Archive Page 2

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!

Carry to Camp One

RMI dispatch of the day…

April 16, 2010
20,000 ft.

Today we woke up in the dark around 3 a.m. and ate a quick breakfast of hot rice porridge and coffee. Several team members took a rest day while the guides and Leif did a carrry through the ice fall to Camp One. As Casey, Seth and I had not been thru the ice fall this season (and this being my first trip to Everest!) we felt a preview of the route would be helpful. Loaded with a light pack including items to cache which would be needed for higher up on the mountain, we started out in the dark and joined the massive line of Sherpa. The route is kicked in well and and the ladders were minimal with several ten foot crevasse crossings being the largest span. A little over halfway thru the ice fall, the sun broke over the mountain and we were greeted with clear blue bird skies.

We arrived at Camp One (just over 20,000 ft.) at 7:30 in the morning and congratulated each other on a trip well done. Our Sherpa team did a great job with camp site selection and we drank, ate and cached our gear. A little after 8 a.m. we started back down the ice fall hopping crevasses, crossing ladders and doing two short rappels. We arrived back at Basecamp (17,500 ft.) just after 10 a.m. during the heat of the day and sat outside enjoying the warmth while rehydrating and gazing up at the ice fall.

Chad Peele

Getting Ready to Ascend the Khumbu Icefall

RMI update from Casey Grom…

April 15, 2010
17,575 ft.

Greetings everyone,

The team has adjusted to our new home and daily routines. Everyone seems to be feeling well and we are all excited about heading higher. There has been plenty of training on the lower glacier and several acclimatization hikes that leave us feeling we are ready for the next step. Our new goal will be to ascend the famous Khumbu Icefall. We have already had a few small forays into the lower glacier and everyone did great. The Icefall starts just a few feet from camp and ascends a little over 2,000 ft to Camp One. Our goal will be to ascend the icefall as quickly, safely, and comfortably as we can. It won’t be a race, but more like a slow, steady climb to camp. We are hoping it takes no longer than 6 to 7 hours for our first trip. If all goes well we will spend a few days at Camp One and might even venture up the Western Cwm to Camp Two. George Mallory himself named the Western Cwm (Cwm being a Welsh word meaning valley).

The weather has been interesting these last few days and it’s beginning to snow as I type. Hopefully a few days of rest, some good weather and we’ll be on our way.

Hope everyone is doing great back home and we miss you all (well, most of you anyway!).

Casey and crew

Training on the Khumbu Glacier

The latest dispatch from Seth Waterfall…

April 14, 2010
17,575 ft.

This is Seth Waterfall broadcasting from Everest Basecamp. It’s been another beautiful day here. We’ve had a few inches of snow each of the past few night and it has spruced the mountains up nicely. Everything is coming along in our preparation for our first acclimatization rotation. Today Dave went up to Camp One to check on the conditions in the icefall. He made great time and got some really good info on how we can move through the icefall efficiently. The rest of the group went out on to the Khumbu glacier and practiced our climbing and rappelling skills. It was sunny and warm on the glacier and all of the team members were able to run several laps on the ‘obstacle course’ that the guides set up. This practice is designed to get us familiar with our equipment and allow us to make adjustments in a safe environment. The next step for us will be to head up to Camp One and Two in order to build up our acclilmatization. But before we do that we still have several days of adjusting to the altitude here at Basecamp. It’s a long process but this is necessary in order to give all of us the best shot at the summit.

Basecamp is rapidly filling up with teams from all over the world. The camp is just about full. There are only one or two teams that have not arrived. Yesterday we were delighted to see our friends Melissa Arnot and Dave Morton arrive. They are camped about a quarter mile up the glacier and they stopped by for tea after they unpacked their gear. We’ve had several visitors from most of the big teams. It’s great to break up the day with a few visitors and share stories from the trek in.

We’ll check in again tomorrow.

Seth

The Khumbu Icefall

The Khumbu Icefall

Acclimatization Hikes

RMI Dispatch from Dave Hahn…

April 13, 2010
17,575 ft.

A three a.m. snowstorm blew through just as our Sherpa team was trying to decide whether to go ahead with a carry to Camp One. Tendi and the boys wisely decided to give it a miss. Ultimately, it was only two inches, but it changed the basecamp scenery immensely. Leif Whittaker and I took an easy rest day while Chad, Casey and Seth took Scott, Rob and Wendy on acclimatization hikes. Several of the team went all the way up to Pumori Camp One for a little altitude and a lot of views into the Western Cwm.

The big event of our day was Jeff Martin’s planned departure for home. He has worked good and hard for a week now (on top of several months, pre-trip) to get our logistics off on the right foot, but now he is needed back on Mount Rainier. We said goodbye to him with a lively, latenight game of Texas Hold ‘Em and a good and hearty breakfast.

Now that most teams have arrived, we were entertained with a steady stream of old friends passing through and telling their stories of travels and treks over tea. We’ll continue our training for the icefall tomorrow.

Dave Hahn

Altitude

Yesterday we ventured into the icefalls.  Our goal was to get to the first set of ladders, about an hour and a half of climbing through a labyrinth of ice, water and rock.  Wow did I have memories of last year.   I couldn’t believe that I was back so soon and all the pain and suffering came sweeping back.  It was a hard day for me.  Not certain if it is because I am not yet acclimatized or if I once again have become a tent potato, but yesterday nearly killed me.  I couldn’t catch my breath, find my rhythm, get into the groove… whatever it was it was eluding me.  I crawled back to my tent totally deflated and ready to pack it in.

It snowed last night.  Everest base camp is coated in white, and the rough rocks and jagged edges of this inhospitable world are softened.  The sun is out and the day is warm.  Seth and I are heading out for a hike to stretch the legs and get the lungs working.  I am hopeful for a better day than yesterday.  Guess I should look on the positive side, as Rob reminds me, I did achieve my goal and made it to the ladders, crossed many and returned shortly after the group.  To me it was a miserable experience.  Still this is Everest and misery is part of the territory now what am I going to do about it?

Time to dig in right?  Keep reminding me of that.

Wendy

Oh yes… Climb On!

Up the Lower Khumbu

Mark Tucker writing from Basecamp for RMI…

April 12, 2010
17,575 ft.

Namaste,

Mark Tucker sending you this update from Basecamp.

Our Sherpa team had great weather for their trip to Camp Two with a big hunk of supplies for the teams nest at that 21,500 ft camp. They started out at 4:00 am this morning and retuned to basecamp for lunch, these guys are tough.

The climbing team had a great day with a number of them getting their first taste of the Icefalls terrain and ladders. They went up the lower part, out of objective danger and perfected the techniques required for what will be there job for the up coming weeks. Another group went to the top of Kala Pattar, a near by trekking peak, at over 18,000 ft summiting without supplemental oxygen.

I spent a bunch of calories with about 60 people from many of the teams working on making a helicopter pad out of a glacier. Chopping ice, throwing rocks and moving boulders at 17,500 ft is a great test to see just how acclimatized you are.

Tomorrow Jeff Martin will head down valley starting his journey home to Ashford, WA. Jeff, more than anyone, has made this expedition become what it is, a top notch program, and a team to be proud of. This being my eleventh Everest Expedition I can say with great insight that the effort he has put in the planning and execution of this enterprise is superb. I forced him out onto the lower glacier for a few holes of wiffel golf this evening, it being our Masters Tournament, he opened a can of you know what on me, next time maybe I will whip him. The team wishes him safe travels and a big THANK YOU!

Cheers!


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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.