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  SummitClimb Shishapangma 2009: 4900 meters

Sunset on Shishapangma from Base Camp

Hello SummitClimb news readers. Thanks for following the dispatches about our autumn 2009 Shishapangma expedition.

Well, today was an official rest day in 4998 metre/16,000 foot high basecamp. That altitude is from the Thuraya GPS satellite system.

We awoke to sunshine and light clouds with warm temperatures in the 5-10 C degree range, and no wind, although it did drop below freezing during the night, as evidenced by the heavy frost on the tents and solar panels in the morning. We also woke up to the Tibetan kitchen staff bringing fresh coffee and tea to our tents at 7:00 a.m. Then we had a wash and made it to our comfortable dining tent for a delicious breakfast of omelettes, ham, cheese, fresh paratha, porridge and juice.

After breakfast we walked up the hill and wandered around in the foothills above base camp, where we were treated to great views and saw many large Himalayan hares springing about. Our high point was 5247 metres/17,200 feet; again according to the Thuraya satellite GPS.

We chose an alternate route to descend from the hills and walked back along a crystal clear stream through grassland, where we saw many small fish in the pools, and a myriad of birds, including a surprise over-flight by a seagull, of all things. On the mammal front, we saw marmots, and also pikas.

Back in basecamp for a delicious lunch, we met up with some newly arriving climbers, including Edmund Spoden, who Dan met on Mustagata and had no equipment and was kindly loaned everything by Manuel Weber. We also met several climbers from last spring's Cho Oyu expedition.

We spent the afternoon charging batteries with our generator, washing clothes and taking hot showers. The yaks arrived late in the evening and their drivers set up a tent in the evening next to our dining tent, then the yaks laid down all around our tents and it looks like we are camped in some sort of a zoo.

Well, today was a very relaxing day with a bit of exercise and good food. Tomorrow we plan to walk up to interim camp, so thanks for staying in touch and watching the progress of our  expedition!

Earlier: Today we woke early in Tingri and said a sad farewell to our Cho Oyu teammates. They are a great group of people and we will miss them very much. It was super fun being able to hang out together all of this way.

We picked up Chumey, our loyal Tibetan kitchen assistant and then all of us piled into two land-cruisers and we drove west, away from dusty Tingri, to the base of the 4900 metre/16,000 foot Lalung La, then left the main friendship highway behind to continue west. Suddenly the road became a rough-shod affair, and our jeeps bumped along from rock to rock and rut to rut. At times, the road disappeared altogether and we found ourselves crossing grassy meadows on pea-sized gravel.

Upon veering off the highway, the Tibetan Plateau came to life and we saw all sorts of new types of vegetation, lush grasslands, many stunning types of birds, even the very rare sight of a majestic Lamergeir bird sitting beside the road eating a rodent, looking ever so much like a massive golden eagle. This bird, though perched, would have easily risen above my knee, and I am 1.9 metres/6'3" inches tall.

After crossing the secured gate into the Shishapangma Core Zone, it felt ever more like we were in a remote wilderness, dotted with tiny Tibetan villages nestled humbly beneath enourmous grassy-rocky hills. Next we traversed the valley floor, and wound our way past the expansive and deep blue Pelku Tso Lake, which lies in all of its enourmity at 4590 metres/15,000 feet.

Turning up a side valley (by the way leaving the "main" highway to sacred Mount Kailash) we followed a crude track to a cluster of tents and were relieved to see our remaining staff of Jangbu, Kipa, and other Tibetan Kitchen assistant Tsewang (all of whom had driven up here with the equipment truck directly from Nyalam to establish this basecamp) waiving and beckoning to us.

We said good-bye to our friendly and patient drivers, and dove into the already set up dining tent for a delicious tea. Then we moved into our comfortable sleeping tents for a rest followed by a delicious lunch.

It's very beautiful here at 5000 metre/16,000 foot-high basecamp, with a light rain falling, and temperatures around 18 degrees. So far our objective Mount Shishapangma, "Goddess of the Grasslands" has shyly secreted herself behind snow-laden clouds, but we know she will show her face sooner or later. Tomorrow we plan some acclimatization rest and a light hike of a few hours. Thanks for following our expedition!

Earlier: 7 September, 2009:

Dear SummitClimb news readers,

Today we left Tingri and drove to Cho Oyu Chinese basecamp. This is just a 2 hour drive from Tingri, located on a riverbank at 4918 metres/16,100 feet.

When we arrived at basecamp, it was already set up by our awesome staff and we were welcomed with hot tea and coffee. After this Samdien, our Tibetan cook, prepared a delicious meal for us. It was a welcome change from all of the food we ate on the road to get here. Some members spent their afternoon doing a small hike, while others just relaxed in basecamp.

Our yaks, the animals that are going to carry our equipment up to ABC (advanced basecamp), will arrive tomorrow evening. This means we will probably leave BC on the 9th and move up higher on the mountain.

All members are doing very well, they are all healthy and strong.

More news will follow soon.............

Arnold Coster Expedition leader


Earlier: Hi there Summit Climb News readers. I hope you are well and thanks for following our dispatch for 30 August, 2009, for Cho Oyu and Shishapangma

Today was quite a busy day for us as we prepared for our expedition. We awoke in our comfortable hotel and after a fresh morning rain; the sun popped out and dried out the streets of Kathmandu. I love this time of year here as it's so clean and the city is so well washed. It's very quiet and peaceful as locals relax and assume a slower pace of life. Also there are very few tourists here so the normally frantic 'Thamel' neighbourhood is nice and calm.

We had a delicious breakfast at our local coffee shop then got to work checking member's personal equipment and going over the gear list.

There are three special members of our LeaderInTraining programme and they have been working very hard getting us ready for the expedition. They are Adam Dixon from England, Gavin Vickers from Australia, and Ry Fable from Colorado. Also in town are two of our expedition members Richard Pierse from Ireland and Alex Macrae from Aberdeen.

We went around the "Asan" neighbourhood with our kitchen staff and checked food prices and quality at three different shops, and then returned to SummitClimb's Kathmandu office to make final purchase decisions. Our food lists and cook staff are looking good, so we will be eating very well. Then we went on to review the equipment lists and sat with the lead sherpa from each team
to discuss every item on the list in detail, so we have things perfectly organised.

We are bringing lots of equipment like ropes, tents, radios, medical gear, etcetera, so we are going to be very well prepared. In the evening we met for a delicious dinner at a nearby bistro which serves the most delicious Italian food in a lovely cozy classy atmosphere, then had one nightcap in a nearby pub where we ran into old friends who are in town launching their expeditions to various mountains around Nepal and Tibet.

All of the best for now, thanks for following our news

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