Kangchenjunga Autumn 2000
This is the Czech Expedition Himalaya 8000
Himalaya 8000 ( Czech Republic )
departure : 8/30/00
in order : Seventh Expedition
path : South-West Route
leader of expedition : Josef Simunek
deputy leader : Ludek Ondrej
members : Josef Moravek, Martin Minarik, Radek
Jaros and Sona Vomackova
sirdar : Lhakpa Dorjee Sherpa
Josef Simunek, the leader of the expedition reports
The expedition goes on well without some grave
problems. After our arrival to Kathmandu we paid the
expedition permit. This means the approval issued by
the Nepal government to reach the mountains. Our gear
and climbing things which were transported by air are
still in Bangkok. It is expected to arrive on Sunday.
We have decided to employ one more Sherpa. According
to the report from the Ministry of Tourism, we are the
only team operating on Kangchenjunga.
The summer monsoon is near ending in Nepal, and the
rainy weather is still here. According to the news,
this years monsoon was really strong, so the snow
level is expected to be higher than in other years. We
are expecting to pick up the expedition permit on
Tuesday, and we are planning our departure from
Kathmandu on 10.9.00. We are going to fly from
Kathmandu to Britnagar, and from here to Taplejung by
car. The transport from Kathmandu to the Base camp
will take about 9 days, so we will be there a bit
later than expected. The transport will run in a few
phases. Firstly we will send our gear on the truck
including our Sherpas to Britnagar. About one day
later the members of the expedition will fly there as
well. From Britnagar we will go by bus and by truck to
Tablejung, and than on foot to the Base camp. It is
necessary to complete a lot of bureaucratic things
before leaving Kathmandu, and we hope to have few
All members of the expedition are on the way to the
Base camp, which they hope to reach by September 19th.
Before that, they spent a few nice days in Kathmandu.
The Team and
Bouda - Ludek Ondrej
Lhakpa Dorjee Sherpa
Pepino - Josef Moravek
Simon - Josef Simunek
9/20/2000 on the way to BC
a long break we are reporting from our way to the base
camp. We couldn't communicate earlier because
permission to use satellite phone for two months cost
$ 3000. We couldn't pay that. So we will use our phone
without permission. As a matter of fact nobody would
care, but every expedition is required to have the so
called liaison officer who works for the Ministry of
Nepal Tourism accompany them and report any
infractions. This liason officer is a real pain in the
backside to us. Imagine this, you are paying the guy a
salary, feeding him and he is snitching on us to the
Ministry of Nepal Tourism everything we do against
state law. How a lot of expeditions deal with this
situation is that they pay the guy his salary in full
and he stays in Kathmandu. Climbers can then enjoy
peace and quiet. Unfortunately, our liason officer is
somewhat crazy and attacks his job with quite a bit of
enthusiasm, and is still with us. He is always looking
over our shoulders and remembers everything.
were able to sleep in tents for the first night and
therefore we have some privacy using the phone without
risking too much. Until today we slept in lodges,
which is like an accommodation for trekkers where
everybody sleeps together.
about the trips we've been on we all agreed that we
went through a lot together, but this road to the base
camp has been the most difficult one. At first we flew
from Kathmandu to Biratnagaru which is all the way
south of Nepal, very close to the Indian border.
Elevation over there did not exceed 100 m above sea
level. Then we continued cross Nepal to the north
close to the border with Chinese Tibet ( concretely to
the north-east border with north Indian Sikkim). We
were riding the bus for a day on pavement roads which
is in Nepal an unbelievable experience. Then we were
told than bus can not make it any further and we
switched to the truck. We were 6 people with the
driver in his cabin for two days, while our 25 porters
were sitting in the back of the truck. The goal of
these two days was to keep the truck in the
equilibrium and get drunk, because we were really
afraid to fall from the steep sides of the road.
first destination was the little village of Taplejung
which we finally reached after we fought our way
through three days in three huge valleys and three
ridges. We were almost there, but the drivers showed
us the village saying :" There about 600 m is
your village. We can not go there , because the road
is down." So our expected 9 days to reach base
camp turned into 13 days. The most depressing thing is
that we go up 800 m and immediately down 800 m to some
river and so on.. This is our 5th day to the base camp
and we are still in the same elevation as Kathmandu
there are worst things here that we have to deal with.
For example Leeches are everywhere. The small ones are
about a centimeter and are unpleasant, but we can deal
with them. The bigger and fatter ones are about 7 cm
long and are disgusting slimy creatures. They are
stalking on you everywhere and stick on you
immediately and anyway, Yuck !!!
was the worst of all. It was raining every day due to
the fact that it is the end of the monsoon season and
leeches are having a party. Before we could reach our
destination ( a small, dirty, smoke everywhere cottage
), each of us got jumped on by 10 leeches at once.
Luckily, Simon knows Tae Kwon Do. One has no time to
peel them off before others attack you again. We
couldn't sleep on the porch as we planed because these
yucky creatures were everywhere. That day we finally
crossed over the saddle in 3000 m and were happy not
to have to deal with any leeches anymore.
road really changed. We are going through rein forest
in 3000 m and lianas and bamboos are all around us.
are approaching base camp. We should be there around
9. 22. as we hoped. We also hoped that nobody gets
hurt because we don't have a real doctor with us this
time and so we play doctors ourselves. For now we have
about five sherpas with some scratches which are
infected. In normal conditions they should be in bed
and dry environment, but these guys are going on even
with infected and painful legs. The money they are
making is very important for them. We feel sorry for
them, but when our translator tells them that we
recommend them to go home, they don't hear.
finally from Base Camp ( BC ).
a short note for today. So far we couldn't run the
generator, so we don't have much energy. Yesterday we
finally reached the base camp. It is located on the
big rocky ledge 5300 m between two glaziers, so we are
on grass. This is different from ours other
expeditions where we had our tents on glazier.
had a problem because our porters went on strike. They
refused to work even after being offered more money.
So we were left with half of the porters and the last
3 days of walk that were left turned into 6 days
because we had to go twice. Another big problem was
that Pepino's personal bag was stolen so he lost a lot
of clothing and climbing tools. So far we put together
some things, but it will take some work to set him up
is going to be celebration to make peace with the gods
- Pujja. We can see the whole mountain face and we are
looking forward to climb.
is OK. Regards
the Base Camp ( HURAY !!! )
weather is good - stopped raining, and snowing. Last
night it snowed 5cm.
are still fighting the generator. Transport was
difficult and the water in the carburetor is
condensed. Pepino understands motors well, so it is in
good hands. So far we function on solar power only and
thanks to the sunny day we recharged everything
afternoon we had celebration to make peace with the
gods - Pujju. Our friend, sirdar, and elevation porter
all in one person - Lhakpa Dorjee Sherpa is also
Buddhist lama, so he conducted the ceremony himself.
It was very nice. We didn't observe any bad signs
during the ceremony. Bad omens might be a falling
avalanche or a black crow lucky for us, we didn't see
any of these things, the wind didn't even blow. We
have a beautiful view of surrounding mountains because
our BC is on a rocky ledge.
the afternoon we reorganized our stuff to be ready to
leave for the other camps. Sona prepared a first aid
box for everyone. Pepino is responsible for
transmitters. Together with Simon they fight the
carburetor. Bouda is putting stuff together for the
elevation camps and our sherpas Lhakpa a Tsomba, with
Martin and Radek left to check snow and route to C1.
We can see trash after other expeditions last spring,
so we want to find out if there are any fixed ropes
left. Due to a strong monsoon with lots of snow we can
not see any ropes. So we will take our own.
to everyone Simon.
again from base camp.
have done a lot of work so far. Already on Tuesday our
sherpas left for camp 1. They are planning to put some
more fixed ropes. Martin followed them with other
fixed ropes and other needed materials. They almost
reached C1. The rest of us are in base camp preparing
in food and supplies. Sona came down with a cold so we
are supplying hot tea, vitamins and some medicine from
fist aid box.
day Pepino, Radek and Simon left for the mountain.
Three of them carried on their backs everything needed
for the first camp which is 19,685 ft (6000m). On
their way they repaired a couple of fixed stations
with fixed ropes. It was necessary because the sherpas
take these things lightly and aren't as concerned
about our own safety as we are. In the morning we dug
two platforms for tents in C1 ( we chose Tatonku
Sherpa Dome and Vango Hydra ). Anchoring the tents in
the loose snow was a problem. We already completed the
inside of the tents too. In the kitchen we have a VAR
2 cooker and ALB dishes. In the bedroom are waiting
mats. After finishing C1 everybody returned to the
base camp for a dinner. During the descent they
experienced some dangerous moments. Snow was loose and
some snow anchors couldn't hold and sometimes slipped
porters left again the next day with materials for
camp 2. In camp 2 we will raise 2 already tested
Hannah tents. Martina and Bouda followed the porters.
Besides some things they left in camp 1 they carried
the materials to set up camp 2. To acclimate herself
Sona will join them halfway. The Sherpas planed to
build tents in camp 2 on this trip. Late in the
afternoon we saw the porters coming back and we
understood that something happened. We found out that
they tried to fix the path from C1 to C2.
Unfortunately there are a lot of cracks and the path
has to be lined with bamboo stakes and some cracks
must be fixed with ropes, glazier screws, and snow
anchors. The Porters did not have enough ropes to
cross the cracks to camp 2. That's way they returned
we all will leave for C2 with more supplies. We need
to finish building a path to C2. Some of us will
return to BC and some of us will say in C1 to get
everything goes well.
Behalf of everyone in BC Sona Vomackova.
Hi everyone. So, 9. 29 Martin spent the night in C1
and that morning sherpas Lhapka and Tsomba followed by
Simon, Pepino, Sona and Radek left for C3. They took
the things that we need to build the camp as well as
our personal belongings. The Sherpas went to finish
securing the path to C2 and built a tent there.
Pepino and Radek went from C1 to check the fixed
ropes and stations done by the Sherpas. Sherpas rely
on Buddha more than their own experiences. They came
back with an interesting detail. Camp C2 is in the
same elevation as our C1. So we will spend whole
evening deciding what to do.
Sherpas went to BC tonight. They like to be on the
mountain during day and return to the BC for night.
Well, somebody who was born at an elevation of 2800m
does not need to worry about acclimatization. We
decided to cancel camp 1 and on 9.30 we moved to C2.
In "C1" we left only one tent Vango as a
deposit and decided to go from BC directly to C2. This
means one should always leave BC a bit earlier. The
best time will be between 7:30 and 8 AM, so we would
reach C2 in 5-6 hours.
Location for C2 is big and we know that this is a
safe place in case of avalanche. Gnarly!
We reorganized the set up of our tents, because
people will meet here while going up and down. So we
need a camp with the capacity for 8 people. Six
members and two Sherpas. Today we build in C2 Tatonka
Sherpa Dome and Alpinus Expedition 3 and VauDe K2.
This way we all will be comfortable.
Today and tomorrow we will work on a path from C2
to C3. This means to fix the path on face 800-900m. On
its end in 7,200 - 7, 300m should be our C3. We will
build two Hannah tents there which should accommodate
Lhakpa, Tsomba and Martin worked on path to C3
today. Boda left for acclimatization in C1 and will go
tomorrow to C2. He will sleep there if everything will
After a day of relaxing, hygiene, recharging of
batteries using generator Honda - ( which is
operational again for our sponsors ), group Simon,
Pepino, Rradek and Sona will leave BC. They want to go
directly to C2, where they will meet with Sherpas,
Martin, and Bouda. Together they will continue
building C3. So far the weather is great and they are
planning to finish C3 and sleep there for
acclimatization. How this will go you will find out in
As you noticed we are talking about our climbing
equipment very often. In order to not worry about our
safety we are using only the top quality stuff. For
example to fix the route we are using lanex Bolatice
ropes 8 mm in diameter, which we have 800 m of with
us. Because we are the only expedition here at the
moment, we will have to use an additional 700 m of
this rope. In a different situation expeditions might
share equipment and that would help to lower the cost.
Well, this time it is all on us.
On the other hand, it is an unbelievable feeling to
be the only 10 people under this huge mountain all
alone. Six climbers, two sherpas, a chef, and his
assistant. The closest inhabited building is 2 days a
way by walking over glazier and moraine. It is
Well, back to equipment. Besides ropes we also need
ice screws and ice pitons, which we bring some with us
from the Czech Republic and the rest we buy in Katmandu. We also have Singing Rock karabiners, which
are light and strong. Our harnesses are also made by
Singing Rock, which are easy to put on and off in high
altitude and cold conditions.
As I have told you before, some of our stuff we
brought from Czech Republic got stolen on our way to
the base camp in Taplejung. Unfortunately we can not
use it at all. Transmission is completed using the
Hewlett-Packard Omnibook 4150 computer.
is getting ready to go to the summit!
were selected by a lottery. The Sherpas, Pepino
Moravek, and Radek are on the first team. They will
leave tomorrow ( 10. 8 ), build camp C4 and try to
reach the summit on 10. 11. The next group - Simon,
Bouda, Sona, and Martin Minarik will try to reach the
summit on 10.12. If everything will go well, the
second group will already pack C4 on their way down.
Our communication is working again, so expect new news
very soon. Yeti
two days of rest, we needed to decide how and when to
approach the summit. Teams were selected by a lottery.
The Sherpas, Pepino Moravek, and Radek are on the
first team. They will leave tomorrow (10. 8 ), build
camp C4 and try to reach the summit on 10. 11. The
next group - Simon, Bouda, Sona, and Martin Minarik
will try to reach the summit on 10.12. If everything
will go well, the second group will already pack C4 on
their way down.
is OK and we all are very energetic. From BC behalf
all members regards Sona.
Thanks to all our friends and people, who are sending
us regards and support. Unfortunately we can not reply
to every one of you personally. So we would like to
say thank you all for the support we are getting. It
makes us very happy. Stay with us and wish us luck. We
will need it the most in the upcoming
couple of days.
is completed using the Hewlett-Packard Omnibook 4150
update: 10/11/2000 late...
lost our chance to go to the summit. The temperature
declined by 30 - 40°C and the wind is about 100km/h.
Our next attempt will be around 10/13/2000. Wish us
had been almost a week since our last news and here is
Radek, Simon a Sona should leave for elevation camps
as was planned. It was snowing the whole night and in
the morning we experienced
a terrible fog. In such situations it is better
to wait about a day. Bouda, Martin, and the Sherpas
were at the higher camps when it was
snowing. Bouda slept at C1 and because he was
OK he wanted to bring his stuff to C2 and spend the
night there. The route between C1 and C2 is through a
flat glazier with a lot of cracks and so he had to
deal with cracks and fog as well.
though the Sherpas marked
the route with bamboo stakes it was difficult to see
in the fog. Bouda experienced a bit of adrenalin when
he had to wait for the fog to split a bit to see next
bamboo stake. He arrived at the camp ok and on the way
back he filled in some more stakes so they were closer
to each other. We didnt really map out our routes
so we could orient ourselves by compass as we
couldnt see from one bamboo stake to the next
because of the snow. Well, one is always learning.
at base camp did take care of mail and messaging, but
we ran into a bit of a problem. When we wanted to send
our prepared mails an error occurred somewhere and we
couldnt connect to the server. We had to leave for
the higher camps and our mail was not sent. So, now
you know the reason we were quiet for a while.
weather was OK on the Tuesday 10/3/2000, so we could
finally move up. The first group went to C2, Bouda
left for BC, and the Sherpa with Martin went to C3.
They wanted to build C3 already yesterday, but it was
not possible due to bad weather, so they slept in C2.
met Bouda on his way to BC. His descend went well and
he was looking foreword to a good dinner in BC. We
were going to C2. The route to C1 is always terrible.
The second half to C2 is usually in very warm weather
and the other part reminds me of climbing in the
winter at Tatras. In C1 we always cook some tea and C2
is really close by, lets say about 1.5 hour. Because
its pretty sunny in C2, we can dry our clothing
walkie - talkies we communicate with each other to
know how we are doing and what is needed in each camp.
This time we can also see each other. The route to C3
is clearly visible from C2, so we were watching our
Sherpas working, zig-zaging between seracs and how
Martin was following them. Sun was really strong, but
it is not pleasant during ascent for it feels like we
are in the desert, but we are up to our knees in snow.
2 in the afternoon the Sherpas built C3 on the top of
the seracs. As
we already know them, they will return as soon as
possible. So we cooked a lot of tea enough for
everyone. They arrived around 4:30 PM, told us about
C3, drunk a little tea and left in hurry for BC. We
announced to Bouda in BC to expect them and let us
know if everyone arrived OK. We slipped immediately to
the tents, because after the sun sets it gets very
cold at this elevation.
called us upon his arrival to the BC at 6 PM. We were
glad he is also OK. Later on Bouda called from BC with
bad news. Our Liaison
officer, whom we thought we got rid of, is
BACK. So we have another problem on our hands. Luckily
Bouda put the computer and phone away (we do not have
permission to use it, because we did not have a money
to pay for usage). So we couldnt use mail nor phone
because the liaison officer could hear it.
left for C3 on Wednesday 10/4/2000
9 AM. It is hard work to get your body moving. Martin
spent the night in C3 and is on his way down. Lhapka
told us there is about 150 m of fixed ropes. The rest
is under the
snow. The snow was heard in the morning during our
ascent, although in some places we think an avalanche
could happen. Noon weather is reminiscent of a sauna -
dry, hot, and foggy. On top of that weve got some
wind and snow. We
arrived to C3 at about 2 PM. Immediately we started to
cook. Everyone must drink and eat in order to avoid
elevation illness. Our man goal of this afternoon is
to eat and drink. At 6 PM according to our
communication schedule is time to talk to BC. We found
out that the liaison officer is back with porter to
personally return Pepinos lost bag. This is unheard
of! We were also informed that the officer doesnt
really like the cold weather in BC and wants to leave
after he gives the bag to Pepinos hands.
of 10/5/2000 We are in C3. The sun is up very early
and that is super, so we are cooking. Using this
weather we are making lots of pictures for our
sponsors and after this we are descending. On the way
to C2 we thought about Lhapka who warned us that
sometimes the snow is up to ones waist. We are
fixing some parts of the route down, because it is
more difficult than on the way up.
to C2 was ok, but we looked more like snow men, we
disturbed a couple of ravens looking for leftovers.
Descent from C2 to C1 went without complications. We
know it so well, we can go blindfolded. Typically in
the BC we wash ourselves, thanks to the liaison
officer, wash and dry our clothing.