Updated by Linda McMillan
Friday, April 21,
Today Tom and I left the town of Tingri where Tom has been recovering from a severe sinus infection the past ten days. We received a ride back to Chinese Base Camp from one of our Expedition Heroes, Mr. Dorjee of the Tibetan Mountaineering Association. He has also kindly arranged for 4 yaks to carry all our gear up the mountain. When we arrived he gave us a handwritten note he had just received from Pete Lardy up at our expedition site at Advanced Base Camp. The note asks that yaks be sent up to ABC to bring down our team on or before April 25th. The note also asks about the whereabouts of Tom and me. The note mention no particular reason why the team wants to leave. Are they ill or injured? Are they freezing in the cheap tents they were given by our expedition facilitator? Has there been an avalanche or dangerous snow conditions that prevent them from pushing to the summit? And why doesn't our team know that we've been stuck in Tingri for 11 days? Didn't our messages get to them via the other expeditions?
We are stunned by this. We had been told that it was impossible to communicate with our team at Advanced Base Camp as there are no radios or organized communications. But during our time at Tingri, we had asked all the expeditions headed to ABC that passed through Tingri to tell our team where we were and that we planned to get to ABC as soon as a transportation was available once the the weather and road closures cleared. But it seems, no one remembered to let our team know where we were or what our plans were. It seems our team thinks Tom and I in Kathmandu and not coming back to Tibet. This lack of communication is very serious and damaging to our expedition! We ask members of an Austrian expedition to carry a note for us to our team at ABC, hoping this will alert them that we are here and on our way to rejoin them.
We will stay overnight at Chinese Base Camp, then plan to race up to Middle Camp and on to Advanced Base Camp as quickly as possible. Meanwhile our expedition facilitator has arranged to send us from Urumqi (where he lives in western China) some strong Sierra Designs tents to replace the cheap, faulty ones now at our Advanced Base Camp (ABC). It will be great to have those at ABC for our team! Supposedly an English-speaking helper is also being sent to us from Urumqi, so that should help tremendously to ease any problems our team might be having with communications with the cooks and Tibetans. Being able to chip away at all the present problems facing our team gives us confidence that we can pull things together to push higher on Cho Oyu and make a bid for the summit.
Saturday, April 22,
On our way back up to Cho Oyu today, Tom and I are amazed to come around a corner in the road and see one of our expedition cooks happily walking down the trail, smoking a cigarette, his jacket unbuttoned and a big smile on is face. Needless to say, he is equally stunned to see us! We stop and try to ask him where he is going. Is he going down to get more food for the team? No, he indicates that our team members are all sick and he's quitting the expedition and going home. He's obviously not the least bit sick himself, but seems to have grown tired of being at ABC and decided to abandon the other cook and the team at Advanced Base Camp (18,600 ft). Simply amazing. What else is going on with our team at ABC, I wonder?
Tom and I stop overnight at the snowy, bone-chilling Middle Camp (17,000 ft) to sleep. At this altitude you start to really appreciate the warmth of a high-quality down parka with a hood.like our Prism Optimus jackets from The North Face, Also, our Mountain Hardwear sleeping bags have sleeping hoods built into the design. By snuggling way down into this bag, I can keep a layer of down over my face to warm and retain moisture in the air I will breathe most of the night. I think Tom's bag is not quite long enough for him to to do this, and he complains of a dry throat in the mornings. Could that be one reason he ended up with a sinus infection?
Tomorrow we plan to rejoin our team and let them know that strong replacement tents and a translator are on the way.
However, besides the problems with tents and cooks, it sounds like Pete and George now also have colds or coughs. Could the Sherpas also be sick? That, along with the recent snowfalls could be keeping them from pushing higher than Camp 1 above ABC. We've heard from Mr. Dorjee that so far, our team and most of the others on the mountains have only made it to Camp 1 on Cho Oyu above Advanced Base Camp, with the exception of our friend Piotr Pustelnik of the Polish expedition. We have heard that Piotr finally reached the summit of Cho Oyu this week, the first person to summit one of the major peaks (Mount Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Manaslu, Shishapangma, Kanchenjunga, etc.) in the Himalaya this season. Still, I feel that if I can just smooth out the food and illness problems, our team will rally together to create some summit successes. I can't wait to get to ABC and at last see what the mountain looks like from there. All of our team has been there except me.
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