Blog post from Alpenglow guide Zeb Blaise.
We hit our bumps in the road getting to Everest Base Camp, but all in all we’re doing pretty
well. Complaining about the trip logistics would be like complaining about air travel: its got its
problems, but how else can you get from Seattle to Katmandu in 24 hours? Travelling thousands
of feet in the air at hundreds of miles per hour is incredible, even if their only whiskey is Johnny
Everyone and everything arrived in Katmandu without a hitch. We recovered from a little jet
lag in KTM, spent a day at the airport only to find our flight was cancelled. No big deal. Air China
put us up at the Radison, and the next day we were in the air headed to Lhasa. A couple
thousand feet from landing, we suddenly pulled up and ascended back to our cruising
altitude…headed to Chengdu China. This wasn’t what we wanted, but it was better than a sketchy
landing through gale force wind shears. After a night at a Chinese hotel and shuffling our 19
duffle bags into an airport for the last time, we flew to Lhasa.
Getting to EBC in Tibet is similar magic. We didn’t have to spend months on a yak train with
hundreds of porters, we simply took a bus! A little adventure here and there added some
excitement to the experience of international travel.
Lhasa is an amalgamation of ancient Tibet and Han Chinese. We explored the old town and
the Potala Palace before heading on to Xigase (Shigatse). The Palace dates back to 637 before
the 5th Dalai Lama expanded it to it’s current size in 1645. Major battles between Tibetans and
the Chinese occured here in the late ’50s and ’60s, and thankfully a great deal of the structure and
artifacts were not destroyed in the conflicts. It’s certainly a hard spot to visit given its controversial
history, but it’s impossible not to.
After a nice night and some great Tibetan food in Xigase we were on to Base Camp. It was
a long drive, but new roads made for smooth travel. Before we knew it we were pulling into base
Panuru, our Sherpa sirdar (leader), had our camp ready when we arrived. Complete with a
dining tent, hang out tent, kitchen tent and four season tents for each climber we moved into
relative luxury at 17,000′ in the middle of nowhere Tibet. Our cooks here at camp are alchemists,
turning out delicious meals at extreme altitude. Grilled chicken with sauteed vegetables and
french fries was a great way to be welcomed to camp.
Despite the creature comforts, the first few nights at a new altitude are a little rough. Our
team got through our first night feeling alright with the normal altitude issues. Nausea and
headaches plagued many of our team members, but those symptoms are beginning to fade as
our bodies adjust to the low pressure.
We have a few more days here to acclimatize before we move up to Advanced Base Camp
(ABC). Most of this time we spend resting. Reading books, sending emails, trying to send
Snapchats, and conversing with each other takes the time between meals. Now that we’re getting
used to the altitude, we’ll start adding in some hikes to higher elevations for exercise and further
acclimatization. It’s paramount that we’re feeling well adjusted to this altitude before we move
higher on the mountain.
Our logistics are determined by how we feel. When we feel strong and well adjusted, we’ll
move to “interim camp” at 6000 meters. If we feel ok after a night there, it’s on to ABC at 6400
meters. Our plan is flexible and we can spend more nights at interim if we need to.
We’ll try to check in again before we make our move.