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Gavin Bate Everest 2002 Expedition

Gavin Bate plans of providing for you, the readers of, a special view into Everest. This is part one....

Will Canning and myself, a two man independent Brit team have been at ABC now for four days and we were first to arrive here with just a few Sherpas from other teams putting in some tents. Then it was quiet and deserted, now it is an absolute hive of activity and below the vast
north face of Everest, we humans are like so many ants crawling busily over the moraine to make homes out of this place for the next five weeks.

Some expensive commercial expeditions bringing in 70 or 80 yaks compare with small teams like ourselves with just one cook for staff.

Asian Trekking have sold places on their permit to myriad small groups, and they are arriving in dribs and drabs from Lhasa. A single Chinese man accompanied Will and I the other day, seemingly self-contained to climb the big E with just one tent and a rucksack. We have not seen him since.

All along the 25 kilometers of glacier teams are trudging up and down, yaks are carrying unfeasible loads and Westerners can be spotted with
mouths agape, gasping, leaning over expensive poles.

The Tibetans arrival is always forewarned by the most pungent odor and by their incessant whistling to keep the yaks in line. The big Swiss team had their tents neatly lined up in regimental order at Base Camp, nineteen VE25's each perfectly spaced to form two ranks.

Two days prior to their arrival the Sherpas were busy clearing the ground of the smallest pebbles and unsightly yak dung. Now their Sherpas have set up ABC here at 21,450' and the clients will follow, each sporting matching jackets. 

A British commercial group called Adventure Peaks had spent five days at Base Camp and are now all at ABC. 11 climbers from Ireland and England slogged their way up here and plan to acclimatize for a few days, sleep at the north col and then go all the way back to Base Camp.  They seem to be fine.

But all eyes are on the team led by Russell Brice. His truckload of gear was brought up by his Spanish guide and a team of Sherpas and there is an air of "We've done all this before" about his camp. There is an eagerness and anticipation about Mr. Brice's arrival that is like the coming of the Good Shepherd - "Oooh, wait until Brice gets here, then we'll know what's happening on the hill". As I write his yaks are coming and his clients are appearing over the hill and you can almost hear the whispers about ABC - "Here he comes !"

Much more elusive are the large Korean team, one member of whom was last seen by us in Tingri having tried a solo attempt to ABC and got ill. In the most unlikely places we suddenly see one of them ! But now their camp is being created before our very eyes and there is no doubting the flag being raised just next to our little encampment. With the Koreans on one side of us, we have the Russians on the other. Last night Will and I went down to meet the 6 man team from the Urals
with a welcoming gift of half a carrot cake ! There was much exclaiming and cheers and within about one minute they had unearthed a large bottle of Everest whisky. The Russians love their toasting and pretty soon we were toasting with the best of them ! Will and I exchanged alarmed glances as our tin cups were refilled with reckless abandon. Outside it was now dark and snowing but the warmth and bonhomie in the Russian tent lasted well into the night. Will and I both would like to report that we had the best night sleep yet, although this morning was a little groggy. 

So ABC is coming alive and a plethora of languages and accents bounce across the mountain faces. It's great to be already settled and
acclimatized. We both watched the line of Sherpas moving up to the north col from the comfort of our little suntrap, bins at the ready, and we look forward to keeping you all at updated as much as we can. 

Everest is not for a bunch of elitist people up here, it's for everyone to enjoy and take part in. 

See ya soon.
Gavin Bate


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