Thursday, October 11

End of the road

Leaving base camp and back in Kathmandu






Wednesday, October 10

On the way to KTM





Extra Shots




Monday, October 8

Raymond E - Distillation of views

As we near the end of this chapter of the blog, ‘Mumsie’ would like to enter the following quote:
“The charm of mountain-climbing lies not in the climbing in success, nor in failure, but in the great range of emotions provoked through these physical experiences.” [FS Smythe]

As the Scrappy Scribe, I too would like to append some thoughts of the subject. Hoseman/Mark has used this quote from Mallory (which I heartily endorse) in the introduction to his blog site:
“What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”

Mallory is of course better known for his more famous other quote. When asked at a lecture why he climbed Everest, he replied, “Because it is there.”
In his book Four Against Everest, Woodrow Wilson Sayre says: “Many people have been tremendously impressed with this answer. I think it is a tribute to their vivid imaginations. For, as it stands, it really doesn’t say anything. It is too ambiguous.” Sayre then attempts to interpret what Mallory might have meant, by suggesting his answer to mean, “because it is a challenge.” But the question remains: why is it a challenge? Why does it challenge that particular breed of men called mountaineers, whereas the vast majority couldn’t care less?
At first Sayre was puzzled why the question couldn’t just be answered “I climb mountains because I like to” in the same way someone else would say, “I play tennis because I want to”. But then he felt the questioner was really asking why a mountaineer would choose to do so when faced with all the obvious and major negatives such as: “This mountain climbing business is dangerous. It costs money. It is hard exhausting work. You have to disrupt the family to do it, etc etc”.
Being a mountaineer himself, Sayre decided the following reasons suited him. First on his list (but not necessarily first in importance) Sayre rated Beauty. “If a person would cross the ocean just to look at the beauty of a cathedral, why would he not do as much or more to see these magnificent mountains?” Next, echoing Smythe, are the special Emotions which the high and wild peaks provoke. “I feel a special happiness to be alone in the high, silent places of the world tucked close under the sky. Such things are worth a little insecurity and sacrifice.” Paradoxically, mountains also provide both Companionship and Solitude. The deepest friendships spring from sharing failure as well as success, danger as well as safety. The friendships thus established are lasting and irreplaceable. As far as solitude is concerned, Sayre holds: “A man must refill the inner springs of his being in solitude and reflection – there is a deep inner need for this. Without this refilling, life becomes increasingly hurried, it becomes increasingly mechanical and it becomes increasingly insensitive. People are wonderful, but an infinite number of them are not.”
I might venture here to include the Body Physical. Who cannot fail to notice the satisfaction, even pride, as Hoseman describes how his subsequent efforts up and down the slopes at high altitude and in onerous conditions were completed in less time and with less effort – a real show of strength and fitness and rewarding acclimatisation.
Sayre concludes: “Contemplating all the values achieved by climbing mountains, I am tempted yet again to try the impossible and summarise it all in a single sentence. Men climb mountains because they are not satisfied to exist, they want to live – climbing the heights is one way.”
This largely accords with Eric Shipton who says:
“He is lucky who, in the full tide of life, has experienced a measure of the active environment that he most desires. In these days of upheaval and violent change, when the basic values of today are the vain and shattered dreams of tomorrow, there is much to be said for the philosophy which aims at living a full life while the opportunity offers. There are few treasures of more lasting worth than the experience of a way of life that is, in itself, wholly satisfying. Such, after all, are the only possessions of which no fate, no cosmic catastrophe can deprive us; nothing can alter the fact if for one moment in eternity we have really lived.”
So, in conclusion, I say “Go for it!” My only personal bone of contention is that I believe such experiences do not necessarily emanate ONLY from sources on such a grand and massive scale. We don’t always HAVE to find an Everest to experience adventure and life - one can still enjoy Sayre’s list of values as much at 1000m as at 8000m.

Sunday, October 7

CALL FROM ANOTHER LOCAL READER

1006 SUNDAY
Had an interesting phone call from Betty Davis, a leading and long standing member of the Mountain Club of South Africa, who saw Sisha Pangma, the only 8000 m peak wholly within Tibet, while on a trip to Everest Base Camp with Kate McCullum in 2003.
Betty said she had been most interested in that so many of her adventures had been replicated in Hoseman’s current adventure. She wished him well and a safe return.

Saturday, October 6

LOCAL INTEREST BY BLOG READER

While many local folk have followed the blog with interest, not many have put their reactions onto paper. This is an email received on 2 October:

Hi Ray,
Thank you for letting me share in Mark’s adventures. I find it absolutely fascinating following the paths of such intrepid,daring folk and I shall read the whole blog and find the places mentioned in my atlas and go on a daily trip in to the site to find out the latest news.
Good Luck to him in his quest to reach the summit this time and to return home safely and tell his tale.Love, Chippy

LAST FEW DAYS - CLEARING UP

1004 THUR: Brief call to Mumsie (while I was out) to say: “Just got back after retrieving camp equipment. End of attempt. Weather too bad. Going back now.”

1005 FRI: “I am exhausted – after all that deep snow!” But, Gromit is FURIOUS! The position here is that everyone is coming down the mountain now. No one is summiting anywhere. Some groups have already left.
At the same time, although the weather has really been horrible, the experience has been fantastic. I Feel comfortable with myself – highest point reached was Camp 1 (6440m). Now, the yaks are arriving in three days time. We'll spend some time clearing the camp and then leave Base Camp day after tomorrow (SUN 7?)
The Jeep is booked and in three days time will go to Kathmandu. (MON 8?) which means I will have to spend one night in border town Xiang Mu.
Flight back is also booked and will depart Kathmandu on THUR 11. While in Kathmandu will add more pictures to blog.
From now on, Claire will determine where to go and how high to climb. Have heard Peru and Ecuador offer good climbing opportunities (!!!) – better day trips available.
Have put some stuff on blog in form of emails but they are in the wrong order. Please go into blog and put them in correct order. Go to Edit\Posting Options. Flattering to learn of Chippy’s email. Stick it on.

Friday, October 5

Day 28 - 4th October - Retreat - "that's all folks"

Well after the cramped cold windy night, the morning was not much better.
After a large amount of radio talk I made the decision to go down. The team
at camp 2.5 were not having much fun, but would still see if they could make
a summit attempt. I could not see any "window" so decided that after all
this time, I will call it a day.

I'll "muse"? more about this later and add some photos from the trip, but
for now will say that I'm back at ABC (after pulling all I could manage down
from the hill and through the Penitentes), safe and sound.

Quick Update - 5th October
Shisha is covered with cloud - all teams retreating

Day 27 - 3rd October - Summit Push

Weather still clear - no clouds
A fairly uncertain mindset last night - perhaps a little negative - unlike
the usual nervous tension I get - pacing around etc...
But
Fully motivated this morning, got latest weather report (no major changes)
and set of for Depot camp at 9:13. Amazing how one aclimatises - been here
for a while and now time to depot camp only 1h36mins (first trip up
2h50mins).
Change into Millet high boots at depot, pack more gas, high sleeping bag,
some food (pasta left over from last night's dinner) thermarest (Major
Hume's) etc.
Penitentes trail fine, and by now am getting very familiar with all of its
nuances - not such a hurdle any more - 28mins compared to first trip of 1h
29mins - both with loads.

One Sherpa ahead of me on the trail - therefore able to "track" his trail.
Previous trail had been wind blown, so need to look out carefully so that
one does not pop knee deep of the trail. Lower levels across the glacier are
fairly calm, but as I ascend wind does pick up.

Couple of skiers clearing the mountain dragging their loads, have to dodge
their loads (rolling tents) as they break up and scatter over the mountain.
Am a little concerned crossing the crevasses (slots) as they have been
covered up by snow - one of those things that one puts out of ones mind as
rescue is either very slow or unlikely.

As approach the crest of the climb wind again very prevalent. Have two
layers of wool gloves so fingers warmer than Friday 28th attempt. Eventually
reach hard icy crusty surface marking the top. Some more big slots to
negotiate - fingers crossed! Radio to Jamie's camp 1 which is visible a bit
higher up - Anne responds with an invite for hot milk tea! No crawling this
time, but head down into the driving wind/snow. Very happy with time -
2h35mins from Penitentes (first time 4h53mins) - So much more efficient and
again shows how amazing ones body is in adapting to the requirements of the
environment.

After a great cuppa hot Tea with Anne & Janet (who have been at camp 1
waiting for the weather window - and wind to drop), grab my gear I stored
last time, and push further to my Camp 1. Have not had any reports about it
since the last storm, so little apprehensive about what I'll find - it's
pretty critical as has all the rest of my gear in it!
But good old Terra Nova, there she is hanging on, a little snowed in, but as
strong as a brick house. Scramble in, and great to be out of the wind, even
though now still a little noisy.

Was a little concerned that the wind has so strong on the way up - ABC was
calm. Although not a completely debilitating, the wind does undermine one
both physically and mentally. Now it's a matter of hearing the next
forecast, brewing up some water and eating (something I don't do - yes Oje
got your message, and therefore will try!)

After a little organizing, as although the Terra Nova is a good size I have
a fair amount in it, I got a big surprise! I was getting snow from outside
and saw a climber approaching my tent. The trail from Jamie's camp to Camp 2
goes right past, but is was much too late to be going there. It was Lena,
who had a week ago stashed some gear in my tent. As it was late and she was
already really cold (her other warmer gear was in another tent) I said she
had better get in and stay. I had already been refused twice some shelter.
Anyway it was a really squashed, windy and cold night - this other than the
much better European food she pulled out of her bag - lovely meats and
cheeses.

The weather report was not looking good as the winds were looking as though
they would be increasing. Its amazing how one chases these weather windows,
and although we were trying, it was avoiding us. My views of sitting again
at camp 1 and waiting were not that favourable. I would wait until the
mornings forecast

Day 26 - 2nd October - Summit Plan

So considering that I have now been up the hill a few times, have
established Camp I at 6,400m and we have a small favourable weather window,
I have decided to go back up for a summit push. The weather in the region
has certainly not been ideal and the chances of success are small. But
because of all the time and effort invested it's worth an attempt.
For my unsupported attempt I do need to have a clear (calm) weather window.
Secondly I need to have a trail before me. Its one thing carrying all ones
own gear when there is a firm trail, but this become impossible in knee deep
conditions. Shisha has plenty of this around and only a very thin trail in
some places (where previous climbers have been).
So the plan is as follows:

Date Jamie's team Mark
Tuesday 2nd Camp 1.6 ABC
Wednesday 3rd Camp 2.5/3 Camp 1
Thursday 4th Summit Camp 2
Friday 5th Retreat Camp 2.5/3
Saturday 6th Summit


Notes:
Camp 1.6 is early on in a valley - reason is that the first time there, one
has climbed +/- 400m up a steep slope and going further up the valley seems
an arduous task.

Camp 2.5 is just below an "interesting" slope up to camp 3. It can get
loaded with snow and may avalanche - Three clients and 2 Sherpa's set this
camp up as a pre summit camp, implying a long hard summit push. Camp 3 is on
a col (and visible from ABC) and in current conditions will be unbearably
windy.

Day 25 - Weather chat - 1st October

Well there has been an awful amount of discussion regarding the weather.
Weather reports come in via email and the internet - unfortunately they do
not always agree. Jamie uses forecasts from West Coast Weather in Washington
USA and I must say these are very comprehensive. Two areas are focused on -
Precipitation (snow) and Wind. Both of these factors are critical to our
success. Imagine trying to predict these for the future for different
heights (6000m, 6500m etc etc)

Here is an example of the type of information we receive:





Summary:
A weak upper level low is dropping down from the north and will bring an
increase in winds and some more clouds over the next several days. However,
this is not a big storm. The next weather issue is one of the forecast
models wants to bring in some precipitation of up to 1 inch (2.54 cm) on
Saturday and or Sunday and we will need to monitor this.

Monsoon.
The monsoon continues to retreat.

Jet Stream.
The jet stream is close K2 region over the next 7 days with just some minor
daily changes. It basically meanders back and forth near the K 2 region with
winds increasing at times to 140 knots (259 km) at the 39,000 foot level
(11,818 meters) near K2.

Precipitation and Clouds.
With a generally southerly flow still clouds moving in and out of the
region. Many of the models have clouds toping out at about 20,000 (6060
meters) but not sure about that. Also most models have no precipitation over
the next 7 days except one puts moderate precipitation for both Saturday and
Sunday.
Amounts for precipitation in water equivalent at 20,000 (6060 meters) there
will less precipitation as one moves towards the summit


Thursday to Friday
Up to .30 inches (up to 0.76 cm) each day. Although current satellite is
showing some clouds moving in so that number for Thursday might be low
Clouds moving in and out of the region.

Saturday to Sunday
Up to .30 inches (up to 0.76 cm) each day. However one model puts up to 1
inch (2.54 cm) for one of the days.
Clouds moving in and out of the region.

Monday to Wednesday
Up to .30 inches (up to 0.76 cm) each day.
Just a few clouds moving in and out of the region.

Wind forecast.
Thursday to Friday
Summit Average 24 to 34 knots (44 km to 63 km) Winds from the west to
southwest.
23,000 (6969 meters) Average 20 to 30 knots (27 to 56 km) from west to
southwest
19,000 (5757 meters) 10 to 20 knots (18.5 km to 37 km) Winds from west to
the southwest
** If the moderate precipitation occurs then we can expect stronger average
wind of up to 42 knots (78 km)

Summit Temperature
-20 C (-4 F)

This forecast is based on computer generated weather data generated from
government agencies that West Coast Weather, LLC. dab Washington Online
Weather deems reliable. However, the weather can change quickly and
unforeseeably, and there are many factors which you should consider in
deciding whether to proceed with an outing, including the visible weather at
the trailhead, the strength and experience of the party, snow and avalanche
conditions, route conditions, etc. You are the final decision maker whether
to proceed. West Coast Weather, LLC dba Washington Online Weather cannot be
held liable for loss or injury arising from your decision to proceed, and
expressly disclaims all liability related thereto.

For further information please contact West Coast Weather, LLC, Redmond,
Washington USA

Finally thanks to the guys at West Coast Weather, LLC for the great
information supplied during this expedition

Monday, October 1

WARNING: BEWARE THE WEATHER TRAP!

It is our considered but humble opinion that conditions are now perfect for the weather trap - whereby the weather opens sufficiently to entice frustrated, impatient and eager climbers up the mountain only to close again making descent difficult if not dangerous. We believe such a limited window should only be used to retrieve gear and equipment from the higher caches. Jamie has demonstrated great sagacity and perspicacity in his summing up the current situation (See his website report of 30 September). His caution should not only be heeded but deserves to be quoted in full here:

30 SEP - JAMIE’S SITUATION REPORT
WHAT IS WITH THE WEATHER? WE KNOW OUR CHANCES ARE NOT HIGH.

30 Sept - Mark coming down
The weather improved but if a team of Sherpas couldn't make Camp 2 then Mark wasn't going to try, so he is returning to ABC.

30 Sept - Decisions
After breakfast we had a healthy discussion about our possibilities. This season has been rather abnormal, the average precipitation for the month was reached before the month was even half over, I am guessing that we have had easily double, perhaps triple the normal amount of snow. Officially the monsoon usually leaves the region around the middle of September, even if some occasional moisture remains. This year, a tropical storm (not quite a full cyclone) rolled over in late September and, while it didn't hit us directly, it really brought real dumps of snow all the same, loading the mountain, so that climbing conditions are still terrible.

The future could be better but our weather forecasts from Michael Fagin are not particularly positive for the next week or so. While the weather should improve and the wind should drop a bit for a couple of days - and there should be less snow - there is still no summit window; the snow is too deep to get high. Then the winds will return and seem set to stay, strong winds but luckily not the jet stream. The shame of it is that the winds still haven't loosened the snow high on the mountain, see the photo below.

What should we do? We could trek around the region, there really are some beautiful spots (see the lakes that Clive, Walter, Hans and myself explored last year), or we could try to climb a smaller mountain close by. However, regardless of the chances of success most people want to focus on Shisha Pangma. So there really is only one way to work out how realistic that is, and that is to rub your nose in it, or push a trail up it.

Our plan is to do an acclimatization run up to Camp 1 and then see if conditions will improve, see if that elusive summit window will appear. Most of the team have headed up to Depot Camp to sleep the night there and tomorrow, with assistance from the Sherpas, will plug a trail (or perhaps find an existing one) up to Camp 1 and spend one, or perhaps two, nights up there. We can assess conditions from there.

The team sleeping at Depot Camp tonight is Eric, Jan, Anne, Tristan, Joe C, Joe F, Martin and Ursula. Tomorrow they will move to Camp 1, and Clive, Francis, Janet and Gordon will move up direct from ABC to Camp 1. Alan and perhaps myself will remain at ABC.

Other mountains
How are others faring on our semi-neighbour Cho Oyu, a mountain surprisingly similar to Shisha Pangma? So far as we know only the Singapore Women's team made it up - just before the storm hit (well done Jane!) and then got spanked on the way down. All the other teams are still waiting (or have bailed) and I am guessing it will take some daring trail breaking to open up the route. Perhaps it will take a little more time, and a hard push - just like ‘our’ mountain.

We also have friends on the south side of Shisha Pangma… I don't like their chances unless all this snow has avalanched as it fell and, regardless, the wind will still be horrible.

Ultimately I feel it will be a waiting game, or a game of dare. However very few teams have enough time just to wait and wait.

Sunday, September 30

PENITENTIES AND SERACS

For those not into Hispanic white-hooded penitent monks, these ice pinnacles are also known (especially amongst the French) as Seracs defined as "Pinnacles or pillars of ice of various shapes into which a glacier is broken up when it reaches a steep slope, numbers of crevasses being formed in all directions and crossing one another."


BACK AT ABC TO REFRESH AND WAIT

[Message received Sunday at 12 noon our time]

Back at ABC. Wind dropped this morning so made a quick dash down back to ABC. Got back safely and has just had a coke (we wondered whether it was an Ice Cold Coke?) He is now preparing for “a nice bath” and some rest while waiting for an improvement in the weather. Spoke about posting his ten pictures on the blog next - will do. He will phone Claire at 03h30 (Hometime) this afternoon.

Ruminating at Camp 1

[Message received Saturday 29 SEP 15h30 our time]
Hoseman still at Jamie’s Camp 1.
The storm is still raging outside and it has not been possible to get out of tent. Has had about 20 hours of continuous driving winds at 20 to 30 knots, creating lots of noise – a big racket! Forecast shows the wind should drop soon but that’s all it says, there are no long-term indications.


His thoughts are now that he might leave his Camp 2 stuff here, await a window of opportunity and then to return to ABC. Here he will wait for the next weather forecast before making final decisions regarding his future plans. Hoseman felt that unfortunately, the ideal conditions required for an ascent are not present under the current weather conditions – which is a pity. Already the British Military team are cutting their losses and calling it quits. After 8 weeks on the mountain, they are now running out of time and are preparing to go back. Hoseman too will have to think of his looming return departure dates.

In reply to our question, he says his tummy doesn’t quite feel like food and he is surviving on packets of soup and coffee. Still has enough supplies here for another five nights.

In reply to another question, he said his Camp 1 is really only another 150 m away (about 70 metres vertical climb) but at present is just impossible to reach. It would not be dangerous but certainly not much fun taking his big load through the waist-deep soft snow. Once he got there, he expected he would find only about one foot of his tent showing through the snow. He would have reached approximately the same altitude as last year which is a pity because he still feels strong and his setup is good and 7000m looks so tantalisingly close.




Morale seems to be bouncing around, sometimes picking a high, sometimes a low. He has found a book (probably left behind by one of the guides) and spent most of today reading Maurice Herzog’s account of his expedition up Annapurna (The First 8000m Peak). It is interesting in that the conditions he describes coming down the mountain after summiting closely corresponds to the conditions Hoseman is now experiencing himself.

Those who have read this book, will recall that on summiting. Maurice Herzog and his partner Louis Lachenal spent precious moments photographing the scene and taking aneroid readings. They decided against building a cairn because there were no stones and everything was frozen. Moreover, the weather was no longer as ‘gloriously fine as it had been in the morning’. Lachenal was becoming impatient. “We must go down.” This they did until they reached the foot of a rock-band. Herzog explains the next few fateful moments:
“I had hurried and I was out of breath. I undid my sack. What had I been going to do? I could not say. ‘My gloves!’ Before I had time to bend over, I saw them slide and roll. They went further and further straight down the slope. I remained where I was, quite stunned. I watched them rolling down slowly, with no appearance of stopping. The movement of those gloves was engraved in my sight as something ineluctable, irremediable, against which I was powerless. The consequences might be most serious. What was I to do? ‘Quickly, down to Camp V’.
“Might be most serious” in fact, turned out to be an understatement. Not only did he suffer severe frostbite to his hands, Lachenal too suffered serious frostbitten feet and both barely made it back. The story of their descent and return journey became a classic - a nightmare few people should have to experience. [END]

RETURN TO ABC FOR SOME ICED COKE

Message received on Saturday 15h30 (our time)
Hoseman still at Jamie’s Camp 1.
The storm is still raging outside and it has not been possible to get out of tent. They have had about 20 hours of continuous driving winds at 20 to 30 knots, creating lots of noise – a big racket! Forecast shows the wind should drop soon but that’s all it says, there are no long-term indications.

His thoughts are now that he might leave his Camp 2 stuff here, await a window of opportunity and then to return to ABC. Here he will wait for the next weather forecast before making final decisions regarding his future plans. Hoseman felt that unfortunately, the ideal conditions required for an ascent are not present under the current weather conditions – which is a pity. Already the British Military team are cutting their losses and calling it quits. After 8 weeks on the mountain, they are now running out of time and are preparing to go back. Hoseman too will have to think of his looming return departure dates.

In reply to our question, he says his tummy doesn’t quite feel like food and he is surviving on packets of soup and coffee. Still has enough supplies here for another five nights.

In reply to another question, he said his Camp 1 is really only another 150 m away (about 70 metres vertical climb) but at present is just impossible to reach. It would not be dangerous but certainly not much fun taking his big load through the waist-deep soft snow. Once he got there, he expected he would find only about one foot of his tent showing through the snow. He would have reached approximately the same altitude as last year which is a pity because he still feels strong and his setup is good and 7000m looks so tantalisingly close.

Morale seems to be bouncing around, sometimes picking a high, sometimes a low. He has found a book (probably left behind by one of the guides) and spent most of today reading Maurice Herzog’s account of his expedition up Annapurna (The First 8000m Peak). It is interesting in that the conditions he describes coming down the mountain after summiting closely corresponds to the conditions Hoseman is now experiencing himself.

Those who have read this book, will recall that on summiting. Maurice Herzog and his partner Louis Lachenal spent precious moments photographing the scene and taking aneroid readings. They decided against building a cairn because there were no stones and everything was frozen. Moreover, the weather was no longer as ‘gloriously fine as it had been in the morning’. Lachenal was becoming impatient. “We must go down.” This they did until they reached the foot of a rock-band. Herzog explains the next few fateful moments:
“I had hurried and I was out of breath. I undid my sack. What had I been going to do? I could not say. ‘My gloves!’ Before I had time to bend over, I saw them slide and roll. They went further and further straight down the slope. I remained where I was, quite stunned. I watched them rolling down slowly, with no appearance of stopping. The movement of those gloves was engraved in my sight as something ineluctable, irremediable, against which I was powerless. The consequences might be most serious. What was I to do? ‘Quickly, down to Camp V’.
“Might be most serious” in fact, turned out to be an understatement. Not only did he suffer severe frostbite to his hands, Lachenal too suffered serious frostbitten feet and both barely made it back. The story of their descent and return journey became a classic - a nightmare few people should have to experience. [END]

Friday, September 28

HEAVY GOING TO CAMP 1

At approx 11:00 am [Our time] had a call from Hoseman. “Am at Jamies Camp1. Safe and sound in a nice big tent.”
Left Depot Camp at 10 am. On the way, met Andrew and his girl friend and together we entered the Penitentes. On exiting Penitentes, Hoseman waited about 30 minutes and was lucky to meet a team of 8 Sherpas accompanying 2 Russian climbers whom he was able to follow after they had compacted trail.
After Penitentes had to face a climb of about 600m vertical climb. This went well for about 90% of the trail and he was able to keep up with the Sherpas most comfortably. Unfortunately, they turned off in a different direction to one of the lower of the Camps 1. The group then made off and Hoseman was left to fend for himself in virtually virgin territory in driving winds. Visibility was very bad and it was really cold – going was extremely difficult. He felt that, up to this point, his progress had had been fine and well within his capabilities. But it had been hard work, a hard mountain day! Wind was blowing driving snow and sleet.
“I got to the camp of the British Military expedition feeling very cold and exhausted.
Fortunately, they allowed me to sit for a while in one of their ‘Provisions’ tents where I was able to compose myself. I was a bit concerned as my hands had become really cold and I was a bit worried about my core temperature. I must have sat there for about half an hour and was most grateful for their hospitality.”
The rest of the journey was very difficult. There was no visible trail and the loose snow was knee deep. One had to proceed over a very thin surface which all too frequently collapsed. After about 20 minutes of struggling in these adverse conditions, I was obliged to wrap myself up in my spare tent and boil some water for a hot drink. Then, with a full pack on my back, I had to virtually crawl the last 200 metres (vertical) to reach Jamies camp ! It was a hell of a day!
There are a number of #1 Camps – all fairly well spread out. Jamie’s camp 1 is higher whereas my Camp 1 is even higher. Jamie had gone down to camp ABC yesterday and there was no one about the camp now.
Hoseman felt it was a pity it had had to end this way after having started off so strongly. In a way, he felt the experience had been humbling – yet he felt he had been able to push his own boundaries today. Got stuck today and became exposed more than he would have liked to. He nevertheless felt strong both mentally and physically. It was on the emotional front, that he had felt it more enduring today. He was also grateful for his previous experiences on mountains in Canada , etc.
Now it was merely a matter of waiting it out and for an improvement in the weather.
He also looked forward to the arrival of another group of Sherpas be fore considering his next move.
In reply to Mumsie, he said he was not concerned about finding his way to his own Camp 1 as he had a good idea of how to get there. Moreover, he had his GPS for readings and had also left a bread-crumb trail previously. He added that he normally walked with two Leki walking poles but on this occasion (with full double pack) had to do the last bit on his hands and knees.
At one stage, Hoseman said he had looked back and saw someone staring at him. Seeing me, he must have wondered what was going on. All the climbers are now on very tight schedules. I know I still have a problem getting to my Camp 1 but in the meantime, it is very comfortable here in Jamie’s Camp 1. I am in a fairly large tent, could probably sleep four persons – in fact have a selection of various tents (about 7) to choose from! Journey to Camp 1 will again be a matter of counting laboriously every 100 steps and then the next hundred. “It seems as though I have already counted a billion of them!”
He had tried to communicate with Jamie’s expedition but unable to get through. Perhaps we could sent him an email. Tell him: “Mark is at his Camp 1 and that there in s no radio communication.”We said we were delighted to receive his ten email pictures. News from London was that everything’s OK. Spare some positive thoughts for Lianne whose recent operations have been successful and now needs lots of positive support. [END]

Thursday, September 27

Weather clears... Pending future forcasts onwards to Camp 2!

At 10h30 am local RSA time, Hoseman says: Weather has improved. Sky is clear. Shisha Peak too is clear but with a plume which indicates strong wind. Strong wind is OK as it will blow away the loose fresh snow. Sunshine too is OK as it will bake hard the settled snow.
I will be going to Depot Camp this afternoon. Then tomorrow will on to Camp 1 with full load of 2 tents, sleeping bags and stoves required to establish Camps 2 and 3. Will try and establish them if the weather remains favourable. However, there is no long-term forecast.
It is now 02h30 pm (Tibet) which allows me about 2 hours to get to Depot camp. I am going to pack now. Hope I won’t forget anything. Thanks for reminding me about the spoon.
The trail has had quite a bit of snow but I hope to have had some teams ahead of me. If other people will have been able to tramp down some of the snow, it will make the main trail so much more comfortable for me with my heavy load.
Currently experiencing bout of nervous energy, pumping adrenalin - even a bit of a nervous tummy.
Received your SMS about the full moon. Saw similar full moon here over Shisha.
Rest of group waiting for more consolidation.
Jamie has been ahead looking after the tents but will be coming down soon. Expedition expects to climb again in a couple of days.I have put something on the blog so have a look at it first before posting this blog.
Checked blogsite but found nothing newer than Full Moon. So, here goes - Publish Post!

Wednesday, September 26

Full Moon

Here, we have a beautiful full moon in a perfectly crisp clear sky tonight. Hope to hear that you can say the same where you are.

Shishapangma weather update from ABC

Well after months of training, weeks of trekking, days of climbing, the
weather rules the roost! Unfortunately a "system" has come in - in response
to a low pressure storm in the Bay of Bengal, and dumped a fair amount of
snow all over the mountain. Its interesting how this affects one.


I should have by now established Camp II and be pretty much aclimitised to 7000m. I
will now have to wait until all this instability consolidates before going
back up "the hill". Hopefully the British Team (who were just about to push
for the summit) will be keen to get back up and forge a new trail. Jamie's
Sherpa's are also very ready - after many days of waiting. I'm keen that the
crevasses are well marked before going back up again - likely they will have
some thin snow bridges over them at the moment - not good for a single
climber.


So I'm trying to keep the motivation levels high - lots of temptation to get
back home. I don't want to come back to Shisha so do want to give this
attempt my best shot! Writing down the number of remaining days does give me
some hope that there is still a chance.

As a note my Camp I is still ok - Jamie has very kindly checked it - he was
on a later aclimitisation trip with two other team members

Thanks again to all those that have sent sms's and for all the good wishes -
its great sitting on ones own and suddenly getting a beep that a new message
has arrived on the phone...


Tuesday, September 25

Whether the weather...

Hoseman reported that he was back at ABC. “Unfortunately, we’re not having favourable weather – has been snowing for days now. The weather forecasts that there is a low pressure system over the Bay of Bengal and the fear is that once it clears, strong winds will blow and that they are going to increase in intensity – especially at high altitude. Therefore, the indications are not positive and it is not an ideal situation”.

He said it had been quite warm and comfortable at Depot Camp but he had decided not to cross the Penitentes because he did not like the sound of all those avalanches. Thus, after spending last night at Depot Camp, he had returned to ABC this morning.

He feels a bit worried about his stuff at Camp 1. If the snow piles on too high, it could crush the tent poles and possibly damage the contents.

All the higher climbers have already come down and there is no one left at high altitude. He has now met Andrew Locke who has also decided not to venture beyond ABC at present because of the adverse weather. In reply to our question Mark explained that Camp ABC was not really crowded – there is a lot of space for everyone to spread out. The Sherpas are fantastic but, like everyone else, there is nothing else for them to do but to sit it out.

There now appears to be only two options:
Option 1: Sit it out and hope weather conditions will improve;
Option 2: Cut now. Go back to Base Camp and wait for a jeep to get back home.
Mark is not yet prepared for latter option – says he has too much stuff up the mountain.

This is really the difficult part of mountaineering – it’s so difficult to predict what’s going to happen. The best idea now seems to be to hang in there for another two or three days. Hopefully the sun will come out and one can then see what happens. Unfortunately, he says he has not packed enough novels to read while waiting!
Claire is due to fly back home tomorrow – he has kept her fully briefed. In fact he has suggested that she may call us if ever she needs more information. Mark said his week’s summary should now be on the blog for us to see. He has also sent us an email (There was nothing last night and we haven’t checked today’s mail yet). Finally, Gromit is nice and dry and both are as fit as fiddles.

This weather didn't hold...



































Summary of Week - Monday 17th - Sunday 23rd

Hi Guys and thanks to Mike B, Raymond E & Major Hume for the sms's
Thanks Stu for the results - go SA


Day 11 - Mon 17th = Depot Camp
Relaxed start to carry first load from Depot camp (through the penitentes up
to and as close to Camp I as possible. Was on the hill with Jamie's
Sherpa's, great experience to be "working" with such amazing people. The
route through the penitentes is not ideal this year with some unnecessary
ups and downs and hair razing steep ascents and descents over the massive
inverted ice teeth. All quite an experience with a heavy pack, boots and
crampons!
I eventually called it a day at 6150m - thanks to Namgyals verbal support,
and buried by load in the snow. 2 hours 52 mins up and down


Day 12 - Tue 18th = Depot Camp
Rest day at Depot camp
Jamie's group arrives


Day 13 - Wed 19th = Camp I (6364m)
Up earlyish to pack load - High suit, Puffa, High Sleeping bag, Jetboil
stove, 1 gas, High food x 4, Camp 2 Tent poles (Note no Camp 2 tent - too
heavy/tired), Ice axe, Harness & Gear
Left 8:18am, only an hour through penitentes this time
Clive & Tristan soon join me on trail and pass. Swap some gear with previous
day's cache. Eventually see Jamie's camp 1 over the rise at approx 6300m.
Don't have energy to get to 6500 so establish an earlier camp 1 - 6364m.
Rest of Jamie's group pass my "T house" - Offer some hot water as conditions
not quite ideal - small white out.
Have very cold night as only have high suit - fine for body but feet cold so
had to boil water to heat bottles to keep feet warm. - Up all night.
Nice way to spend our 9th anniversary! - Eventually sunrise...









Day 14 - Thu 20 = Camp I (6460m)
Coffee then down to cache to get load.
Push new position for Camp I above Jamie's group - 6460m
Google Earth position - N28 22 45.0 E 85 45 00.0
Now have all my gear with me - much nicer evening - warm as toast
Very happy that Camp I now well established, plus also some high gear! Great
views down the valley
So to-date have had no altitude problems (headaches, ams, etc)




Day 15 - Fri 21 = ABC
Secure tent as best as possible. Jamie's group going up to Camp II. I need
to restock (internally) with food and liquids - one issue I do have is not
wanting to eat or drink at altitude, so am going back to ABC. I also need to
get next load from Depot Camp. Amazing how quick it takes me to get back
(Albeit with absolutely nothing left in me) - 2 hours 40 mins down compared
to approx 9 hours.
Meet Andrew Lock at ABC who has done 12 of the 14 eight thousanders! -
Google him....





Day 16 - Sat 22 = ABC
It's the weekend. Plan rest eat. As I have established Camp I, feel it is
certainly possible to establish Camp II. Jamie's is at 6800. There is an
initial steep climb and then one enters a cwm which leads to Camp III. How
high I establish it will depend on how exhausted I am when I reach the
crest.












Day 17 - Sun 23 = ABC
A little nervous as will be leaving ABC tomorrow. Different high cloud over
Shisha today. Asked Andrew what it might mean - he says "cloudy"!
Most of Jamie's group are coming down from spending two nights at Camp II
so ABC will be busy again - time to move on.








Plan for next week - note anything could change!
Mon - Depot or Camp I
Tue - Camp I
Wed - First load to Camp II - probably just my High Tent
Thur - Move to Camp II
Fri - Camp II
Note: Google the British Army attempt on Shisha - they are probably
attempting the summit this week

Note for those of you supporting the Rainbow Trust (see link), I have now
climbed from 5000 to 6460 - 1460m which at 1p per meter = 14.60gbp - almost
half way!
Thanks again for supporting them

Monday, September 24

ONWARD ACROSS PENITENTES

Satellite message from Hoseman Monday 24 September. (circa 11:00 am)

Thanks for blog updates, have had a chance to look at them and they look good. Have prepared a day by day summary of last week’s activities but may not be able to post them yet as Jamie is having a problem linking his laptop with the satellite. Two groups in Jamie’s expedition returned to camp ABC yesterday. Some are sick, mainly coughs and sore throats and then there is the usual bantering. I have had two good rest days at ABC so, today Gromit and I decided we would rather push on than stay in camp and get sick themselves.
We have now had a good walk to Depot Camp where we are having our lunch break. We might spend the night here but, as we are feeling so fit and strong, we might just decide to push on across the Penitentes and, maybe, on to establish Camp 2 – and, if possible, Camp 3. Will still have to decide how far to go. But I have my tents, sleeping bag and equipment with me, ready for Camps 2 & 3.
The big BUT is of course the weather! At the moment, conditions are continual wet heavy snow – at least 30 cm. Most climbers are coming down and looking at me askance as the only one going up. However, visibility is good and the walk thus far has been enjoyable. Despite the constant ‘fluttering’ snow, it is amazingly warm. It takes a whole hour to pass through the ‘Penitentes’ studding the glacier. They are like shark’s teeth – hard, sharp 20 m high ice points, like white sandpaper!
Hoseman said he could hear rumbles in the distance – avalanches occurring at regular intervals - four rumbles in the last hour. The periodic snowfalls are creating snow build up in layers which is the reason for the avalanches. They are not really threatening to the climbers because they are quite far away. The route does not lie in an avalanche area.


Andrew Locke (an Aussie who has already completed twelve of the fourteen 8000 m peaks) and his girlfriend have arrived at ABC where they will wait because the girl friend has a bad headache. He arrived later than the groups and may be coming up tomorrow. Mark hopes to meet him on the pathway and would be interested to obtain his views on the current situation – whether he thinks it will be too dangerous to go on in the current weather.
Mumsie came on the line and asked how he was. Hoseman replied that he is feeling fit but sometimes finds it quite difficult to remain motivated which is why he and Gromit are very glad to be on the move again and able to stretch their legs!!! The immediate next plan is to try and establish Camp 2 but this may be hampered by the bad weather - but he is going to try.
Jamie is presently at Camp 1 with most of his other groups - no one is left at Camp 2. Most of the climbers on the mountain are getting ready to summit. The four British teams are fairly widely scattered. Some are coming down from Camp 1 and Depot and some are already back at ABC.




Hoseman said he would like to say a special thanks to Mike B, Jenny B, Mike P, Major P and the folks for their SMS’s – they are great to receive!
Should try and get a picture of the Penitentes from Google wiki.
As a matter of interest, the term Penitentes was first used by Charles Darwin on his journey through Chile. It was thought these white spikes of ice resembled the processions of white-hooded monks, members of a Roman Catholic brotherhood of Hispanic origin, that celebrate the Passion with rites involving fasting and self-flagellation. Darwin noted that the locals believed the spikes were formed by strong winds. Recent laboratory experiments and computer modelling however, confirm that sunlight forms the spikes independently of wind – a process known as ‘localised sublimation’.

Saturday, September 22

TRICKY WEATHER PERMITTING

0922 SATURDAY
Final message from Hoseman to say weather reports are not optimistic what with typhoons elsewhere in Asia and reports of thick snow above Camp 2. We all know however that weather forecasters don’t always get it right. If the weather won’t let you do it there’s nothing you can do about it. One just has to be philosophical – either sit in camp and wait it out or take a risk and face the consequences.
Important clarification: After spending two days in Camp 1, arrived here yesterday afternoon.
Propose to now spend two days at ABC formulating a new plan, weather permitting. Today is Day 1, tomorrow will be Day 2. Intend to reach Camps 2 and 3 but will have to spend time acclimatising at Camp 2.
Think the British team has a chance of summiting round about 26 SEP but again that depends on the weather. End of message.

MAIN HEADINGS



0922 CURRENT NEWS

0922 SATURDAY
We received two calls today. We were not ready to take the first one and Hoseman said he would phone back in one hour.
In fact he phoned back after two and half hours because, he said, he had become involved in assisting a climber who was descending because of an upset tummy. The gist of the second call was an expression of disappointment over the lack of blog postings from our end. Our difficulties included the sorting out of the relevant information being received. Much of it comes from distorted almost garbled bits of information - as one would imagine would emanate from a high altitude ice and snow covered mountain slope. In fact, it’s a miracle and a marvel of modern technology that we can communicate so well let alone at all. Hoseman had said he would just mention the following three headings to us but would give us fuller details once he had got back to Camp ABC over the weekend and understood this to mean we should wait for more complete information before posting the blog. He concluded: “All is well!”
OK, we were wrong – we now know we must post EVERYTHING as he says it to keep up the continuity! We understand why - there are people in various parts of the world who regularly look up the blog to garner ANY information, disjointed or not.

IMPORTANT HEADINGS
1. Camp 1 established;
2. Thieves on trail;
3. No Alpine Style ascent to be attempted.

RESUMÉ
To fill in the other missing bits as we have received them since our last post on Tuesday 18 therefore, they are as follows:

0920 THURSDAY:
(Message recorded on telephone while we were out)
As I am now receiving your SMSs, send me one when you get back. I can’t guarantee I’ll still be awake but will definitely speak to you tomorrow. Will have more time for a good, long call.

0920 THURSDAY:
On returning home, we immediately send off an SMS and got the following call almost immediately:
My ‘Jetboyle’ is on the go, melting snow to fill up my water bottle. I am very undernourished and dehydrated. In past two days, have only eaten one packet of soup and had one coffee. This refers to my second heading “Thieves on trail”. My food parcels were stolen!
The good news is that I have finally established my Camp 1 and in so doing set my personal new altitude record namely, 6440 m. Will be going back to ABC for some R and R which will really be nice. Will give you more update then.
By the way, your SMS messages seem to be cut off before the end. Suggest you adjust available message characters by half and send the balance in more than one message to say what you have to. (No indication whether this was at Camp 1 or Depot Camp).

0921 FRIDAY NIGHT:
Call from Hoseman to say he was back at ABC and had had a good dinner and some ‘Sherpa Milk’ tea. Felt 100%. Will now have a good night’s sleep. Mumsie told him she was incensed that someone had stolen his food packets “What was the world coming to?”



BRAZEN RAVENS
Hoseman only then explained that the ‘thieves’ were ravens and I recalled reading about these bold birds in Woodrow Wilson Sayre’s book “Four Against Everest”. I know Hoseman has extensively researched Sayre’s expedition and must also have remembered this experience with these thieves of the Tibetan skies.
“Roger and Hans Peter came up with some bad news. The cache on the edge of the glacier had been looted by ravens or crows. Ever since Camp 1 several large black raven-like birds had followed our progress and scavenged our camps. I have no idea what they eat normally at these altitudes, since we saw nothing else living. But they certainly read the sign “meal ticket” written across our backs. One or two were always in sight. Apparently, we had underestimated them badly. They went right through the burlap sacks and the plastic bags in our cache with their beaks. Our food was scattered all over. Their favourite was the meat bars. We could ill afford the loss of these precious supplies, transported with such effort so far. We salvaged what we could and piled rocks on top to frustrate any future efforts. And then I started worrying about our essential cache at Camp 2. It was not protected by rocks. The ravens were squatting all round as we left. This could be a disaster. Our only hope was that, luckily, we had stored the food in the canvas marine sacks and so far they had not pecked through these much tougher containers.”

EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE
Last night we received this email from Major Peter:

0921 FRIDAY:
Haven’t heard much from the Lad this week – do you know where he has gotten to on the hill? Has he hit 6,500m meters yet? Hoping for some form of update at the weekend – is he getting his SMS messages do you know? [Yes!]
Must be just getting quite spring like down in Cape Town – lovely! [Yes]
Hopefully today is my last day at New Star – I hope to creep out quietly. On Monday it is planned that I go to Luxembourg on a different job – Oh well, it is all cash flow I guess.
Cheers, Peter

2109 FRIDAY:
We replied immediately putting him in the picture and asking for his new email address.
This concludes this post. Hopefully things are now a bit more up to date.

Tuesday, September 18

Anniversaries

Hoseman certainly knows how to pick his dates. No sooner does he announce his engagement to Cybershehose in April 1998 than he trips off to Nepal to do the Everest Base Camp route with a gratuitous ascent of Imja Tse at the other end. Now, on the eve of his ninth wedding anniversary, where do we find him – why, back in the Himalayas! This time on Mount Shishapangma. What does a loving wife do in such circumstances? Happy anniversary, Mark and Claire!
Major Peter has been spreading the word back home. Here is his email message to friends with an early reply from Mary White (Senior Compliance Manager) who says:
“Thanks Peter, we have all been thinking about him – please can you pass on our best wishes when you speak to him next.”
From Major Peter on 17 September: “I just had a call from Mark Hose at 5,800 metres on Shisha Pangma. On his own in a tent, in the snow, in the dark but sounded fine. Only him and Sherpas out on the mountain today – all the other climbers had stayed in their tents but that is not Mark’s way. He has been higher than 5,800 metres today then came back down, having left some gear higher up – go high, sleep low is the maxim for altitude safety. He is still toying with the idea of an Alpine Style dash for the summit (i.e. carrying enough gear for a few days so as to enable a rapid ascent, then descent) as opposed to the careful laying down of depots so that he has support and safety on Shisha Pangma. No doubt we will hear more of his exploits/progress in the days to come.
Peter
Back home we raise a glass of wine in a toast!

Sunday, September 16

Update from Advanced Base Camp



Depot Camp








View up towards Camp I through Penitentes










Have now had 3 nights at ABC and all is going very well. I'm feeling little
more pressure as I get closed to Depot Camp. After Depot camp I cross the penitentes and
am actually on the then will really feel that I'm on the mountain! It's our Puja tomorrow
(where we oay our respects to the mountain) and then one is "allowed" to start to climb. I
think the date will tie into the new moon. There is a possibility that we will have a full moon
near a summit attempt.

I'm thinking/planning to move (all my gear) to Depot camp. It can be a
little frustrating to be with the two large groups. Although being alone is difficult, I think
being "with"the large group is more distracting than beneficial. We have very different
agenda's even though we are climbing the same mountain.

My plan is as follows:
Either move all my gear (with assistance of the Tibetan cook support staff)
tomorrow or Monday. One night at Depot camp. Then "Alpine" load to Camp I - two nights.
Then same Alpine load to Camp II. I will then appraise the situation and make further
decisions. Thanks Edwin for SMS, yep "blondie" is me. Thanks also for donating to
Rainbow Trust.
Oje, lots of love to you, Andy and family!!!!!!
Sorry for lack of pics, but not seeming to have much luck with Jamies
bandwidth - will try reduce picture sizes even more....

Saturday, September 15

Day 10 & 11 - Cache load for Camp I

0917 8000m my post

Sunday 16 Sep
Mark could not get through to Raymond on Saturday. Had Puja ceremony today – four seasons in one day. As we tossed rice grains up in the air, the snow came down. The weather is cold cloudy and snowy. Spent the day at ABC where I have had some good acclimatisation. Would like to push the boundaries a little more every day. Have a bit of a cough and would like to take it easy and recover here at ABC (5800m) tomorrow. Then, would like to take a tent to Camp 1 (6500m). Might still achieve my record altitude of 6500m in the next few days. Few groups left here. Jamie and Eric took two groups up to depot Camp after ceremony. I was very pleased when some yak herders helped me by taking two of my bags to depot camp. This will be a big help and give me a better chance of success. Have been having restless sleep with vivid dreams. (Vivid dreams at high altitude are nothing new. On Everest, Frank Smythe had vivid dreams – OK, hallucinations! – while wide awake when he noticed an apparition right in front of him which kept him company for quite a while). Still having no luck receiving our Sat Phone messages. Asks us to communicate via Jamie’s laptop. Also requests Major Peter’s email address. End of message.

Monday 17 September
An entity claiming to be ‘Eric’ with a very gruff voice reports: Very tired after having crossed the Penitentes and reached cache at 6150m. Had to return because very tired and because of bad weather. Tough going and very exhausting. Impressed with the Sherpas. While I was going down they were still going up in all that bad weather.
Coordinates of Depot Camp: N 028º 24' 11.4"; E 85º 44' 58.7".
Coordinates of cache: N 028º 23' 14.8"; E 85º 44' 55.2".
Plan to have a rest day tomorrow (Tuesday 18 Sep). There is too much snow about. Might just go back to ABC for two or theee days while waiting for the weather to consolidate.
Tent and everything else was soaking wet when I got back but, thankfully, my sleeping bag was nice and dry. Medicine for hoarse throat? Just good clean, fresh air!
The good news is that I was able to get your SMS via Sat Phone. Have also heard from major Peter. End of message.

Some photos from ABC











Puja






























Friday, September 14

Some of the amazing guys supporting Jamies expedition



Tuesday, September 11

Day 5 - Base camp - Tue 11th

Very hot day, took walk with Francis and Clive Westwards of BC. Got to about 5,400, but had headache so decided to return back to BC. Round trip approximately 5 hours. Hit my toe while crossing freezing river, but hopefully won't need it for the climb. A year ago I broke my thumb on the way to Depot camp - oh well....
Possible that I will go with first Yak load to ABC tomorrow. Might be a bit tired after todays walk, so will have to wait and see - its about a 20km trek.




Met this guy herding Yaks in the middle of nowhere

















Watching the world go by












Middle of nowhere

Day 4 - Base camp - Mon 10th

Another magic day weatherwise. Took another trek (3 hours) with pack Eastwards of BC this morning. Lucky to see 3 antelope on the plains, but they were very skittish so could not get a photo. About 6km round trip. Met up with a friendly Yak herder, who must have had about 70 yaks. Spent about an hour lazing on the ridge with the most spectacular views. This is one of the reasons why I do these trips - recharge the batteries. Google Earth point - N28 38 46.2 E 85 46 49.2 Planning a longer, higher,lighter trek with Clive (was also here last year but turned around after camp 3 due to poor slope conditions) and Francis for tomorrow. Possible that yaks for first load will arrive tommorow night, so ABC is not far away. Have been having some early chats with the Sherpas about getting some assistance (from yak, horse, Tibetan or our cook staff) for getting my gear to Depot camp (From ABC).



My "Camp", not a bad view!

Monday, September 10

Day 3 - Base camp - Sun 9th

Got my A into G this morning and packed my bag. Contents: 2 x gas cannisters, 1 Jetboil stove, 1 High altitude Puffa jacket, 1 Down climbing suit, 1 tent Terra nova tent (Camp 3), 1 high altitude sleeping bag, 10 x dry food packets, 1 x Ice axe, 1 x Leki pole. Went on a 11km trek westwards up to 5,350m. Felt great especially with the pack. Perhaps there is a chance of trying an alpine ascent. This means I will commit myself to th mountain once I start. This is different from establishing multiple camps along the route and doing an up and down approach. The norm would be for climbers to attempt this after they have aclimatised. I think I will like to try this as part of a recce of the route at an early stage. My highest point on the trek was N28 32 45.1 E85 44 53.0. Had great views of Shisha all the way. 1st time that I did not sleep though (other than P breaks) the whole night - perhaps a little dehydrated from the walk as mouth was quite dry. But no headaches which is a good sign.
The rest of Jamie's 2 groups arrived today.








Day 2 - Base camp - Sat 8th

Very relaxed, no more stomach issues (had some minor ones last night). Two more groups arrived today - small independent, look as though could be attempting a ski descent. Had a half hearted attempt to pack my "alpine" pack, but decided to have a 40 minute nap instead. Climbed small hill to East of base camp and watched sunset - fabulous to be here.

Day 2 - Base camp - Sat 8th

Very relaxed, no more stomach issues (had some minor ones last night). Two more groups arrived today - small independent, look as though could be attempting a ski descent. Had a half hearted attempt to pack my "alpine" pack, but decided to have a 40 minute nap instead. Climbed small hill to East of base camp and watched sunset - fabulous to be here.

Saturday, September 8

New Moon

0908 13h30 phone call clear
After 3 to 4 days of ‘Hell’ and ‘Hell’s Neighbour’, arrived in Base Camp yesterday at lunch time. Pleased to see clear views of mountains. Although we are still some 20 km away, Mt. Shisha seemed to tower very high in the sky - seems higher than it was last year!
Acclimatisation is going well – although had a bit of a tummy disorder yesterday. Will now spend 3 to 4 days at Base Camp before advancing to ABC (Advanced Base Camp). Am considering possible animal transport for this next stage (pony or yak) and on to Depot Camp as this isn’t part of the actual mountain ascent.
The three members of Jamie’s team are great guys and we get on very well. Jamie should arrive from Lhasa tomorrow. In the meantime we have lovely large tents to sleep in.
Still undecided as to whether to plan for a rapid Alpine Ascent push but will check feasibility of putting everything into a single pack over the next few days. I understand there are already people at Camp 1 (British Army) and more climbers at Camp 3. So, I will certainly not be alone. These camps are more or less in the same locality as last year but this year I want to aim for 6500 m instead of 6400 m for my Camp 1. The weather is still very good. There were some flashes of lightning on the horizon last night. Also saw the new moon (Which, strictly speaking, should only be visible on the 11th of September.)Still getting SMS on SatPhone from Jenny (Please send her a thank you email) but not many from us. Cannot offer any explanation. In reply to Mumsie’s question regarding a ‘nice bath’, Hoseman said this was low on his priority list – keeping warm was much higher. He has a long bamboo pole with prayer flags outside his tent. If Jamie’s expedition does his official Puje in time he will attend but if its going to be too late in the day, he will go off on his own having already done the ceremony at Thame earlier.

Thursday, September 6

Zhangmu, Nyalan then off to Base Camp

Well we are almost through the "hell", that is Zangmu and Nyalam (Hells neighbour). Chinese Windows menu option make for interesting selection so hopefully this "Blog" will get published. It seems my blog page is blocked in this part of the world????!







After leaving KTM we arrived at the border post and thankfully got though all the red tape that they put in front of us. Then into my favourite spot - Zangmu - wondefull surprise - "they" are rebuilding the road so its closed during the day, therefore we would do the perilous jorney at night. But the good news was that we would not stay more than 5 hours in the hell hole. We eventually arrived in Nyalam just after midnight after a fairly eventful journey. The road is so narrow, that when vehicles meet going in opposite directions, a conference is held as to who will back up. These "conferences" can take some time. Anyway we eventually reached Nyalam at about 1:00am.




Anyway, we did a good aclimitisation walk up to 4,300m today and all were feeling pretty good. I'm travelling with Tristan (Scottish) who hopes to be the youngest Scot to climb Everest next year, Francis (Canada) and Paul (Australia) and about 10 Sherpas. It will be a big group and I'm pretty glad that I have the opportunity to be independent.

The food is not particularly my favourite at the enforced restaurant where we eat, so i have been enjoying momo's at a local nepali restaurant. Tristan has tought us a new card game called sh1thead which has been keeping us amused for hours. We are much more civilised than the Lhasa crowd and have not (yet) resorted to any toilet humour as seems to be the case with them. I won't start describing the accommodation, especially the room that Francis and Paul are sleeping in... Its interesting how (as per Jamie) the Pakistani's welcome you with open "hands" and will do anything, where here it is quite the opposite. Silly to miss such an opportunity to promote ones country, especially with the Olympics comming up...

Hopefully we leave for BC early tomorrow morning, when I will get my first taste of the Freedom of the Hills. This year without being sick!. I'll then post some pics through Jamie's sat setup.

Allswell

cheers

Monday, September 3

Leave for Tibet tomorrow!

Yep, we eventually flew out of Lukla after only one days wait - very lucky considering monsoon season. Have had a couple of days to organise final bits and bobs. Barrels left this morning, and I leave first thing tomorrow. One night on Nepal/Tibet border and then 2/3 in Nyalan. Next updates will be via satellite phone via Raymond E (yes, thats if he prioritises things correctly) or via Jamies laptop at ABC.
I have been thinking about an alternative plan to try a light alpine ascent as a first attempt... A bit ambicious but will probably give me a lot of information about the mountain. Will keep you posted. Thanks for the donations to www.justgiving.com/8000mandabove and for the sms messages. Yes some seem to get through.. Will keep you posted as soon as I can, but possibly a couple of days of no news
Check Jamies updates at www.project-himalaya.com/dispatches/latest.html

Concerned about explosion in Katmandu. Imagined it was Hoseman blowing up over late post from this end. Think we have all our bits and pieces together this end. Now, with Gromit we are all together for the more serious stuff. Read Jamie' s report thus far - pleased he has welcomed Hoseman. See www.project-himalaya.com/dispatches/latest.html
Good to hear of Inaki's good wishes to Hoseman. From Raymond E

Blog in progress of updating - no issues with bomb in KTM yesterday - all fine

Sunday, September 2

Bombs kill 2, wound 26 in Nepal capital Kathmandu

KATHMANDU, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Three near-simultaneous bomb blasts killed two women and wounded 26 people in Kathmandu on Sunday, police said, the first attacks in the Nepali capital since a Maoist revolt in the Himalayan nation ended last year.
The attacks came less than three months before the impoverished nation, sandwiched between Asian giants India and China, votes to elect a new constituent assembly to decide the fate of the monarchy the Maoists want abolished.
The government and the Maoists said the attacks were aimed at disrupting the vote.
The Terai Army, a little-known group of ethnic rebels in the southern plains, as well as the previously unheard of Terai Utthan Sangat, claimed responsibility for the attacks in calls to local media. The claims could not be verified independently.
One of the bombs went off outside a school and near the newly built United World Trade Centre business complex in the Tripureswor area in central Kathmandu, killing the two women.
Another went off outside some shops less than a mile away in the central Sundhara area, while the third was placed inside a mini-bus outside an industrial park in Balaju, a northwestern suburb.

"I was cycling to work when I heard a big explosion ... soon I saw people falling down," said Sunil Maharjan, a witness at the site of one of the city centre blasts.
"I put three students who were injured in a taxi and took them to the hospital."
Padam Bahadur Magar, the driver of a city bus carrying about 70 passengers in Tripureswor, said the blast took place just as he stopped the vehicle.
"It was a big explosion, the windows of my bus were shattered ... some of my passengers were injured," he said.
Another witness said he saw school text books and pens scattered on the bloodstained ground.
Outside the industrial park in Balaju, police towed away the mangled wreckage of the mini-bus whose roof had been blown off. Blood-stained shoes, caps and torn clothes lay scattered around.

PEACE SHATTERED

The bombs shattered a long spell of peace in Kathmandu Valley, which began after the Maoists and the government reached a truce last year, ending a decade-long insurgency that killed about 13,000 people.

"We have no basis yet to suspect anybody," said Home Ministry spokesman Baman Prasad Neupane. "But I think the Terai Army has claimed responsibility to the media."
A Home Ministry statement said the attacks were "a serious conspiracy aimed at derailing" the constituent assembly vote.
Maoist chief Prachanda, who uses only one name, blamed "reactionary forces" for the attacks.
"It is aimed at disrupting the ongoing peace process and the campaign for establishing a democratic republic," he said.
During the Maoist conflict, the rebels frequently targeted Kathmandu with small bombs, planting them at busy streets, in markets, shopping malls and government buildings.

The Terai Army is one of several ethnic Madhesi rebel groups which are fighting for the autonomy of Nepal's fertile southern Terai plains bordering India.
Scores of people have died in the region this year in violence by ethnic Madhesi groups demanding more government jobs, more seats in parliament and regional autonomy.
Defence analyst Indrajit Rai said the blasts indicated that a recent agreement between the government and the main Madhesi group would not end the unrest in the region unless other rebel groups were also brought into the mainstream.
"This is only a trailer. The actual movie is yet to come," he said. "The government should be alert and hold talks with all groups that are fighting for more rights in the Terai."

Thursday, August 30

Day 10/11/12 - Mongla, Namche then back to Lukla

Major Hume happy to reach Lukla in one piece - no recues required. Had called ahead to try to get out return tickets confirmed on an earlier flight, but weather more our problem.







En-route to Namche...









Saw old friends Lhakpa and her husband Nge again, - hot milky tea was great. She made our beads...







Stayed in Dawa's Paradise lodge - "All our cooking are done by gas and kerosene, mostly".


She was a wonderful host and we highly recommend her lodge.

Wednesday, August 29

Day 9 - Gokyo to Mongla 3978m

Decide to go down due to cloudy weather. This instead of going up to Gokiyo Ri or further up the Gazumpa glacier. This will also allow me more time to wait at Lukla in case weather is bad. Long day which we ended at friendly lodge in Mongla.
Second of Major Humes rescues...ask him... In the lodge dinning area, a mouse had carried about 1kg of rice into stove drawer - as we were first guests of season his treasure was discovered! Ag shame hey...






Rescuer and lodge owners, - all happy again

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