Thursday, April 10, 2014

Everest 2014: A Wedding In Base Camp

As I write this, teams of climbers are now en route to Everest Base Camp from both sides of the mountain. For the past week or so, we've been following the teams trekking in the Khumbu Valley on their way to BC on the South Side in Nepal. But as of today, the borders into Tibet have opened to climbers as well, allowing the teams heading to the North Side to start their journey at last. On that side of the mountain, it is possible to actually drive to the campsite, although they'll still take a couple of days to get there, as they slowly acclimatize along the way. A few years back, the Chinese actually paved the road leading up to Base Camp, which makes for a faster and smoother ride, but the body can't handle the transition at such a fast pace, so most will travel at their leisure, stopping frequently along the way. Expect to start getting news from the North Side in just a few days. 

Meanwhile, the teams on the South Side continue to stream into BC as expected. Himex boss Russell Brice arrived on Tuesday, and reports that his Sherpa teams have everything ready for his clients when they arrive. Russell is well known for being an innovator in terms of services he offers his climbers, and this year is no exception. Himex is working with a Nepalese telecom company called Mercantile to provide data connections while in Base Camp. That means that his climbers will be able to use their own laptops and other device to send and receive email, via WiFi that is hooked up in the famous "White Pod" that is part of the Himex campsite. While they won't be streaming Netflix while in the Khumbu, they will be able to stay more connected to friends and family back home. 

The second IMG team arrived in BC yesterday, reuniting their entire group. But the best news from their dispatches is that two members of the team were married in the shadow of Everest on Tuesday. Team members "Loretta and Jim" exchanged vows in what has to be one of the best settings for a wedding in history. Jim will stay to climb Everest this spring, while his new bride came along for the trek. She has already left for the hike back down the valley and will be back in Kathmandu in a few days. 
The rest of the IMG squad hasn't been resting on their laurels. Since the climbers arrived a few days back, they've been honing their climbing skills on the glacier and learning to work together as a team. Some of they have already transferred over to Lobuche Peak, where they will under go an acclimatization climb before heading up the slopes of Everest.

There haven't been any updates from the Altitude Junkies or Peak Freaks for a few days, but both should be quickly approaching Base Camp now. Once there, they should be able to send off a dispatch once again, letting us know their status and plans. The Adventure Consultants were departing Pheriche yesterday, which means they should probably arrive in BC tomorrow. '

A couple of other climbers to keep your eye on this spring include Andy Holzer, a blind climber who will attempt to become the second person to scale Everest without sight. He reached Namche Bazzaar yesterday, so is still a few days away from Base Camp. Also, Chris Jensen Burke is up to her old tricks in the Himalaya this spring. The Aussie alpinist is headed to Makalu this spring as a tune-up climb for her attempt on K2 later this year. We've followed Chris' climbs with great interest over the past few years, and will continue to do so this year. She is quickly becoming one of the more decorated female mountaineers in the world. 

That's all for today. As you can tell, things are starting to heat up in the Himalaya. There will be lots more to report following this weekend I'm sure. 

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