The snow gently fell on my tent as I quickly crawled in after dinner. Off with the down jacket, then the fleece jacket and next the polypro top. On with the clean soft wool top. Now, off with the down pants and the trekking pants and the dusty trekking socks. On with my cherished merino wool socks I bought in New Zealand a decade ago. They are only worn on expeditions inside my sleeping bag. Now for my wool cap to keep me warm and into my down bag. Ah. In spite of the rocks under my tent, it felt good to lie down. Except for the pungent odor that reminded me a room at Old Grandmother’s.
We had made the 10 mile trek from BC to ABC in good order. About 5 hours for me and a gain of 2,000 feet. It was like moving from a well groomed park to a rock garden. Boulders the size of cars adorned the landscape and the yellow and green tents stood out like unnatural features against the hillside.
But there she was. Our goal. The clouds were swift in their mission to block a complete view but kind enough to allow a teasing shot at Camp 1 a thousand feet about us on a narrow ridge. The glacier came down as glaciers do – confident and unassuming. It covered the valley it had created and ended next to our camp site. The sounds of calving kept us company throughout the night. The lake is not that pretty. A kind of murky brown. The lake cannot help it; the glacier deposits the dirt of eons into the water.
As the snow fell harder, I fell into a deep sleep. It felt good after the long day. But this new altitude would have its revenge. I awoke with a start. Gasping for air, I recognized my condition as periodic breathing – a common condition at altitude. Nothing serious. But something else seemed different.
Yes, it was quiet, no bubbling stream to provide a natural white noise. It was quiet, very quiet. Then I understood. The gentle snow had turned into a heavier version and my tent was under attack. No worries. I pushed the sides out, the snow slid off and I easily won the war – this time.
I performed my midnight ceremony: pee into the bottle and drink my juice water – a different bottle mind you! I left the zipper undone on my bag since all the excitement had generate quite a heat wave in my small home. I drifted off to sleep only to repeat the process two hours later and again near dawn.
As I heard voices, my mind came to some form of consciousness. It was 7:00 AM. It was bright. It was warm. I was at ABC on Shisha Pangma. I felt good. I slipped on my down pants and jacket and left for the dining tent. Well actually it is a tent with a blue tarp on the floor.
You see, our Yaks are quite the independent lot. The huge one carrying the dining table made an executive decision that he had had enough. With a quick rodeo move, the table went left as he went right. That was two miles down valley - a volunteer from our Sherpa core brought the table up today. Another, a female, was carrying our vegetables. The Nak apparently felt that if she could not have them then no one would and went for a swim in the river. The blue barrel had no chance against the rushing waters. Another 15 kg are on order from a nearby village.
So we are here. Life is similar to BC. We are napping, eating, chatting and trying to acclimatize at this higher altitude. Tomorrow is our Puja – the ceremony where we ask the Mountains Gods permission to climb and for safety. It will be lead by Dawa our Sidar. Then our first carry to even higher on Shisha Pangma.
Please remember: Memories are Everything