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Dutch Mount Everest North Side 2002
April 6th: The two of us woke up an hour to early, very anxious to leave. At 7 AM we head for Tibet. Hans knows the route from his three previous trips.

10 miles before Kodari the tarmac road ends and turns into a mud road. At 11.30 we arrive in Kodari, the Tibetan border. All users of  the Asian Trekking permit are on one group visa and Hans takes care of it. It takes an hour to get our passports checked to exit Nepal. Another check at the Chinese border followed by a very dusty trip in an open lorry to Zangmu. All our personal luggage goes through an X ray at the second Chinese border in Zangmu and again a passport check. Tibetans try to earn some money by carrying a part of our luggage. The Zangmu hotel had has her best days, if there were any. At 8 PM we have diner, 8 different courses with vegetables. We like it a lot. After dinner a nice stroll on the only, paved, road along the way are many women offering themselves for specific services... But we go back to the hotel...

April 7th: The next morning only two of the three jeeps, as agreed with Asian Trekking, show up. It is the Tibetan Mountaineering Association who rules here and we deal with a Chinese Liaison Officer who hardly speaks English. He has different instructions and shows the Chinese document to Hans. Hans gets the feeling they try to rip him off and gets angry. This doesn't help and only frustrates the L.O. Even apologies are not appreciated due to a communication error. So we leave with two jeeps for Nyalam (altitude: 12800 feet). The hotels get worse an we share a small double bedroom with three. The beds take 90% of the floor space.  The food is good: a lot of vegetables with rice. Hopefully our cargo will show up again tomorrow. The TMA is considering Hans as the expedition-leader of the mixed Asian Trekking group. We have, besides Hans and  Wilco, a very noisy and a very quiet American climber, a young Spanish climber, two Germans and a quiet Swiss climber. The noisy American will join another team in Basecamp and we get two Italians in return. Some climbers of the group have hired personal Sherpa's. We are 12 in total.

April 8th: Hans wakes up with headache after a sleepless night in Nyalam. He drank a lot of tea at breakfast which helped. Today will be an acclimatization day and we decide to hike into the valley that leads to the Basecamp of Shishapangma. We have been here before to attempt the South West face in 1998. 

The route is not steep, the scenery grey. Springtime has not yet begun. After three hours of hiking we decide to stop at an altitude of 14,800 feet and descend for Nyalam. We are ready to move to Basecamp. 

April 9: Today we go to Tingri (14,400 feet). A lot of snowfall during the past night doesn't stop us going. We have an old Toyota Landcruiser without shock absorbers. It takes 4 hours of bumpy ride on very bad roads. Wilco is worried about all the electronic film and communication equipment. We reach the Lalung pas (17200 feet) in two hours. Colorful prayer flags blow in the wind sending out the prayers to the world. We have an beautiful view over the Tibetan plateau with many peaks in the distance. After a short stop we move on. We leave the snow-covered pas and drive into a brown yellow colored landscape. I get pretty sick of the ongoing roller coaster ride and the fumes of gasoline in the car gives me headaches. Along the route you see many signs of  the ongoing progress by the Chinese rulers, like electricity and new Chinese names for the old Tibetan villages. When we arrive in Tingri the diner is served. Hans notices that Tingri has expanded since 2000, his last visit. The old guesthouse is still managed by the Tibetan family. All guest are invited in the large family room with a big wood oven in the center. New is the TV set. They watch it every night now. It changes rapidly here. Wilco drinks a lot of milk tea which makes him feel better. Tomorrow is another day for acclimatization and than on to base camp  (17.100 feet). All the travelers we meet in Tingri are heading to Everest Basecamp. 

April 10: Wilco had a lousy night due to the altitude. He couldn't fall a sleep. After two aspirins he felt better. Wilco is surprised about the changes in his physical condition. One moment he feels strong like a bear, the next moment he has troubles with the altitude. After breakfast they climb a 16,500 feet hill. 

The weather is great. Halfway the climb, at 15,500 fee, they have a beautiful view on Everest, Pumori,  Makalu and  Cho Oyo. The Spanish climber Jorge and the Swiss Daniel are joining us. The pace is fast and Hans and Wilco are in great shape. At the top of the hill they watch the snow-plume from the summit of Everest. They see only little snow in the north face, but that is hard to determine when you are still 40 miles away. Wilco thinks about using his paraglide from this hill, because the conditions are excellent. But he has to wait. He has agreed with Hans to wait with his first flight after all high camps are installed. At lunchtime they return in the guesthouse. Hans agrees with the L.O. to have Yaks available to move to ABC on April 14th. They are on schedule. 

April 11: With a brand new 4WD they go on the adventure drive to BC. The average speed is 10 miles per hour. At the Rongbuk monastery they stop to visit a prayer session. Only a couple of dozen monks live in the monastery. It looks like a tourist site. From here it is only a 30 minutes, slow motion roller coaster, ride to BC. Wilco is really impressed by the view of Everest. Several teams are in BC already but our first concern is our cargo. We count all our 16 barrels, a sac and a crate and are happy that everything has arrived. On a nice flat part we put our tents. We work slowly due to the altitude. The Sherpa's put up the dining tent and cook tent. Hans informs the TMA about the Yaks to be available at the 14th . Hans and Wilco want two days of rest before going to ABC. They get 34 Yaks. It looks like everything will go according to the plan. After this good news Hans grabs a sac of peanuts and joins Wilco in his tent. Both are happy to be in BC. 

April  12: The weather today is not as beautiful as yesterday. Some snowfall today.... They install the solar panels and put up a communication tent for the equipment. The second sat phone will go to ABC. The first aid kit is split in two to be put in the backpacks. Many Yaks and Tibetans are already in BC. Hans looks after the food and his own gear. Adrian, one of the two American climbers on their shared permit, complains about the coughing (due to the dry air and altitude) he suffered from all night. According to Wilco it will be everybody's turn to suffer this soon. When Wilco overlooks the teams present in Basecamp he thinks that he and Hans prepared themselves in a professional way. It is going to be an exciting two months, and they want to go for it. 

Part 2 read on here...


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