Reaching Everest North: Special wrap-up|
Sep 7, 2004 07: 09 EST
The current Mount Everest expedition reports are a heads up to all would be off season Everest North side climbers. It's easy to focus entirely on the climb, forgetting the hassle of actually getting there to begin with.
Everest North, in Tibetan territory, has a much shorter approach than the South side in Nepal. But that doesn’t mean an ‘easier’ task. Altitude sickness, logistic nightmares and lack of yaks will make anyone miss the long, quiet trek up the Khumbu valley in Sherpa Land.
Harry Kikstra is with the only team heading for Everest north this season. He is reporting all the headaches and hassles of the Rongbuk glacier; a ‘walk up’ not much different from the ancient Everest expeditions:
“The yaks arrived yesterday evening and this morning we have to load them for our trip. One by one all our drums, food bags and climbing gear have to be weighed. Soon it is apparent that we do not have enough yaks as we have reached our maximum weight of 1680kgs (28 yaks, 60 kgs each) before we even have weighed our personal food and gear. It appears that Iceland Trekking simply has not arranged enough yaks for us and we will have to solve this right away.
We take out all stuff that is not needed in the next week, like altitude food, oxygen and most of the fuel and make a separate stash of 900 kgs that will be taken up with a separate yak train in a few days. Meanwhile it is already lunchtime before we finally can leave for Intermediate Camp (IC) at 5800m.
The first part is straight and hardly going up, alongside the lower part of the Rongbuk glacier. After about 2 hours we reach the junction where you can go straight for the Everest North face or go left for the regular route around Changtse to the North Col. The view of Pumori is great from here!
We wait until all the yaks have passed, they go a bit faster than we do, but every now and then one of them loses their cargo and the entire yaktrain stops, so in the end our speeds are similar.
The route now turns left and goes up quite steeply until 5500m, where it flattens out again to a nice resting spot. The raging river to our right looks frightening as we know we have to cross it somehow, but mother nature has already solved this it appears: the river flows underneath the glacier and we can cross it by simply staying on the track.
The last section before we reach camp is long, very long with many ups and downs. Everybody in the team as well as some of the support staff are getting tired and totally relieved when we reach camp around 18.00, so after about 6 hours of walking.
The Intermediate camp is just a filthy part of the moraine ridge with some flatter spots and there is yak shit everywhere. It is getting dark already and we have to put up the kitchen tent and some sleeping tents soon. We all collapse into our sleeping bags,mostly still wearing all our clothes, feeling cold from the exhaustion. And we are supposed to skip this camp the next time we go to ABC!
Werner and Mark do not want to eat anything, so Ruby, Sander and myself head to the kitchen/diningtent and get some spaghetti, but I am the only one with some appetite and we head off to sleep quickly, exhausted from the long day.”
A Dutch expedition attempts Everest from the north side this Fall. Everest north autumn expeditions are rare. The team, with logistics provided by Universal Summit, will be on mountain to October 15th. Universal Summit’s ‘Dutch Chomolungma Expedition 2004’ is a non-profit expedition of low cost. After going for Chogolisa (7665m) in Pakistan this July, 7Summits.com's Harry Kikstra joined the team.
Expedition members: Werner de Jong (leader), Mark Thijssen, Marc Streefkerk, Boris Krielen, Harry Kikstra, Sander Arens, and Ruby Arens-Halfschepel (Base Camp Manager.)
Image Postcard from the team, courtesy the expedition.