Episode 132: An Unbelievable Base Camp Surprise

Definitely A Day Worthy To Call Mom About. We made it! Yes, we’re a considerably smaller group now, but we’re here–and my friend Dawa is here. What a charmed life I lead.

I know the other three guys I’m with (Steve Beatty, Jeff Coe and John Coleman) are here at Base Camp because it’s been a long goal of theirs to make it here. And I couldn’t be happier about their success. Very well done, guys. Very well done.

For me, though, the “goal” has been a bit different.

Everest is a permanent part of my life now. And, while I’ll never see the view from her summit first person, the people I’ve met while at her base have changed me forever. One of the “leading characters” in this endless Everest experience is one of the first people I met after arriving into Kathmandu for the first time in 2003.

Dawa Gyaltsen Sherpa. Base Camp Cook and Manager extraordinaire.

I met Dawa on the roof of the Hotel Vashali as I held a video light for Major King as he was filming Ben Clark’s reunion with Lhawang Dhondup. Dawa happened to be with Lhawang at the time. I had NO IDEA at the time just how special Dawa was going to become to me.

Fast forward about 6 weeks and Dawa and I were best pals at Base Camp on the North Side. For nearly an entire month straight during the expedition Ben was at ABC or higher. We had other climbers on our permit but they came and went as well. The only permanent residents of our camp were Dawa and me. I did make it to ABC for a few days, but Dawa was the one who led me there.

At one point I was bringing some russian friends over to use our shower tent with their own showering water. A climber from a different russian team followed after us. Apparently this climber, from Moscow, had been accusing Dawa of stealing his hat for several weeks. Every time Dawa went to fetch water and passed this climber, russian curses were unleashed upon my Sherpa friend.

Dawa was more than happy to let my friends use our shower tent but when he saw the other guy he looked at me and said “Not HIM!” That was then followed by some cursing in both English and Sherpa.

Now, I knew Dawa pretty well and respected him as both a friend and as our Base Camp Manager. I looked at the other russian climber, put my arm around Dawa and told him to get lost.

I think Dawa realized at that time that I wasn’t really a “client”. I was there working, too. When I stood up for him–not knowing a single thing at the time about the feud over the hat–our friendship crystallized completely.

That was it. From that exact moment onward Dawa and I were best friends.

It had taken me 6 years and two trips to Everest to finally see my good friend again. I consider him a life-long friend. I am going to make the most of the short time I have here at BC to spend as much of it hanging with Dawa.

The other three guys on my team, they understand.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 46:02