Seven Summit Club's Everest: "Expeditions like ours in countries like these"|
May 18, 2005 17: 06 EST
Previously published Apr 15, 2005 14: 05 EST
Abramov's team always knows how to stand out from the crowd, we wrote only one week ago. If only we knew...
Initially, the problems were manageable: Marko and Mlinar's leisure trek in Laktang turned into a 140 km nightmare march as they walked all night to get back to Kathmandu, unable to hitch a ride in the Maoist strike.
Also the expeditions "world first" mahogany toilet was stuck in the city. 2 big buses and 5 trucks were loaded with expedition gear, and the expedition members were to head separately for Kodari on a MI-8 MTV helicopter. At least that was the plan.
In the world news
That's when all hell broke loose. Next thing we knew, the world news screamed that 2 mountaineers had been blasted away by Maoists and the phones in ExWeb's office ran wild with messages from Kathmandu. Alex and Serguey were in a hospital, and the rest of the expedition were traveling in a tank!
Lorenzo reported that the chopper had been confiscated by the Army, so now the guys were traveling to the Friendship bridge courtesy of the army in a tank "searching and looking around".
Back to Alex and Sergey, details began to surface. In a chat with Alex shortly after he was released from the hospital, the full story unraveled: The two climbers and their driver were going up a hill in a cab, trailing the rest of the expedition with some spare expedition supplies, when they were caught up by Maoists who threw bombs at the car. One of the bombs made it into the car and blasted away the whole floor, and the gas line. The guys barely escaped, pushing the car the last bit to safety while being charged by the Maoists.
Expeditions with Alex are always a blast
Now Harry Kikstra came on line from Nyalam, China: "Well, stuff always happens on mine and Alex expeditions," he said. "So imagine if we combine our strengths..." Harry was referring to Abramov's past expeditions (many covered here at ExWeb) such as when he crashed a Landover on Elbrus. But Harry also referred to his own Everest North side attempt this last fall, which too ended up leaving quite big waves behind. This year, both expedition leaders had joined hands to form the 7summits-club for Everest.
"Ok, will go up to the ratroom now, Lorenzo already spotted a few nice ones trying to nibble on Noel's feet, so let's see who is the tastiest of our 4 person room with Lynne and me," Harry ended his dispatch. Noel is climbing with girlfriend Lynne who will attempt to be the first woman from Northern Ireland to climb Everest.
Broiled chicken and a word from Moscow
Back in Kathmandu, the Army hospital felt like a war zone, reported climbers. Serguey's leg was broken, and 3/4 of his heel was blown away. X-rays also showed a large amount of green, metal shrapnel in his foot and leg. Alex himself also carrying around some shrapnel in his body, worked hard to care for Serguey - even treating his climbing mate to a very hard to find broiled chicken!
"Moscow resolutely condemns yet another crime against peaceful people. We are confident that no political motives can serve as a justification for such villainous acts," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement issued that day.
Serguey stirred but not shaken
Next Alex came on line, with more details still: "We had planned to catch up with the caravan in Kodari (where we usually eat Dahl-bat). It was Saturday and the shops opened one hour later than usual. As a result, we left Kathmandu at 10:00 am instead of 8:30-9:00 as we had planned. We got out of Kathmandu and drove at a speed of 80-90 km/h. There seemed to be no problems. We met 12-15 military troops and all of them waved us on.
Around 12:00 am, at a turn in the road, we saw 3 people who started throwing bombs at us. Two bombs exploded somewhere outside, the third one broke the rear window of the vehicle and exploded on the floor of the car...In one hour the military helicopter arrived to take me and Serguey to Kathmandu. After another hour, Serguey had already undergone surgery. The doctors are saying that if he is treated properly he will eventually recover all functions in his left leg."
Soon all back together - for an Everest summit!
The Russian Embassy helped out to get Serguey back home to Russia, and Alex will leave for Tibet and join the expedition. "I am sure that Nikolay Cherny will be just as good an expedition leader as I could be. And the whole program we planned will be fulfilled," ended Alex.
Today, the images of the adventure arrived, shot over by Harry Kikstra with a latest report. The pics show (top to bottom) the team's tank, the road to Zhangmu, Nyalam (where Harry sent his initial report after the events), a local dinner menu and Harry and Nikolay. Here's the latest from the team:
"Expeditions like ours in countries like these"
"Ok, had 3 power outages in 25 minutes, so will see how far this report will go, do not be surprised if it ends abruptly..."
"Most people slept badly last night, altitude is kicking in. Had a headache myself, was not the only one. We are drinking plenty of water, so should be better soon."
"This morning we read the email Alex sent us, most of it was already covered in Chris' previous post on this forum (Ed note: Check Harry's 7Summits website in the links section). It's amazing how close they were behind us when the attack happened. Were we lucky or were they unlucky? Hard to tell, but expeditions like ours in countries like these are much more than just simply climbing a mountain, that's for sure. We hope to see Alex in BC in a week or so, will be great to catch up again."
"Old knowledge rub off on us"
"Today was another easy day, all we were planning to do was visiting the town of Xigar (Shegar). We drove up in the morning and hiked up to the wonderful ancient monastery built on a hill. It also had been destroyed by the Chinese, but most of it has been rebuilt. We got a short tour through the inner monastery with many Buddha statues, oil lamps and miscellaneous interesting relics."
"There was an old library, consisting of an open cupboard with old scrolls filled with holy texts. But the best thing was we could go underneath it and slowly walk under the cabinet, which supposedly will make some of the old knowledge rub off on us. We might need that the next few weeks :-)"
"What an amazing country this is"
"Some of our group scrambled all the way to the summit, completely covered in prayer flags, I chose a lotitary peak nearby and made some nice shots of the town, Everest and Makalu, another 8000+m mountain. What an amazing country this is."
"We walked around town a bit in search of an internet cafe, but the power was completely down all day. We were planning to hike the 7km back, but were not so sure when we felt the hard wind in the burning sun."
"I noticed a typical Tibetan vehicle, kind of a crossing between a lawnmower, pick up truck and a tractor, and whistled at him. He saw me and stopped and we negotiated 30 Yuan for the ride back which was wonderful. We picked James up on the way and relaxed in the hotel the rest of the day."
"Tomorrow the 14th we will make a huge jump in altitude, driving from 4300m to basecamp at 5200m! Hope to sent more updates soon.
All the best from a windy Tibet,
One thing is certain, summit or not - this expedition has already had an adventure the climbers won't forget any time soon!
Alexander Abramov has made quite a name for himself here at ExplorersWeb. He was the one to drive a Land Rover to the top of Elbrus and crashed it coming down, he was the one who slaughtered his own BC food on Everest two years back, and finally the expedition leader of our team mate's climb to the summit of Mount Everest this past spring.
This year, Alex joined hands with Harry Kikstra of 7summits.com, forming the 7summits-club.
Harry and extra guide Nickolai Cherni are leading Lynne Stark, Hanna Noel Richmond, Nate Schneider, and Lorenzo Gariano. Nikolay Cherni has 6, 8000ers and was a co-leader of the Russian Central North wall expedition last year. Lynne Stark will attempt to be the first woman from Northern Ireland to climb Everest.
Alexander Abramov guides the rest with extra guide Ivan Dus. The entire expedition offers a full service outfit with 11 climbing Sherpas (all Everest summiters), and an expedition Doc. There are 18 expedition members in total.
Images courtesy of Harry Kikstra, 7summits.com.
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