Valerio Massimo Everest Expedition 2009

Me on the summit of Cho Oyu with Everest in the background

Of Tents and Tunnel Men

April 8th, 2009 by Alix

So Valerio is cosying up in his first night in his tent (which he referred to delightedly as ‘heaven’- not a great sign of the quality of the teahouses I’ll be staying in on my trek) at Lobuche.  They arrived at this ‘second base camp’ yesterday after trekking from Dingboche through a late-season snowstorm. They’ll head over to Russell’s main Everest base camp tomorrow but will be returning periodically to the camp at Lobuche for their practice climbs- in this way Russell hopes to get the team acclimatised without the repeated trips through the dangerous, shifting Khumbu Icefall.

He’s finally managed to get his satellite phone working and will be trying out his Bad Boy satellite machine (formally known as the BGAN- acronym ideas welcome) for his first official satellite post later today or tomorrow. His phone number is +8821621271627 for those that need it, although you may have to mortgage your house if you want a long chat.

Meanwhile I’ve had my own outrageous adventures and found my own cause to support- I flew to Milan yesterday morning and after lots of long delays (Take-It-easyJet) arrived at Malpensa, which must win the award for airport farthest from the city it pretends to serve. After long hours of transfer I got my car and threw myself into the screaming maelstrom of car horns and flashing lights that is Milanese traffic.

Having survived (that was the outrageous adventure bit), I breathed easy until I got to the Mont Blanc tunnel, where I discovered that my card was not working and I had only a clutched handful of coins to offer the ticket office. After much shivering and confusion the ticket man incredibly kindly paid the 25 euro balance out of his own pocket and gave me his address, trusting in the honesty of strangers. To quote Valerio, my journey could not have been accomplished without the incredible generosity of these mountain people, and so I would like anyone supporting my hazardous journey home to send donations to the Mont Blanc Tunnel Men Association, Aosta. If there is one.

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