Episode 028: “He Was Good Boy”
This Is The Turning Point. It’s become obvious that Everest is trying to separate the wheat from the chaff up here. The wind is non-stop and it’s starting to affect more than our morale.
Not long ago, Lhawang spoke to Lhakpa who is still up at ABC. There are only a few climbers up there right now as almost every team is taking “shelter” here at base camp. The report from Lhakpa indicated that many tents up on the North Col have blown away. They are literally GONE from the mountain. Now, there are always going to be the spare tent that can be carried up to replace the missing ones, but it’s the contents of those tents that is the heartbreaking part. Those shelters were also high-altitude storage lockers. Inside was everything that some climbers were going to need to summit this peak.
For some teams, the climb is over and they don’t even know it yet. Are we on that list? We’ll only know once this windstorm is over…and there’s no sign of that happening in the next couple of days.
Total Running Time: 18:57
Dispatch 29, May 4, 2003 Base Camp
The climb did not begin today.
The mountain is shrouded a plume of snowy white debris and winds of hurricane force. This is the beginning of an already building situation of International concern in our community at Everest base-camp.
Like any community there are problems to fix and solutions to engineer within this environment where over 350 people now live. The primary concerns of staying healthy and sustaining life are met with ease by medical facilities provided by a Russian expedition from St. Petersburg and the British Royal Navy. Supplies are restocked via daily shipments from Lhasa, Tibet. Kathmandu was also a provider of goods until recently when the border was shut down to guard against the spread of SARS. Although we are safe from this rare disease in base camp, it has been a major cause of concern and blocked facilitation of many of the electrical and agricultural demands of base-camps needs.
Mount Everest base-camp is a place that has been built twice a year for over twenty years and has also grown into a sustainable economy capable of creating it’s own suburb, a place called barter town. It is the equivalent of any series of rudimentary conveniences you might find nestled alongside the Interstate exit to a cities primary means of access. If you seek a need to glamorize it; it is to us as Buckhead is to Atlanta. Barter town exists for food and entertainment purposes and for emergency restocking needs.
The real story here is that despite the industrial makings of a community, it is the people knit together the strength of Mount Everest Base-camp. Northern Ireland, A catholic and a Protestant climb together, St. Petersburg, Russia, a team led by one of Russia’s greatest athletes shares the luxury of their generator with two separate American expeditions. The British Royal Navy has computer and camera problems, we seek to correct them. It is a world bonded by a common goal, and now facing directly an unknown and epic tragedy.
The last few days have seen winds that the Sherpa’s say they have never before witnessed on Mount Everest. Reports fly from camp to camp, tent to tent until insidiously all of us believe we are next to go home.
Why? Mount Everest is having a 50th anniversary party of it’s own. It is cleaning it’s slopes camp by camp, 8300 meters, 7800 meters, 7500 meters, the North Col. In the days following it’s initial onslaught several Sherpa’s have made their way to these camps to find nothing but shredded nylon and tattered ropes. For those of us who rest here patiently watching our own tents fly into the air and across the gravelly landscape of base-camp, it will be days before we know if our hopes are scattered about high in the Himalayas with our supplies for climbing the upper mountain.