Everest Lho La Ghost climber revealed
22:53 p.m. EDT May 29, 2003
Several weeks ago there were scattered reports of a climber attempting to venture from Everest’s South Side base camp over to the North side Base camp, via the Lho La pass that was going to do it without ropes, and only with one ice axe. This pass rises to 5981m (about the height of Camp I), is steep, icy, and very avalanche prone. ExplorersWeb was recently contacted by the now famous Lho La mystery man and he’s told us the whole story.
Some South Side expeditions said he was a Russian climber, others said he was a former Global Extremes contestant who had been voted off, but wanted to visit his friends on the North Side. Which of these rumours is correct? Both!
24-year-old Pavel Trcala, whose family is from the Czech republic, was one of the 50 original contestants on Global Extremes competing for the 5 spots on the Everest. Of the 5 finalists chosen, 2 of them are right now going for their final summit push. Pavel was voted off the show, but decided to go on his own whirlwind tour around the world. His voyages have taken him to Brazil, Uruguay, the summit of Aconcagua, Easter Island, Tahiti, New Zealand, and most notably in the public eye, Everest’s South side base camp. It was here where he met up with another ‘Pavel’ – this one a Russian Pavel. And they didn’t just have the same name in common. Both wanted to get to the North Side.
Pavel Trcala’s account the Lho La adventure below:
“I backtracked a bit and crossed the treacherous highway to Jiri, where I learned that a hike to the base camp would take too long. After a day of waiting for the monster from the skies, I boarded a Russian Mi-8 Helicopter bound for Namche Bazaar. From here it normally takes seven days to the base camp including acclimatization. I made it in three and had plenty of energy to climb higher.
But the Lho La pass was a nearly impassable piece of international border. Over twenty thousand feet tall, it frightened the inhabitants of the base camp with daily snow, rock, and ice avalanches. At times, pieces of solid ice as big as cars, would drop down the face. But I was ready to climb the pass to get on the other side to at that time forbidden Tibet. I was ready even after I learned that the Tibet Base Camp is not behind the pass but behind yet another even higher pass. I knew I could do it. But I knew I should not do it alone.
But where could I find an accomplice for such a difficult, illegal, and adventurous (read stupid) quest? From my experience I learned that the Russians are the best mountaineers with great achievements using the least equipment. And one Russian was returning and I was to climb with him the next day. I was happy to find a friend and a climbing partner with the same danger threshold as I.
Interestingly enough, his name was also Pavel. But we barely started and got apprehended by the Nepali police. My colleague was actually arrested and taken his passport and awaited jail. He was accused of smuggling oxygen bottles for higher camps on the mountain. I tried to help him as his English was very poor, but soon the Nepali surrounded me and started accusing me as well that I belong to his mafia.
They wanted to put me in jail as well and only miraculously did I manage to talk them into allowing me to wait for further trial on the next day. I escaped Nepali jail time ironically with the help of an Indian army general who put me up for the night and got me out of base camp before sunrise the next day.
Facing Tibetan jail time on one side, Nepali on the other, I decided that freedom is cooler way to spend the summer. To top off my experience, my gear got stolen on the way back to Lukla. I was really sad I could not get into Tibet to see my friends in the north base camp. I hoped to wish them good luck in person. I tried everything and I was so close. Maybe it was God's Providence and I had to learn how to give up. Maybe I was saved from the deadly pass. But I know I will climb Everest one day.”
This is an excerpt from a future publication of Pavel's called, “From Global Markets to Global Extremes,” which is scheduled for issue later this year.