Shishapangma from Base Camp
15-Sep-09: Greetings, this is Richard
Pierse for the SummitClimb Shishapangma expedition on the 15th of
September at 5:50 p.m.
We are at half camp at about 5829
metres/19,200 feet right next to the Shishapangma glacier. Today we trekked up
from advance basecamp, including myself, Dan, Alejandro, Bart, Haris, and
Jangbu. Karsten and Marcus are at ABC (advanced basecamp).
Tomorrow we hope to do some glacier
practice and plan to go to camp 1 the following day. Of course, this all
depends on the weather. Speaking of which, our weather pattern is clear skies
with no wind, however, the temperatures are dropping fast well below 0 C.
Hello, this is Alejandro Fernandez for
the SummitClimb Shishapangma expedition on the 16th of September at
We are now in the half camp at 5829
metres/19,200 feet and the weather is very nice. Although we thought some
clouds and maybe some bad weather were coming, it turned out to be nice today.
Today we have been training on the
glacier. That means we’ve been testing the equipment, making sure we have
everything necessary for climbing, and doing some training on the techniques
for fixed rope ascending. All of the team except for Karsten has been
participating. That means Dan from the US/UK, Haris from Greece, Bart from the
Netherlands, Richard from Ireland, and of course me from Spain.
Our initial plan for tomorrow is to try
to get to camp 1 and set up the tents and the rest of camp.
I hope this message finds you very well
wherever you are. I think we’re having a great expedition and I hope it
continues going well. Bye. Ciao.
14-Sep-09: Welcome to our dispatch for 14 September for the
Summit Climb Shishapangma expedition.
Last night our good doctor Haris went to examine the fallen
climber and confirmed that he has two broken ribs. The only thing for it is to
go back to Kathmandu as the recovery process can take 1 month and at ABC (5600
metres/18,400 feet) it is too high of a place to recover. So, the climber and
his team left at 5:30 a.m. this morning to walk down very slowly. We will miss
them as they were very nice people.
Today we had a rest day in ABC with the entire team
including all sherpas and staff. It’s our first full rest day. After bed tea
and a delicious breakfast, our sherpas and Tibetan staff requested to hold a
prayer ceremony to honour the gods and bring good omens to our expedition and
everyone around. Several staff from other expeditions attended and we invited
all of the neighbouring teams as well.
The ceremony is called a ‘puja’. The sherpas had us bring
our gear to a tall rock alter they made facing the mountain. Then they put
butter on our kit.
The Tibetans put bowls of water and barley flour (tsampa)
along the alter, as well as beer, whiskey, apples, and baked treats.
A large pole is inserted into the top of the stone alter and
then prayer flags are stretched across the camp in three directions. Chumey,
our Tibetan kitchen assistant, wrote all of the members and staff names on a
prayer scarf which he then tied atop the main prayer pole, then he sat in the
lotus position before the alter, and chanted Tibetan prayers and tossed rice
and tsampa into the air. At certain moments during the ceremony, our team
members stood and also tossed their own rice and tsampa, shouting "Lasso".
After the third and final tossing of the rice and barley,
the sherpas and Tibetans circulated amongst the group, sharing small caps of
whiskey and throwing whiskey into the sky. Then they passed delicious dishes
of baked treats amongst the group. Everyone shared more beer and tea, and then
the sherpas and Tibetans linked arms and broke into a Tibetan dance like a
sort of "can-can" line before the alter.
Finally we joined together in our dining tent and had an
After all the morning’s activities, feasting and drinking,
we retreated to our individual tents, and, to be honest with you, we collapsed
into a dream filled sleep!
Later in the day, we were joined by Marcus Lauterbach, our
trekking member, so we are all together now.
Tomorrow, we plan to walk to half-camp and spend several
days sleeping and working up there. Our goal is to complete a section of ice
climbing practice with the entire team, then explore the upper reaches of the
Shishapangma glacier, and walk up to camp 1, and, if we feel well enough,
perhaps sleep in camp 1. The thing is, during that time, we won’t have access
to the internet and won’t be able to send in dispatches, our sincere
apologies, but in several days we will return to ABC and plan to send you all
of the latest photos and dispatches at that time. We think there will be some
cool up close photos of ice climbing and the route to camp 1. However, in the
interim, we will attempt to telephone in short dispatches via voice-mail.
See you soon, thanks for following our
September, 2009; We
awoke early to our miracle-working cook Kipa bringing us hot tea whilst still
in our sleeping bags. During the night, snow fell, and there was a dusting all
about under grey skies. Everyone seemed to feel better, so during our yummy
breakfast, we all agreed we would move up to ABC.
Slowly our little
interim camp was packed onto the backs of the yaks. The woman yak driver who
had felt poorly last night seemed to feeling much better, so our little
caravan set out into the green hills above the Shishapangma river.
We walked across hill
and dale, and spotted occasional old campsites, and masses of unique alpine
plants fed by the monsoon moisture. Truly this was an amazingly beautiful walk
through the higher reaches of the Tibetan plateau. We were all feeling the
altitude now, so really took our time with lots of rest breaks perched atop
Rounding a bend we
caught site of our ABC nestled in a moraine valley beside a stunning glacial
lake fed by the massive terminus of the Shishapangma glacier with its frozen
parade of giant ice pilgrims.
We are now comfortable
in our tents in ABC at 5610 metres/18,400 feet. We are blessed with some great
staff and superb equipment and especially soaking up the pleasures of one
spacious sleeping tent for each member, so you can really spread out!!
Thanks for following our
Shishapangma climb. More news tomorrow!!!!
September, 2009 : Today we
awoke early, and had a quick breakfast while many helpful yak drivers took
down the dining tent around us. We got all 20 of our yaks loaded and even tied
on the Alpine Ascents ski bag from Olympia, Washington. We packed all of our
tents and gear and negotiated the cost of the yak transport, and then we
headed up valley, across the grassy rolling hills of the Tibetan Plateau, and
entered a gorge, where we found a comfortable bench the size of a football
pitch upon which to set up a small impromptu "interim camp" at 5346 metres/17,534
Skies were grey and it
was a long walk with some elevation gain and a couple of members were feeling
the altitude, so they took a little diamox (acetylzolamide) and drank lots of
One of our yak drivers,
a woman from the local village, pointed to her chest and made the motions of
breathing difficulty, so our doctor Haris checked her out for pulmonary oedema
using his pulse oximetre, but found none. Her husband thought the entire event
was a great novelty and could not stop laughing. Just to be on the safe side,
Doc Haris gave her half of a diamox tab and instructed her to drink a lot of
water. We learned this is her first trip up the valley this year.
Our amazing cook Kipa
fixed us a very delicious dinner and we went to bed early, to the sound of
snowflakes dusting the tents and tinkling yak bells all around us.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
to discuss every item on the list in detail, so we have things perfectly
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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