Kari Kobler's Mount Everest 2002 Expedition

Kari Kobler

A sunny and adventurous trip to base camp via the Rongbuk monastery: Xegar, next to Lhasa the largest city in Tibet, first achieved fame and glory in the 16th century as the residence of the second highest ranking religious leader, the Panchen Lama, and the monastery Tashilüpno is still regarded as one of the most beautiful places of worship in Tibet. Once 3500 monks, today 800 devote themselves to their religion there. The compounds complexity, the beauty of the buildings, and the diversity of the architecture appeals even to us mountain freaks.

Following our visit, we continue on through a sandy and desert-like landscape which reflects the interplay of the sun and the clouds in the most beautiful brownish hues. The higher our path winds to the ... pass, the more barren the landscape becomes. And then, on top of the mountain pass: in the distance, dominating above soft, and gradient brown chains of hill tops, edgy, the mother of all goddesses, Chomolungma, in Nepal the Queen Mom, Sagarmatha, or in plain English, Mount Everest. Adjacent to the West die known heights of Cho Oyu and  to the East Lhotse and Makalu - together a white wall of summits very reminiscent of the Alps, yet unmistakably different and non-comparable in height and mass and thus imposing. The tension is palpable, a positive anxiety spreads, excitement is expressed, unbelievable, the view. We linger, look, imprint the image on our minds, enjoy the incredible vista which is laid out before us under a cloudless sky and clear visibility.  Now, that we've seen our goal, the next stage - the life on the mountain - becomes an object of joy.

After the night in New Tingri, another wonderful day with yet a new climax follows: in rough terrain with a Land Cruiser, we close in on base camp. The landscape, interrupted by small settlements, is once again reason for great enjoyment, and the blue sky and bright sun enhance our euphoric mood. Then, just before base camp: a breathtaking view of the entire mass of the mountain, no cloud, clear skies, beautiful, just simply wonderful, and the Rongbuk monastery in the foreground. Here, face to face with the mountain, we realize the adventure, the enormous task, the great and distant goal we have chosen. But a few minutes, and we reach base camp. With friendly smiles, out Sirdar Dorjee and his crew greets us, and soon warm fruit juice clears our dusty throats. Our small city of tents - well placed, with brand new, yellow, North Face tents lined up in two rows, with a tent to cook, east and shower, and even a tent as an internet cafe - is ready to be populated; we hardly get to identify our luggage, which has been shipped here in March via Kathmandu, and claim a tent, when the table is set for dinner. After days of Chinese food the fabulous meal satisfies us a great deal. Obviously, Kari has taken care of everything and makes us feel home, with all but Biccoflexbeds and flush toilets. Michèle Mérat

April 23, 2002: Preparations in base camp with a first and a second group to ABC: Weather: mostly sunny with afternoon winds, warmer.

Sunshine warms the tents around 7.45am, and packed in soft sleeping bags during the cool night the heat quickly becomes unbearable, and makes us jump out of the tents in a heartbeat to suck in the sun's first rays. While the days start with comfortable sunny weather, soon an afternoon wind forces us inside the tents for reading or killing time. The evening are getting warmer, and our cold feet rarely require the warm over socks, if at all. Our thick jackets however still deliver a welcomed warmth, and some of us wonder what it is going to be like up there.

After five days of peace and quiet on one hand, and acclimatisation climbs to 5500m and 6000m on the other (Routes No. 5 and 3 on the attached map) - latter a lovely and exhausting tour, first with crampons across a wonderful frozen river with partly steep rock banks, then along a valley to a hilltop with a vista of the snowy heights - some of us feel strong enough to tackle the first trip to Advance Base Camp (ABC). The first group starts tomorrow, April 17th, to intermediate camp at about 5700m, which is a pit stop with full infrastructure on the 25km march to ABC. The following day, the group continues and a second group starts out, while the third remains in base camp. Sepp, a fanatic golfer for the last six years, could not let his clubs behind and included despite the weight restrictions his 9 iron so he could take it to the summit of Everest and swing a ball from there into a imaginary hole in space. Whoever feels challenged has the unique opportunity from April 15-16 2002 to join a six-hole golf tournament in base camp on the North Side of Everest, featuring attractive prices. Probably a world record, the tournament finds many players - many of which have never touched a golf club. The height, the sandy conditions, the strong wind and a tough course present a great challenge. The results and winners will be announced in some of the next reports. Michèle Mérat


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