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ARCHIVED REPORTS:

9 May, 2002 Chinese BaseCamp Shishipangma
Reached camp after 7 hours of trekking. I was greeted by the 2 Tibetian mastiffs, they have grown!! Almost a third larger after two weeks. I guess they were feeding off the left-overs from the meals served to mountaineers.

Most on our gear came out on yaks. I carried just about 10 kilos of warm clothing and gear. It was a good walk, the terrain goes up and down. It was not all downhill. My ankle is OK, and I didn’t have any trouble in the long walk. Started to get a dry cough because of the dust and dry air. Just have to drink more water. Other than that, MB and me are in good health.

The storms on Shisha have wrecked two tents. This will mean that I will have to keep snug into a much smaller and colder single layer tent (double layer tents for high altitudes helps keep the body heat in). Not very comfortable.

I look forward to tomorrow’s truck ride to Tingri. In Tingri, I can get some simple Chinese style food and what’s more important, my long awaited wash. I have not had a bath since 12 April 2002. I guessed I am a bit on the ripe side now. There is a hot spring in Tingri and I look forward to a good soak and thaw out. It would be good to have a look at my face and other body parts… after weeks of everything covered by a grimy mix of sun block, sweat, bits of food and dust.

From Tingri, I will move on to Cho Oyu. We do not have very much room for bad weather on Cho Oyu. The schedule is tight. Once we get to Cho Oyu, it will be a push to get to the higher camps and prepare for a summit push. We hope that the weather and the mountain will offer us a respite and that opportunity for a good climb.


07 May 2002

MEDIA RELEASE FROM ASCENT 8000:

DISABLED MOUNTAINEER RETURNS FROM ABORTIVE SUMMIT BID
Singapore’s first professional mountaineer returned safely to Advance Base Camp at Shishapangma, Tibet without the 8027m summit.

The 6-day summit bid was organised after a spate of extremely unseasoned bad weather and aimed at reaching the top of Tibet’s highest peak on May 6th. The long summit push was preceded by very heavy load carries by Lim and M.B Tamang, his climbing partner.

Three successively higher camps were placed, the last at 7,350m before the summit bid began at 330am May 6th. Weather forecasts had put wind conditions to be moderate. However, after about 200-300 metres of upward progress, sustained stretches of hard ice made further progress too dangerous. While the sections themselves would already been exposed and tricky for an able-bodied alpinist, Lim’s disabled right leg made progress extremely strenuous. With only a shorter length of rope to protect each other over small, steep sections, it would have been too risky and time-consuming to belay each other in turn over the long section of wind-polished ice. Lim turned back at around 7600m.

At the same time the only other summit team, a European team, turned back after one of their members sustained a 200-metre fall higher up. Heavy, localised snowing put at end to the day’s summit attempts. No one summitted that day. It should be noted that these are the first known summit attempts of the season. Lim made an arduous descent back to Intermediate Camp, ending a 15 hour day.

With not much time left, Lim will be leaving advance base camp on May 9th to make his way to Cho Oyu, the second of the two 8000-m peaks on his schedule. He intends to reach Advance Base Camp in under a week and complete the climb in rapid, lightweight style after acclimatising on Shishapangma.

Commenting on the summit week:
“For some time my conversations with God have not been happy ones. For most of the climbing days, we had been beset by awful and unpleasant weather. We never got a break. None of my prayers for a respite seem to be answered. But most recently, I had two replies. In one, he gave me strength in my legs. In the other, on summit day, he gave me wisdom to make the right decision. It wasn’t an easy one, but it was the correct one. Climbing 8000m peaks is , after all, not about summitting, it’s about making the right call. You’re really on the edge of things if you’re tired beyond belief an still have some ways to go to your objective.”

On the next two days”
” Eating fried eggs, resting my aching muscles, packing and mentally psyching up myself for the next climb. I can’t recall any Asian mountaineer, able-bodied or not, attempting three peaks in a single expedition*. It’s going to be tough. This isn’t exactly the kind of adventure where you have relays of porters carrying all your stuff nor is it the kind where you can get airlifts of underwear, food and gear to you. And after the climb, you still have to get your butt off the mountain. No plane can get you off that hill.”

On the news back home:
” I haven’t heard much except that the Budget , GST and CPF changes are big news. I also understand that only the big prestigious expeditions are currently being covered by the major broadsheets. I guess money talks! That being said, I don’t need airdrops, sherpas teams, massive communications hookups etc to show that challenging endeavours with uncertain outcomes still have a place in Singapore adventure. If the newspapers don’t seem to be keen this time, I think they ‘re missing the point of adventure”
* Lim summitted Mera Central Peak ( 6461m ) on April 2nd

6 May, 2002 Intermediate Camp 5,800m

(21:00hrs Singapore)
Hi there!
Got off the mountain. Reached Intermediate Camp about an hour ago. It has been a very tough day. Woke up at 3am for the summit attempt. Have been on the move until about 6:30pm when I reached Intermediate Camp.

The return has been a grunt. MB and myself took all our gear and food off the mountain. We stripped down our camps at Camp 3, 2 and 1. Between the two of us, we carried everything down, including the kitchen stove!!

MB, the strong, has probably reached Advanced BaseCamp. Hot soup and food awaits there. Tonight, I will stay at Intermediate Camp alone, resting. MB will return tomorrow morning and we will carry the remainder of our gear back to ABC.

As I turn back for a look at Shishapangma at about 10am, the mountain has become veiled by another white-out.

Once back at base, I will prepare to move on to the second half of the Ascent8000 challenge, Cho Oyu. I estimate that I should be on the move by the 10 May 2002. If I can get a satellite connection with my powerbook, I will send a detailed report then. My water is boiling… time for hot tea and dinner.

6 May, 2002, The Steep Climb, 7,600m

(10:30hrs Singapore)
We reached 7,600m. It has been very tough so far. The heavy snow and ice that has been pouring down over the last week or so has hardened into compacted ice and snow. We have been struggling up a steep slope, about 50 degrees, when MB and I decided that it would be safer if we turned back. The conditions are really tough and the steep ice-snow sections makes climbing very difficult for me, with my weak ankle.

Have just returned to Camp 3, 7,400m, the climb down was tough. The last few days of hard climbing, little rest, poor appetite and very basic food (had two cheese sticks and half a liter of water last night for dinner) has been quite a toil on me and this has weaken me considerably. We are disappointed but we have given our best effort… and we are still alive.

We will go down to Base Camp after a rest here. Camp 3 is not a place for a picnic even if we can breathe fresh air…

5 May, 2002, Camp 3, 7,400m

(21:00hrs Singapore)
Reached Camp 3 this afternoon. It has been a very tough climb, a struggle. Tougher than my efforts on the North ridge of Everest. I will make a summit attempt tomorrow with MB. We will begin the climb at dawn, at 0300 hrs (Tibet). We will give our best effort.

The climb up from Camp 2 has been difficult. The 300m of fixed ropes has been a help. It was during this section that I had a mild diarrhea attack. For 2 hours, I could think of nothing else but to do a dump (toilet…). But because of the steep slope, there was no place for me to do the necessary. The first flat surface I found, I unshackled from my harness, dropped my pants and had a massive dump!! I guessed, in my own way, I left my mark. Looking back, the pain in the stomach has distracted me much from the struggle up that slope. While this is laughable, diarrhea has always been a major problem for climbers. The altitude and the basic amenities means that the digestion system can sometimes wreck havoc on the climber.

Breathing, sucking, really fresh air outside, a bit thin but fresh… inside, well, that’s another matter. I guess I should have a shower before returning to Singapore. We are sharing tent with the European team who has graciously given us some extra space. This we appreciate.

I am very tired now. Boiling snow… for water. A bit of rest, food and plenty of water now. We leave at dawn.

4 May, 2002 Camp 2, 6,800m

(18:18hrs Singapore)
Reached Camp 2. It’s about 4pm now. Took me 5 hours to climb from Camp 1 to Camp 2. Our tent was under a considerable amount of snow. Spent about 2 hours digging it out but it was badly damaged. However, we managed to salvaged our store of food and gear from our wrecked tent.

Thanks to the generosity and help of the climbers from the European team, we managed to borrow one of their extra 2-man tents. Without this, we would have to turn back to Camp 1. Really appreciate their help!!!

The strain of having to dig out our tent and the pain of discovering its wrecked state have left me totally dehydrated and tired…. and hungry. It’s time for MB and me to start melting snow for water and cooking our dinner.

I hope to climb to Camp 3 tomorrow. For now, it’s rest and water and a bit of food.

3 May, 2002 Camp 1

(15:00hrs Tibet) 6,300m
Reached Camp 1 yesterday afternoon after a long day of plodding. The good news is that my tent’s a bit dented by the storms over the last week but still holding up. Nothing ruptured. Now I hope that our tent at Camp 2 remains intact.

The weather has been fitful, with clouds coming in the afternoon and snow-showers in the late afternoon and evenings. Am concerned about the snow because thick snow at high altitudes makes climbing more difficult. The climb up has hurt the ankle a bit. I am resting here in Camp 1 today, hope this rest will do it some good.

Feeling a bit cold (to be expected at this altitude), but the emails that you have been sending leaves a warm glow inside. Appreciate your notes. Both MB and myself is in good health, eating well. MB has finished eating the goat. He is now eyeing some noodles. Burp!!

We will be moving off to Camp 2 tomorrow. Today, I’ll rest. Zzzzzz
Dave.

1 May, 2002

SUMMIT PUSH is ON!!!

Intermediate Camp 5,800m (16:00hrs Singapore)
Reached Intermediate Camp about 1hr 30mins ago. It took me 2hrs and 50mins to reach this camp. Much faster than when I first climbed here with 30kg on my back, then it took me more than 4hrs. A benefit of acclimatisation and a smaller pack today.

Amazingly, my ankle didn’t hurt today. It could be because I have been rubbing vasaline on it, and it finally worked. Climbing a mountain this size can heap a lot of abuse on the body. Even my braces for my ankle, have been showing quite a bit of wear and tear, they now even need tape to keep them together!

The winds are about 25 to 35 km/hr, sunny weather but with clouds moving nearby. A bit of light snow coming down right now…. go away!!!

Now that I have committed to making a summit push, I feel a lot better. A lot of stress has been considering whether I should start earlier or later. Here I am, breathing fresh air with the skies above me. I remain hopeful even though there are loads of fresh snow on the mountain. Thick snow makes the going more difficult, its like trying to walk on the beach with the water reaching up to your knees. It drags you down. I see a few other climbers (from the European team) ahead, they are making slow progress.

I hope that my tents in Camps 1 and 2 remain in decent condition. It will be OK if they stay intact and unruptured, even if buried in snow.

The plan, briefly, is to make for Camp 1 tomorrow. Then a long climb to Camp 2 on Friday. Saturday, I will trudge up to Camp 3. Summit day will be on Sunday if all goes well. Tonight, I will sleep alone at 5,800m. MB will join me tomorrow for the climb up to Camp 1.

For now, it’s lunch. Should I have some peanuts and… I’ll have some Japanese noodles!!

29 April, 2002 Advance BaseCamp

(20:00hrs Singapore)
It has been a miserable day. The wind has been pounding away at my tent. Snow and sand blasting into my face… Heard from some German climbers that over on Cho Oyu, 3 tents have been damaged and another 3 disappeared. Last night, I woke up at about 3am, grab the tent pole and held it. The wind was blasting so strongly that I feared that the tent would collapse. It held.

Had some sherpa stew and Chinese bacon for dinner. Had some dried goat over the last few days. Not much of it left, just a stump… half a shoulder and one hairy leg with the hoof still on. Dried goat tastes very “goaty” or “very mutton”. For a change, I had some excellent South African crocodile pate today, yum yum.

29 Apr 2002 (Monday)

(10:30hrs Singapore)
It’s a white-out at ABC today. We have been having really bad weather over the last 4 days, loads of snow and wind. Woke up today with about a foot of snow in Advance BaseCamp. It’s pretty gloomy. Sitting in our small tent with just one flickering candle and MB, I feel like an early explorer… in the days of Mallory.

The winds and snowfall will mean that we will be climbing up against thick untrampled snow (maybe 2 to 3 feet thick). It is almost like climbing a virgin peak… Two teams are now ready for a summit push, the mixed European team and; MB and me. The other teams on the mountain seems to have bedded down to wait for the weather to ease.

I have planned to start our summit push tomorrow. Praying for good weather right now.

Dried goat (2 to 3 years old!) the main source of our animal protein at Advance BaseCamp. Takes a while to cook till soft.

28 Apr 2002 (Sunday)

Many thanks to all who have sent good karma, Carrie, Mark, Bob, Deb from the SJC ( you know who you are ), my Everest 2001 partner – Gil, Glennys, Steven (oi ! – can’t salsa at 5,600m – too little 02) , Soo leng, the schools, Fatoma, The Mayor (yes!) and all others I regret to have missed out…

The latest MSS weather forecast says the winds will persist till Tuesday at least…..so we’ll wait and see. Right now we have a respite at ABC after 2 -3 days of bad winds here – worse high up.

Discussions will increase these next 2 days as to how we will mount the season’s first ever summit climb of Shishapangma from this side of the mountain.

Off to some fried rice for lunch……
Dave

APRIL 25th 2002

Letter From Tibet – Life on a Big Climb
(Received Sat, 27 Apr 2002)
The full moon is upon us as I sit writing this. I’m also nursing various minor aches and pains from the hard climbing these past 5 days. My ankle tendon bruised has recurred. It hurt all the way back yesterday; those 10 km from Camp 2 (6,800m). We’ve finalised almost all of what we need for the summit push. This foray marks the final preparation for the summit attempt to occur next week, weather permitting.

It feels good to be back here in the relative warmth and sun of Advance BaseCamp (5,600m), feeling acclimated and ready for the summit push. I thank all of you for your kind emails and support though the contents of some of these have had to be relayed to me previously by audio dispatch only since data reception here has been patchy.

I’m glad of the great website hit count and the kind words from all, especially since the Mera Peak (6,476m) summit success of April 2. I can only hope that the Singapore /local media will be keen on doing a little more (hello? hello?) since they opted out on that piece of news. They could help a little bit more on letting people at home realise that sports is for everybody and not just for those with 2 good legs/ arms etc.

For most of the past week, MB Tamang and I have made a major load carry to the upper reaches of Shishapangma and have returned to Advance BaseCamp safely. It was immensely physical and these past days saw me carrying the heaviest loads I have ever done on a big peak (pre or post Guillain-Barre Syndrome). MB has been shouldering even more and is a tower of strength.

Our plan involved just one carry up before the summit push , and without sherpa teams to relay gear ahead of us (like for every other team on the mountain), it meant large loads (15kgs +). To be honest, apart from the sherpas working this big hill, I have yet to see any other climber carrying loads our size. What were in them? Sleeping bags, down suits, a stove, food, warm clothing, tents, snow shovel, marker wands – the list does go on!

We started by heading to Depot or Intermediate Camp at 5,800m, and then a huge slog up to Camp 1 (6,300m) over glaciated and crevassed terrain. Each afternoon a nasty wind would kick up and blast snow in our faces for 2 – 3 hours continuously, bringing temperatures to sub zero. I’ve never worked in such wretched conditions ever. The climb up to Camp 2 (6,800m)was equally chilling and demoralising. From here you could see the main summit ridge of the mountain. A fun point was making probably one of the highest phonecalls ever by a Singaporean (from 6,800m+)with the ACeS satphone to George, my webmaster.

Emails, I get regular questions about life on the big hill. It’s very basic, really. You wake up, eat a breakfast of about half a mug of oats, a mug of hot tea. The water is boiled up from melting snow. This takes a while – about 30 mins for each litre. You try to climb through the day on 1 –2 energy gels or bars and a litre of water. When conditions are nasty and freezing, you don’t drink too much because the effort of unclipping and fiddling around with your heavy pack on a 40 degree snow slope is too difficult. Those hydration pack things with a tube to suck from? Nope, the mouth pieces freeze up. You go by for most of a 5 – 7 hour day on a litre of water. Your mouth gets dry and yucky and your nose is streaming all the time from the irritating dry air. You just blow your nose and use your sleeve to wipe off the mess . It freezes almost instantly anyway. The exertion of climbing at altitude, especially with 15 -20kgs is akin to running a 200-metre sprint several hundred times. Because for each 25 second spurt of exertion, you have to pant for breath for a while. Then you do it again – continuously for those 5 – 7 hours.

When you get to your campsite, you have to dig out a patch of snow and fix up the tent. If the wind is freezing your fingers off, you just suffer a little more . Dinner is more dried stuff like freeze dried rice with some dried meat, some soup.

After a couple of weeks of no bathing and eating food that comes out of a plastic bag, you’re grateful to get back to Advance BaseCamp. Gyanu, my cook, dished out a few pancakes this morning plus 2 fried eggs – culinary heaven. I may even wash my hair and have a shave – something I haven’t done since leaving Kathmandu on April 12.

More news tomorrow I hope. Have to go ice my ankle as well.
Dave

25 Apr 2002, Advance BaseCamp

(20:00 hrs Singapore)
Got down from Camp 2 (6,800m) in a long 7 hour climb across a glacial terrain yesterday. Parts of which slopes to about 45degrees. Shishapangma is clean and much less trampled upon. There are less climbers on this mountain than on Mt Everest. Last week, I have seen about 15 climbers and this has grown to about 30 this week. Climbers from Finland, Spain, Italy and Singaporeans!!

I am still very tired but the rest at ABC is great. Chewed a bit of bak kwa (dried pork) as a reward for the climb. My right ankle hurts a bit as I climbed down yesterday. Experiencing some pain there, I hope the rest over the next few days will do it some good. It’s snowing right now, and the camp quiets down.

I had a wash today, my first time since April 12, 2002!! Felt nice and clean. Both MB and myself are in good health, just a bit tired.

Will be sending detailed despatch once the skies clear.

23 Apr 2002 Camp 2 at 6,800m

(19:15 hrs Singapore)
Hola! This is my highest sat-comms phone call ever, a personal first. I have reached Camp 2 at 6,800m. It was a real grunt climbing to this camp. It is a physically tough terrain, demanding!! I am exhausted… felt like I have been carrying everything but the kitchen stove on my back. I think I am carrying more than any other climber on this mountain, except MB of course, and sherpas with the other teams. MB is strong!!, he is grinning right now, hee hee. The load that MB and I have been carrying is part of our preparation for our summit attempt. We carried food, fuel, snow shovel, sleeping bags, warm clothes… and storing them here in Camp 2.

The climb to Camp 2 has been demanding because of the rough terrain and the altitude (low oxygen levels). The route has no fixed lines (ropes) except for a short section of about 35 meters. This means that I have to be extra careful. My ankle got a bit sore today because of the additional stress that I have to put on it. There is not much of a trail up to Camp 2 because the winds and snow wipes virtually any track out within 30 minutes. This means that I have been clomping through ankle deep snow and ice to reach Camp 2. The weather has been a bit windy, very cold with “snow” showers in the afternoons.

MB and myself will be spending the night in Camp 2. Sleeping at this high altitude is cold and the thin air will not help to give us a good rest, but the value is that it continues to make our bodies acclimatise to the thin air. This is part of our preparation for our summit attempt.

We will go down tomorrow and will rest in Advance BaseCamp for a few days before returning to the thin air. Gotta go, water is boiling and it’s time for tea!!

22 Apr 2002 Camp 1, 6,300m

(14:00hrs Singapore)
On Sunday, 21 Apr, I reached Camp 1, 6,300m, from Intermediate Camp, 5,700m. A hard day climbing. Distances on a mountain always look deceiving. While it is just 500 vertical meters, it took MB and me the whole morning to reach this altitude, about 4 to 5 hours of plodding. Again, the load on my back remains the same, heavy. One consolation that I have at this altitude is that I have started using my heavier Millett Everest boots, with it’s additional support, I am trying to walk without the ankle brace. This is a relief.
The weather has been rough, we get a few good hours of sun in the morning before the clouds move in and the wind picks up. Had a snow storm yesterday. Wind and ice and snow was blasting everything. Almost like being sand-blasted, maybe some of the rough edges and pores on my face might have been smoothen out a bit…

I am resting today here at Camp 1, after yesterday’s effort. It’s pretty quiet here, I am the only person in Camp 1. MB has gone down for additional supplies and food. Climbers from the other teams have gone up to the higher camps. Most of the time, all I hear is the sound of my breathing and the wind.

Have been chewing on my dried rations for food. I had oats porridge and raisins for dinner last night. Right now I am going to feast on 2 cereal bars and a couple of cheese wedges for lunch…. Burp!

If the weather holds up, we will try for Camp 2 tomorrow.

Tiny flag of Canberra Primary School, a participant of the MOE’s EDUQYEST programme. They asked me to bring it up. It’s now adorning my ABC tent!!

20 Apr 2002 (Saturday)

Intermediate Camp 5,800m
It was a long grunt (walk) up to this camp, 4 hours from Advance BaseCamp. I have never carried a heavier load up to a higher altitude than today, I think I have about 30kg of food and fuel on my back. (I feel like a yak!) If anything, this is a personal first! Reached camp at about 12:30pm (Nepal time), in time for lunch… which I have to cook myself. Alpine style!

In a regular sherpa supported expedition, sherpas help in bringing much of the food, fuel and equipment up to the higher camps. This allows the climber to just climb, rest at established camps and not worry about the basic necessities. However, in this expedition, climbing alpine style, there is just MB and myself, carrying everything we need on our own backs.

Intermediate Camp is located on a moriane, a glacier deposit of eroded rock. It is a beautiful site. The deep blue skies and Shisha’s peak stands in front of me. The air so clear that I could almost reach my hand out and touch the peak in the distance… mumble mumble. A spectacular view.
From where I stand, I can see 3 sherpas moving towards Camp 1. There are 5 tents at Camp 1.

I will spend the night here alone. MB has gone down to ABC, I have a suspicious feeling that he finds my cooking rather lacking… hmm… MB will return tomorrow and we will trudge on to Camp 1.

19 Apr 2002 (Friday)

Advance BaseCamp
Sunny here but wind picking up as per Met Service of Singapore’s forecasts. Still a bit crispy but less cold than yesterday. Today, we’ll be packing 10 days of food and climbing gear for tomorrow’ s push up the big hill. The first camp, Intermediate Camp, at 5,800m is about four hours away (lots of ups and downs).

Camp 1, on ice, will be another 4 – 5 hours from Intermediate Camp, up to 6,400m+. From there, we’ll see if we can get higher and also sleep higher. From tomorrow, dispatches will be via audio phone only – so far the ACeS SATCOM equipment has been working in excellent form.

My tent at ABC- Shisha covered in clouds with high winds

18 Apr 2002

Advance BaseCamp 5,600m
pei-tan and bak kwa
Hi,
This email is brought to you by the world’s smallest and lightest satellite telephone courtesy of Asian Cellular Satellite (ACeS).The weather’s turned somewhat. Very windy last night and this morning. A bitterly cold breeze is cutting through basecamp. The setting is spectacular with full-on views of Shishapangma. What happens now is that we rest here for 2 days and then do a big push; establishing intermediate camp at 5,800m, Camp 1 at 6,400m and then make a push to Camp 2 at 6,800m in one single outing taking six days. We’ll try sleeping as much as possible at C1; building on the great acclimatisation we already have.

18 Apr 2002, Middle finger recovering from Mera climb frostnip. Note the old blistered skin sloughing off.

Me at ABC. The fancy tent at the back is of the other Singapore Shisha team. Shooting video on canon MV vidcam.

It’s really quiet here. The International European team of 6-7 climbers and 2 sherpas are returning from C1 today. They are part of the Amical Alpin group, a commercial operation. The three Singapore climbers from the other Shisha team left today for a 10 day push to Camp 2 . Their sherpas are working with the Amical ones to fix some rope up higher.

Conditions up high are windy and slopes loaded with snow. It will take a while to clear.

So at the moment there are about 12 climbers based here. A large Austrian group of 14 are due in a few days. By comparison, I hear there are about 300 on Everest’s north side and about 150 on the south side of Everest. So it’s really quiet here.

All well here and all the ASCENT 8000 team in good health. The ankle tendon pressure bruise is much better but we’ll see once I don my big climbing boots. An interesting dry blister on my left middle finger is slowly sloughing off – the result of some frostnip from the Mera summit day.

Today, I’ll be fixing my busted ankle brace with some chicken coop wire and duct tape. As a small celebration, we ate some bak kwa for breakfast (honey roasted pork from Singapore) and some preserved eggs (” pei tan “).

Email contact remains erratic but voice updates will continue if data reception is bad. My Apple Macintosh Powerbook G3 is holding up well though the harddisk is beginning to squeal and whine. The thinner air here provides a lesser cushion for the spinning forces of the harddisk. In any case, at 5,600m, it’s performing way beyond the maunfacturer’s specs.

Special greetings to all at Woodlands, Marsiling and Canberra schools. Yesterday, I sent a special answer list to some questions related to their projects under the Ministry of Education’s EduQuest programme. And for those interested – yes some interesting wildlife here. In the past week, I’ve seen wild mules roaming the Tibetan plains, game hens and (yesterday) a snow
rabbit.

17 Apr 2002

Wed (Advance BaseCamp)
A major slog today to get to Advance Base camp (5600m) from the Chinese Basecamp (5,000m). Starting on the west side of a river, the route snaked round with spectacular views of Shisha. Nine hours later and a rather tired Dave and Gyanu reached ABC. The other Singapore team there gave me a warm welcome. They’ve been placing a couple of camps and gear so far.. They made the ABC hike up over 2 days (I wish I could have done the same!),

Right now very cold and windy . Will sleep well tonight…zzzzz

16 Apr 2002, BaseCamp Shishapangma

(5:30pm Singapore)
Life in Basecamp is quiet. We are preparing to go up to Advance Basecamp tomorrow. Right now I am sitting on a small hill about a 100m above Basecamp. I have been having some sat-comms problems. Can’t send or retrieve emails. That is why I am sitting on top of this hill, hoping that I will get a better reception, but no luck so far. Am relying on making verbal reports right now.

We have blue skies and great weather here in Shishapangma. The mountain looks fantastic. Windy all the time and very, very cold in the evenings. It can get a bit chilly in the day too, if you are sitting on top of a hill and trying to work with your sat-comms.

Climbing without our own support team means that we get the bare necessities. Meals consists of the usual trekking food, lots of pasta, rice with dhalbat and spam. I try not to think of mee goreng and satay and prawn noodles and laksa and chicken rice and… sniff.

Tomorrow’s trek to Advance Basecamp will mean 20 km of glaciers, rivers and scree (loose gravel). We hope to do this in 8 hours.

Dispatch April 15th Monday (received 18/04/2002)

In Nyalam, I met Nima, a young, intelligent Tibetan. A a young boy, his parents smuggled him to India for his education in Karnataka. 16 years later, he returned to meet his aging parents. He had not seen them for 16 years. However, shortly afterwards, he was arrested and jailed by the police for entering Tibet without valid papers (of any kind). Nima is now in the process of acquiring Chinese/Tibetan citizenship and is lucky to have a job at a local lodging house. Tibetans often remain stateless refugees even in their own land, a by-product of China’s policy towards Tibet. One can only hope things will get better for this mountain kingdom soon.

I arrived in basecamp at 1130am today (Nepal time). BC is a sad and dusty place, flanked by stunning peaks and a blue lake. High cirrus clouds over Shisha suggest bad weather is on it way. There are 2 large tents manned by Tibetan officials.

Because Gyanu, our cook, hasn’t acclimatised yet, we will spend 2 days here at 5000m before taking the 20 km hike to the ‘real’ basecamp ( Advance Basecamp at 5600m ) from which we will begin climbing the peak. My tendon/ankle bruise is still hurting and I hope it will get better enough for me to make the hike up. A pleasant distraction is 2 cute Tibetan mastiff puppies in the BC area. It’s a joy to see them playing and romping about the dustpiles of basecamp. Pictures later!

Pic today: Me trekking to Tangnag (4,300m).
Background: Thamserkku (6,700m), left and Kang Taiga (c. 6,700m), right

15 Apr 2002 (Mon) BaseCamp Shishapangma

(5:45pm Singapore)
Cough! Cough! Reached Basecamp today at about 11:30am. We are at about 5,000m. Had lunch, tea and now we are looking forward to a good dinner, growl. We are both in good health. Except for my ankle, which is giving me a bit of pain, I feel good. Spent most of the afternoon getting comfortable and writing stuff.

We will rest here for another day before setting off for advance basecamp.

14 Apr 2002 (Sun) Sunny Nyalam

Arrived in Nyalam today ( 3400m ) after an uneventful journey. Met Russell Brice en route – he’s got a goup again on Everest Rongbuk this season. Appears to be a busy season after all. 14 Austrians are due t arrive at Shishapangma basecamp this week. Looks like I’ll have plenty off company on the hill after all.

More from Basecap when I get there tomorrow.

Dave

11 Apr 2002 Despatch from Kathmandu

Shops close earlier, the streets less busy – all signs of a battered tourist economy here in Kathmandu. I have another day of rest before heading to Tibet on Sat, April 13th. So far, it’s been busy trying to solve a SATCOMs problem – hence no pictures from the Mera climb yet – many apologies.

On a positive side, I’m packing in the calories to get back some of the weight lost from the Mera trip, burp… hic. MB Tamang and I are feeling very acclimatised from the climb – a good sign

It’s sunny, nice, and life goes on as usual. I’d like to say the same for mid-west Nepal where I climbed in 1996 but can’t. Juphal, a small regional airport had it’s control tower taken out by the Maoists as has several other key grass airstrips in that region. One can only hope they see that they can never win and come to the negotation tables.

I have numb fingertips from the frostnip from the Mera climb and a sore ankle still from the pressure bruising. Some anti-inflammatories seem to be helping the latter. As promised, the Mera account will be up soon, an d maybe a few pictures.

Dave signing off in Kathmandu

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