Everest Base Camp… here we come
Fiona's mother, Margaret Harrington, will be trekking into base camp with Fiona in April. Photo Fiona Adler
Kyna and Fiona cutting up apples that we had collected from their tree. Photo Paul Adler
Hi - Fiona here,
Just a short update about the trek into base camp. I’m very excited because my Mum (Marg), Beck (Paul’s sister), and Denise (a family friend) have all decided to trek in to base camp with me.
Also, Paul’s two brothers – Tim and Damien have decided to trek into base camp with him. This will be fantastic support for Paul. I’m sure there’ll be so much talking that they’ll be at base camp before they even realise it! Tim lives in Boston and Damien in Ballarat (about an hour out of Melbourne), so it’s not often they can get together. Paul and Dame are leaving Melbourne late on 29th March and will meet Tim in Kathmandu.
Once at base camp Tim and Dame will spend a couple of days there and then head back out together. After a few more days, Paul will hopefully begin his acclimatisation rotations. Most climbers do 3 rotations but last year Paul and I did only 2 but made them longer in duration than other climbers. This was partly because Paul had a chest infection and so we started late, but it seemed to work pretty well and more importantly, it avoids an additional trip each way through the icefall. It does mean spending quite a lot of time at camp 2 – which is fine, provided you have a lot of books and patience. Some people believe that camp 2 is too high to spend much time there, but we both felt pretty comfortable (relatively speaking of course), although we didn’t sleep too well.
My trekkers group will leave Melbourne the night of April 25th and plan to spend a couple of days in Kathmandu to check out the sights and purchase some gear. We’ll then fly into Lukla and from there, we’ll begin our trek into base camp – taking a slow and conservative schedule to minimise the chance of altitude sickness. We plan to reach base camp on or before May 10th. By this time we expect that Paul will be completing his second (and final) acclimatisation rotation where he’ll have been to camp 3 without oxygen. But it’s very dependent on weather and his health so we can’t be too exact about dates.
Mum, Denise and Beck will stay at base camp for a few days and then trek out together, arriving back in Melbourne on 20th May. None of them have been to Nepal before and have varying levels of experience. Denise has trekked the Inca Trail in Peru so knows what altitude feels like, Beck has done some hiking in Australia, and Mum walks a lot and is generally very healthy but has never done any overnight hiking before. In the last couple of months she’s joined a gym, purchased hiking boots, got the green light from her doctor, and she and Beck have become regulars at the Thousand Steps walk in Ferntree Gully. She’s pretty nervous but I have no doubt that she’ll be fine. As an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, I’m sure she’ll love the interaction with the Nepalese people along the way as well.
If anyone else is interested in joining our base camp trek with us or meeting up along the way, please get in touch soon.
I’ll be staying at base camp as support for Paul until he finishes climbing. We’ve purchased what we hope are better radios this year, so that we can communicate more easily while he’s on the mountain. There are always a fair few other people around, but even still, it’s a pretty lonely experience up there. Looking back on it, we had a big advantage last year being there together, and also getting so many messages from everyone around the world. It really made us feel like we weren’t alone up there, that other people were cheering for us, and sometimes just gave us something else to think about.
Other than planning Paul’s climb and my trek, we took a brief trip to New Zealand this month to be there for Kelly (Paul’s cousin) and Mark’s wedding. It was beautiful – we loved the butterflies guys! Great to catch up with the rest of family there as well. We also stayed a couple of days with Kyna - a good friend who used to share a house with us in our university days. Last time we saw her was at her wedding and now she and Mal have two gorgeous little girls. We really enjoyed hanging out with them, picking apples off their tree, playing with the girls, and catching up on the last 2 years.
Paul’s training is going well and the MyEverest website is nearly ready. We’ve been extremely encouraged by everyone’s enthusiastic reaction to the idea – so thanks for all you comments. It looks like there’ll be a couple of other climbers using it this climbing season to send updates, plus there are several non-climbing related stories about people that have tackled some very different challenges in their lives. I was brought to tears reading one of them so we hope to share them with you soon.
Remember, if you or someone you know are working towards something new in 2007 and would like to share your journey with others, please get in touch. I’ll actually be using MyEverest to log my progress with the next big challenge I’ve set myself. Together with Brad Bond (a friend and our business partner at Invizage), I’m developing a community website which is based on an idea I had in 2000 and have recently seen variations of it working well in the US. Anyway, I’ll tell you all about it once MyEverest is up and running.
Hope everyone’s start to 2007 has been great so far.
Posted by: Paul Adler on February 7, 2007 11:13 PM AEST
Just getting back to John Mc who posted a question on the previous update. John asked about what search and rescue insurance we used and if we had any issues with the Nepalese customs when bringing in our gear.
On the medical side we took out a travel medical insurance policy with IHI in Denmark. They don't have restrictions on activities such as mountaineering with ropes. We have used them in the past and made a claim, and they were quite good to deal with. The policy from IHI was only about USD300, which is pretty good value. It also covers the cost of evacuation and body repatriation.
This insurance doesn't cover any gear or trip cancellation, so we took out a standard travel insurance policy for this. We were worried about the financial consequences if we had a bike accident or some other training mishap in the period from January to March - after we had paid everything. I hunted around and found a standard policy that offered unlimited trip cancellation cover if a doctor said you were unfit to go. I confirmed that even though the policy didn't cover any medical expenses related to climbing with ropes, that they would still provide trip cancellation cover for this type of activity.
We had no issues whatsoever with customs in Nepal. They are used to seeing climbers come and go.
Tell me more about your upcoming trip. I'd be interested to hear about it.
Posted by: Liz - Upper Montclair, NJ USA on February 7, 2007 11:20 PM AEST
'MyEverest.com' is fantastic idea! Wonderful of you to do this and am certain it is going to be a gigntic hit.
Paul want to wish you the best of luck with Everest 2007!! I have faith you will make it, however, one climber to the other, you know the drill - no risks please. Better to come home alive than to tag the summit and risk not returning.
'MyEverest', my daughter Tara Luanne is now 26 months old and I am reminded daily of the climb I never got to complete and the blessing which are part of my life now. My daughter and the fact that my husband was saved by the great efforts of Dr. Luanne Freer, her team and the beautiful Sherpa people.
Joe's rescue: http://www.basecampmd.com/story/lifethreateninghapeApr242004.shtml
My Tara Lu: http://www.basecampmd.com/story/stories/SupportOurClinic--buyapatchMay32005.shtml Need to get Dr. Freer a current photo!!
Paul, our thoughts and prayers are with you on this climb. Fiona enjoy the trek. Looks like you have a lot of great company this year!!
Posted by: MC - Vancouver - Washington - USA on February 8, 2007 12:28 AM AEST
Thank you for the update, Fiona. I've decided to stick with my original plan to climb Kilimanjaro this June so I will not be trekking to BC with you and company. I will be following you and Paul every step of the way. I am hoping to summit Kili on June 30th which is a full moon and my 50th birthday.
I wish Paul the best on his journey this spring. I can envision him standing on the summit of Everest!
p.s. I just recorded my first music demo, "Light of Dawn". It has been very exciting!
Posted by: Larry and Marianne Benvenuti on February 8, 2007 12:55 AM AEST
Hi Fiona and Paul,
Here YOU go again. We are looking forward to your new adventure at Mt Everest. Our prayers will be with you every step of the way,especially for Paul.
You leave for base camp the same day I leave for Cuba for a two photo / humanitarian trip.
Anyway, please keep us informed of all that transpires.
I'm sure that you know that Dennis and Tam sold the house and will be leaving Marathon by 28 Feb 07.
Larry and Marianne B
Posted by: Liz James on February 8, 2007 07:41 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
Great to hear that your plans are all going well. I was thinking a lot about you a couple of weeks ago when Gavan and I did the Alpine Classic(!)in perfect weather. Somehow those hills flattened out when I was going over all the training you were doing at this time last year. And thanks for the chance to follow your adventures this time around too. al the best, Liz.
Posted by: michael dunjey on February 8, 2007 08:56 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona
Paul, i am the guy from perth who spoke to you a couple of months ago - trying to get some advice about which team to go with for Everest this year. I have decided on AC. So let me know which team you have decided on and we should try and locate each other in BC - its always great to catch up with ozzies on any of these expeditions. I really hope your training is going well and you are absolutely pumped about having a good expedition. I however am certainly starting to get a few nerves...but thats all good i guess. Thanks again for your advice from before and i look forward to hopefully seeing you at BC and on the mountain.
Posted by: Sarah Jill, Dallas, TX, USA on February 8, 2007 10:07 AM AEST
Loved seeing this new flurry of activity on your site. I check it every day. I'm getting excited! How I wish I were joining you for the trek to Base Camp (I did it in the fall of '03). Will just have to go with you in spirit this time! Can hardly wait for the adventure to begin! Go, Paul!
Posted by: Scott on February 8, 2007 01:02 PM AEST
Oh my God! I forgot you guys were going back to Everest again this year! And the departure time is coming up!!
This is really exciting! Got my fingers crossed for everyone!
(Any chance of getting an RSS feed up by then? :-D )
Posted by: Heath Warren on February 10, 2007 07:46 AM AEST
Great to hear the second attempt is underway and good luck to Paul, good luck and remember you are already a winner!! So, here's hoping you get there and all the best.
Me, I have started on my own everest and may take up to a decade to get there, but I have enrolled in my first subject on my way to becoming an Architect. I am currently doing a Tafe course for Drafting part-time after work and at this rate will take about three years to finnish the first part...but the eventual goal of becoming an Architect is there always in my mind, and I hope through my endevour I can be as focused as you both have been on your goal!! Hope everyone is well and will be watching as always.
Posted by: Ned, Holly, & Deb Jordan on February 11, 2007 08:16 PM AEST
We'll be cheering you on again from the pointy end of the Mornington Peninsula! Have fun.
Posted by: Ann and Graham Allen on February 12, 2007 12:00 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fi, We are researching a trek to Base Camp 1 but have reservations about the differing descriptions of the level of difficulty of the trek itself. Can people who have average fitness actually do this, while still enjoying the view? We also wonder how wet it may be on the trails and about boot recommendations. Best of luck on all the adventures in '07! Thanks
Ann and Graham
Posted by: Chuck and Di on February 15, 2007 10:48 AM AEST
Wishing you all the very best for a safe season
We will be rooting for you.
Charles and Di
Posted by: Fiona Adler on February 16, 2007 08:08 AM AEST
Hi everyone - thanks so much for all your messages.
Ann and Graham - regarding trekking into base camp, I'd say yes, people of average fitness can make the trip. (On our trip last year, one of the trekkers confessed that her training had been 3 shopping malls in a day!). We saw people of all shapes and sizes on the trail.
At the very least, you'd want to be able to walk for a few hours at sea level and not feel too fatigued afterwards. The pace you trek in at is seriously very slow - but being at altitude, it feels very different. The days are short though - the longest one being the day getting into Namche which for most people is about 6 hours. This means that if you're finding it tough, you can just slow down further and/or take more breaks - after all, you've got all day to get there. You should also plan to have several rest / acclimatisation days along the trek in (on the way out you won't need these).
The altitude does put your body under a bit of stress though - so I'd definitely go for a check-up with your doctor beforehand. Without being medical myself, I'd suggest that anyone with a heart condition or at risk of stroke should think seriously before going to altitude. Remember, basecamp is approaching the same height as Mt Kilimanjaro.
Having said that, sometimes its the fitter people who suffer most - because they don't take the time to acclimatise properly. So the slower plodders have some advantage. Obviously the fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy it but assuming you're healthy and reasonably active, you wouldn't want to miss out on seeing the beautiful sites of the Himalayan mountains. (In my experience, people tend to under-estimate themselves so if you're even considering going, I'd guess that you'd be fine.)
In regards to how wet it is, it's very much dependent on the time of year. When we hiked in late March/early April, it wasn't wet at all (we got a small amount of snow, but dry snow). But when we hiked out in late May, it was very wet. Paul and I have also been there previoulsy in January, and there was so much snow that the trails were all closed passed Dingboche (only still 3 days trek away from basecamp). It's worth planning the timing of your trip around the seasons. I think the best times are Spring and Autum (roughly April and October - but you should check with a guide book).
Hope this helps!
Good luck with your planning.
Posted by: Rose on February 16, 2007 10:01 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona
Glad to hear things are going to plan, how exciting to be heading off next month, Paul. I will be following in spirit and will one day catch up with you in person to hear all the detail. I certainly look forward to the day I can go trekking in the Himilayas, maybe when the children are a little older.
Good luck and have fun,
Posted by: Aeronik from Montreal, Quebec on February 18, 2007 04:58 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
I just want to let you know that I really hope you're going to make it this time Paul. And you Fiona, I wish you a good time on the trek with your friends and family. I sent you 2 e-mails concerning the myeverest.com website.
I wish you luck, I wish you health and I wish the altitude doesn't alterate your judgment...
Be safe ... Both of you,
Posted by: Paul Adler on February 18, 2007 10:11 PM AEST
Thanks so much for your well wishes - I'm counting down the weeks now and really looking forward to finishing training and starting the actual climb.
Hi Anik, Thanks for the extra photos you sent for the myeverest site. They look great. I hope I make it too - I have nearly finished all the training (will traing right up until I leave), now it's all about not getting sick, good weather and not having a training accident between now and the end of March when I go to Nepal. Thanks for all your support.
Michael, best of luck with AC this year. Will definately look you up at BC. I will be with Asian Trekking. When are you arriving at Kathmandu?
Heath - congratulations on your decision to study Architecture. It sounds like a big undertaking but I'm sure it will pay off for you. Please give our best wishes to Nat as well.
Rose - Thanks for your message. Maybe you could take the children trekking if thy are old enough. I would think that anything above 13 would be fine.
Posted by: Ann and Graham on February 19, 2007 12:51 AM AEST
Thanks Fiona for the answer to our trek question,it gives us a better idea of what we would be facing. The trek we were looking at is in May,2-18, with many days to acclimatise. But we have decided to wait and train ourselves over time so we will enjoy it. It is very hard to wait but we will keep track of all your adventures via site! Maybe we will run into you there someday! Hope your Mom loves the time there and best of luck to Paul!
Thanks Ann and Graham
Posted by: Phil M - Sydney on February 22, 2007 11:23 PM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
Have been quietly following your preparation. Sounds like you are well prepared again. Will take up position in your back pack again this year, peering over your right shoulder for the climb. "Permission to climb aboard?" All the very best Paul - dreams do come true!
The photos are all fantastic. An amazing insight and bonus for a frustrated non mountaineer!
Will follow your progress with captivated interest, sending you all the best for your attempt. Fiona and others - enjoy the time.
Regards, Phil M
Posted by: John Deans on February 23, 2007 12:00 AM AEST
Just a quick note to compliment you on your website - it's very informative and well structured.
Your photographs are excellent and I was wondering what camera you used?
I will be in base camp this season climbing to camp 3 with IMG so I am sure that I will bump into you.
Stay safe and best regards
Posted by: Mark O'Neal on February 24, 2007 09:49 AM AEST
Glad to see you are going back to Everest Paul. I so enjoyed your dispatches last year.
I just failed miserably on some climbs in Ecuador. I sulked for a month, but now I'm fired up more than ever to go back and bag them next time. I'm sure you feel the same way.
Good luck and be safe!
Posted by: Paul Adler on March 1, 2007 11:39 AM AEST
Thanks Phil for your message of support. You are most welcome aboard!
Hi John D, I am glad you like the site and I am sure we will bump into each other at base camp. We had two cameras with us - a Canon Powershot S80 camera and a Canon Ixus 500. Almost all the pictures are taken with the S80. We have had a lot of cameras over the years (I keep dropping them or getting them wet trying to take pictures when the action is happening!), and as you probably know its a real balance between quality and size. The larger the CMOS size, the better color and quality you will get. Bigger CMOSs are found in bigger cameras, but bigger cameras often don't find themselves where the action is!
I find this site really useful - www.dpreview.com
Posted by: Paul Adler on March 1, 2007 11:41 AM AEST
Tell me a little more about your climb in Ecuador. What were you trying to climb and what happened?
There is nothing wrong with turning back and often that's harder mentally than continuing on.
You bet I am fired up to climb Everest this year. I really want to experience what it's like to stand on top of the world. But I also don't want to do it at any price and really want to climb it in good style. I hoep that I have learnt a lot from last year and can put it to practise. Will try write about this as we go.
Posted by: Rebecca Downey Thomas on March 3, 2007 11:16 AM AEST
Hello Paul & Fiona!
Just sending along my best wishes for Paul's climb and Fiona's trek this year. I read about your 2006 climb a bit after the fact, but really enjoyed it. (Congrats, Fiona!) So I plan to follow along as it happens this year. (Had climbing dreams for myself all these years, but never had the right chain of events to materialize the dream.)
Also, I'll be watching the MyEverest.com site with anticipation. It has me thinking of finding myself a lofty goal to keep things interesting.
Posted by: José Raeiro on March 3, 2007 09:37 PM AEST
You say at your website:
At sea level, oxygen comprises approximately 23% the air by weight and on the summit of Mount Everest it still comprises 23% of the air.
Shouldn't it be 21%?
Posted by: Fiona Adler on March 3, 2007 09:38 PM AEST
There are actually 2 ways to measure the % of oxygen in the air. One is by volume - of which oxygen comprises around 21% of the volume. The other is by weight - of which oxygen makes up approximately 23% of the weight. For us, the weight is the more important factor because that essentially tells us how many moles of oxygen we are getting.
Thanks for pointing this out. I'll clarify this point on our new website.
Posted by: Mark O'Neal on March 8, 2007 10:07 AM AEST
I went to Ecuador for a Cayambe/Cotopaxi/Chimborazo combo. We got blown off of Cayambe by high winds, I was sick with a virus for Cotopaxi, and I bonked at 19,000ft on Chimbo after some vertical ice sections.
I had little choice in not making the summit of the first two, but I gave everything I had on Chimbo and came up short. It was actually quite scary as we barely missed getting crushed in a rock/ice slide and then we were climbing essentially unprotected up the vertical ice. I was roped to my local guide but if we slipped it was going to be a long ride. After the ice I had nothing left in the tank and was taking 10 breaths for every 2 steps forward. We couldn't turn around so I had to climb higher in order to traverse to a safer decent route. A small consolation is no one made the summit that day.
I'm writing up a fairly detailed trip report which I can post the URL if you're interested. I know I'm looking forward to reading your dispatches again.