Morse code on Jannu
12:42 p.m. EDT Oct 6, 2003
Not quite that bad, but almost. Despite the satellite phone problems, the Jannu team has been able to communicate to the outside world with a frequency that rivals some expeditions with a satellite phone. Their doctor has turned into a runner, and regularly makes the trip to a radio station several hours away, which then communicates to another radio station, who then phones the trekking agency, who then gets the word back to Russia – phew.
It’s like the largest game of ‘telephone’ ever, with three different languages switching back and forth – Russian to English, to Nepali, to English, back to Russian, then to English again. So when dispatches come out that say the expedition leader is, “watering his bikini swimsuit,” that is really just a garbled message that means, “Odinstov is wearing his Bask down suit.” So, with any luck the new phone should be arriving shortly or might have already arrived.
Climbers from the team plan to have a live radio interview tomorrow, although the time has yet to be set.
Check out one of the more recent dispatches from the team:
After the 15th of September it seems our Thuraya satellite phone started to live its own life. It finds the satellite and there is a constant signal, but it does not recognize anybody and does not call. We don’t have any communications with either Russia or Katmandu. This is why we have been lost in the Internet and we haven’t been sending back much information.
We’ve improvised a unique communication setup. A doctor runs down to Gunza on a 3 hour trip to use the radio station and communicate with Taplejung. From Taplejung they call to the Royal Mountain Trekking office in Kathmandu and ask them to come on the radio at a fixed time for communication.
The information is transmitted at very bad audibility, intelligibility, and perhaps imagination. Then the doctor runs back for 6 hours (uphill) to our Base Camp. Everything is normal except for the weather, though we have already started to get used to it. The weather is stable: every day and night it is raining or snowing. The sun shines for a few hours a day, and our gear doesn’t have enough time to dry, a fog then covers everything. It looks like an animated cartoon, "Hedgehogs in a fog." In a fog the rain is already drizzling and sometimes it is snowing. It seems like the winter is coming. But in spite of all these charms we regularly go on a route to throw a gear a little higher and ascend further. At present we have climbed up to 6400-6500m, and settled the temporary camp at 6100-6200m.
The Wall was not cleared of a snow till now. Today is the 27th of September and for the first time there is the sun shining from the morning. There isn’t any fog, everything is covered with rime and frozen up. In the Base Camp the temperature is 5 degrees below zero since the morning, but the grass is still green. We hope that this is simply a bad summer. Finally the picture of the area has shown itself. We can see the snow and rocky summits, overhanging icefalls. Huge-sized ice blocks tumble from them with a roar with frequency of departure of local trains but they do not frighten us any more.
Totmyanin and Pershin are working upper on the route digging a snow cave at 6500m. It’s planned as a staging post on a way to 7000 meters under the Wall.
For the short period Alexander Odintsov has taken the doctor's bench. Ascending on fixed rope he threw down a big stone with the rope and tried to block it by his head and a hand. As a result the head has remained intact but he has got his hand with a strong injury or a crack of a beam bone.
All is going in the right course. Having worked at high-altitude some days, the group, descended to Base Camp for some rest. Then in a couple of days we ascend to the end of fixed rope with the gear and try to get higher. Tomorrow Bolotov and Davy are starting to climb the route. Certainly, when this information will reach the centre, it has become a little obsolete. We sent one of Nepalians in Katmandu to change the satellite phone and we hope that he will come running back soon, and communication will be adjusted soon.
See you soon.
With huge greetings from all us,
Dispatch translated and forwarded by our friends at Mountain.ru and image of Jannu Base Camp courtesy of RussianClimb.com.