Updated by Linda McMillan
Sunday, April 9, 2006
The road to Cho Oyu from Tingri is a rather good dirt and gravel road (not too many big rocks) and mainly straight and uphill (shown at right). It only took about 45 minutes to arrive at Chinese Base Camp. There we said goodbye to our Land Cruiser and the very problematic flatbed truck. We settled into our individual tents and enjoyed dining together in the large and comfortable canvas cooking/dining tent on site. The weather was glorious! Fairly warm, very sunny, no wind, and stunning views of Cho Oyu. What a wonderful welcome to this spectacular place.
Our cooks made lunch for us and we spent most of the day taking photos, resorting gear, and meeting others at the camp. There seem to be expeditions from Norway, Korea, Spain, Argentina, Poland, and a few others that are international like ours. Most of the climbers already know of Nawang Sherpa; he has become very famous in the press and the international mountaineering community.
In charge of the climbing activities on the Chinese side of the Himalaya is the Tibet Mountaineering Association (TMA), which controls the travel and climbing logistics for all climbers who come here from around the world. The Liaison Officer in charge of the Cho Oyu area is Mr. Dorjee, a very experienced and helpful person. He speaks many languages including excellent English, so we enjoyed spending time in his TMA tent sipping tea and talking about mutual friends and climbing logistics on this mountain.
Since we had gained some altitude coming from Tingri, we rested most of the day and planned out how we will get all our gear and equipment divided into 20 kilo loads and on about 17 hardy yaks in the coming days. The local Tibetan yak herders provide a very essential service to all the expeditions by getting their food and equipment to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) at 18,600 ft.. Once teams are set up at ABC, the yak herders then help them by periodically bringing up fresh food and any equipment that might be needed for the teams.
Monday, April 10,
The weather today changed dramatically from yesterday's welcoming calm. Low grey clouds built up over Cho Oyu and high winds stirred up the dusty Chinese Base Camp area. The temperature dropped, and people huddled from the high wind and blowing dust. We spent the day in Dorjee's tent using our laptop computer to store and sort our digital images, update our Journal, and pick up email. Thanks to our generous sponsor of digital storage media, Seagate, we had absolutely no problems with our computer hard drive and external storage devices. These are all designed for high altitude, low temperature, and rugged environments. Perfect for mountaineers!
George applied his engineering skills to setting up our communications systems while Nawang, Ang Dawa, and Nima Gombu enjoyed the ambience of the the Tibetan Teahouse tent that was nearby. Enterprising Tibetans have set up a large and very comfortable teahouse here at Chinese Base Camp that serves Tibetan specialties like butter tea, Sherpa Stew, and dice games like para (shown at right below). It was a cozy place for Tibetan yak herders, Sherpas, and members of many of the expeditions to stay out of the wind and dust.
Tuesday, April 11,
We woke up today to a white wonderland. About three inches of snow fell here during the big storm yesterday, which has blessedly covered the huge tracts of dirt in this area. The sky is sunny again, though a little afternoon wind kicked up after lunch. Some of the base camp tents that were supplied for us by our expedition facilitator, Guo Jin Wei, have proved to have worn-out zippers on the interior doors. This prevents us from closing up the tents at night to be warm and comfortable. Also, the electrical generator we picked up in Lhasa proved not to be "new" as expected, but quite dirty and non-functional. Our technical wizard George spent most of the morning trying to get it started, which he finally did with a new spark plug and a thorough cleaning of the ignition system. We hope to receive stronger replacement tents today so we can finally move up to Middle Camp (17,651 ft) tomorrow and Advanced Base Camp (18,600 ft) the next day.
Luckily the strong high altitude tents needed as the team ascends the mountain are brand new North Face expedition tents which we brought from the US. We just need to receive adequate tents for the weeks we will stay at Advanced Base Camp.
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