Trekking: Namche Bazaar

Trekking:  Namche Bazaar

Scott is currently trekking into Basecamp with the team. Iffy weather, snow and rain have meant a few delays – waiting for clearances to get the necessary shots. It’s also meant a fair amount of trekking. They left the colourful village of Namche Bazaar (and the last showers) for Tyanboche Monastery. There’s a big hill to climb to Tyangboche and they still had to get to Deboche – another 2-3 miles. The powers-that-be then called them to return to Namche for some essential footage that had been missed due to the foggy conditions. They duly walked back to shoot in better visibility.  The trekking is all good training for higher up. Their trusty girl guide (Lydia Bradey), has stuck with them. Lydia has done numerous trips to Nepal both personal and guiding and has climbed Everest three times. She’s also a physical therapist and is very creative and funny so they are bound to be having a good time.
Scott was accosted by some Brazilians in Namche after one of them recognized him from Karina Oliani’s show from last year. Scott is famous in Brazil!

Return to Everest

Scott is again returning to Everest for the 2014 season.  He leaves in a few days.  This year is especially exciting as Scott is one of two cameramen (Coloradan Kent Harvey is the other) filming the mountain scenes in a movie depicting the 1996 Everest tragedy in which 8 climbers died in a fast-moving storm.  As the film’s second unit, Scott and Kent will climb the mountain to get shots of climber doubles and plates/scenics.  Much of the action takes place at Base Camp – the set of which is currently and convincingly erected in a studio in London.

Here’s the goss on who is in the film:

http://www.workingtitlefilms.com/news

Adventure Consultants (Mountain Guides) from Wanaka, NZ are providing guides and logistical support.  Scott’s worked for and with AC for years and knows most of the team heading in.  Legendary Everest (ex-bad girl) climber and guide, Lydia Bradey is guiding the camera team and climbers along with prolific kiwi summitter, mountain guide Mike Roberts.  It’s a strong group, all of whom have summitted several (or more) times each.

Many friends from Wanaka will join the group to walk in.  Coffee, cake and food guru-in-harsh-places, Sarah McNab (also from Wanaka) will provide food support.  The Sherpas always do a great job with the food but Sarah will provide extra support – especially for the several birthdays that occur on the trip.

I (Anna, Scott’s wife) will post as the journey progresses.  Scott will be most likely be away until early June,

 

Scott becomes a mole….

IMG_4541Road washouts meant that Scott, with cave legend Kieran McKay, would fly into the cave entrance.  Obie had hoped for a flight too!

After the travel and travails of the Northern spring, Scott had a relatively quiet winter in NZ.  Once again he worked the Audi Quattro NZ Winter Games, a key stepping stone for winter athletes to qualify for the Sochi Olympics in Russia in 2014.  The production crew spent hours every day in cloying fog and the organizers of the event had to be commended for well-run competitions despite the foul weather.  Much of the mild winter, Scott was dad – holding the fort while Anna was guiding and frequently stepping up as (unpaid) photographer for her weekly ski columns.

In October, the family travelled to NW Nelson for Scott to scout the Stormy Pots cave system in preparation for a harrowing shoot which would involve a week underground looking to link what would become the Southern Hemisphere’s longest cave system.  Scott then headed to Hawaii to film the Hawaii Ironman, went home to Utah for 2 days then returned to NZ for the cave shoot.  Red Bull media sent a production crew from Germany and used the services of Making Movies, a NZ-based Production company.

Descriptions of travelling through the cave can bring on slight nausea:  the ambient temperature hovers at 5-7C, it’s rubbly, muddy and dank and you sleep in 40 year old sleeping bags, left from early cave explorers.  Scott, with his equipment, would squeeze through 12 inch (30cm) gaps – including squeezes that involved ducking underwater!  The craziest section appears to be the “hinckle horn honking holes” – a narrow area where wind is funnelled through the cave at such velocity that it causes unearthly whistling and honking as cavers force their heads through the gaps.  The link was found using paraffin and dye but even the most soft-boned caver cannot yet get through the fissure.

Never one to miss adventure, Scott arrived in LAX right after the TSA shooting, spent hours parked on the tarmac and a long day negotiating airport lines, finally arriving home at 2am after 40 or so hours of travel.

Down under

17 days home and back to Everest!

Scott left for the North side of Everest today.  He was home for 17 days (but it was a good 17).  This latest trip has been set up for some time.  Scott is travelling with David Breashears for a trekking scout to the Tibetan side.  Sherpas, Phulla and Pemba will also be going.  Scott barely got through the jet-lag and he’s off again for three weeks.  On July 14 we will head to NZ so it’s a pretty international life at present.  Here’s a pic of Scott canyoneering with Anna and Obie in Capitol Reef National Park last weekend (courtesy of Steve Howe)

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Karina makes the Summit

Good news, even without the cameraman, Karina Oliani made the Summit at about 7.30am on May 17 local time with Pemba Sherpa.  They are on their way back to camp 2, where I expect Scott and Mingma are waiting.  Wally Berg’s wife rang me at 6pm last night (Ut time) to let me know that Karina was at the Hillary Step – approx one hour from the Summit.  So, despite the cold, it seemed she would definitely make it.

I haven’t spoken to Scott since he was at the South Col on the 15th but he said he would not be taking the sat phone.  It seems like the team made the good call for Scott and Mingma to descend and leave their oxygen with Karina and Pemba.  Although it would seem to have short-staffed Karina’s attempt somewhat, Peak Promotions also had an Indian team summitting the same day.  They topped out just ahead of Karina. 

I am hoping to have Scott home within the week – just the dodgy icefall to descend.  I’m also keeping an eye on AC dispatches:  Ralph going for the Lhotse/Everest double and Office manager, Suze Kelly on a “work trip” going for her first 8000 metre peak, Lhotse.   

Summit trials

News is somewhat sketchy but I spoke to Scott last night (Utah time) – it was the morning of May 16 in Nepal and they were still at camp 4.  They had not gone for the Summit because the predicted drop in wind had not happened.  Winds were gusting at over 80km/hr which is fearsome with an ambient air temp that is already 40 below!  Instead they had waited at Camp 4 (the last camp) using up their precious supply of oxygen.  Scott told me that it was likely that he and Mingma would descend to camp 2 and leave their oxygen for Karina and Pemba to make a summit bid today.  Meaning that Karina and Pemba are climbing as I type.  This is Karina’s expedition so this was a logical outcome.  Scott doesn’t mind as he’s already climbed Everest but I fear Mou Mou will be devastated.  Maybe not.  According to Alan Arnette’s blog, both Karina and Scott abandoned their summit attempt but I think that with today’s settled forecast – plus with Scott’s and Mingma’s 02, she will have gone for it. 

Our man at Basecamp, the hugely affable Wally Berg has called me three times in the past 24 hours with updates.  Bless him.  His latest call at 8 this morning informed me that Scott is indeed back at camp 2.  On descent Scott came across a Nepalese woman climber who was wandering confused and disoriented.  She was well into pulmonary edema and Scott escorted her (with difficulty) to camp 2.  The woman’s oxygen saturation was at 54% – essentially incompatible with life – and this woman would have died if Scott had not found her.  Again, I haven’t spoken to Scottie and neither has Wally – so this is 3rd hand info from the BC medical team, but it would seem that Scottie has performed some heroic action high in the Himalaya. 

I will update this blog as info comes in.  Wally and Scott are not on the same team so it’s a tricky business.  Alan Arnette is good for additional news:  http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2013/05/15/everest-2013-delayedsummits-and-more/

Anna

Second acclimatization round

Scott just called from camp 2.  They have been there for a couple of nights with their backs pushed up against the sides of the tent against the wind.  He sounds great.  The foul days of initial acclimatizing are over.  The wind is too strong to go and stay at camp 3 up on the Lhotse Face so they are just going to head up and tag camp 3 today.  The Lhotse face climbs steeply out of the Western Cwm (“coom”) up to the South Col and camp 4 – the final camp.  Camp 3 is part way up the face.  It’s over 7000m so is an essential part of the acclimatization schedule.  After camp 3 on the actual summit bid, they will start using oxygen.
The team should be back at basecamp in 2 days.  They will then rest up and wait for the jet stream to back off.  The summit bid is likely to be mid-May, which is the gap when the jet stream backs off just before the monsoon.  Last time Scott summitted on May 16.  Mou Mou (Obie’s mouse) will be joining the summit team.  She has elected not to acclimatize and will be making an oxygenless ascent.  She is truly a remarkable mouse.  Last time Grey Mou Mou went to the summit but has lapsed into depression since because his public speaking career never took off.  That could be because he ended up in NZ.  
If you would like to read a balanced perspective on the debacle of last week (which I feel was biased in the Western media), check out this blog of a guide who is on the mountain as well:   http://alpenglowexpeditions.com/blog/everest-best-and-worst-0Photos are from 2010 but you get the gist:  1.  Climbers leaving camp 2 or 3 – they are heading up the Lhotse Face, 2.  Getting to the top of the Khumbu Icefall and 3.  Camp 4 at the South Col

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Scott returns from first acclimation to camp 2

Scott called this morning.  After about fifty tries from both sides, we got to talk.  It is worth noting that we are talking via the Nepal cell phone network, ncell at a cost of 6 rupees/minute to the US (about 1.5 cents a minute).  The closest tower is at Gorak Shep less than 2 hours walk down valley.  It’s pretty amazing. 

Scott, Karina, Pemba and Mingma have returned from two nights at Camp 2.  The first couple of loops up high are always brutal and Scott suffered from bad headaches, vomiting and the “Khumbu cough”. Fun. But as always, he kept working and carried the same loads everywhere as the Sherpas.  However, he is back in the relatively thick air of base camp.  They will rest a few days before heading up again and will journey up the Lhotse face to Camp 3. 

The Khumbu icefall is perhaps the most notorious part of the route.  Apparently this season there is a “squeeze chimney” where climbers have to turn sideways to move between the towering blocks of ice.  Those who know Scott well will remember issues with towering blocks of ice! 

You can text Scott at Basecamp on his US phone.  I am sure he’d love to get word.  Although spectacular – especially with the incredible full moon of the past few days – the whole experience is pretty grovelly (as we would say in NZ).  It’s life in a tent, it’s rocky, it’s icy, it’s cold and there are no showers.  It’s also high and altitude hurts at first.  You can send word of meals you are enjoying because all he is eating is dal bhat, the Nepalese staple of vegetables and lentils.  Best not to repeat his comments on dal bhat!

I hope to post pictures soon.

Anna