Long time no post. We are busy working away like little bees getting ready for winter. We’ve finally crushed the majority of our grapes, yesterday was the Agria and Dornfelder, but this has been the latest that we have picked ever! Ben and I salvaged tomatoes from the garden a few days ago and added them to the batch we salvaged a few weeks ago, they are busy ripening in our greenhouse. However, the really exciting news is that my Dad is in Nepal right now climbing 2 mountains. He summited the first yesterday. We aren’t able to talk to him directly but there are daily or thereabouts dispatches and we’ve been following along (http://www.summitclimb.com/new/default.asp?linktype=r&mtype=smenu&vid=17&nid=170). However, when he was in Kathmandu we were able to Facetime (like Skype) him, so that was cool. Also for the 2 readers of this blog, my dad is also fundraising for the Campbell River Hospital while climbing, I’m attaching his letter after the latest dispatch from Nepal. As you may or may not know, we call my dad the Miracle Man because despite serious medical issues in the past, he is still climbing.
Still struggling to get back on the Blog wagon. Maybe I’ll smarten up!
Here’s the Nepal dispatch:
25 October, 2011
17 members and staff reached the summit of Mera Peak!
This morning (night) our staff woke us at 12am with tea and porridge. We all left high camp at 2 o’clock. The weather was calm and surprisingly warm. Only close to the summit we encountered some winds. Everbody managed to summit between 6 and 8 in the morning.
Read below what Vivian and Jan have to say about their summit push.
Arnold Coster, exp. Leader.
By Viviane Pendleton
Mera Peak. Around 6500 metres above sea level and incredibly cold. We trekked up to high camp on Mera yesterday and today was our first summit attempt of the trip. We were woken at midnight (!!) to prepare for our bid for the top. I managed to whimper “coffee” and, courtesy of our fantastic team of Sherpas, my request was granted.
We set out into the freezing pitch black, the glow of our head torches a poor match for the impenetrable darkness. I felt completely disorientated as I followed the head lamp in front of me, hoping that it was going in roughly the right direction. After about an hour, I turned to my husband and whispered “I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think that we may be at the front”. A brief bout of questioning revealed that yes, we were indeed embedded in the lead bunch with the assistant guide and three climbing Sherpas. The arrival of Switzerland’s Marcus and fellow Brit Rich (normal habitat, Somewhere Near The Front) convinced us that we had accidentally entangled ourselves with the A Team, so we dropped surreptitiously back, knowing that we would not be able to keep up their pace.
It transpired that this was a bad time to be on our own, as a howling wind struck up, blowing snow into our faces and, more pertinently, covering the footprints of the group ahead. By this time we had been joined by Mia from Finland and the three of us battled into the snow and wind, in the direction we’d last seen any semblance of head torch. I was starting to get cold and even the sun, rising rather spectacularly over the stunning backdrop of the surrounding Himalayan peaks, did not alleviate this. Mia moved on ahead and we were joined by team guide Arnold. He pointed out Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and Cho Oyu to an enthralled Husband. Five of the world’s 14 highest mountains towered over us, it was a spellbinding sight and went some way to consoling me for the fact that I could not feel my fingers.
At about 6.30am we arrived just below the summit of Mera. There, I was confronted by a near vertical ice wall and expected to climb it. I did a quick analysis of the situation. 1: I had been up since midnight. 2: I was substantially higher than any mountain in Europe. 3: I couldn’t feel my fingers. And crucially, 4: I was now supposed to negotiate a precipitous massif of ice. I won’t lie. A small part of me thought “well…. heck, I’m nearly there….. I don’t really have to climb up this.” Sadly, The Husband and Rich decided that now would be an opportune moment to inflict some more suffering on me and proceeded to issue a series of conflicting commands from the foot of the ice wall. I started to scramble up the block of ice, pausing at times to hang off my ice axe, gasp for air and contemplate mountain etiquette with regard to falling asleep whilst roped onto a wall of ice.
Eventually I arrived at the top and collapsed gracefully at the feet of Mia and Noora, also flying the flag for Finland.
Somewhat exhausted, The Husband and I trailed back to base camp to prepare for our ascent of Baruntse. At 7100 metres, Baruntse is suspiciously likely to be yet colder than Mera, and may or may not involve ice walls…..
By Jan van den Bos
Yesterday all members and most sherpa’s walked in their own pace to the Mera Peak High Camp, over the snow fields and glacier. The location of this camp is such, that you should not sleepwalk out of your tent. The tents are placed on small ledges, mostly on a different level. Also finding a ‘toilet’ place might be very risky, on some rock sticking out. But this, I guess, is one of the adventurous things we booked for. As Arnold remarked, Mera Peak is of course lower than the big giants of 8000+ m, but it has a lot of the things you will find there. So an excellent training mountain for Baruntse that we will reach within a week.
Late in the afternoon our really great cook staff made a dinner, served in the tents. We tried to get some sleep till wake-up time, 0.00 h. A breakfast was served, and everyone except Erich prepared for the climb. At 1.45 all climbers and climbing sherpa’s were ready and we left. Soon the group was split up into smaller groups (there’s a variation in climbing speed), all led by a sherpa. As I later heard most of us had a hard time climbing the 800 metres from high camp to the summit. Was it the early time, or the wind that blew snow in our faces?
Apart from Andrea (cold feet) everyone reached the summit, after the last 10 m of iceclimbing with a fixed rope. The first group (Richard, Markus and me) had at 5.30 a.m. an astonishing view on the surrounding mountains and a beautiful sunrise.
At about 8.30 all members had reached the summit. It was hard work but worth while! After taking their belongings from high camp all climbers are now back in base camp. Tomorrow we will leave this camp in the direction of Baruntse base camp, which we hope to reach within two days.
Jan van den Bos
Here is my dad’s letter