Episode 045: The Russian Concert

Does Anyone Know ‘Free Bird’? Tonight a bunch of us gathered at the St Petersburg camp and enjoyed an evening of music. It was one of those things. At first someone said they wished we had a guitar, then someone disappeared and returned with one. The rest is history.

Who knew that so many Everest climbers are also strong musicians? I certainly didn’t. But then again, we’re talking Russians here. These guys seem to know how to play folk songs right from the womb.

The get-together was sparked by the now public knowledge that Marina, one of the St Pete climbers is far too ill with pneumonia to stay at Everest. Tomorrow, Doktor Dima will accompany her down to the Nepal border at Zhangmu. There, he will make sure that she crosses safely and continues to Kathmandu. Marina has been a wonderful person to know and I am going to miss her. I know she’s disappointed to be leaving, but she is a very experienced mountaineer and knows the score.

Besides, Dima is a force to be reckoned with. He has been walking around looking depressed for days now. He cares so much for the health of his teammates and has been extremely worried about Marina. Scared, even. I have a feeling that he would cary her to the border on his back if there wasn’t a vehicle to drive them there!

But enough of this! Tonight was a celebration. Spirits were high, and they gave Marina quite the send-off. She enjoyed it immensely, too. Smiles all around. If you have to leave, this is the way to do it.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 14:31

Date: 05/17/2003 02:48AM
Subject: Re: from your Mom’s English class

Anders, thanks for the email. My mother said that she had offered me as a possible interview and I’m tickled that you chose to write. Of course this won’t be your typical interview.

Right now I’m sitting in our communications tent having not bathed in days while the wind rattles the tent. I smell like gasoline since I just filled up the generator which is purring along quite nicely powering the computer I’m typing on as well as the satellite IP modem that will shoot this email 22,000 miles into space to a receiving satellite which will then beam it back to Earth before you receive it yourself! Amazing what you can
accomplish at 16,400 feet from a glacial moraine in remote Tibet.

Anyhow, lets see if I can answer your questions.

1.This experience will always be a memorable one. First of all I’ve never been to Asia before so the cultures out here are quite different. The primary occupation where I’m staying is Yak herding. These people
keep a small number of Yaks to use as beasts of burden. They strap all of the expedition supplies to the animals’ back and then guide the
small caravan up to 21,000 feet to advanced Base camp (ABC). All the while the Yaks wear cow bells (Yak bells?) and the herders keep the animals moving by whistling and singing. It’s really something to

Secondly, there’s just a very different way of life up here for someone like me. I’ve never camped for more than a couple of weeks straight. Today, as I type this, I’m on day 42. I’m actually quite enjoying it. It’s very satisfying to know that I’ve adapted to this way of life.

In a typical day I wake up at around 8am. I wander into the communications (comms) tent and sit trying to wake up. If I wake before 8am, it’s still very cold outside, maybe 25 degrees. After 8 the sun breaks over the ridge just behind our camp and within minutes the comms tent is warm like a greenhouse. Around 9am our cook serves breakfast; usually an omlette made with Yak cheese and some potatoes.

After this I’ll break out my computer and check the daily email, if the generator is functioning. If not, then I’ll spend an hour or so working on it. Once I give up trying to repair the generator, I’ll wander over to another camp…either the Russians or the British Royal Navy. Either way, I’ll be invited in for some tea and conversation. After I plug into their power, I’ll work for maybe 2 hours, then pack up and wander home.

Every camp is about 1/10th of a mile from every other camp. The Basecamp itself is located on a glacial moraine, which basically means it looks like a large gravel pit. Therefore, you have to move carefully as you walk over all of the loose rock or you could twist an ankle. It’s always a nice walk though. When you think about Mt.. Everest, you usually only think about the Mountain itself. In reality, it has all of these smaller peaks surrounding it and then there are the glaciers. We live at the terminus of the RhonBuk Glacier…can only see a little ice
from here, but the piles of rock left behind are amazing.

You would never believe all of the different types of rock here. Dozens of
different kinds. I wish I could Identify all of them. Some are quite
striking. There are also many fossilized Trilobites. Many people have
stumbled upon the fist sized fossils, but I’m still looking for mine.

After lunch I’ll listen to some music on CD. I’m always listening to
music out here trying to pick out tracks that will work well in the
next Video dispatch or for the documentary we’ll be putting together
when we return to the USA. If I haven’t done any filming, I’ll shoot
maybe a half hour or so of scenic’s or I’ll shoot an hour of a climbers
meeting or just life happenings at Basecamp.

Dinner doesn’t come until it’s dark out and the temperature has dropped from the 50’s or 60’s down below freezing. We light the comms tent (the comms tent is like a dining room/living room/office combo) with a gas lantern and eat with our breath clearly visible. After I eat I’ll find some friends or watch a DVD until around 11pm, then I turn in.

It really does get cold here during the night, so I fill two 1.5 liter water bottles up with hot water (all the drinking water is boiled first, then placed into a large thermos) and crawl into my sleeping bag placing once bottle in my jacket and the other at my feet. Then I read until I fall asleep.When
I wake up, the whole thing repeats itself. Day after Day after Day. You
get into a groove. Actually, the days just fly by. And any time you’d
like, you can just look South and there’s the entire 13,000 foot North
face of Mt Everest. The entire time I’ve been here I’ve been 28 years

Continued Next Week…