still there,
despite the storm, and we flaked out inside.
Now, with this carry, our little cache at
23,000' was looking good. Two more carries and
we will have camp 1 stocked with everything we
need to tackle the rest of the mountain. After a
few minutes of nauseating self-congratulation,
we literally streaked down the headwall. In a
little over 20 minutes of lung-bursting
rappelling and 'wrapping' (basically run forward
down the slope with one arm wrapped round the
rope), we were at the bottom and soon back in
ABC Camp where Tirta our cook had knocked up a
fancy potato soup with prawn cocktail crackers.
is a rest day and tomorrow another big carry to
the north col. Oh joy. Interestingly most of the
other groups have left ABC and gone back to Base
Camp, 23kms down the valley, to get a bit of
thick air. They have left their sherpas to set
the mountain so most of the time we meet them on
the mountain. The joy of not having a Sherpa
means we must stay and put in our camps
ourselves. A couple of other groups are doing
the same - the Russians in particular are simply
wonderful and have already spent three nights on
the north col (a strategy Will and I disagree
with) and actually put in 400 meters of rope to
the second camp.
we met them on the headwall coming down
yesterday, they looked as if they had spent some
time naked in the epicentre of the storm. Deep
new lines were etched on their faces, their
teeth and gums bled and there was that lumbering
gait of the extremely exhausted about them. We
hugged and shook hands and wished them luck.
Moments like that on a mountain like Everest are
not to be forgotten, I am sure there will be
more, and far more dramatic.
we met the Mexicans - new additions to ABC with
much fanfare and raising of huge flags (soon to
be whipped away by the indifferent wind) - who
were on their first push to north col.
and I felt they hadn't spent enough time at ABC
before going up, and boy did they look it! You
know that look on someone's face when they are so
drunk that they lose control over their features
and become sort of wax-like? Our jolly
"Allo Mechicanos! Como star ?" was met
with all the reaction of one of Madame Tussauds
"Only thirty five minutes to go!" we
chorussed together, smiling encouragement. An
hour later we looked back and they had hardly
moved. Oops. Guess we won't be invited to the
we met a couple of folks who were booked to go
just to the north col with Russel Brice's crew.
They looked completely shagged, on their first
foray out of ABC. Good acclimatisation though.
Will and I stopped to say hello. "Did you
know that Roy Keane is out of football for about
nine months?" one gentleman said. "Erm,
no, matter of fact we didn't". "And
that Beckham didn't play in the latest
shaking of heads and deep frowns from Will and
I. "No, hadn't a clue mate".
"Well, England got through anyway".
Nods, smiles. We moved on. Ah, the priorities of
Life. So now we are just relaxing in our
Berghaus ABC gear (little ad) and I am trying to
nurse a sun burnt tongue. Yes, you heard it. You
tend to gasp and pant with your mouth open and
with the reflection off the snow, my tongue got
burnt. No hot chili pickle for me today,
although Will was popping neat chillies over
lunch which has rendered the toilet tent
completely out of bounds for the rest of the
were in our respective tents reading, resting
etc when the most abrasive of American accents
cut through the now still air of ABC.
"Goddamn!" yelled the voice with
complete indignation, "I said GODDAMN ! I
was told when I booked this trip that ahh would
have the sun south west of mah tent!"
Whaaaat? This has been a source of much
amusement to Will and I all day. Ah well, small
things please small minds.
FOR ALL YOUR INTEREST SO FAR! I UNDERSTAND THAT
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ARE ON THE MAILING LIST AND
WE JUST WANT TO SAY...( alright, enough of the
dramatics caps ) it is really appreciated. We
read all the messages, every one. Sorry we can't
reply to them all.
to you all,