Climbing Kala Patar and resting at Base Camp
Fiona on the summit of Kala Patar with Everest in the background. Photo Chris Garrard.
A large avalanche engulfs the upper part of the icefall at 11am today. Photo Jim Gagne
Location: Everest Base Camp
Local Time: 6pm, 5th April
Weather: Fine, 23C inside the tent during the day and -8C at night.
Hi it's Paul here,
I woke up this morning and my throat felt worse than yesterday, so I decided to rest in base camp while Fiona has walked down to Gorak Shep to see Chris and Bridget and hopefully climb Kala Patar. There is not a cloud in the sky, so the views of the upper reaches of Everest should be great. MC - received your text message on our sat phone - I am using an iodine and salt water gargle.
A massive avalanche hit the icefall at 11am today right where the icefall doctors were last seen working yesterday. We hope that they are all alright, and that they get paid well for their job. It certainly serves as a reminder to move fast through the icefall and leave early in the morning before it heats up.
Fiona hiked to Gorak Shep with one of our Sherpas, Mingma, and met up with Chris and Bridget. Chris and Fiona then climbed Kala Patar and enjoyed great views from the top - see photo. Bridget and Chris had already climbed it yesterday, so Bridge stayed in their lodge and started reading the books that Fiona brought to them. After climbing Kala Patar, they enjoyed lunch in the Lodge and then Fiona came back to base camp in 1.5 hours - a pretty good time. She was tired, but looked well.
About base camp
Whilst I have missed out on a hike today, it gives me some time to write about base camp. It's interesting listening to the reactions from trekkers, most of whom haven't been to a base camp before and also haven't camped on a moraine covered glacier. The most common comments are the scale of the setup and also how uneven and slippery is the ground.
It's a tent city here
There are a huge number of tents - each person has their own tent, so with about 20 Sherpas and 25 trekkers and climbers, that's 45 individual tents. Then there is the member dining tent (we are referred to as members) capable of seating us all at once, the member cook tent where our meals are prepared, the member communications and snack food tent, shower and changing tent, two member toilet tents, two Sherpa toilet tents (located close to their tents), Sherpa cook tent, Sherpa dining tent and finally four large tents storing gear and food. In the snack food tent there is a huge array of food for us to grab whenever we want; from Pringles to chocolate and Oreos. It's an absolutely massive setup, with the Puja altar in the middle and prayer flags stretching from it to each corner of the camp. It sure makes for an impressive sight and we are just one team on the mountain!
Is base camp clean?
I am sure you have all heard the stories about the rubbish at Everest Base camp. Well from what we have seen so far, it's extremely clean. The only rubbish that we have seen are the two crashed helicopters, otherwise it seems to be one of the more cleaner parts of Nepal. We have had to provide a security deposit to guarantee that we take all our oxygen bottles and rubbish out with us. This includes all human waste. The toilets are built over a blue barrel, and when its full the "Goo Man" comes and takes them away down the valley for treatment. (Yes, that's what he is called.)
Apparently stories about the South Col being littered with oxygen bottles and debris are also untrue - talking with people who were there last year say there was reminants of tents that had been destroyed in storms, but certainly no used oxygen bottles lying around. Obviously the bounty on rubbish and oxygen bottles is working.
Apparently you can still locate the base camp sites of the very early expeditions (they are further down the valley from where we are) and if you look hard you can find things that they left behind. We might go exploring one day. I saw an oxygen bottle from the 1953 expedition for sale in Namche Bazaar for US$20,000.
We are camped on a glacier and at night you can hear the ice creaking underneath every half hour or so. It's a low pitched grating sound that you can only hear at night when its quiet, but it can be a bit disconcerting. There were also several large avalanches of snow and rocks last night, but here at base camp we are in very little danger from these. Where we are camped is covered with moraine and the surface is extremely uneven. In fact nothing is level except for the bases of the tents, which have been laboriously flattened by the Sherpa team in the weeks leading up to our arrival. Large rocks the size of small cars are perched on the ice, and gravel similar to what goes on roads covers almost everything else. Small paths have been made between all the tents, although these are definitely a work in progress. It's very slippery when walking, due to the uneven terrain and where the gravel has fallen away to leave exposed ice. Most people have slipped over at least once already.
What is the view from base camp?
The camp is situated at the head of a narrow valley, so we are ringed by high, jagged peaks. Straight ahead from our tent we can see most of the icefall, and the very top of Lhotse. To the right of the icefall is Nuptse, a high peak with lots of exposed rock and seracs; huge blocks of hanging ice that break off to form avalanches. To the right of Nuptse is the Khumbu Valley and Khumbu Glacier, which flows down past the towns of Gorak Shep and Lobuje. Continuing right in a clockwise direction you can see Kala Patar; a small black hill at the base of Pumori. From Kala Patar you can get good views of the upper reaches of Everest, including the South Col. Behind our tent is Pumori, a spectatcular conical shaped mountain. Further to the right are smaller moutains forming a ring around the camp. Next to the icefall is the Lho La, a pass into Tibet. There are lots of seracs here too, and they frequently avalanche. We can see all this from base camp, but we can’t actually see Everest!
Issued with radios
This morning we were each issued with radios, however we haven't yet setup a regular calling in schedule. Once we start moving up the mountain we will each call into base camp at regular intervals and our position will be recorded on a chart inside the main communications tent.
Yesterday a ladder was setup to practise our technique. Fiona and I both tried, and it was pretty straightforward, although we didn’t have our climbing boots and crampons on, and were only 15cm above the ground! We expect to go part way up the icefall on Friday.
Thanks for all your messages - we love reading and sharing them with the rest of the team. We passed the messages for Dennis Kellner onto him and asked him to write a few words. We will try to hand our gear round to other climbers and get them to fill you in on how their climb is progressing and hopefully provide a different perspective.
Hi, it's Dennis here,
The real training has begun. I tried to keep up with Phsingo, my sherpa on a trek today to Kala Patar. These guys are awesome and I am beat. Tomorrow I will go a little way up into the ice fall to become familiar with that area of the climb. While in the ice fall it is wise to move as quickly as possible because it is one of the more dangerous areas of the climb. I really appreciate everyone that has sent messages to this site. I was most surprised by my Aunt June. All that have sent messages please be asssured that I am getting a chance to read them, however it is very difficult to respond to them individually out here. So occasionally I will be able to do a general posting. Time for afternoon tea so I will end this now. Love to you Tam and thank you to the rest of you, Dennis.
Bye for now,
Posted by: Anne Munro on April 5, 2006 11:48 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul,
I really feel like I am watching history when I read your emails each day. It really is very exciting for all of us who read this but I am sure not as exciting as it is for you two. You really sound like you have chosen a very good company for your climb and the sherpas really sound as if they know what they are doing. Fiona I must say that your face looks very tanned in today's photo. By the way Winter hit Melbourne today and everyone has their heaters on although it is not down to -8 C which you guys have at night. I am so glad that your stretchers fit in as I am sure that you will have much more comfort with them over the long time you will be staying there. Paul I really hope that your throat improves. If you have something like Dettol with you dad always swears by gargling with it when he has a sore throat, he says it always works.
with love and best wishes to you both and keep up the good work.
Anne and Princess Panda
Posted by: Students from QECVI on April 6, 2006 12:29 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona:
Have you seen anyone suffering from HAPE? How difficult is it to breathe? What do you have to eat? Did you bring food from home or are you eating local food? Paul - we're really sorry to hear that your throat is bothering you. Drink some Sherpa tea and feel better soon!! From your friends in Canada.
Posted by: John and Mary on April 6, 2006 12:54 AM AEST
Hi P&F- You two are the feature in this week's Bayside Weekly. Great article by Roland and a terrific photo .
Hope the throat is on the improve- don't do too much talking. Look after yourself.
Have just come home from The Lion King-the weather outside (both here and at Base Camp)is a lot colder than in the African Desert!
lots of love
Dad and Mare
Posted by: Tamara Brown (a/k/a Tam) on April 6, 2006 12:55 AM AEST
Paul & Fiona:
Thank You! Each posting provides us another chapter in your fabulous adventure novel! Paul, thank you for your great description of Base Camp. A number of people have asked about your "accomodations" and you have answered many questions. It certainly doesn't sound as if Dennis is suffering without his weekly batch of homemade cookies! Being at sea level in the Florida Keys with 85 degree temps makes it difficult for some to grasp the concept of glaciers, seracs and any temperature below 60F! Thanks also for allowing us to hear from other climbers and loved ones on the team. You are ALL heavy in our thoughts. Climb safe, be healthy! Papia to Den ..........
Posted by: Jason McKinnon on April 6, 2006 03:19 AM AEST
Hey Paul and Fiona,
I have passed on your website to friends here in Vancouver who are mountaineers and we are all reading daily. Also, members of the North Shore Rescue who do all the mountain rescues here. A couple of them have made it as far as base camp and we are all loving your posts. Climb safe!
Posted by: MC on April 6, 2006 04:32 AM AEST
Congrats on climbing Kala Patar, Fiona. Beautiful photo of you showing Everest in the background. Paul, probably wise to stay in BC...I am hoping that your sore throat will get better immediately and not return for the remainder of your expedition. BTW, your descriptions of BC are tremendous...I will be anticipating a book from the two of you after your "summit" of Samantha and you are back home safe and sound.
I was wondering...will IMG be posting GPS reports so that we might see your positions during this ascent of Everest? (Although I realize that climbers will be at different positions.) Would be interesting to see.
Be early and be quick through the ice fall. I hope all the ice fall doctors are O.K. from that avalanche.
Posted by: Orhan on April 6, 2006 09:56 AM AEST
Everest's summit looks very close from the photo you have taken at Kala Patar yet you are not even half way of your mission.
all the best for the rest of ur adventure.
Posted by: katrina cuskelly on April 6, 2006 10:04 AM AEST
Hi Guys, Really loving my daily fix in reading all about your adventure. Congratulations on making base camp! Inspirational stuff! Paul if you can get your hands on some raw garlic get into it for your throat - works wonders! Stay safe and alert - Katrina x
Posted by: Rachel on April 6, 2006 10:34 AM AEST
Hi Fi and Paul, That is such a great shot of you in front of Everest Fi. It really puts the scale of your mission into perspective for us "non-climbers" here at home. Its great to hear your news daily and to hear you are all safe. Always thinking of you guys, hope you get better soon Paul. Love Rachel B
Posted by: Raz on April 6, 2006 11:12 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fi. I am loving reading you daily updates, totally engrossing. Keep up the great work and the detail in your updates. A few questions - Paul how are your feet in the cold weather? Are you finding them more sensitive than in previous climbs? And are Bridget and Chris joining you at base camp soon or are they just going to relax in their lodge some more!? Take it easy. Raz.
Posted by: Rosemary & Dave Abbott on April 6, 2006 11:33 AM AEST
You really are famous - my mother Connie (Phyllis's sister) rang me this morning to tell me you were in the Melbourne Weekly. I see by John and Mare's email it was the Bayside Weekly - anyway the Golden Oldies are really impressed - you realise getting in the local paper is a much greater achievement than climbing Everest? Windy in Paynesville today - gusting to 35 knots. What's the wind doing where you are? Love the photos, the fantastic blue of the sky, reflected across the incredible black, white and grey landscape - and then the beautifully garish colours of clothes and tents. Really great photos. Any cockroaches in Base Camp?
Still in your footsteps -
Rosemary & Dave
Posted by: Margaret Harrington on April 6, 2006 11:51 AM AEST
Great to read your postings every day. I loved the photo of you with Everest in the background and dad is going to print it off for me.
Did you get nana's message - she sent it from a friend's place at the Village. mark won a gold meadl at this year's Flower Show so they're thrilled. Leah is off to Bali at the end of April for work and she is excited about that. The Princess ahs chewecd 5 pairs of galsses so we are not amused!!
Cheer up Paul - I hope that you'll soon be back on track.
Anythony's wedding was very good -at a winery in the yarra Valley but the weather turned cold which was infortunate. It's still cold!!
Love you heaps.Thake care!!
Posted by: Brad Bond on April 6, 2006 02:15 PM AEST
Photos and updates have been great. I also have some great news that Paige is allowed to come home from hospital this afternoon! The doctors are satisfied that she has recovered well enough from what turned out to be a viral infection she contracted after birth. She has had more needles stuck into her in her first 2 weeks of life than I have in my entire life! She is much braver than me. Hope your throat gets better Paul.
Brad, Tracy, Madi & Paige.
Posted by: Beck Adler on April 6, 2006 02:52 PM AEST
Thanks for all the details about base camp. Have you met any other Aussies up there yet ? What sort of diets do the Sherpa's have ? It is lovely to see new photos of your smiling faces each day.
Posted by: Matt Bottrell on April 6, 2006 04:09 PM AEST
Have read about your trip via the internal Sensis E-Bulletin.
Just wish to pass on my support and well wishes.
What a fantastic experience!
All the best.
Posted by: Cheryl Threadgold and Family on April 6, 2006 05:50 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona
Don't know if you remember us from years back Paul, but we have always enjoyed hearing updates from Mary and John re how you are going.
It's been particularly exciting to read about you recently in the press and your wonderful happy faces make readers feel happy too.
Every good wish to both of you for a marvellous and safe expedition.
Cheryl and Malcolm Threadgold and Family
Posted by: Valerie & Ken Johnson on April 7, 2006 08:00 AM AEST
Firstly, congratulations to Chris & Bridget on their engagement. That will be a wonderful story to tell future generations. Fiona, what a photo!! What a backdrop. Oh, how very exciting. Have you heard from the icefall doctors yet? We are hoping for good news on that front. Paul, did you and Fiona have to bring any of your own food up the mountain or is that part of what your climbing payment is for? We hope your throat is getting much better.
I am so excited to continue reading about your adventure, as I have read numerous books over the years about climbing Everest and I know your locations from the many maps in the books. Unfortunately, my fascination with Everest did not start until I was well into my very late 30's. Had I been younger----------who knows??? At least you have the technology to "take" me on the climb with you.
Stay Safe---Valerie & Ken
Posted by: Paul on April 7, 2006 09:34 AM AEST
great news! Not sure how I ended up on your distribution list but I'm glad everything's going well....
Posted by: Glenda Baker on April 7, 2006 04:35 PM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul,
I am thoroughly enjoying following your climb from the comforts of my home. I am learning so much from your experience. I was so thrilled to read a letter from my Aunty Betty, your Grandmother Fiona, and of course from your Mother Margaret too. I wish you well for the rest of the climb and trust that you both stay fit, no moer sore throats. . Your photographs are just superb and I am also printing some of those. Your daily reports will make a book in their own right. Safe climbing, thinking of you, Love Glenda.
Posted by: Colin and Grace on April 8, 2006 01:52 PM AEST
Hi Bridg and Chris
Barb just rang with the news, Congratulations to you both,what a place to propose. One question!!
Are we all expected to come over there for the engagement party and if we are,what do we wear and how do we get there.
have a fantastic time and see you when you get back
Colin and Grace
Posted by: Robbin Adams on April 10, 2006 11:48 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona, I am a friend of Jim Gagne's and have found your website quite interesting to follow. Would you please pass a message to Jim, he spoke at our son's elementary school 2 days before he left and they would like to send their best wishes to him as he gets close to the climb up Everest. Best to you all, have a great climb. Robbin Adams
Posted by: Jan Tozer on April 10, 2006 03:57 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona, Like all your other callers I am enthralled at reading the daily events. I swim with the Icebergers at the Middle Brighton Baths each day with Mary Adler and was so interested to hear her son Paul was having this fabulous adventure with wife Fiona. Since living in NZ long ago and often seeing Mt.Cook and later going close to (but not climbing like you) Jungfrau,Eiger,Blanc etc I have had a love of all those majestic mountains, and watched the climbers in action.So to be able to read your daily updates and see the fabulous photos and share the adventure is just so special and we all feel so close to the situation. So thanks for making it all possible and now we wait for Mary to leave for her trek to base camp so she can keep the IT part of it going while you two get on with the climbing !! She is in training and looking fit and ready for her part of the great adventure. Cheers from Jan Tozer
Posted by: christine and malcolm farr-knapp on April 10, 2006 09:18 PM AEST
Hi Chris and Bridg,
Chris, Malcolm wants to know whether you were suffering from altitude sickness when you proposed to Bridg? Seriously, congratulations to you both. The photos remind me of when I stand on the point at Mansfield and look up at Mt. Buller!
Best wishes for a terrific trip ahead and trust the weather is kind to your friends Paul and Fiona. Good luck and safe travel. Luv and kisses from Christine and Malcolm