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Adventures International Everest 2002 Expedition

 

April 8th 2002, Everest Base Camp 17,500 ft.

Yahoo! Everyone is in base camp and feeling great! It feels like we have finally started, after a long couple weeks trekking into base camp. I actually have some time to write a bit more about our expedition now.

We just had our Puja (Sherpa blessing ceremony) this morning. This is an essential rite for the Sherpas in preparation for any Everest expedition. The Sherpas believe that to go into the icefall above base camp or to any higher camp is dangerous before the Puja. So most expeditions wait till all members and staff are here to participate. The sun came out of the clouds just in time for our ceremony. The Puja included prayers, dancing, a bit of whiskey, prayer flags, burning juniper and incense all mixed together for a significant yet lighthearted party which lasted 3 to 4 hours. Two other groups also had their Pujas today, so base camp was quite festive.

After the Puja, our team went into the lower section of the icefall this afternoon for some ladder practice and exercise. It is always exciting to check out the route into the Khumbu Icefall for the first time. This is the entrance to the Western Cwm higher on the mountain. All expeditions via the South Col route have to make multiple trips through here to the higher camps. The ice fall is a constantly changing living beast, full of ice towers on the verge of collapse, a series of huge ice steps across hundreds of crevasses and through areas we call popcorn ice, where you can see down through ice debris a hundred feet below and things are just frozen together enough to hold your weight! This is place you want to spend as little time as possible in.

Later...snowing now, several inches have accumulated. So we’re inside our dinning tent with the heaters cranked and about to watch a DVD movie. Dramatic change in the weather today, from hot sun to full snowstorm. As more snow falls, tomorrows plans are changing.

Base camp is actually quite luxurious. We have a full solar power system with a couple backup generators to facilitate a heated dinning tent with 110v light system, satellite phone, computers, DVD player, plus a shower tent and individual tents for all. It is basically our own little village at 17,500 ft. We will be in and out of base camp for the next 2 months, so a comfortable place to hang out in bad weather is critical for the spirits on longer trips like this. Our base camp staff is terrific; we have super cooks. It is quite a social scene at base, with lots of good friends showing up on other expeditions, interesting projects going on, films, trekkers, always something happening!

Our plans call for a slow program of acclimatization on the mountain. First we’ll go up to Camp 1 at about 20,000 ft. for the day, probably April 10th. After this we plan a few days of rest, then back up to sleep at Camp 1 for a couple nights with a hike up to Camp 2. It will take a while for Camp 2 to be ready to stay in. After this second foray up higher we again take a rest at base camp. The next time up, the third trip, we plan to shoot up to Camp 1, then up to Camp 2 for several nights, with a day trip up to Camp 3 followed again by another rest at base camp. Our forth trip to altitude will be direct to Camp 2 for a couple nights; then onto Camp 3 for 2 nights, and then all the way back to base camp for a long rest. The next trip up we should be ready for a go at the top, although to predict that far in the future schedule on Everest is only wishful thinking. As we get closer to May, we will be getting better ideas on when our first shot at the top will be.

Stay tuned for more stories of life at 17,500 ft. and above!

Hey to everyone from Jack, Bruno, Jason and Scott!

Scott Woolums 

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