Episode 014: Calling Karma

Can You Hear Me Now? Ben has brought a satellite phone with him to Everest, and we were able to call Karma back in Kathmandu to get a status report on Major. Apparently Major’s doing fine, but it was difficult for me to follow a one-sided telephone conversation in Nepali. Lhawang placed the call and I could discern a few words such as “Major”, “excellent”, “generator” and “Kathmandu.” Not too much to go on, but I’m just going to figure that Major is alright. We have three other climbers who are going to be joining our team in the next few days. We have a climbing permit and to keep the cost per climber reasonable, we need to have all of the available spots on the permit filled. So, Nomad Expeditions will be providing support for two French climbers and a Belgian climber in addition to Ben. Lhawang says that they will arrive in the next few days as they’ve just left Kathmandu. I look forward to meeting them, but in the short term I’m excited by the fact that their vehicles will bring me my generator! I’ve been running out of battery power and it’s making me a little nervous. Ben and I walked around BC today to try and meet other teams. We said hello to an Aspen, Colorado team and had tea with a team from Northern Ireland. Later in the day as Ben went for a hike, I met a fellow named Tom Masterson. He’s a Canadian living in Boulder, Colorado and climbing with a Russian team from St Petersburg. His team were having computer issues and I went over to their camp and solved their problems. We then talked for several hours and I had a great time. I want to get to know them better.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 22:01

From: Jonathan Miller
To: Family and Friends
Subject: Thanks, everyone!
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 2003 07:03:42 -0600

All is well up here at 17,000′. Although I don’t want to worry
anyone I’m not having nearly as much fun as I wish I was. Just miss
Mighty Heidi too damn much. Also, please keep sending the emails my
way. I just eat them up but it usually takes me a while to get
through them because I usually cry my way through them! Don’t worry!
It’s cool! I just love you all so much. This trip has definitely
made me want to never take for granted what a wonderful family I
have. I am forever changed and forever grateful.

OK, I’m getting dehydrated from my tears! (again, don’t worry about
ol’ Jon, it’s just that this place makes you re-evaluate your life
and want to throw away the stuff that doesn’t matter. I’ve
discovered that one of the most important things in life is a good,
dependable supply of toilet paper. Who needs a Big Screen TV when
you can just reach into a closet for a fresh roll whenever you

Just the facts:

I am finally over the headache stage of acclimatization! Damn, that
was a tough one. You’re head just pounds away with your heartbeat
and you can barely think. Luckily Advil always helped, but I was
having to take 2000mg per day (5 in the morning 5 in the evening) to
keep it under control. Advil is really save, but it does eat at your
stomach after a while–never got to that stage thank GOD!

Most of the time when you’re at rest you can’t tell you’re so far up
there. Then you walk a little ways and when you get to your
destination you have to do some pressure breathing (breathing in and
out very quickly in short, controlled bursts–a mountaineering
trick). It gets you back to normal real quick.

I’m drinking a minimum of 3 liters of water per day–which is great,
except that you have to pee in the middle of the night and it gets
COLD here at night. It’s been dropping down to about 15 degrees and
if you don’t sleep with your water bottle, it will be frozen solid
by morning. One of the things that helps is to go to bed with a
bottle of boiling water (all of our drinking water is from a stream
and is boiled). That trick is awesome, and you end up being quite
comfortable believe it or not! Of course I’m sleeping in my 0 degree
sleeping bag wearing long underwear, two pairs of socks, two pairs
of fleece pants, a t-shirt, a fleece shirt, a fleece jacket, a
fleece vest, a down jacket and a hat! It sounds bulky but it’s not
–and who would care anyway?! This is Mt Everest! Cholumungma! The
real deal!

During the day the temp probably goes into the 50’s or low 60’s and
is very sunny. Of course you can’t enjoy sitting out in the sun
because it will fry you. We religiously wear 30+ sun block at all
times to be safe.

The tents are nice A-frames made for 3 people. I have my own so I
have a lot of room. I can stand up in it except I have to bend my
head down. I sleep on two 1 1/2″ thick foam pads and am only having
mild back soreness. Nothing to complain about.

The toilet is absolutely terrible. It’s a hole in the ground
surrounded by a ring of rocks like a campfire. There is a privy tent
covering it so no one can watch while you squat and moan and miss
your aim and squirt poop all over the place. Sorry, but that’s
really the way it is. Then you realize that the toilet paper has
blown away and is tangled in the rocks about 10 feet away. and that
there’s only about 18″ of it left! Now you realize why toilet paper
is so important to me!

The food here is wonderful. Dawa and Psang the two cooks are
amazing! Plus, they’re totally cool. We have a three course meal at
every sitting and the variety is never ending. For breakfast we have
a little cereal, then an omlette-type thing and pancakes or flour
tortillas, then some canned fruit. Lunch is some kind of Dhal Bat
(rice and lentils with sauce) or potato stuff then more fruit and
then cookies. Dinner is some kind of soup, then the main entree
(last night we had home made pizza with fresh Yak meat on it-loved
it-and then we had chocolate cake with chocolate syrup! The cooks
are so good and they are so safe. Everything is incredibly sanitary
and they really care about us. Really good guys. The only problem is
that the altitude absolutely destroys your appetite. I have to force
every bite down which is just too bad. But, I am eating and staying
hydrated. I’ve lost some weight but am staying strong.

I haven’t had a bath in nearly 10 days. But I’m totally comfortable
with it. You get into this kind of groove, and it doesn’t bother you
at all. I plan on showering soon, but want to make sure the cough
doesn’t get any worse first. We have a shower tent with a rubber mat
in the bottom of it so you stand above the water. The actual shower
is a bucket of boiled water. Ben says the tent is really nice.

I’m about to run out of juice so I’m going to cut this off and send
it to you. Remember, however I may sound, I’m doing very well and no
one should be worried. Love, Jon