Archive Page 2

Resting at Basecamp

The latest from Casey Grom with RMI…

April 20, 2010
17,575 ft.

It’s week three and all is well here at Everest Basecamp. Some of the team members have climbed through the icefall and camped at Camp One. A few of us have been fighting colds and coughs, but plan on heading up hill in just a few days. Being under the weather here is a big difference from being under the weather back home. First, it takes a lot longer to heal at 17,500′. Second, failing to take it easy when our bodies need it could lead to feeling worse or needing to descend to a lower altitude to recover.

Everyone has been doing a good job of taking it easy though. There has been plenty of hot showers, doing laundry, watching movies, and too many card games to count. The weather seems to be stable with crystal clear skies in the morning to cloudy in the afternoon with light snowfall. Looking forward to walking up hill soon and feeling better.

Casey

PS – Rob Suero would like to wish happy birthday to his daughter. Happy Birthday!

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First Rotation

First and foremost Happy 21st Birthday to Alex!  Hope your day is terrific and we will celebrate in style once I return.  I’ll buy!

Resting here back at base after yesterday’s ‘dress rehearsal’ into the ice falls.  Seth and I went half way into the ice stopping at what is referred to as the ‘football field’ (I’m certain only the Americans refer to it as that).  The area is relatively flat (key word relatively) and a safe place in which to have a rest break after nearly 3.5 hours of hard vertical travel.  We were back at camp by about lunch time.  Time enough for me to head over to the medical facilities and get onto a study for the infamous “Khumbu Cough”.  Seems that a good percent of the climbers here at BC come down with a nagging cough that can lead to broken ribs and worse.  I’ve had it every time.  This year there is a medical study taking place and one can only be enrolled when one develops the cough.  Bingo! I’m in.  It is a double blind placebo study of a medication I get to inhale twice daily.  I cough constantly so who knows.

Tomorrow Seth and I will go for our first rotation.  A rotation is when a team leaves base camp and heads for one of the higher camps rotating back to base camp to regain strength and further acclimatization. In the next month we will try to have three rotations. We will once again leave at 4am to avoid the incredible heat once the sun rises and hits the ice fall.  We plan on staying at Camp 1 for three lovely nights.  Its far from life here at BC.

Just a tent, snow, ice and these huge mountains all around.  Besides sleeping and eating, a hike to Camp 2 and back it is not the liveliest spot.

Despite the weight, I plan on carrying my book and a deck of cards.  I’ve already asked Seth if he will help me take advantage of this time to learn to play a better hand of poker.  I think it is a requirement when on an all male team.

That’s it from here. Taking it a day at a time, one foot in front of the other, one cough at a time…

Wendy

Climb On!

Anticipation at Basecamp

RMI update from team lead, Dave Hahn!

April 18, 2010
17,575 ft.

Plenty of anticipation in the RMI Everest camp today. Casey and Chad took Scott and Rob up partway through the Icefall early this morning on their practice run. Michael, Leif, Wendy, Seth and myself took things easy with a rest day. Our Sherpa team had the day off as well. Everybody is getting set to move up the hill. Leif, Michael and I will get an early start into the Khumbu tomorrow and intend to be at Camp One for the next three nights. Tendi will head up to Camp Two (ABC) with the Sherpa team, while the rest of the team have plans for C1 in the next few days. Mark Tucker helped the team pack food and gear for this first “rotation” up the hill.

The day followed what seems to be a regular pattern now with clear and calm skies in the morning giving way to cloud and light snow in the afternoon. It pays to get showers and washing done early, which we did today. We are used to seeing a steady trickle of visitors and friends from neighboring expeditions and it is normal to try to coax the more gullible of these into some high stakes card game. We still run out of the tents to check on any great noise and today were rewarded with close-up views of a great avalanche off 25,000 ft Nuptse, just across the glacier.

Dave Hahn

Can You Say Ahhhhh

Yesterday was another acclimatization hike.  Seth and I left camp at about 9:30 am heading for Camp 1.  It was a nice hike since the terrain is different from down here in rock and ice.  Above Everest base camp along the Pumo Ri Ridge the landscape is a bit gentler with remnants of edelweiss and fall flowers amongst rocky outcroppings. Sounds so “Sound Of Music” doesn’t it?  Must be the edelweiss since that is the only similarity.  The terrain is steep and getting to that camp at about 19,000 feet was definately work.  I have to admit I am slowly acclimatizing and the hike felt good… well almost.

Not ten feet out base camp I slipped on some ice and went down onto my right knee.  After the initial feeling of passing out I limped into camp threw an ice pack on it, some antiseptic creme, a few bandaids and I think I’ll live.  Damn!  I always seem to take one step forward two steps back.

Tomorrow is dress rehearsal.  We will get up at 3 am, eat something at 3:30, and by 4 make our way into the icefalls.  Seth intends to see how things progress and if further acclimatization hikes are needed from there.  We will go about half way into the falls returning by late morning.  Not sure what I dread more – the ice falls or the 3 am wakeup call.  Either one… its going to hurt!

But today is rest, sunshine and a shower!  It has been over a week, and although it is a little odd to shower in a blue canvas tent with two Sherpa outside adjusting the water temperature and two more filling the water buckets asking you if everything is okay in there, the concept still delights me. Now I sit in my scrumptiously smelling tent with lotions and all that girlie-girl stuff I only break out on shower day.  I am clean, at least the layer closest to my body (as I work my way out the clothes do get dirtier and dirtier, but I won’t think about that).  For now all I can say is ahhhhh – and life certainly feels a little bit brighter way up here in the clouds.

Wendy

Climb On!

Readying for Camp 1

RMI dispatch from Mark Tucker…

April 17, 2010
17,575 ft.

Greetings from Basecamp,

Another beautiful day here. Some of the team hiked a few hours while others lounged around camp. Dave, myself and Tendi went to yet another meeting of the groups that will be involved with the rope placement above Camp Two.

In the past I have seen this essential element of the climb become a large hurdle in regards to not only the financial but physical impact on the teams, this year the job is set to be done with great cooperation from our diverse community. Happy is me!

Tomorrow will be final preparations for the first wave of climbers who will leave the next day for nights at Camp One. The real deal is just around the corner and this team is ready.

Thanks for visiting.
Cheers,

Mark Tucker

Gallery of Photos from RMI

Enjoy this sampling of photos from RMI, Wendy’s guide company:

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Life as I Know it

Wendy’s latest post from Everest Base Camp!

April 16th

We’ve settled into a routine here at base camp.  I hesitate to use the word ‘comfortable’ although in many ways it really is.  You begin to sort of accept things, and as the daily routine becomes the norm you learn, and from there you grow more familiar and comfortable.  In that routine the body slowly accepts life with less oxygen and every day you feel a little stronger than the day before.

Breakfast is always at 8 am sharp in the dining tent.  I awaken early when the first light hits my tent around 5:45 but it is still bitter cold and there are ice particles on my sleeping bag and inside my tent created by the warm air I exhale during the night.  To minimize this, the tent flap is kept open during the night.  We estimate the temperature to be somewhere around 16 degrees F.  From 5:45 until 7:41 I stay deep in the down bag (think hibernating chipmunk here).

At exactly 7:41 the sun hits the back of my tent.  Almost as if an electrical switch has been flipped, the temperature warms up to a tolerable 30.  The clothing items I washed the day before are hanging in the tent frozen stiff.  They will be dry enough to wear within hours of sun rise.  I have less than 15 minutes to pull myself together.  I am far more groggy than at sea level so getting going takes a lot longer.  I sit upright in my sleeping bag for several minutes gathering my thoughts.

My clothes are cold and slightly frozen so I stick them in the sleeping bag to thaw for a few minutes.  Once dressed I rush to the small ‘restroom” tent about twenty feet from my tent.  This is difficult terrain on morning legs, rocks, ice, snow – no different than the interior of the restroom tent.  I imagine the beautiful new bathroom I just redid back home… nope got to banish that thought quickly.  Breakfast starts with rice pudding, it is all I can do to get a few spoonfuls down.  We then have some sort of egg and toast or pancakes.  I am not eating well and find it difficult to swallow most of the food, liquids seems to be the only thing I can tolerate. I’m making an effort but I know my calorie count is way down. It is recommended we eat (you lowlanders will just love this!) 8000 calories per day and drink at least 4 liters of liquids. I do make it a point to eat a candy bar every afternoon with a Pringles chaser.  Great diet!

After breakfast we assemble and head out for a training hike.  Since base camp is at the end of the long trek from Lukla we can not go any further, steep, high slabs of rock and ice prevent further passage.  Not to mention, China is on the other side and they are not too keen on our entry. So we head back down the valley a short way and then up toward some surrounding peaks.

As usual getting the heart and lungs working efficiently is both frightening and important.  Several times during these morning workouts I feel as if I am suffocating and my limbs grow weak as the oxygen rushes to my heart and lungs leaving the limbs deplete for several seconds.  That will humble a person.  I know I look horrendous at this moment and grimace in fear and discomfort.  As always my nose is running (the Fish Chicks know this well) I am snorting like an overworked yak and I am miserable.  This misery I am assured is part of being an alpinist.   Yesterday I was told it was like hitting yourself over the head with a hammer.  It only feels good when you stop.  Remind me again why I choose to do this?

After lunch we are instructed to lay low, rest is crucial, too much rest
devastatingly difficult to shake out of.  I try to stay out of my tent which by now is delightfully warm and cozy but cooks the energy right out of you. Its like a sauna and despite being very cold outside I can take off all my layers of clothing inside.  That is until the sun goes behind a thick afternoon cloud or sets for the day around 5 pm.  then get ready!   Every layer I have comes back on including an enormous down parka, gloves, hat, hood, the full deal.  In a matter of seconds every speck of liquid has turned solid – including me.

We assemble for a team meeting at 6pm.  here Dave outlines the following day’s itinerary and the team discusses needs, health and concerns.  Dinner is promptly served at 6:30, the meals are amazing.  Dinner always begins with soup followed by some of the most creative cuisine I have ever seen. Our camp chef carves flourishes out of fruits and vegetables and adorns water buffalo in ways I have never seen. We have had pizza, chicken cordon bleu (at least I think that’s what it was, please don’t tell me differently), curry and burritos (okay, that night our American base camp director cooked).  Dessert has been anything from canned fruit to a homemade apple pie.

Now all this doesn’t sound too extraordinary except the actual kitchen is a primitive stone structure with a blue tarp roof lashed down with rope.  The stove is propane, there is no electricity or running water yet our Sherpa staff are able to see to our every need.

Depending on the following days activities, after dinner either everyone escapes to their tents for the night or Mark Tucker, our base camp facilitator as he likes to be referred, calls to action a game of poker. Mark wears about a hundred hats each with a huge smile and wonderful sense of humor.  He has corny jokes and the attitude of a Vegas casino operator, but behind the scenes he is what makes base camp run in all aspects from seeing there is peanut butter on the table to the vital communications and technology required on the mountain.  Mark is the ‘go to’ guy and he will see it gets done quickly, efficiently and always with a sense of humor.

Man, am I lucky he is on my team.  But at night it’s “Tuck” who gets things riled up.  The poker games began innocently enough down valley but now at EBC they are serious – the stakes are high!  Once we stopped playing with beans and the poker chips were located the stakes grew from  20 rupees (about 25 cents) to 100 rupees ($1.30) all the way to 500 ($8.00) and we have only been here 10 days.  I am whipped out of poker chips quickly and happily go off to my tent with two water bottles filled with hot water.  These go into my sleeping bag for the night.  One at my frozen feet, the other on my stomach.  They will stay warm until morning and then I quickly locate them and extract them from my bag.  By about 8:30, or if it is a late night of cards 10 pm, I am in my sleeping bag.  I can still hear the card game going strong and Tuck yelling “come on… Daddy needs a new pair of crampons!”

I am still taking life a day at a time.  Everyday I feel a little more settled and resolute hopeful that the following day I will be a little stronger, a little faster and a little more equipped to take on the bigger task ahead in a few weeks.

Everest Base Camp

Wendy

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.