Everest Base Camp

April 15, 2011 4:15 pm
-Chris Davenport

Hello everyone and welcome to another dispatch from Everest Base Camp. We arrived here two days ago to the delight of all the team members. The novelty of the trek and teahouses had pretty much worn off and we were all ready to move into the comforts of BC, with our own tents and the amazing cooking of our Sirku, our cook.

The elevation of the Mountain Trip camp is right around 17,500′ and our spot is located near the upper end of this makeshift city. I was very much surprised by the size of Everest Basecamp, and according to long-time locals it’s been growing steadily for the better part of ten years. The camp supports maybe 500 people, or perhaps more with all the trekkers that make this their goal.

There are many teams represented and Ephi and I took a long walk around yesterday, visiting friends at RMI, Himex, IMG, Patagonian Brothers, and AAI. There is a definite sense of community here, and its quite social to walk around saying hi to folks from all over the world. We here at Mountain Trip are proud of our zone and our staff has worked tirelessly for a couple weeks getting it ready. Remember, we are all camped on the glacier, so things are melting during the days and freezing at night, which makes for some engineering challenges. Last night I could here the glacier creaking and popping below me as I slept.

Here is our compound, minus the climber and guide tents. The big white SlingFin tent is our dining tent and can easily seat 20+ people. Behind that are two white tents with blue roofs, which are the kitchen and staff dining tents. Then there is a blue storage tent which is stuffed with blue barrels of food and gear for the upper mountain. The orange Mountain Hardware tent above us is Altitude Junkies compound.

The Mountain Trip Sherpa staff readies a new SlingFin tent which will be the dining tent for Camp II. These tents are ultra strong and portable.

Each climber and guide has his own Base Camp tent. Mine is the fourth from the left and I’ve outfitted it with many pads and even a small Persian carpet which I bought in Istanbul. I’m not joking when I say our camp borders on luxurious.

Here is the Mountain Trip team of climbing Sherpas. These guys are all smiles and so fit it humbles the fittest westerner. We couldn’t have a better crew and I look forward to climbing with over the next 5 weeks. In the center back row is Bill Allen, co-owner of Mountain Trip, and front and center is Scott Woolums, program director and lead guide (and the camp solar engineer) for Mountain Trip here in the Himalaya. We have 15 climbing Sherpas with Mountain Trip, and another 9 staff members running the kitchen, BC, and Camp II.

Bill works the electronics table. We have a ridiculous amount of solar power, communications equipment, and electronics here in the dining tent. Engineering all of this is a major project and after several days of work it all seems to be coming together.

This morning after breakfast Ephi, Neal and I did a short hike up into the Khumbu Icefall. Since we were just in our trekking shoes we didn’t go very high, but here are some climbers coming down the icefall from a trip up to Camp I. From the comments we have heard the icefall is in awesome shape this year, and only has 13 sections with ladders, compared to many, many more in past years. This section of the Everest climb causes me the most trepidation, and hopefully we can move through here fast and without incident. Our team spent a couple hours this afternoon rigging up our harnesses for travel through the icefall and for using the fixed lines of the route. After the group clinic I headed out to the nearby seracs for some ice bouldering.

I’m standing right below the steep section of the icefall in this photo. The route climbs up to the left behind me and then cuts through the ice back to the right and up to Camp I in the flats above. We will move up to Camp I for our first carry on Monday.

A shot of Base Camp from a few hundred feet above in the icefall. This photo gives you a sense of how spread out camp is.

A closer up view of maybe half of Base Camp. It extends another quarter mile down valley in this photo.

Neal Beidelman takes it all in. Being up here is beyond breathtaking. The pass behind Neal is the LhoLa, which is the border with Tibet. On this hike the temperature fluctuated from maybe 70 degrees when the sun was out to 30 degrees when the clouds obscured the sun.

We will have our ceremonial “puja” in two days time. This ceremony is an offering to the mountain and gods and we all helped carry rocks to build a “stupa”. I took the opportunity to utilize the local method of cargo carrying, the “tump line”, to move maybe 40 lbs of rocks.

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