Episode 021: ABC FYI
“Pretty Mellow”. A climb of Mount Everest truly begins at ABC. Advanced Base Camp is the first major camp past BC, and where many climbers spend most of their time. It is about 22km from this gravel pit we call Base Camp, but like most things around here, it’s a world away.
Most climbers take a couple of days to make the BC-ABC journey their first time, but I’m told that by the end of the expedition it will only take them around 5 hours! See, that’s the power of acclimatization. And that’s why so many climbers will stay close to ABC for the duration of the climb. The longer they stay up high, the more their bodies will adjust to the altitude.
Well, to a point.
Even down here at BC I can tell that I’m losing weight. My friend Dima, the Russian doktor, repeatedly muses about how people are just not designed to live up here at these altitudes. He and I are both “stationed” at BC and are only going to briefly visit ABC. I can’t imagine what it will be like to LIVE up there for weeks at a time! I have to say, though, that I’m looking forward to the hike up to ABC. My worries about altitude sickness are now behind me and the pounding headache has all but vanished. I feel strong and able. And I have to say that I’m really excited about the footage I’m going to be able to shoot. I’ve got all of my batteries charged and a seemingly endless supply of blank tape.
I’ll head up in a few days and I’m fully prepared. What could possibly go wrong?
Total Running Time: 16:44
Dispatch 16, April 24, 2003, Everest Base camp
This is Jon Miller here. I just wanted to break the silence and let everyone know that Ben is doing fine and the expedition is proceeding just as we all had hoped. Unfortunately for the dispatches, this is the Himalayas and you have to roll with the punches. I have been having many power difficulties and have been unable to write everyone and keep them in the loop as to how the climb is going.
We finally did receive the generator we had been longing for only to have it run for one day and then die on us. Dawa, the Base camp cook, and I dismantled the machine yesterday afternoon and raised the poor Honda from the dead. All of my batteries are now being charged and all is returning to normal.
Here’s the stats on Ben:
5 days ago Ben and his climbing Sherpas loaded up 42 Yaks and set off for Advanced Base Camp (ABC). ABC is at an altitude of 6,300 meters (21,000 feet). The team arrived at ABC after two days of walking and a night spent acclimatizing at the interim camp, also known as camp one.
If Base camp is Home, then ABC is now Ben’s Home away from Home as he will spend the majority of his time from this point forward at ABC. There is more of the team at ABC now than there is at Base camp that the cooking tent here at BC is going to be sent up to ABC to accommodate the hungry climbers!
As I write this, Ben and his team are climbing up to the North Col camp at 7,000 meters (23,000). If the weather is good up there, they will spend the night at this higher camp before returning to ABC for a night. The process of climbing Everest involves going up and down many times to give your body a chance to become accustomed to the altitude.
Although the weather does seem good today when I look at Everest, the winds could be severe on the higher reaches of the peak. Ben & Co. are extremely safe climbers and will not risk an evening at the North Col if the conditions are not favorable.
If all goes well, Ben will soon be climbing up to 7,900 meters (26,000
feet). I an using the metric elevations due to the fact that climbing
Everest is an international endeavor. There are many teams here from all over the world and only the Americans use standard measurements. Talking with Ben before he departed for ABC, he told me he was very excited to achieve 7900 meters since he had never climbed as high before. Ben has been adjusting to the altitude extremely well, and I’m sure he’ll have the time of his life!
The summit day is not far away. You can feel the energy around camp.
However, before the team pushes for the top, they will descend all the way back down to Base camp for a few days rest. They’re going to need it! Just resting at high altitude can be tiring! They’ll come back down and sleep and fatten up on our cook’s incredible food. Then I’m sure they’ll grow restless and will depart for the last leg of the expedition…making the long trek back to the high camps. After that it’s only going to be a question of good weather (which we’ve had much of).
I hope you’ve all been enjoying Ben’s dispatches and keep checking your inboxes for more once Ben returns to Base camp for rest. We were going to take the computers up to ABC, but discovered that the lack of air pressure at that altitude renders all laptop computers useless. If I receive any radio dispatches from Ben, I’ll send them out to all of you so you can hear Ben in his own voice.
Take care and keep dreaming!