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 Winter Makalu 2000/2001         11-28-2000 Dispatch

A view from a bar

Ryszard Pawlowski (left) and Krzysztof Wielicki can eat and drink for free for the rest of their lives in a restaurant in Katmandu. The reason is that their autographs are placed in a show-case for the people who stood at the peak of Mount Everest.

Photo: Monika Rogozińska


All the participants of the Polish Winter Expedition to Makalu (8481m) reached the capital of Nepal in several groups. The Snow Leopard, as they call him in Georgia, Gia Tortladze, mountain life-saver, Alpinist, archeologist and filmmaker, the chairman of his national Alpinist federation, joined our Ice Warriors in Moscow. And thus the Expedition to the fifth summit of the world consists of 10 climbers.

Katmandu, full of traces of different expeditions, recognizes Everest as its king. It is present on t-shirts, posters, sign boards and shop windows. Despite Makalu being only 20 km away from the highest mountain in the world, it is difficult to get a postcard with a view of the mountain. Although the Annapurna's northern slope has the biggest number of casualties, only people who died on Everest are remembered here. There are posters of numerous expeditions in bars but "Rum Doodle" restaurant and bar is the most admired place. People who stood on the peak of Mount Everest have been able to eat and drink for free here for more than ten years. Only those who looked at the world from its highest point may place their signatures in a thick book of rice paper and on specials tables closed in glass showcases.130 persons have done that until May this year. "Will this not make you bankrupt?" - I asked the owner. "No way - laughs the restaurant owner- each of them brings his friends here to celebrate their success. In May Nazir Sabir from Pakistan threw a party for 80 guests."

Ryszard Pawlowski and Krzysztof Wielicki, the two "conquerors" of Everest also brought us here along with the group of Polish and Italian friends who will accompany us to the base at Makalu. We met Pawlowski here by accident. He got back from Ama Dablam (6856 m), which he climbed as guide, with his clients, for the twelfth time.

Almost a thousand people stood at the peak of Everest 1303 times during 47 years. "Rum Doodle" is a chronicle of the last years. The walls display different stories. A portrait of Pasang Lamu Sherpa is one of the central pictures. She is a beautiful Nepalese who was driven to the summit by her husband's unsatisfied ambition. The woman was almost pulled up to the peak seven years ago. She did not have the strength to descend. A Sherpa who took care of her froze together with the woman. Another two Nepalese women reached the summit from two different places only in May this year.

Christine Boskoff, a 33 year-old American, was in a great hurry. She put her signature in "Rum Doodle" bar just four days after she got to the summit of Everest, which was her fifth eight-thousand-meter high mountain. Boskoff wants to be the first woman to reach all fourteen mountain giants of the Himalayas and Karakorum. At the present moment she chases the memory of Wanda Rutkiewicz, who remains unbeaten in this filed. The American unsuccessfully tried to conquer Cho Oyu exactly at the time when Dariusz Zaluski, a member of the current Makalu expedition, reached its top

Joao Garcia from Portugal could drop in at the bar in Katmandu a year from the time when he reached the peak of Everest. In the spring of last year he spent a night at the ridge under the summit form its northern side. The place is called the Bivouac of Death. Only Pawlowski got back from there out of three people forced to stay after dusk. Garcia's partner and friend died. He himself lost his fingers and a part of the nose which were frost-bitten.

The oldest man on Everest so far, the 63-year-old Tashio Yamamoto from Japan took his time to get to the bar. He appeared to be the fittest of a few elderly gentlemen who rivaled at Everest in the spring. Goran Kropp from Sweden was not too eager to race. Four years ago he got to the mountain from his homeland on… a bike, after which he calmly reached the peak. It is not known how he returned home.

Tom Whittaker had an especially warm welcome at the bar. He was 49, when, after his third attempt, he stood at the peak, despite the fact that during his last expedition he had symptoms of lung swelling. 19 years earlier Whittaker lost his right leg in a car crash. His artificial limb had sharp metal crampons during the climb.

As he said afterwards, his friend's gesture was the most important for him. The friend gave Whittaker a stone from the summit of Mount Everest asking him to take it back to the place. Whittaker is a professor. He gives lectures called "adventure education" in Arizona.

The signature of 38 year-old Davo Karnicar is still fresh. The Slovenian skid down the peak of Everest almost two months ago. many people did it before him, however none achieved it without taking off the skis in rocky places. Karnicar is said to be going down the Nepalese side. In order to pass round a place called Ice Fall, he traversed via slopes on which avalanches are frequent. When asked how he avoided the avalanches, he said "I skid faster than they fell".

Bar tenders at "Rum Doodle" are especially proud of their record breaking compatriots. They are Appa Sherpa, who stood at the peak 12 times and Babu Chiri Sherpa, who ascended the summit from the base in 16 hours and 56 minutes and a year before realized his program - "The Dream at the Peak of Everest". He spent 20 hours there in an especially designed tent. Babu Chiri is very rich nowadays. He wrote the following words in the rice-paper book: "It's great".

In his recently published autobiography entitled "A View from the Top", Sir Edmund Hillary, the first conqueror of Mount Everest, wrote that romanticism of his times and human acts had the greatest value in the period when he penetrated an unknown area of the Everest massif. 47 years which passed from that moment seem an epoch now. Every formality in Katmandu, including shopping, re-packaging of the equipment and its preparation for further transport has been performed. On Tuesday, 28th of November, the members of the Polish Winter Makalu expedition are leaving the dusty city, where people walk with preventive masks on their faces. We are going to Jiri (188 km away). A helicopter is to take part of our equipment from the place along with two Nepalese guards to the base at the height of 4900 meters. We will be transported from the bed of the Katmandu valley to Tashigaon (2070 m). We will walk from that place. After a week of travel through high passes we should get to the base.

written by Monika Rogozinska, "Rzeczpospolita",
transl. by "TRANSLATOR" Technical Translation Agency
http://www.rp.pl  ("Rzeczpospolita") and
http://www.translator-warsaw.com.pl ("TRANSLATOR")

Next Update 11-29-2000   Dispatches

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