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Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition
Kristina Krakova.jpg
Voldemars Spruzs.jpg

The following blog is courtesy of Billi Bierling, Himalayan experience:

Heading up Lobuje East

Finally, the real climbing has begun! The first half of the Everest climbers are on their way up to Lobuje East peak on their first acclimatisation rotation. “After five days of resting at Base Camp it’s great to finally get the crampons on and do some climbing,” Mark from the UK said when he arrived at Lobuje base camp. “But when I saw Lobuje East from Pheriche the other day, I wanted to pack my bags and go home. This looks like a real mountain and not just like a small hill to acclimatise,” he continued. During their resting period at Everest Base Camp, the team also went for walks up to the taditional Base Camp (Himalayan Experience sets camp a little bit farther down the glacier) and up Kala Pattar – a great viewpoint just outside Gorak Shep, the last village below Base Camp at 5,200m.

In the meantime, the trekkers and Lobuje East climbers are on their way down the valley to return to Kathmandu, and Nuptse climber Ellen Miller as well as her two trekkers have arrived at Everest Base Camp. “It has been a very nice and relaxed trip and it is a great opportunity for Nancy and Mary to spend a couple of nights with some Everest climbers,” Ellen said. Your blogger has also reached Lobuje camp, which means that apart from the remaining Nuptse climbers as well as the Lhotse group, everyone is now where they are supposed to be.

While the members of the second group were still tucked up warmly in their sleeping bags having their hot towels and bed tea brought to them by our kitchen staff, the first group was on their way up to the summit, from where our guide, Adrian, and Sergey from Russia are attempting a ski descent. And Valdis from Latvia already scaled Lobuje East together with his daughter Elina on Friday. “The views from up there were spectacular and I am so happy that I could share this experience with my daughter,” he said.

After this first rotation, the team will come back to Base Camp while the second group will follow their footsteps and attempt the summit on Tuesday. “We will then spend a full day and night at Lobuje camp to recover before we go straight back to the summit, where we will spend two nights to acclimatise,” Adrian explained. While I was writing this, everyone was busy packing their gear, chosing their food, fitting their crampons and gazing doubtfully at the size of their packs. “I think this weighs about 15kg but I guess this is what I will be carrying to the summit,” Pierre said.

While the team is crossing the 6,000m mark for the first time, I would like to introduce you to Kristina and Valdis from Latvia.

Kristina Kravcova

Kristina from Riga was part of the 2011 Himalayan Experience Manaslu expedition and reached the summit of the 8,156m peak on 4th October 2011. Like last year on Manaslu, she will be climbing together with her good friend Voldemor Spruzs. Kika, as her friends call her, has been interested in the mountains for most of the 29 years of her life and apart from Manaslu, she has reached the summits of Elbrus, Aconcagua and Peak Korzenevska in Tajikistan. She is very excited to finally be so close to reaching her ultimate goal. 

How did you first come across Everest and who inspired you to climb it?
The dream to go to Everest came up five years ago when I first started to climb mountains. Having reached the top of Elbrus I realised that Everest is not impossible and I could materialise this dream one day.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
The ability to manage finding time for everything – mountains and climbing, a demanding job and the responsibilities of a lawyer as well as attending various national and international cultural events.

What is your biggest challenge on this Everest expedition?
My challenge is to be able to remain calm and keep going even at extreme and unusual situations on the mountain. The ability to be happy, even about insignificant things, is another big challenge for me.

How do you think Everest will change your life?
The experience gained on Everest might help me achieve my goals on an everyday basis. Some things might seem an unreachable dream, but if you start to tackle them they can be done, just like Everest. 

How mentally prepared are you for the possibility of not getting to the top?
We can only prepare as much as possible, however, I don’t think we will ever be fully prepared. 

What will you carry to the summit?
The thought of the combination of luck, readiness and support from others will give me the opportunity to accomplish any goal. 

Voldemãr Sprûzs

Voldemãr, or Valdis as most people call him, also successfully climbed Manaslu with Himalayan Experience in autumn 2011. He used to go climbing with his wife, who sadly died nine years ago, but now he shares his passion for the mountains with his daughter Elina, who has just reached the top of Lobuje East with Valdis. The 54-year-old from Riga in Latvia works as a real estate developer.  

How did you first come across Everest and who inspired you to climb it?
My daughter gave me the movie “Everest: Beyond the Limit” for Christmas. Even though I had heard of Russell Brice before, it was the first time I saw him lead an expedition. It was when I was watching him and other climbers that the seed was planted.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
In 1978 my wife and I climbed Mt. Elbrus, and 30 years later for my 50th birthday I took my daughter to Mt. Elbrus and we climbed it together. In 2008, we attempted to climb Mont Blanc. This was only the starting point to ascend many more peaks over the coming years.

What is your biggest challenge on this Everest expedition?
Reaching the peak as “Team Latvia” with my friend Kika.

How do you think Everest will change your life?
You have to ask me the same question after the expedition. As for now, I think of it as something that will encourage me to continue climbing.

How mentally prepared are you for the possibility of not getting to the top?
When I first attempted to climb Mont Blanc, I did not get to the top – we had to turn back because of a snowstorm just before the summit. However, that only gave me more motivation to return the following year and try again. If I don’t get to the top it won’t stop me from trying again or climbing other peaks.

What will you carry to the summit?
Positive thoughts that have been communicated to me by the crew as well as my wish to inspire others. In my thoughts I will carry up my daughter Elina, family and friends and my wish for them not to give up on their goals when they do not achieve it in the first try.