November 6 - From “Yak Camp” to Camp One

This is Wally Berg calling on November 6. I last talked to you right as we closed the Pooja yesterday. The 5th of November had been chosen by the lama from Tangboche as an auspicious or a fitting day for a Pooja. As you know, we moved through Base Camp last night at about 18,200 feet. Nima Tashi calls the Advanced Base Camp “Yak Camp” because he brings his yaks up with him.

As we entered Advanced Base Camp we saw Nima Tashi’s impressive yaks heading back down to Base Camp. These are pure yaks off the Tibetan Plateau, not the cross-bred animals (yak crossed with cattle) that are used in the lower elevations. Very impressive animals.

Now, I’m calling you from a totally different setting, however. I’m at Camp 1, we’re on our route and it’s truly spectacular. It is early afternoon. We carried up through a steep talus and put our camp in at Camp 1, at 19,000 feet. Berg Adventures’ trekking camps and base camps are pretty luxurious, as you might have gathered. We each have our own North Face VE25 tent at every camp. We have three large tents at Base Camp as well – one for dining, one for cooking and one for storage.

Up here it’s a totally different world. We thought we might put three tents up here but we decided two three-man North Face VE25s would in fact work for tonight. So the six of us are now nestled down into two tents in the most spectacular location I can imagine. I’m looking out across the Mingbo glacier and the great peaks of the Hinku.

We’re thinking a lot about the 1960-61 World Book Encyclopedia Scientific Exploratory Expedition. I hope you will follow the report about this amazing expedition on our site and on Those climbers and that era are on our minds. And I can tell you that as I look out across the Mingbo and these other great peaks, I can report that it is really no less wild this day as it was at that time.

We can look down from here to the location of the Silver Hut and across the Mingbo glacier and over the high peak passes into the Hinku and Barun regions. These areas look as wild to me now as they must have been in 1961. Here on our route, of course, we’re in a place that is frequented by good mountaineers from around the world. And looking up at it, I’m in awe at what Barry Bishop and the other climbers conceived and pulled off in March of 1961. It was really a remarkable route for the time. It looks beautiful. It’s going to be a remarkable and challenging route for us. We have a great deal of respect for those men who carried-out that dream all of those years ago.

And I’m also thinking about the Yeti. Remember on that expedition, Hillary went into the Rolwaling Valley looking for Yeti. Marlin Perkins was there looking for Yeti. I’m thinking about another Yeti today, though, because Ryland has been telling me a lot, for weeks now since we first got to Kathmandu, about his sons Robbie and Nate, and Yeti. He showed me pictures of them in fact, and we’ve thought about them many times during this climb. This Yeti, many of you should know, is a very large dog that lives in Edwards, Colorado.

I’m looking out across ridges right now where other Yetis might be and I want to tell you that this was a “mountaineering dreams come true” day for our members.

This is a classically beautiful mountaineering route above 19,000 feet. We were all thrilled to be on it. It’s big, it’s challenging, and it’s easy to underestimate it. And now that we’re up here on it, we’re thrilled to be here.

We look up to the challenges ahead and we feel good to be camping on our mountaineering route again. We’re settling down now. The weather is beautiful. The team is doing well. Nima Tashi and Tami are heading back down to Advanced Base Camp tomorrow. We’re going to move across the exposed technical rock terrain to Camp 2 and I’ll give you a report about how that climb goes sometime tomorrow. We plan to spend two nights here. We’ll climb to Camp 2 tomorrow and then return here. It is a really, really beautiful and spectacular place up here.

Ama Dablam 2002
BAI team:

Wally Berg,
Canmore, Alberta
Brent Bishop,
Bozeman, Montana
David Burger,
Boulder, Colorado
Garry Porter
Olalla, Washington
Ryland Gardner
Edwards, Colorado
Doug Frost
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Our objective:

22,494 feet
6857 meters

First Ascent:

March 13, 1961
Barry Bishop
Wally Ramanes
Mike Gill
Mike Ward