Monday, April 10, 2006

Martin's update

Dear All – first missive from Base Camp! The communications has been a bit dodgy thus far! For some reason, my mobile worked in Kathmandu and Lhasa, but hasn’t since, which is a bit of a bugger, as there is actually mobile coverage at Base Camp this year – we’re going to get Dick to bring us a load of china mobile SIM cards so we can call from our very own tents, but until then it’s e-mails and sat phone

We had a great drive in through tibet – the roads have improved amazingly since last year, and I’m glad to say I have been feeling better at this altitude than I did last year as well – in Shegar, the thing to do is climb to the top of a 300 meter hillfort – last year I didn’t even get out of the hotel, this year I got pretty much to the top till vertigo on a scree slope made me head back down! We also had an amazing time in a place called Shigatse – 2nd largest town in tibet – walking through the alleys of a huge monastery to a hall with a 26 meter high gilded Buddha statue, which was pretty impressive.

Now we’re at base camp, everyone is trying to adjust – For all of us, I think there was a tendency at first to want to hit the ground running, but a few people have been going down with colds etc, so we are trying to slow down a bit – did a good acclimatisation hike yesterday – about an hour and a half up the side of the glacier, then up onto it, and back down on the other side, passing a gorgeous moraine lake that feeds us with fresh water!

Today’s been pretty amazing – a tibetan guy who lost his legs to frostbite in the same year as Mark Inglis (our double amputee) came to have some legs fitted.

Basically, he lost his herding yaks across a high pass between tibet and Nepal, when he fell into a crevasse and was left for dead by his mate. The story’s a bit like touching the void, in that he managed to rescue himself, but lost both legs, and for 18 years has been hobbling about on the stumps that remained. 18 months ago, he heard Mark was climbing Cho Oyo, and went to find him as he came down, trying to swap Mark’s legs for a crate of beer. Mark told him he couldn’t do that, but would bring some with him this time, which he has done.

They fitted the legs this morning, at lunchtime he was walking along makeshift parallel bars, and by this afternoon he was walking using a couple of ski poles – Mark in tears, him beaming a huge toothy grin!!

Plans are for everyone to head up to ABC at the weekend, and before that we have a big puja ceremony tomorrow morning (when the lamas from the Rongbuk monastery come up to bless the expedition etc.), and on Wednesday the first of our big yak trains heads up to ABC, which should be an amazing sight – some 80- yaks all getting loaded up with gear and packed off.

Sadly, having come through tibet sharing with one of the high altitude cameramen, and not having a hint of complaint from him about snoring, I lasted just one night at base camp before someone (or maybe several people!!) complained to Russ, and my tent has now been shifted away from everyone else’s – I tried pleading for him to let me try the magic anti-snoring potion for a night, but no good!! So I am now wedged between our studio (which is an amazing hut built and wired up by Russ in next to no time) and our mess tent, which is where there will eventually be movie nights, so I’ll either have to watch the movies, or put up with the noise!

The team loses a member tomorrow - Lisa’s meant to be heading home by doing the amazing overland route from here to Kathmandu, tho there is an element of doubt over that, as Kathmandu sounds pretty dodgy at the moment! We’ve got World Service in the studio, and heard last night that two people had been shot dead for breaking curfews. She might have to go back to Lhasa, then fly home by just going through Kathmandu airport and not going into town – or she might have to fly by a different route to avoid Nepal altogether, which would piss her off as she bought loads of stuff there on the way out and left it at the hotel to pick up on the way home.

So Easter is nearly upon us!! I’ve got my eggs stashed away in the tent, and I guess I’ll have to take them with me on the trek to ABC!

Meanwhile the mess tent, which I’ve had to myself for the last hour, is filling up! So I’m going to have a cup of tea with everyone then go and sort out the zip of my tent! It’s blowing like crazy, and there’s tons of dust in the air, so our tent zips are getting clagged up, and if they cease to work, we’ll basically be sleeping outside – which would be no good!!

More later, but in the meantime, check out, which Barny should be updating soon with words and pictures!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell Colin Bowes that all is well at home - the house is tidy, the gardening is getting done, the phone never goes and that Karen is missing him like hell. Has anybody heard him snoring yet?? - don't miss that! Take care of yourselves up there.

2:28 am  
Anonymous John Pilkington said...

Hi P.T., hi everyone,

Just received Martin's amazing message! It's balmy springtime here in Winchester, but by the time you read this you'll probably all be huddling in your sleeping bags at ABC. What I'd give to be there with you (at a suitable distance from Martin's tent of course). Seriously, Nelly and I will be thinking of you as you struggle to defy all that gravity (I always imagine there's more of it up there).


P.S. We hugely enjoyed the pics - especially the brilliant Kathmandu ones.

12:49 am  
Blogger Andrew H @ 422 said...

Just read all your diaries sounds like a great trip top the mountain. Good to hear you are all safe and that all is going well. Can’t wait to see the pictures.

Best wishes from me and all at 422.

9:31 pm  

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