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The Waiting Game  (29. Apr, by Morten)

Three men dressed in red are creeping over the edge at the top of the snowy field on their way to Camp 2.  Henrik and Vidar are looking like two Michelin men in their new large, quilted down-suits.  Together with Sherpa Tenzing they are reaching the magic target for the agreed height of 7550 metres.  “The Killinghill” is covered by a narrow margin. Especially the last 100 metres are horrible. The wind and the blizzard are increasing and we have to hurry to get down to the North cleft before it gets to ugly.  I almost managed a trip to our next camp at 7700 m. I wanted to, in the spirit of the Peace Corps, check if our tents were ready for the Ra-ra team, who possible will be the first up when the weather allows an attempt for the top. On our way down we are passing the place where Marius and Mattias (7350 m at a stretch, the discussion is tough!) reached a couple of days before us. Shortly we are staggering back into the North cleft to spend our second night in this fine, but too high camp. No appetite and lack of sleep is showing on whoever spend some nights up here.

The next day we wake up, marked by the rough treatment this height test exposed us to. Everybody is satisfied about getting as high as we did, and that we did beat our friends from the Ra-ra team.  Henrik is complaining about his breathing and that his lungs are hurting. We are melting some snow and are bravely trying to eat some cereal. The food is growing in our mouths, so we just have to give up. We are hurrying down the rappels and the hills to the glacier plateau under the wall up to the North cleft. Henrik is getting worse for each step down. We need to understand that The Peace Corps once again has been fired a warning shot. Petter, unfortunately, had to return after just a few hundred metres from the camp a few days ago, as we were on our way to Camp 1. We heard on the radio that he had returned to the Narvik BC, and that he wanted to go further down to get rid of the coughing that has been bothering him for the last 40 days.

After a night in Aktiv BC, we are starting on the trip down for our “last rest” in BC before trying to reach the top. It feels very good that we are walking this 24 km long moraine for the second last time. About one hour before the Intermediate camp, the snowy weather reaches us.  It is blowing and snowing rather madly.  After a lot of hassle we are able to find the Camp and get inside. After a couple of hours, hot tee and some pop corn we decide that Henrik and Vidar will stay in the Camp and Morten will continue further down on his own as soon as the wind drops. Just after this the wind starts again, so the rescue is fresh Yak footprint s down the moraine tops, which without footprints are a complete nightmare getting through.  The sun is breaking through again in the afternoon, and BC is reached in fresh snow and beautiful afternoon sun.  As usual it is just splendid to come “home” to your own tent down here.  In BC Jon, Henrik “Mr. Hollywood” and the photographer PYH are present. Jon and Henrik have been on a convalescent trip to Zangmu and are both feeling fit. PYH has a runny nose and would like to follow the Peace Corps to the nearest village tomorrow.

This morning all the others returned from a 3 day trip to the nearby village. Hot springs and nice food have done wonders with all of them.  We have been missing meat on our trip, and today the truth was discovered. The cooks have been serving meat daily to the Sherpas with, as we were having noodles, fried rice and vegetables. No wonder we were getting thinner!!!  Tonight we have been stuffing ourselves with yak meat, after Vidar taking control in the mess tent.  We are now promised better food in the future, and not a day too early!!

As mentioned, PYH and almost everyone from the Peace Corps are going to the rural district tomorrow. Eirik and Petter will once again walk towards ABC, to test their condition in the height.  Jon, Mattias and Marius are reading the weather reports closely, and are in principle ready to try for the top. If God allows them, they will be on their way in a couple of days. The Peace Corps will follow in a week, after Henrik hopefully are feeling better.

On behalf of The Peace Corps
Morten
 
Nysnø i AktivBC. Sånne dager har man lyst til å bli i posen.
Snow in ABC. Such day it is best to stay in your sleeping bag.
Photo: Vidar

Kjøkkenbenken i mellom-campen. Ikke mye mer enn kjeks, popcorn og te er utvalget som venter.
The kitchen in Intermediate Campen. Not much more than biscuits, popcorn and tea  to eat here.
Photo: Vidar

Slutten av \
The upper part of "The World's longest uphill". May be the heaviest part for us that are using oxygene from Camp 2.
Photo: Marius

Sherpa Tenzing er god å ha. Han har bodd i ABC og C1 nå i snart 3 uker. Innimellom tar han seg en tur til camp 2 og 3 med forsyninger.
Sherpa Tenzing is a good man. He has stayed in ABC and C1 for almost 3 weeks. Sometimes he even goes up to C2 and C3 bringing supplies.
Photo: Vidar

Vidar kommer seg i hus i mellom-campen. Te og hvile gjør susen.
Vidar finally gets inside the tent in Intermediate Camp. He is longing to get tea and some rest.
Photo: Morten
 
Mattias and Marius ready for the summit  (24. Apr, by Mattias and Marius)
Text not yet translated...
 

The camp in the northern pass is well protected from the powerful winds, even though it looks dramatic here. This photo is taken 200 m above Camp 2.
Photo: Marius


He doesn't look very smart in his down dress, but he is very comfortable with the height. Go Marius!
Photo: Mattias


Mattias in the middle of the worlds longest uphill - both litterally and an picturous.
Photo: Marius


A frustrated Sherpa fights against the heavy winds. He is alive!
Photo: Mattias


The route up to Camp 1 is vary steep. Mattias enjoys climbing in the ice walls.
Photo: Marius
 
 
New height reached - 7.060m asl 
(20. Apr, by Jon)
Text not yet translated...
 

Some of the beautiful ice towers close to the path between BC and ABC.
Photo: Everest2005


An overview over Aktiv Base Camp (ABC).
Photo: Everest2005
 
 
Resting in Base Camp 
(14. Apr, by Petter)

Last night, the last team came down from ABC and the acclimatisation trip in the mountain. As I, Vidar, Morten and both the ‘Henriks’ felt degraded to a B-team, we were expecting a brotherly welcoming from the A-team boys who had already spent three to four resting days in BC.

More than a hundred metres away, we could hear some swinging music from the pub- and mess tent, Track 1.  “What a reception”, I thought, as I dragged the tent canvas aside. Here the whole A-team was present, freshly shaved and smelling good. Not one un-trimmed nose hair to be spotted. I was touched, but in a split of a second I understood the whole session.  At the very back, by the table, three climbers from another expedition were sitting and two of them had splendid nice female features. “Oh, damn”, I was thinking, once again the A-team has cut ahead of us. Not only did they outclass us to ABC, but by now, bearded and exhausted we once again have to compete with a team packed with self-confidence and a nice smell.

How did the battle about female attention go? There were no winners – no losers. Both of them left us in half an hour and a well gathered Everest team gained their focus back about reaching the top. This nice experience in the mess tent did liven us up and was a great contrast to the four cold and exhausting days we had just spent some higher in the mountain.

The middle camp on 5750 m were unpleasant and most of the logistic was missing. The strong wind totally damaged a number of the neighbouring tents and the time was spent laying in front of each Primus waiting for the ice to transform itself into drinking water.  In ABC the wind was even stronger, the temperature even colder and the bodies more exhausted. On the other hand, we had Sherpas that were pampering us, a cook that made food and a mess tent with an oven that kept us warm. That’s luxury!

 
 

Inside the tent in ABC
Photo: Morten


Vidar is served tea by the kitchen boy
Photo: Morten


Petter and Henrik on their way to ABC
Photo: Morten
 
Base Camp 5200 m – Two forced to give up Everest 
(12. Apr, by Jon)

ABC: 11th of April:
“Tomorrow we will stretch the rope to the northern pass – for sure.”  “You can walk down to BC and rest”, says Dawa Chhiri smiling. And I know this might happen. Before I go, we have talked with all the sherpa leaders from all the other Expeditions. They are a little ashamed that both Dawa Chhiri,  Dawa Tensing and I, have been all the way up to the beginning of the glacier to find that the fierce winds that have been raging ABC the last couple of days, are not ruling the 500 m high wall up to Camp 1, 7060 m, in the northern pass . It is actually rather sheltered, where we are dropping snow poles, ice screws and other equipment, on 6550 m.

I have spend three days and nights in ABC, lifting stones, secured and put up new tents together with the Sherpas and I feel that my body is not producing as much energy as it should.  In 1996 I did not listen to these signals and went up and down the northern pass six times in one week with a 20 kilo ruck-sack. This cost me not reaching the top, as well as causing me a respiratory infection so strong that two weeks later the coughing made me break a rib, in the second highest camp on 7900 m.

At the moment I am again tempted to stay in ABC. “Just a short trip to the northern pass with a small burden as soon as the ropes are laid out. That can hardly be very exhausting!”  But no, this time I am able to resist. Especially after ensuring that the ropes will be laid out according to a unique collaboration agreement made between almost all of the Expeditions. (Click here to read the entire agreement)

After the British Expedition leader; Hug Ruttledge, failed on two Expeditions to Everest, in 1933 and 1935, an intense discussion started about the role of the leader of the Expedition. Is he supposed to be up front pulling? Or should he be at the back, pushing? Or, is it possible to do both at the same time?  Ruttledge was the organizer that pushed – without reaching the top. After this, they put in experienced climbers into the leading role. They pulled – with the same result.

So far, I have been pulling and given our Expedition a unique position compared to other Expeditions. “We are, as a matter of fact, in the leading position”, am I thinking after our third night in ABC. “But, what’s that worth, if the entire team can’t take advantage of this position?” I ask myself as I am sitting alone in the mess tent with my third cup of tea, the only Expedition leader still in ABC.

Freedom of action, I think. The one that comes first decides more of the premises for the co-operation between the Expeditions than the one that comes later. But, we have already done that, as the co-operation agreement is saying. There is nothing more I can do up here, except ensuring that our agreement is fulfilled, something also Dawa and all the other Sherpas are confirming.

On the way down from BC I sense that the decision to go down is right. I meet Vidar, Morten, Henrik, Henrik and Petter. As I have been pulling up front, the quality in the middle camp has been insufficient. This is luckily something we can act upon, but it requires that the leader is not just looking ahead, but also in to the Expedition and the excellent team we have spent one and a half year building. I have to admire the boys that are still keeping up their spirit, as they are moving slowly towards ABC.

The only thing I can promise, is that one of the Sherpas will bring from ABC all the litres with drinking water that they did not have in the middle camp, due to poor cooking possibilities.

As I am defying the gale towards BC, I am working out a plan for how we can manage to make the underestimated middle camp to the best of the Expediton. I can feel how small a problem might become when you only find the right solution.

Happy and content I am about to enter the mess tent in BC, but find myself looking into Per-Yngvar’s camera and being asked a completely surprising question: “How do you feel about Haakon and Tarald leaving the Expedition?”

“Was it that bad?” is all I can say. I see before me Haakon’s happy camper’s face as I was leaving BC just four days earlier. He was complaining about respiratory problems, but he believed that he would manage to get well. Now it’s turning out that he was having pulmonary oedema. This is his goodbye from Kathmandu:
“There is a time for everything – or – time to say goodbye:
I thought I was strong
Suddenly I was wrong
Pulmonary Oedema came along
The people who wish me the best here in Nepal, will not allow me to go back up on Everest. I wish to thank you all for this wonderful time in Nepal and Tibet. Good luck on the rest of the way to the summit of the world’s highest peak!”

And I can imagine Tarald, who already on his way to Namche Bazar three weeks ago caught a respiratory infection that has been bothering him from the start and at last developed into pneumonia. He must have been worse than I expected.

As a friend I feel this is sad, and I will miss them both. As a leader I am glad they took the signals early, and made the brave decision not to carry on with the dream they have been having for years. 
 
 

Expedition leader Jon in ABC
Photo: Mattias


Haakon: "It is important to have a good time" 
Photo: Marius


Tarald and his great dream, Everest
Photo: Jon
 
ABC established
(11. Apr, by Mattias/Marius)
Text not yet translated...
 
 
 

From left: Marius, Bente and Jan Flygind. Everest behind. Nice having the parents to dinner in BC.
Photo: Hartvig Munthe Kaas


Marius and Jon climbing up to ABC. Beautiful ice towers on both sides and Everest behind.
Photo: Mattias


Yaks carry our equipment from Narvik Base Camp up to Aktiv Base Camp.
Photo: Marius


It is difficult to live in this tent after the powerful winds in ABC ruined it.
Photo: Everest2005
 
Base Camp 5200 m – Active Base Camp 6400 m
(7. Apr, by Tarald)

I am sitting in the tent writing as the tent canvas is shivering in the wind, the sun has just set and the time is 5 pm. Within an hour the temperature will sink to about – 20 C. We have been on this trip for one month and we know that this will only get worse.  In Active Base Camp the night temperature is between 30 – 35 C below cero, and if you add the effect of the wind, the effective temperature sometimes is 50 – 60 C degrees below cero.

It does not take much to make us happy. A little lamp in the tent to warm your hands, a crisp bread with liver paste, or a greeting from home. But, we are not complaining and are trying to motivate each other for the great challenge that lies ahead. One small delight is the fact that we are rid of all the rats, even if they provided us with some warmth inside our sleeping bags.

As Jon keep saying; “To climb Everest is all about how much unpleasantness one can stand.”

The last couple of weeks we have been preparing Base Camp and we have been blessed again and again in the Ronbuk monastery (one of Tibet’s oldest). The monks will pray for us both when we are on our way, and especially at the day when we reach the top.

Yesterday, the pulling group from “Hvitserk” visited us. Most of their members were obviously affected by the height, among others Narvik’s mayor, who was as brave as he could manage. We thank them for their nice visit.

Today, after making various food and climbing gear ready, one half of the group left for Active Base Camp. The other half stayed in BC in order to climb some peaks, close to the Camp, for acclimatisation purpose. It is noticeable that the group has been a while in the height now, some are sick, some are coughing and some are not sleeping well due to the thin air. In two to three days we assume that everybody will be established in Active Base Camp.

We will have to admit that we sometimes envy you people back home that are able to enjoy the springtime as we are facing colder and colder days. At the same time we are well aware of how lucky we are to experiencing something so unique. We also have the time to think through what really matters, and not and how privileged we are home in Norway.

There is one life before Everest, and one after…

Once again, thank you for all nice greetings we have received from both known and unknown people.

Next time, in even thinner air.
  
 

A portrait of Vidar
Photo: Petter


The Tibetanians in front of Narvik Base Camp
Photo: Petter


An overview over Narvik Base Camp
Photo: Petter
 
We have established Base Camp Narvik
(4. Apr, by Tarald)

After a nice night in Nyalam, with rats in all the rooms and half of us with diarrhoea, we are ready for next leg before Base Camp. The days target is the world’s highest small town street, TINGRI, which is situated 4400 m on the high mountain plateau of Tibet. The trip goes up and down for 6 hours on dusty gravel roads. The boys are well shaken by a bus that seems to be immortal.

There was time for a short stop to enjoy the view and take some pictures, before approaching Tingri.

TINGRI – A TOWN IN GROWTH
Form of government; a mixture of anarchy and dog-law.
Number of  inhabitants; approx. 200 people, 400 dogs and an unknown number of small rodents.
Climate; cold, dusty, windy and barren.
Social life; this town is seething of life during the night, thanks to all the different kinds of dogs . They are howling all through the night, so if you’re not fond of the nightlife, this is not the place for you.
Food; The places that do have food – they are offering Chinese, slightly spiced with all possible microbial populations that really makes you feel good.
Language; It has to be Chinese, but everybody speaks fluent English. The favourite word is “Good morning”, and they use it into the night. We are not sure if it is because they sleep into the day, or if it is a part of their English lessons.
Hospitality; The population is very welcoming, except for the stray dogs, who are blessed with all kinds of illnesses. If you choose to visit some of the shops or “SH-OP” as they write it here, they rise the price for you. If you think it is expensive they have all of a sudden forgot their English and are just staring curious at you.
City development; There are real opportunities here for a mercenary soul. To start a kennel, JUST have to become a gold mine. There might be a problem to locate the dog’s owners. Sale of paint and stopper will certainly ensure profit you might forget to achieve somewhere else. Or what about trying your luck as a rat catcher? Oh, come on – this is just your golden opportunity! Well, generally if you are not afflicted by wind and dust during the day, smoke coming out of the walls at night or thinks that sleeping is just a waste, this is the right place for you.

03.04.05
Sad, but we knew it had to come; departure from Tingri, and the last lap before BC.  We are starting at 6:00 am and all the boys are in excellent shape as we are swirling towards the target of the day. The landscape is rising in time with the hours, 6 totally, before we see BC for the first time.  On the way our bus has had a breakdown 2-3 times, but did manage in the end. (Not bad).

BC is situated on a stony prairie at the foot of Everest, with mountains from seven to almost ten thousand meters around. The wind is blowing and it’s getting cold. After a while all the cars, luckily, come into sight and it is time to build BC.

There is really a maddening amount of equipment, approx. 400 packages, including 50 large barrels. Just to get an overview is a task on its own. Little by little, Jon and his Sherpa brother are starting to get the total picture.  After a few hours all the personal tents are put up. The evening is short and everybody knows that tomorrow everything needs to be ready. Communication tent, repair tent, kitchen tent as well as Jon’s old (and out of date) mess tent will have to be ready.

04.04.05
The first night above 5200 m is always a little rough. Most of us got headaches and felt spineless, but the thought of promised Norwegian food made us all come around quickly. In the beginning of the day we had an important visitor; a local Lama, who in a great ceremony put up prayer flags around the camp and prayed for the Sherpas as well as the members of the expedition.

Next, equipment was delivered to all of the Sherpas and all of the personal equipment was distributed. Our chef Vidar, had totally control of our food, that was laid in different barrels.  There is enough food, but as higher we get the less food we want.

In the afternoon BC is almost finished and it is time to start climbing. We are heading for Active Base Camp 6400 m in two days.

Please; wish us good luck on our first step towards the roof of the World!
 
 

Mattias - Everest behind
Photo: Vidar


Unloading the equipment in Base Camp Narvik
Photo: Mattias


We pray to the gods to make our expedition successful
Photo: Mattias
 
Kathmandu – Nyalam
(2. Apr, by Tarald)

After a spectacular trip by helicopter we were ready for two quiet days in Kathmandu. It is nice with some decent food again after a couple of weeks on tomato soup and noodles. We are ready to part with Thor-Johan who has been joining us at the trip so far and who has been a pleasure to travel with. We believe that the trip to the top of Island Peak has left traces in his mind and we all wish him a safe journey home.

Most of us have been using the time in Kathmandu to relax and shopping for the latest equipment we need before reaching BC.  After an intercession by the local lama, we all have the spiritual support we need to reach the top. We are aware of the appalling poverty in this city and we are looking forward to start the climbing.

We are ready to go to Base Camp; 3 trucks with equipment, 10 climbers, a film team of 2 as well as 6 Sherpas.  Heavy logistics carried out to please everybody. We were up by 04:30 and had a 5 hours trip by car to get to the border of Tibet (China). Some of the boys found the time to get a massage (normal body massage, nothing else). Everybody has been behaving very well and they are all missing their love ones!

The physical shape of some of us is so-so. We are having diarrhoea, the flu and even one with a toothache, but nothing serious.
 

 

The helicopter back to Kathmandu
Photo: Tarald


Morten - on our way to base camp
Photo: Tarald


Tarlad in front of Shishi Pagma
Photo: Eirik
 
Island Peak
and KalaPattar (30. Mar, by Mattias/Vidar)

Island Peak
During Easter the team split in two and went different ways; four of us, and one sponsor, are climbing Imjatse (Island Peak, 6189 m).

The trip went from Dingboche, via Chukung up to Base Camp (BC) which is situated at approx 5100 m.  They way up to BC was totally beautiful with a fantastic view to Ama Dablam (6815 m), one spectacular mountain, to Lhotse (8516 m), Nuptse (7864 m) as well as Bauntse.

The climbing from BC to the top was nice and very varying. We had snowy weather that gave us valuable practise (with a hint of drama) before climbing Everest and everyone in the group are well acclimatized and looking forward to the next phase – to establish BC on the north side of Everest. Prior to that there will be a short stay in Kathmandu and then further transport with truck and jeep to Tibet.


Kala Pattar
We are at the moment sitting in Dingboche, waiting to be picked up by a Helicopter to return to Kathmandu. The first part of the acclimatizing period is now finished. I am in good shape.

Some of us have had some trouble in this height. After 4 days at more than 5000 m, my blood has reached the right pH-value. For us it has just become more and more spectacular. There are enormous mountains where ever I look. There are no electricity at our lodges so it is not always easy to find the WC.

Our target for this trip was Kala Patter, 5500 m. Here we could see both the south and north ravines of Chomolugma. At this time I understood the seriousness of the expedition.
 

Meeting the Hvitserk expedition i Lobuche.
Photo: Haakon


Haakon in front of Mt. Everest.
Photo: Henrik


 
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