September 18 - Nuptse is taking care of us
Today is the 18th of September and I have several things to report to you about and describe from Everest Base Camp.
One thing is that yesterday morning Maegan and Grant Meekins left Base Camp for Lobuche peak. We have a permit for Lobuche peak. Some of you will remember that we climbed Lobuche peak, which is 20,029 feet or 6,105 m, before we climbed Ama Dablam last year as preparation and acclimatization for the Ama Dablam climb with Berg Adventures. Garry Porter and David Burger, who are part of this team, were both on that climb.
We’ve intended all along to use Lobuche peak for acclimatization and as a playground of sorts for this team. In particular, Maegan has said since the beginning that she wanted to get her feet under herself and ski something before she went up on Everest. So Grant and Maegan headed down to Lobuche yesterday.
This morning, I had a radio call with Grant and he described waking up very early, climbing up the ridge above their tent and getting a beautiful view of their route. By 6:30 am, however, the clouds had closed in and they were getting ready to brew up and have breakfast, not expecting to see much more of the route today. Grant, as many of you know, is a guide from Canmore who is working with us at Base Camp and in the Khumbu this season.
And speaking of Grant and Canmore, I just got word that Mrs. Phillips Reid’s third grade class from the Exshaw School is watching us on the Internet. And I’m really happy to know that back home in the Bow Valley Mrs. Phillips Reid’s class is watching and also I hope they are learning a lot about Everest and the history of this region, especially this 50th Anniversary year 50 years after Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first climbed Everest.
Speaking of the history of Everest, there’s one character I should mention. I bet some of the people following these dispatches have been wondering who is doing the Icefall. Well, the SPCC the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee is once again this year doing the Icefall. If you don’t know about the SPCC, you should. They are a non-government organization, a non-profit organization with Nepalese administration, and they are responsible for cleaning up Everest. Your “environmental” or your “clean-up” expeditions that are trying to raise money to come over here to Nepal to “clean up” Everest for the Nepalese never tell you about the SPCC. But they have in fact been doing a very effective job of controlling the trash at Everest Base Camp and the environmental situation. A few years back, they took over the administration of the Icefall route.
Going way back, years before that, I remember in 1989 when I was first here, there was always some Sherpa who had taken primary responsibility for the Icefall and in those days, it was a guy named Lakpa Galu from Namche. I remember calling him “Dr. Icefall” in 1989. The tradition has continued there have been a few Icefall Doctors since that time.
Ang Nima from Dingpoche, who’ve I’ve known since 1989 before he was the Icefall Doctor, has taken this position over in recent years. He and three other Sherpas have been up there four days in a row advancing the route. They’re taking a rest day today. I went over and had tea with Ang Nima, and enjoyed visiting and catching up with him. These guys are doing a great job. I sat and talked with him, with his sun-crusted face, as they relaxed and drank tea this morning. And once again, they are doing a great job of the Icefall.
The SPCC, I mentioned, has been doing a very effective job, despite what some teams trying to raise money to come to Everest will tell you, about keeping Everest clear. I decided to send back some trash.
I also decided to send back a photograph today of a very huge piece of trash that’ll eventually have to be removed. Many of you may remember that late last May, one of the Russian helicopters crashed at Everest Base Camp. And that big hulk is still sitting out on the glacier just below Base Camp. Rather unsightly but also it’s a good reminder that helicopters and these elevations are not a particularly good mix. And if we need a helicopter, I think we’re going to head down to Gorak Shep and wait for one there.
Life is really good here at Base Camp. We miss Maegan and Grant, but they’ll be back in a day or so. Myself, and Garry, David and Brad are enjoying continuing to get settled in. We keep talking about how we’re going stir-crazy and we ought to go for a hike, but we find taking showers and getting organized at Base Camp kind of makes each day pass.
We’ve got one great friend here at Base Camp, a lovely little Tibetan-type dog that followed us into Base Camp. We named her Nuptse and it’s become clear that she is part of the team here. I think Nuptse will be with us for the duration of this expedition.