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Leaving Base Camp

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition
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The following blog is courtesy of Billi Bierling, Himalayan Experience:

While I am writing this basking in the unseasonably warm sunshine, the Himalayan Experience Base Camp is slowly being dismantled around me. “The last Sherpa loads were carried down from Camp I this morning and now all our equipment is off the mountain,” Russell said feeling relieved that all his Sherpas have been up and down the Khumbu Icefall safely. “It was hard for me to send the Sherpas through the icefall after I had made the decision to cancel the expedition due to the looming dangers there, however, we had no choice as we had to bring down around 250 loads,” he continued.

Some of the equipment has been swapped with other expeditions, which reduced their trips through the icefall as well. “Some of our gas cylinders, medical equipment, toilet bags etc., which we had already taken to Camp I or II, are now used by other expeditions, who gave us the same gear back at Base Camp.”

On Thursday, the last group of trekkers and Lobuje East climbers arrived up here at 5,350m but everyone will be leaving Base Camp on Friday morning. The remaining climbers, namely the Walking with the Wounded team, will be walking down in three days while the trekkers will take four days to get back to Lukla, from where everyone will catch a plane to Kathmandu.

Russell, our Sirdar Phurba Tashi and most of the Sherpas will stay for a few more days to take down the rest of the tents as well as the ‘White Pod’, which has seen a few good parties over the past few weeks. Once all the equipment is packed up, they will have to make sure that everything is going to the right place. “Some of our gear is stored in Gorak Shep but most of the stuff has to go to Kathmandu. All in all we probably have 30 tons of equipment that needs to be moved from Base Camp,” Phurba Tashi explained.

Due to the fact that the expedition was cut short this year, Tashi and his kitchen staff have quite a lot of left-over food, which will go to the family of Dawa Tenzing, the Sherpa who sadly died of the consequences of the stroke he suffered in the Khumbu Icefall. “His family needs all the support they can get and I think they can really use this,” our chef Tashi said.

Another very important task is to make sure that no litter is being left at Base Camp. Every expedition pays a deposit to the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) for all disposables that are brought to Base Camp. “The system works pretty well and most expeditions leave Base Camp very clean. It is also in our own interest to come back here next year and find the place clean and welcoming,” Russell said.

Everyone feels ready to finally go down to the lower elevations and enjoy some greenery while our Sherpa team is happy to be finished with the trip through the Khumbu Icefall. “I am happy that we are done now and I hope that the mountain will be kinder to us next year,” Phurba Tashi said.

For the time being, this is the last Newsletter from our expedition. I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone for following our Newsletter and for your understanding that we are leaving the mountain for this season. However, we will be back on Manaslu in autumn this year and we will certainly be back on Everest in spring 2013.