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 Alpine Ascents Cho-Oyu 2007: Team Descends

Team Descends 9/30/2007 : The past 48 hours pushed us to the end of our fuse. We slept in rattling tents with 50mph winds at Camp 2; an occasional gust would push the tent walls into our mouths, assisting in the suffocation of the high altitude lack of oxygen. The tents held up better than expected, with the kitchen tent standing with two tent flies and still getting tattered, a few of the sleeping tents had only half of a tent fly left and yet we were able to leave the disaster zone. Overall the weather forced us to abandon our summit push. Yesterday (9/29) the winds at Camp 2 in the morning were pushing 50mph. The forecast called for high winds, 30+ knots, and moderate snow until 10/2. We started our descent at 11:30 in the morning (9/29), with knee deep new snow and relentless winds. And of course the weather could not make up its mind, gusts of 50mph winds and horrendous heat waves during lows in the winds allowed us to sweat to death in our down suits. Camp 1 was hit by the winds too, most expeditions had damage to tents and lost equipment while we made the call earlier to collapse our tents so nothing was damaged. We arrived at ABC after 3 hour death march in the dark. Golpal, our expedition cook had a smile with feast on the table out of shear exhaustion most of us couldn't eat our portions but we can sure drink out beer.

At this time, our Yaks are schedule to come in the evening of the 2nd, departing the 3rd. Right now, the members are resting, drying clothes out and playing more cards and catching up on 3 weeks of beer.

One quick thing we are so appreciative for Sherpas; while we are here resting, enjoying life, and playing cards, they are carrying the rest of the gear from camp 2 and 1.

Thank you for your support, David Kratsch and Eric Larson

Earlier: Camp I : Hey everybody this is Eric Larson giving you a call on Thursday afternoon at Camp I. The storm finally broke last night with very little winds and we were blessed with some great weather walking up to Camp I today. Nice and sunny and good conditions, not too slick up the slopes.

Camp I took a pretty good beating during the storm. We ripped two or three tents and recovered them and all the equipment, too. So that’s ok. Looks like we will be able to continue and go up to Camp II. Right now we have some Sherpas on their way up there to assess what Camp II looks like and hopefully we still have our sleeping bags and all of our equipment at Camp II.

Right now weather forecast is looking decent- calling for a little snow and wind tomorrow. We should have a chance to get up to Camp II. Hopefully conditions will cooperate and we will have a summit opportunity. Until then we will give you a call tomorrow at Camp II and tell you what the forecast says. Right now the winds are picking up above the summit and a big lenticular is growing (…transmission break…) but we look forward to moving up to Camp II tomorrow.

Earlier: Getting Ready

We have come to the conclusion that we are "no longer" alone. We are experiencing shortages of power, Hot Cocoa, Herbal Tea, Jam, and good weather. This suggests there is a conspirator amidst us. We are also coming to believe that Stephan is a card shark. He has won more than his share of Hearts games in the past few days.
We are thankful that we have our own tents here at ABC. You can imagine what acts of desperation would occur if there were four people to a tent, (especially over the past 6 days with nothing to do except stare at the tent ceiling and bicker about distribution of space). And now on to more important information:

Michael Boni wants to wish his wonderful wife Lauren "Happy Anniversary." He misses you and wishes you a great day, although he says you are lucky not to be here at the moment!

The good news is the weather is projected to break tomorrow. Assuming such is the case, we will hope to begin our summit push with a move to Camp 1 tomorrow.

Until tomorrow - The
Cho Oyu Team

Blustery in ABC 9/24/2007    

Friends and Family,
The rustling of the tent has "no longer" become awe-familiar sound. "No longer" is the mountain showing its turquoise face. "No longer" is the sun shining but steaks of snow white fill ABC's horizon.
"No longer" are movies an option, due to the lack of solar energy, just good old fashion tea and cards are keeping us alive with social interaction. The cards have so much wear on them that the numbers are beginning to fade away.
Out of shear exhaustion of nothing we are finding arms crossed with heads on the table. The highlight of the day was when our cook, Gopal, came in with Sour cream and onion Pringles, everyone's eyes lit up like light bulbs.
We are finding that we are not the only ones in despair of longing. Other people from other teams are visiting us to see the weather forecast or to just to have bit of new human contact, "misery loves company."

On this blustery day a friend left the expedition. Gary Bacon was having trouble sleeping which led to problems acclimatizing. We all give him the best and hope to seem him on a future expedition.

To our dismay with are living in the storm that has been forecasted days in advance. Technically we are in "check"... But "checkmate" is a long way to come. We hope to move tomorrow most likely in rain, snow, or shine to camp 1 but that will be dictated by tomorrow's weather. Keep us in your prayers, Dave Kratsch

Comedy in ABC 9/23/2007 : Greeting Cybernuts!!! We have had another marvelous day of blue bird weather and down coat wearing mixed in with blowing snow. We thought our bed sores where getting better until we realized that we are staying at ABC another day. We ran out of Peanut M&Ms so we resorted to Corn Nuts and Skittles. We tried to use skittles as poker chips but they were eaten in the process. After the poker chips were eaten we contemplated breaking something. But we realized that we had to fix whatever we break and our brains are not working at capacity due to the lack of O2's. On the breaking news there was a reward for Danielle's lost knitting needle, and Kathy found it. We are still working out the reward, maybe a back massage, as material objects are not of much value. Earlier this morning Danielle was the source of light entertainment by breaking out her video and doing personal interviews. The only problem it was too early so we had some crazy hair dos, a lot of ums and ahhhs, and slurry speech. Of course we can not forget second most talked about subject in camp. There has been drying yak meat hanging off the line from of our dinning tent. Any time we walk by someone on the north side we have to push the yak off the tent so it doesn't rub on or backs. On the other hand each day there seems to be less and less yak, at least it has become lighter to lift. Since it has been there for roughly 20 days we are wondering if it is the mystery meat in our dinner; most likely the Sherpas have been eating it for dinner. We are eagerly awaiting tonight's new weather forecast, with any luck we will be off on up soon. That's all Folks Dave Kratsch

Tashi Delek from ABC 9/21/2007: The team has been enjoying a second rest day today. Gopal, our trusted chef, is keeping us well fed with chicken, stew, potatoes, salad, ect- incredible. We truly spent the day eating, hydrating, and resting. In between there have been many rounds of cards, and Dj'ing with our various ipods. Today Tsering, one of our trusted climbing Sherpa, headed up to help fix the route above camp 3, for our summit day. The Sherpa are the hardest working, strongest altitude climbers I have seen. The whole team owes much to these hardworking, humble people- we thank them! Janet sends a warm hello to Allie, Bryan, and Michael! Kathy sends thanks to all her family and friends for their emails, and support. Eric M sends his love to Christie and Agnes. We are now at the edge of our summit bid. We are watching the weather closely, trying to weigh our daily weather reports. Right now it looks like a tropical depression coming from the Bay of Bengal will have a strong affect on the area, with higher winds and some precip. It may delay our summit push. Tomorrow we will make our decision to move up or to wait. You are all in our thoughts.

Best wishes from ABC  Eric Murphy

Greetings from ABC. 9/20/2007    

We are all sitting around the table eating baked chicken, fried potatoes and salad. Sharing stories and looking at memories of photos from the past few days. The past few days have been packed with a lot of climbing and heavy breathing. We have spent two nights at camp one before moving to Camp Two at 7,000 meters or ~23,000feet. The night at Camp two was pretty rough. There was high winds that kept the team from resting, along the high altitude it was a real challenge. Yesterday, we had 12 tired climbers descend from camp 2 all the way down to ABC. We had to hand rappel pass 75 degree ice and rappel over a vertical ice cliff during the 6 hour descent. Today has been a much needed rest day for the team, including an afternoon movie, and lots of eating and drinking. Tomorrow we will review oxygen systems for our summit push, and continue to rest, eat, and drink. Wish us fair weather and light winds for the upcoming summit push, which we hope to begin as soon as September 22. Cheers from everyone here at ABC, you are all in our thoughts

The Cho Oyu Team 2007

Return to ABC 9/19/2007: Tashi delek friends and family, this is Eric Murphy calling in from Cho-Oyu. It is Wednesday September 19th, about 7:23 in the evening and we are happy to report that the whole group is back down at advanced base camp. We just had a wonderful dinner of pizza and momos and filled our bellies contentedly, and now everyone is pretty much headed to bed. We were able to make it up to Camp II about 23,000 feet for our acclimatization run, and everybody did well. Today we descended, it took us about 6 and a half hours coming down from 23,000 feet to ABC which is right around 18.5 thousand feet. Next couple of days will be lots of rest recuperation, eating and sleeping in preparation for our summit push.. We’ll send a more complete cybercast when we have more time and energy, goodnight for now. Ciao.

Earlier: Camp II, 7000meters: Hey everybody, this is Eric Larson calling you from Camp II on Cho-Oyu. The team did really well today, it was a long day, super tough climbing. But everybody persevered pretty well, they’re definitely tired getting up there for sure. One group pulled in at like 4:30 and the other group pulled in at 5:30. We had a gourmet meal of macaroni and cheese and hot drinks of cocoa and tea.

The team is starting to wind down right now, we are going to get in our bags, the sun just dropped below the mountain range and it got super cold, but they’re doing pretty good for their first time at 7,000 meters, for most of them and we’ll give you more information tomorrow when we get back down to base camp. Until then this is Eric Larson signing off.

Camp I, Night 2: 9/17/2007     Hi this is Todd calling from Camp I, 21,000 feet on Cho-Oyu. This is going into our second night up here, last night everybody did pretty well through the night, a few headaches here and there but overall everybody did very well. This morning we woke up and did an acclimatization hike up about 1,000 feet, it was blazing hot, seemed like about 70 degrees, it was hot, but everybody did pretty well, people struggled a bit here and there, but tomorrow we’re going to head on up to Camp II, and that will be the big decider for a lot of people but I think we’re going to get everyone up there, so keep your fingers crossed, we’ll check in tomorrow, bye.

Earlier: Namaste friends and family this is Eric Murphy calling in from Cho-Oyu. It’s Thursday September 13 at about 7:02pm and the entire team is here at Camp I on Cho-Oyu, 21,000 feet it’s our first night sleeping at this altitude. We made one carry here previously but we’re beginning our acclimatization run up the mountain.

Everyone did great today; we were about 6 hours coming into camp which is about what we were for our carry as well. And everyone is happy to be here. Lakpa and Nima were nice enough to cook us a wonderful dinner of phad thai and soup and hot drinks and currently everyone is in bed and hoping to have a nice sleep.

Tomorrow our plan is to have breakfast and head back down to advanced base camp fairly early in the morning and then rest the rest of the day From there we will be scheduling the rest of our acclimatization runs up the mountain in preparation for our summit attempt.

Everyone send love and hugs home to those following the cybercast, stay tuned for more, ciao.

Earlier: Hike to Camp I  9/9/2007    

We woke up to a beautiful day this morning. The monsoon moisture. cycle has subsided for today which allowed us to take a long walk up the trail to Camp 1. We left after breakfast for a two hour stroll up the moraines for a four and half hour tour. The team did great, there was a little grumbling about the time spent acclimatizing, but that's mountaineering in the Himalayas. We have the afternoon for relaxing, organizing and preparing. The team has been acclimatizing well, not many headaches and no other problem. They are doing really well, compared to some of the other expeditions going by. Tomorrow we will have a long climb to Camp 1. It should be around six hours up 2,500 vertical to 21,000feet over 5 1/2 miles. We will try to carry some equipment up to camp, probably just boots, than return to ABC. A couple of more rest days will follow, along with our Team’s Puja (ceremony asking for permission to be on the Mountain). Tune into tomorrows cybercast to see how the team did. Talk to you soon, Eric Larson

Base Camp   9/5/07    
This is Todd calling in from Cho-Oyu base camp on Cho-Oyu. Today we had another restful day. We got up and did a day hike. We almost reached 18,000 ft. That was right before lunch. We then came back and had a great lunch. Gopal, our cook here, spoils us here with good meals everyday. The rest of our afternoon was spent lounging around, reading, playing cards, and just relaxing. Tomorrow is our move day though. We’re going to get up and move to an intermediate camp at 17,500 ft. Everybody is excited about that and everybody is doing well. Tomorrow morning a bunch of Yaks will come down and load up the rest of our stuff here and start walking up. Yesterday a few of the Sherpa went up with another load of Yaks to help get our intermediate camp ready. So we’ll get there and pretty much move in. We’ll have a little bit of work when we arrive but these guys take pretty good care of us. These Sherpa are pretty hard working. Anyhow, we’re looking forward to a dry day tomorrow. We’re hoping this rain doesn’t get us too wet tomorrow. It’s been raining here quite a bit, but it’s looking better. Send us your best wishes and stay in touch!

Chinese Base Camp, Day 2            9/4/2007    

Greetings friends and family, this is Eric Murphy calling in from Cho-Oyu, Chinese base camp 16,000 ft. It’s Tuesday evening here at about 8:40. We’ve had a nice day. We’re finishing up a round of cards after dinner. Today we were lucky enough to have some nice weather in the morning, with blue skies and clear views of the mountain. We took a short acclimatization hike, gaining about a 1,000 to 1,200 ft. It was a couple hours of mellow walking, followed by more rest, acclimatization, cards and lunch. Everyone here is doing well. The plan for tomorrow, Wednesday, is one more day of acclimatization here at Chinese base camp. And on Thursday we plan to head towards Advanced base camp, with a stop at intermediate camp on the way. It’s probably about 1,000 ft. elevation gain. Everyone is doing great. We send our love and hugs to everyone back home. Stay tuned for more. Ciao for now

Earlier: Sorry we missed yesterdays cybercast, we had some technical difficulties. We are now in the Town of Shigatse the seat of the Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama is the second highest Lama. The Monastery is probably in the best repair of all the monasteries we have visited, and is home to the largest gilded Buddha in the world using more than 300kg of gold and stands 26 meters tall. This Buddha was erected and finished four days before the tenth Penchen Lama died, fulfilling his vision that he would bring together the Tibetan people and restore their cultural and religious rights.

This morning we visited the Chorten of Kumbum, a huge four-story building holding over 1000 images in 77 rooms. Since it was Saturday we were touring though it with many locals on the holy day. The building was very impressive with Buddha eyes glaring out in the four cardinal directions.

Today's ride was short (1 1/2 hrs), which was welcome after yesterday's 7 hr trip. The Trip yesterday took 7 hrs but we stopped many times. At first we thought the drivers were just being kind to our legs and bladders by stopping often, but then we found out it was to delay our arrival at the next check point. It was explained that a time card is given to the driver at each check point and if we arrive too soon at the next check point they knew we were speeding. Once we found this out we thought about suggesting that we simply slow down, but after reconsidering we appreciated the frequent stops.

The highway we are traveling on is called The Friendship Highway, and is the route the Olympic torch will take in 2008 on it's way from the summit of Mt. Everest to Beijing. Our guide has explained that the Chinese Govt. is paying all the residence along the highway half of the cost to update and repair their homes so it all looks good for visitors.

We did take one detour off the highway yesterday. We were supposedly taking a short cut, but the road was very bumpy and muddy, so were not sure it really saved us any time. This gave us the benefit of seeing some incredible scenery and a number of small mud hut villages. As we passed the villages, the kids would all come running to the road to wave. Some of the more enterprising of the boys grabbed shovels and pretended to repair the road, no doubt hoping for a tip!

The team is doing well, seems like everyone is acclimatizing and enjoying the Tibetan culture. Tomorrow we will stop in Tingri before heading off to Chinese Base Camp. Good Night from Shigatse, Todd Passey and Eric Larson

Dinner and dancing 8/30/2007    

Greetings and Tashi Delek everyone. Tonight is our last night here in Lhasa, and we enjoyed a traditional Tibetan dinner, along with a fine performence of dancing- Tibetan style.
We toured Drepung monastery this morning, and enjoyed a nice 2 hour hike in the afternoon. We had views into a small mountain valley, and it was good to stretch the legs. In all, quite a fun day for all.
We are looking forward to beginning our move towards the mountain in the morning. Tomorrow we will drive to Gyantse, about 5 hours.
Everyone is having a great time- stay tuned for more! Ciao.

Eric Murphy

Touring Lhasa 8/29/2007    
tashi delek,
The team was finally assembled when Michael G. made it on the bullet train from Beijing at 4 A.M. This years team is made up with Horst from Miami, Danielle who has been on many AAI trips, Armond who has climbed Denali with me in 2004, Michael B. who is on a climbing spree for the last six months, Steve, Janet and Kathy who all climbed Vinson together in 2005, Gary who has been on a world tour for retirement.
Today we were busy tourists! In the morning we loaded up on the bus and headed for the Potala, which is the former palace of the Dali Lama. The Palace is huge and was the former center of government of Tibet before the cultural revolution. Walking through the palace we visited the chapels and chambers of the Dali Lama and followed the path that still today hundreds of Pilgrims follow every day.
After Lunch we headed for the Sera Monastery where the high light was watching the spirited debates of the Monks in the court yard. It may be hard to picture but the monks are very animated during this debate with clapping, pointing and a lot of laughs and smiles.
We completed our night with a huge buffet of Tibetan food and Traditional dancing. Hopefully tomorrow we will do a short hike above the Lhasa valley and to the Drupong Monastery. Keep watch the cybercast for further adventures of the Cho Oyu expedition 2007. Good Night, Eric Larson and Todd Passey



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