Valerio Massimo Everest Expedition 2009

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

Lobuche Peak and pissed porters

April 17th, 2009 by Valerio

Hello to all from EBC.


More changes of plans…after all it is Everest.  Yesterday Russ decided that rather than going into the Icefall to train, he would build his very own ‘extreme assault course’ on the glacier 200 meters from our Base Camp.  This enables us to tackle every kind of obstacle the Icefall will throw at us, without spending a full day in the Icefall with the constant risk of Cathedral size blocks of ice breaking loose and flattening us.  As he said, a helmet won’t do much good in the Icefall is a serac breaks loose.  So our new high altitude adventure playground throws all the specific Icefall problems (3-4 lashed ladders crossing deep crevasses, 3-4 ladders lashed together up an ice-cliff, snow bridges, crevasse rescue and general complex fixed line work), within spitting distance of the camp, so we trained there – another clever innovation.  It also means that when we do hit the Icefall we will have all our skills down pat and will be able to move through it with much greater speed, which is another way of avoiding getting killed.


Due to the relatively high (relatively…) temperatures, we were treated to a steady flow of massive avalanches pouring off Everest and Pumori’s flanks yesterday and throughout the night.  Some of the big ones sound like freight trains approaching, and when one massive one thundered – seemingly towards us – during lunch, the tent emptied in about 10 second as everyone scrambled to gawp at it.  A constant reminder of the dangers ahead.


Yesterday afternoon Team C went down to Lobuche, carrying all clothing, food, sleeping bags and personal items with them.  The technical gear for the climb (ice axes, crampons, heavy high altitude boots, harnesses and equipment) was carried down by porters in kit bags to Lobuche Base Camp, or at least all but one was.  As we sat at dinner last  night, Russ got a call from Lobuche BC to say that one of the bags (and porters) had not arrived, and without the bag, the team could not head off this morning to Camp 1.  A frantic search ensued to locate the missing porter.  As I went to bed last night, he had not been found.


This morning Russ told us what happened.  By 1am nothing had been found so Phurba was sent down to find out what happened.  It turns out that one of the porters, who Russ had just promoted from carrying the ‘shit barrels’ (all waste is carried down) to a general load porter, had stopped off after an hour at Gorak Shep and basically got on the chang (the local beer).  He got so smashed that he gave his load to friend of his to take down to Lobuche BC, but the friend only made it to Lobuche village (still half an hour from Lobuche BC) ,where he also decided to get smashed.  The load remained outside the tavern as it began to snow…  Phurba eventually woke up all the porters between here and Lobuche, found the bag, and took it down to Base Camp in the middle of the night.  Sherpas usually ‘graduate’ from menial tasks, to kitchen work, to mountain load carrying, to high altitude work, and with each ‘promotion’ they get paid much, much more.  Russ was not pleased and said that the young sherpa will be returning to ‘shit barrel’ duty after a telling off.


Anyway we awoke this morning to bright sunshine and a completely white landscape, due to the overnight snowfall.  We are all busy packing our own kit and will be heading down to Lobuche Base Camp after lunch, where we will spend the night, before heading up to Camp 1 tomorrow, and onto the summit on Sunday, returning to Lobuche Base Camp, and ideally (if we still have the energy), trekking back up to Everest Base camp the same day.


Alix is flying out to Nepal tomorrow, so will probably post ahead of her departure and perhaps from Kathmandu (internet cafes everywhere) on Sunday, and I will post again on Monday when I get back from our trip, and include some photos from the mountain.


So off we go for what will hopefully be our first proper (i.e. 6000 meter) summit of the expedition.


I hope you all have a more relaxing weekend than I will!

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