Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mt. Everest Expedition 2014: Dispatch #9

April 13, 2014    

Expedition Leader: Dean Staples, IFMGA – New Zealand 
Expedition Guide: Ang Dorjee Sherpa – Nepal/ USA 
Base Camp Manager: Caroline Blaikie – New Zealand / Scotland 

Team members: 
Nick Durack – UK
Yoshio Goto – Japan / Hong Kong 
Jake Frykberg – Australia
Jon Johnston – Australia / USA 
Anatolii Stegniei – Ukraine 
Vilborg Arna Gissurardóttir – Iceland

Arrival in Base Camp & Puja Day
Puja underway

After their ten day trek through the Khumbu valley the 2014 Adventure Consultants Everest team arrived into Base Camp yesterday afternoon in exceptionally good health. 

Expedition Leader Dean Staples commented that it had been one of the smoothest and illness-free approach treks that he had experienced. Nestled at the foot of the Khumbu Glacier, this undulated field of moraine will be our home for the next six weeks. 

AAI/AC 2014 Everest team members
Our Sherpa team have been hard at work here for several weeks now, shifting huge boulders and levelling out tent platforms to accommodate our array of dining, socialising, kitchen, medical and sleeping tents. They have done a stellar job and as I said to Jon earlier today they are the base of our logistical pyramid and not much would happen without them! Six days ago myself, Sarah and Mark arrived here as the advanced party and have been busy putting the finishing touches to camp, wiring up our power supplies and communications gear and unpacking many many barrels and boxes of food.

Camp was packed to the rafters, with our trekking, climbing and filming teams all converging at once. However this made for a very fun and sociable evening as we all tucked into a delicious meal of Spag Bol followed by Sarah’s famous self-saucing spongy chocolate pudding! Yes, you will become familiar with our daily reportage of the culinary delights of Base Camp!

As is usual for the first night at Base Camp (a cool 5350m, matched by the temperature of about -15C at night, the chilly temps enhanced by our hypoxic state), most folks had an average night’s sleep and there were plenty of guides, climbers and trekkers milling around this morning waiting for the sun to pop over the West Ridge of Everest this morning, ready to soak in some rays.

First on the agenda this morning (after a full cooked breakfast of course!) was our Puja Ceremony. This ceremony, led by Lama Tashi from Pangboche, is to ask for our safe passage on the mountain. Most members chose to have their axe and crampons blessed as part of the ceremony and our climbing Sherpa will certainly not set foot on the mountain without undertaking this blessing first. 

This Puja was particularly enjoyable and several folks commented that the weather gods were looking down on us as we enjoyed beautiful warm and sunny weather for the duration of the ceremony before it clouded over almost immediately on its completion. This was in stark contrast to the very cold, cloudy and snowy weather that we had almost all of yesterday.

The Puja consisted of the usual chants, rice throwing and prayer flag raising before we all took handfuls of tsampa flour, which we raised first to the gods, before turning to each other and decorating our fellow climbers faces to represent living to such an age that we grow long white beards! We then each received a blessing string known as a shrungdi (excuse my spelling!) and enjoyed one or two glasses of wine, whiskey, or (for the brave) local chang or rice wine.

This Puja day was particularly auspicious as it also happens to be Mark’s birthday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARK! Although you will have to tune in tomorrow to see what treats we have in store for him tonight.

Thanks for following and we look forward to bringing you more news as the expedition progresses.

Base Camp Manager

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