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Saxon Karakorum Expedition

At BC 7/24/2001: After the whole crew has returned to the base camp, some days of resting are necessary. Firstly, we need some recreation anyway before going to the summit. Secondly, the weather does not allow any climbing: It is raining and snowing, snowing and raining. But there is much to do in the base camp. The main problem are the platforms for our tents. The base camp is situated on the moraine of a glacier. This means the underground is made of stones and rubble, but 10-20cm or somewhere 1-2m beneath them there is ice that changes permanently. It melts producing clefts and small brooks. And places where one has prepared a nice plane platform turn getting a dent or a hump, that are not suitable for the vertebral column when sleeping. After one hour's work, one has about three days of comfortable sleeping again.

Christian is still unaffected by these problems: His tents is located on a huge rubble hill, that we have given the name "Walter Kangri" (analogous to the 7000 meters high "Baltoro Kangri" vis ΰ vis to our base camp). But Christian has another problem: the flanks of the "Walter Kangri" become steeper and steeper due to melting. So he needed to install a rope to get to his tent. :-)

It is so funny to watch Christian getting to his tent by alpinistic means...

7/25/2001

Another resting day in the base camp. It still snows. However, the snow melts during the day because the temperatures are above zero at 5100m altitude.

There is no chance for an ascent - the amount of newly-fallen snow at the level of camp 1 accounts to 80 cm, as reported by the Swiss that got away to the basecamp as well.

But a day in the base camp is surely not boring. Our centre of communication works around the clock and our large tent is the main international meeting point of the whole base camp. One meets a lot of interesting people, and among 8000 m climbers there are a lot of rare birds...

E.g. Andre, Swiss, who has already climbed half dozen 8000's and who made the ascent from the base camp to the summit of the GII within 16 hours! Of course, after passing a good adaptation period.

Or Christian from Vienna, who teaches at a college and drives on his Harley Davidson to his work. He knows the first houndred decimal places of Pi by heart, but we could prove it only to 3,1415...

Or Max the Kasakh, who is the youngest here, and who was astonished when we talked about the mountains of the Tienshan, his home region ...

Our Italian friend Silvio comes along each day. He originates from Alagna near the Monte Rosa and works as a mountain ranger. Climbing is his profession for 365 days per year or picking up unexperienced tourists in trouble by a helicopter. If he just does not climb a 8000 peak that he has succeeded already 6 times. In spring, he made the Everest - without supplementary oxygen! And when he makes the GI & GII, he returns home, to leave 2 weeks later again for the Dhaulagiri. Always when he gets here, someone calls "Pronto!". Silvio phones his girl-friend at home every day: "Pronto! Ciao Sonja! ..."

Or Sergei from the Ukraine. Though he is here for the longest period, he was not higher than camp 1, yet. Instead, he walks fully equipped through the whole base camp. The summit is not that important for him, the way is the target. This is perhaps the reason that he chose the way on land from the Ukraine to Pakistan - an adventure of several months of which he can tell thousand stories...

And Christian from Dresden, climber but also a passionate electronic constructor. And if has nothing to install or repair, he gets silly ideas.

One of them got birth today. There is a Walkman of which are a lot in the base camp. Normally, they are made with headphones for one person only. But where one can get a couple of speakers in the Gasherbrum base camp? During a medical routine control he got the idea. The ECG device does some "peeps", so there must be a speaker in it! It took less than half an hour until Christian created a brand new combination. The medical equipment became a HIGH-FIDELITY-SCOPE 8000, a multifunctional device for monitoring patients and playing HiFi sound. A revolution in medicine. :-)

When a ECG curve is displayed on the screen, the same device plays the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the changes of the values of the relative oxygen saturation are accompanied by Vivaldi's "Four Seasons"; the ups and downs of the curve of breathing frequency by the sound of Tocotronic... What a music!

7/26/2001

The third day in the base camp, it is still snowing. The BBC-News are not amazing. The Monsune has affected Pakistan severely. More than 600mm rain within some hours in Islamabad. This corresponds to the precipitation amount of a whole year in Dresden! About 60 and 120 deaths. Hundreds kilometers roads are destroyed, bridges are flushed and the Karakorum Highway wont be passable for weeks.

But the Monsoon has some influence on the weather in the high mountain region as well. So there are already some pessimistic voices in the base camp, but we are still waiting hopefully for the end of the precipitations. Tonight, we will have a party with our Spanish friends again.

Markus Walter, base camp 7/26/2001 - 17 o'clock local time

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