Category: ‘BLOG’


May 2, 2012 Posted by KowP

We did the 10km walk uphill towards Interim camp. (The jump between Base Camp 5150m (BC) and Advanced Base Camp 6400m (ABC) is too big to do in one hit, so we have to stop at Interim.
Along the way I caught up with another group (7 summits club) Their guide (Noel) was the only one who spoke English, he was from Ireland. A good bloke, next year he is going for 4x 8000m peaks in 4 weeks.. a massive effort and has never been done before. Good luck with the weather on that one Noel!

There isn’t much to say about interim apart from you really want to spend as least time as possible there.

The only water source comes from a frozen lake, above that lake is where all the yaks are held as they walk from BC to ABC, so they are excreting in the water, people also use the protected part as their toilet as well. Therefore sickness at Interim is rife!

Phil, who owns and runs adventure club, quarantined his clients for 16 hours in their tents whilst at interim. They were brought food, to their tents and weren’t allowed to leave until the following day when they made their way to ABC. He said that even the air there will make them sick!

Jamie on the other hand had plan! The only problem was convincing the yak drivers to take our load over the next valley were it is much cleaner. They agreed so we stayed in a pristine little valley right next to some 40m ice pinnacles that were creaking and cracking all night and day, good call Jamie!

We stayed at Interim for 2 nights, none of us got sick.

Basecamp 5 – Monastery

May 2, 2012 Posted by KowP

Still acclimatising here at basecamp.
Today we planned a walk to the nearest village, Rhombuk. At around 4800m it is a 8km downhill walk.

On the way we went through another camp that is owned by a guy named Chris, one of Jamies mates.
We had to use his Radio as ours is too close to a hill and doesn’t work yet.
We radioed to the south side (an affiliate expedition over there)
One Sherpa has died on the south side. He had summated 10 times previously but was struck down at basecamp by some sort of twisted intestine (to be confirmed).

Apparently the south side team got up at 1am in the morning to leave basecamp and go up to cross the Ice fall! (they leave early like this because of the traffic as well as it is the coldest time of the day and the ice fall is prone to falling).
The ratio for the south side is 450/450 members to sherpas.
The ratio for our side (north/Tibet) is 100/100 members to sherpas.

I asked Jamie why there was such a discrepancy in the sides? He said it was completely unjustified but the main reasons are:
• The Tibetan visas only opened up on the 29th March. For a big expedition this is too unreliable.
• It is believed that the success rate is better on the south side
• The more technical sections of the mountain are lower in altitude on the south side. High up on the north.
• There is a village which is much closer to the south side (walking distance) sitting at 4300m which is good for recovery (although seldom used)
• South side basecamp is warmer and less windy.

To be honest, I would much prefer not to have a huge line of traffic in the higher sections the mountain (like the chinese ladder) and have to wait 45 mins for a team to go up or down before I can move (I would lose body heat within 30 mins and is very hard to warm back up.

The walk down the hill was fairly uneventfull. Once we got to the village we went to a welcoming monastery. The monastery had an attached nunnery and we saw them eating. We were allowed to take photos of them eating. I don’t know why, I’d be craking it!

Above the monastery was an exclusive room with a giant gold Buddha, definitely a sight to see!

On the 8km walk home I made a video for my cousin Alex wedding tomorrow. All the best for the special day guys!

Basecamp 4 – Puja

May 2, 2012 Posted by KowP

This morning the Sherpa team put on a Puja for us. It is a Buddhist ceremony which is taken very seriously in front of their Chomolungma.

They had built a plinth that was approximately 1.5m high out of the rocks. On this they put some sacred rocks, food offerings, wine, rice, a cake they had made, beer, biscuits, basically one of everything they had in the kitchen.

I was told to get all of my sharp gear, my crampons, ice axe, walking poles, 2 pairs of boots, my harness and all my hardware. This has to be blessed to ask for forgiveness for piercing the mountain later on.

Then it started, we all sat down in front of the plinth and the lama started chanting. He was singing his prayers, a sound that will definitely stay with me a long time.

We were give a handful of raw rice, when the lama threw some in the air, we all did.

After about 45 mins, there was an intermission where we all got a cup of Tibetan tea. In the intermission all of the Sherpa’s erected a pole with prayer flags attached to it. They added a flag with all of the climbers’ names to it and stood it up, and then they attached 5 long lines of prayer flags from the top to secure it to the ground.

Then we were each given 2 capfuls of whiskey. (now, I haven’t had a drink since August 2011 due to training, but I seriously thought I better not pass this one up)

We were then all given 4 pieces of food from the plate. I took some biscuits, piece of apple and a mars bar.

Some more prayers went on and we all stood up and took a handful ofTampa(dark flour) and after the Lama, we all through it in the air.

I wish I understood more about the workings of the Puja, but nevertheless I feel very privileged to have taken part.

Basecamp 3

April 20, 2012 Posted by KowP

Ok. Someone asked me what it like to be at altitude.

Basecamp is 5175m (as we later GPS’ed) which means the air here has 50% less pressure than at sea level. So you have to breathe twice as fast. This is why my pulse is so high here. My body has to work twice as hard getting oxygen around my body.

Acclimatisation put very simply is the amount of oxygen (red blood cells) in your blood per quantity.

So practically, this is a pain in the ass. When you’re sitting down, and go to stand up, you’re totally out of breath and have to hyperventilate to catch it back. This is if you don’t get a wild head spin that will put you back to sitting.

Basically everyone is in slow-mo here apart from the sherpas who are genetically acclimatised. The sherpas don’t need to stay at a certain altitude to acclimatise, their blood is already thick with excess red blood cells per quantity. Also, their body doesn’t shut down their extremities when they start to get cold, so their hands and feet are always warm. They also can’t ‘over acclimatise’ whereas our blood can get too thick which puts us at risk of heart attack.

If you are getting AMS (Acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness)) you will have a pressure headache from excess fluid in your scull cavity, you lose your appetite, you’ll have trouble catching your breath back. These symptoms can worsen if to cerebral and pulmonary oedema (fluid on the brain or lungs) if ignored. These also lead to coma and/or death.

Other symptoms which I am seeing are that my immune system is slowing down. I have a few cracks on my fingers from the dry air which I know are going to keep opening up and wont heal until I get back down to sea level.

Later on, things to look forward to are loss of appetite as my body is prioritising to supply blood and oxygen to my vital organs rather than my stomach. So no matter how much I eat, it doesn’t digest. Good times! No wonder we lose so much weight!!


Day 3 at basecamp was pretty much the same as day 2, still acclimatising. Although today i went for a 11km walk down hill to a little area with tea houses (little tent hotels that sell tea to people not staying in them) I had a drink and a chat with the local lads and made my way back up the hill. (they reckon its a good thing to push yourself on these walks, to get the oxygen flowing). So i was walking pretty fast!

Basecamp 2

April 20, 2012 Posted by KowP

Basecamp 2

I received an email today from a mate who was explaining how he just got his underfloor heating installed in his ensuite bathroom at his house….. here is what I have to say:

Part of acclimatising is done through the kidneys, the bi-product of this is that you need to pee allot!!

So part of peeing allot is peeing allot at night!… (this is a new altitude, so it was 4 times last night)


Some people don’t really need to know this.. but it’s a blog, and should be documented!

Its only -10 outside at night time at the moment, this is only going to get worse. Here is the process:

I sleep in a silk inner sheet inside my sleeping bag, i feel the pee coming on.. so i ignore it for about half an hour till i cant anymore.

Then i get out of my bag and sheet, put my down jacket on, unzip 3 doors to my tent, put my shoes on without laces, walk about 5m away from the tent.

Stand with my back against the wind so not to pee on myself, (yep, i’m still in my underpant at this time)

Then i pee.. and it takes ages, coz i’ve held it for so long, the wind gusts and pee goes all over the place.

Then i reverse the whole thing and try to get warm again… Good times!

Its times like these that remind you that you are not in civilisation nor near ensuite bathrooms with heated floors!


Day 2 at basecamp:

I eventually got up at around 8am for breakfast, it was a nice sleep in although the sun comes up over the hill at around 545, but at least it brings heat!

We have a wind turbine as well as solar panels that pump electricity into batteries here in the dining tent. So we can recharge/use computers, during sunlight. At night time the stored power in the batteries is used for lighting etc.

So I spent most of the morning on the computer writing this blog and answering emails.

After lunch I went for an acclimatisation walk around basecamp. I saw some of the Chinese team on a nearby frozen river testing out their crampons. I don’t know why but they had their harnesses on too.

So totally underdressed and in sneakers I followed them up the icey river. I just took some photos and left them on their merry way. This got me to about 200m above basecamp which is good for getting the heartrate up and pumping the oxygen through.



Basecamp 5175m

April 19, 2012 Posted by KowP

The first thing I wanted to rejoice about is the time difference. Given that China has rulings over Tibet, they have enforced that Tibet must use their time zones, so it’s 2:15 hours faster than Nepal and has no correlation to the sun. Now that I’m at Basecamp, it’s back to Nepal time, which is nice.

By now, I should start mentioning the “Crazy Italian” man who has earnt himself a reputation, and is clocking up stories again this year. He looks around 60 years old but appears in quite fit condition. Jamie met him last year and had to confront him for being unprepared. He was seen approaching the North Col (7000m) with a little day pack, no Sherpa guide, no food and no tent with a plan to borrow food and share someone’s tent with him. He was then caught stealing food, and let me tell you, doing this, at 7000m is definitely not on. Think about it, if you had been busting your ass all day to get your food to 7000m only to find someone had stolen it, you could imagine the reaction.

So this year he is on the team with the Swiss guy who fell down the stairs and had to turn back toKathmanduleaving the Crazy Italian no car to get to the next village about 3 hours drive away.

So he asked to come in our car (for me.. I didn’t care, I don’t know this guy from a bar of soap, but for Jamie, this was a no go) As it turned out there was no other possible way for him to get to the next village without coming with us. He sat in the middle seat in the back and didn’t say one single syllable.! We were in and out of the car taking photos, he just sat in there.

Then on the way to basecamp he was a little more organised, got up early and asked everyone if he could bum a lift there. (keeping in mind it’s a 5 hour drive and these cars cost us $1.50USD per km! a massive saving for him) The only spot he could get was in the back of a land cruiser with all the luggage. Within 1 hour he had the car stopped and was vomiting all over the place. These roads are pretty rough. Poor dude!

Today, we got up early, packed our bags, had breakfast at the hotel before boarding the 4x4s once again and headed out across the plains towards Chomolungma. It’s a relatively flat drive, although we climbed 750m today (the reason we stayed at Tingri the 2 nights, is to acclimatise). All the driving prior to this has been on “black top” (concrete/bitumen) roads, but today was across dirt aswell as crossing a few ice lakes.

We came across a little town that is a little further down from the north side Base Camp called Rhombuk, which is as far as non-expedition vehicles can take you. So if you wanted to come and see this north side, there is a little shuttle bus that could bring you up otherwise you’d have to walk.

So, we arrived at Basecamp where we were met by the Sherpa team who have been here for the last 48 hours (they don’t need to acclimatise like we do, so they just came straight up here).

Now I’ve gotta say. I am impressed. Everything here is done! These guys have been busy. They had our personal tents up, the large dining tent up, a storage tent, a cooking tent, the toilet tent and the shower tent. Our dining tent has the table prepared with a whole range of condiments, electricity (which is solar powered and feeds into batteries) for our laptops or whatever we need charged and a gas heater under the table. Compared to the dingey hotels we had been staying at, this place was the Ritz! The food they brought out for lunch was damn good too, potato wedges, sandwiches and baked beans.

Day 1, Tibet

April 19, 2012 Posted by KowP

We left Kathmandu for Tibet on the 12th.

The 5 hour bus ride was the same apart from this time we had a private mini van type thing and there was less people than the allotted seats!

Along the way, Jamie handed me a wad of cash in an envelope. $5000 in USD and $3,000 in AUD. (The allowance for the border is $10,000 in USD, Jamie was carrying around $30k to pay Tibetan staff and any extras)

The border was interesting and it all became very serious. There was plain clothed police on the bridge that separates Tibet from Nepal as we walked our way through to Customs and Immigration.

They xrayed our bags and then each of us was ordered to put out bags on a large table as they were going to go through every single item.

Andrew was first, then Jamie. Who had done this before and knew what it was all about.

I was last, they started pulling out everything, all of my socks, clothes, they made me turn my laptop on and started going through photos, I have a book Lauren got me from Christmas, the Bear Grylls Autobiography – so they went through that looking at the photos.

They were looking for anything illegal firstly, but on top of their list was anything to do with the Delia Lama.

He went through the photos on my compact camera and during my trip, I had been to a Buddhist temple and taken a heap of photos. There was one particular photo in one of the monasteries that had a photo of the Delia Lama on the Lectern. The officer immediately made me zoom and when he realised what the photo was, his alarm bells went off and he made me delete that photo and went through all my gear with a fine tooth comb!

Andrew and Jamie were through the border screening within about 5 mins, me on the other hand, it took me about 30mins with everyone waiting for me on the outside!

A quick change into the 4x4s on the opposite side of the road and we were off again.

The first night we stayed at Zhangmu 2700m which is literally built on the side of a steep hill/cliff.

The second and third nights we stayed at Nyalam 3500m (we have to stay 2 nights here to acclimatise to the next altitude). This place was nice, but dangerous.

A member of a Swiss team was walking back to his hotel after eating dinner at the restaurant and slipped and fell down some stairs. Day 2- turning around and back to Kathmanduto get an ultrasound and Xray on his rib cage and internal organs. Apparently he hit the concrete stairs pretty hard.

We left Nyalam bound for Tingri and on the way Jamie calls out CHOMOLUNGMA!!!! (Tibetan for Everest) This was the first time I saw her, from around 150kms away. She’s massive to say the least!

The 4th and 5th nights we are staying at Tingri 4350 (2 nights here because of the big jump the following day to 5100m Basecamp.) Goodbye hard hotel beds, hello tents and blow up beds!)

Tingri is nice although we are in the heart of Buddhist territory (We can’t kill anything), and these people have a serious wild dog problem. These dogs are everywhere, all around the hotel, in the streets, in the paddocks, everywhere.

We have been warned not to go near them and to carry rocks in my pockets.

Usually I wouldn’t mind, but I told the doctors that I didn’t need the Rabies vaccination as there would be nothing on Everest to bite me! Silly lad!

Tomorrow we’re heading to Basecamp at 5100m, the internet connection should be way better there so I’ll report more.

Acclimatisation Basecamp

April 18, 2012 Posted by KowP

Now sitting at 5175m

Starting to really feel the altitude when walking around here.

My sats are 88

Pulse is pretty inaccurate because it jumps up 30 bpm just when i stand up from sitting down. Have to catch my breath too.

Never the less it was 100 when i checked.


April 17, 2012 Posted by KowP

Sitting here at 4350m

I just checked my “Sats” Blood oxygen saturation

90-92 bloods

pulse is around 100bpm.

The blood suggest that i’m well acclimatised. (i’d be around 95-98 at sea level)

The pulse suggests i’m at altitude.. its always bloody high!


April 13, 2012 Posted by KowP

I started the trek in a pretty somber state. First off i had to postpone one day due to food poisoning. (bloody Kathmandu!)

I’ll start with the local busses, it cost me about 420 rupees for a 9 hour trip to Bhuleblule (thats about $4.9 AUD)

So, its cheap… BUT.. i was sitting in the front seat, and there was 16 people in front of me, sitting all around the driver, in the hallway, on the engine inspection manhole thing, everywhere! There wasnt any space someone else could occupy. It was nuts!

I had heard stories about dodgy busrides in the mountains, but this was real, it wasnt a story, it was an experience.

Literally 200-300m cliffs. The outside wheel of the bus was on the side of these cliffs, no guard rails, 2 way traffic and only one lane.

Some other trekkers were saying that their driver was texting and making phone calls whilst driving  on this road.

I was sitting in an aisle seat which has one seat next to it then the window. I have a vivid recollection of looking out the window and not seeing anything, no road, no trees, just air and the bottom of a cliff.

Because i had to take that sick day in the beginning, i had to make that day back up as i had a deadline for this trek. . (this is when the sherpa cracked it). We did 3 days trekking in the first day.

I think that due to my bout of food poisoning it knocked my immune system around and i stated to develop flu symptoms at around day 2 or 3 of the trek. Around 2100m – So still pretty low. I thought i might be able to fight it off before i got any higher.

The lower portion trek was relatively easy, some sections were a steep incline, but they didnt really last that long.

The demographic of the trek was middle to retiree aged people (which surprised me) I gather this is due to the length of time needed to complete the circuit.

There was plenty of rope bridges that crossed raging rapids.

We saw some locals blasting the side of a cliff to make the “New road” which will eventually go the whole way over the pass. (at the moment it only goes to just under Chame 2600).

After a few days trekking we got to Upper Pisang which is a village that has been cut into the side of a steep hill. This made for awesome views from the common tea room at the lodge.

I should now mention that accomodation at these lodges is basic, they provide a bed, cold shower( some were heated via solar but still not hot) toilet and a common dining room.

From upper Pisang, it started to get pretty steep as we ventured up the hill towards a Gumpa (which is a temple) The Buddhists seem to like putting these temples on top of peaks, or viewpoints.

The view of 8000m peaks was starting to become pretty damn amazing! They are all snow capped.

The next stop was at Manang, we stayed here for 2 nights to acclimatise being 3700m.

Manang is the busiest village of the whole circuit because it is recommended people stop here for their rest day, t hey supply a cinema showing both bollywood and western films, safe drinking water stations and a doctor surgery that has daily lectures about altitude,  its effects and how to avoid sickness.

I spent my rest day resting, i had planned to go to the ice lake, but i felt the flu coming on pretty strong now.

I just hung around and took photos of this old village.

In the afternoon we went up to see the ’96 year old’ Lama w ho literally lived in a cave around 1km away from Manang and about 400m in elevation.

The following day was to Yak Kharka (4200m) although we stayed in the little village around 20 mins past this one.

This night it snowed, around 20cm, lucky we werent the first to leave in the morning and someone had already broken the trail for us.

Some decisions had to be made this night, my flu symptoms weren’t getting any better, i felt really lethargic, aches and pains and had a fever. I constantly felt cold until i had a paracetamol which stabilised  my temperature.  I needed to get out of altitude. The decisions to be made were to either head back down the hill, which would take around 6 days, or.. push over the pass which would be 2 more days, but i’d have to climb up to 5400m.

I took the later, but i enquired about taking a horse from the next camp 4500m to the pass, then i would only have to walk down hill from there to Mutinath. The Horse would cost $128 AUD, which is pretty big money over here!

I got to the next camp and booked the horse in.

The following morning, 4500m most people had left for the pass. I got on my horse, bareback (no saddle) and up the hill we went, after about 100m the horse was puffing real hard, and slowed right down. They were twisting her tail to get her to move. We came to an icey patch so i got off to help the horse across it. She was struggling, i walked her up to the high camp and left her there with her owners.

She was only a small horse, these locals are only small people but i am bigger than most of them so it was cruel to the horse to make it go on. She got me to around 4800m.  And… it was eating me inside that i was taking a horse… i mean.. i only had the flu, how hard could it be????

From here i got my pack, (which was way fuller than normal because i was taking the horse so could take some of Nimas weight) and walked to the pass.

How hard could it be… i was dying after about 1 hour. There are 3 false summits on this pass (where you think you only have to get to the next ridge, but there is another behind it! …. 3 times)

I was following 3 English women who were moving at a real slow but steady pace which suited me.

Finally i got to the pass. Knackered! I had to sit down for 5 mins, had a hot tea and regained some strength. Took heaps of photos, with heaps of people.

The french couple, Simon the pomm, a guy from Argentina who gave me a biscuit, and of course Nima!

From here was around 2  hours of descending to Mukinath (3700m). The decscent is always nice and fast because you know you only have to go downhill and the air is getting thicker, so you are able to warm up easier.

The hotel we stayed in had a gas heated hot water system which was very nice compared to the solar hot water systems that might make it 25 degrees.

The hotel next door was boasting awesome yak meat, so i had a garlic yak sizzler. Man this was a nice change to Dhal Bhat (lentil rice) that i had been having for most lunches and dinners.

The following morning from Mukinath we Jeeped to Jomson, where there  was no more flights to Pokhera so we had to take the local bus.. This was another 8 hours in these jam packed buses. Got to Pokhera at 11pm that night.

Pokhera is just over 800m in height so the air was nice and thick, i slept really well and was on my way to combating this flu.

The following day we had breakfast at a fancy Italian place, did a bicycle tour of the city, had lunch at a fancy Korean place (i think Nima was getting his own back here! he was eating up big at my expense)

I had a flight back to Kathmandu at 3pm where i have to do the final touches to my shopping, kill this flu and get all prepped for Everest on the 12th!