Tuesday, April 19, 2011

FTA Cho Oyu Expedition 2011 - In ABC and all well!

from stu in the usa office
18th april 2011

Ben Kane just called in from ABC where he and the team are all settled in for the night after a good hike up today from IBC. They have made very smooth progress and did not need any additional days in CBC to arrange yaks as they caught the first "train" out of town.

The last soft bed for a month!

Apparently the yaks this year are a bit thin after a long winter and are not carrying the weight they usually do so.... instead of 17 burly yaks with 60kg each we ended up with 32 hungry yaks with 35-40kg each to carry our gear to ABC!

Ben noted that all of the teams loading up yaks were having the same challenge and the upshot is that a lot of money had to change hands from expeditions to yak drivers! After much debate and persuasion Ben was able to reduce our debt by a third but it still amounted to more than 1000usd. Additional expenses are quite routine on a Cho Oyu expedition and we budget for it each time. With fewer teams on the hill this spring we had no option but to bring sufficient rope and gear to fix the route and as such we are a bit heavier than usual. Beyond this our heated ABC tent requires more fuel and all this adds up. At this time we have 1000m of rope in BC and an additional 1000m in IBC (along with additional fuel) ready to come up if we need it.

Ben said everyone is feeling very well and looking forward to  a great rest day tomorrow. They are predicted to have excellent weather at ABC with sun and light wind down low. High on the hill the winds will be raging at over 100 km/h during this clear spell so they are likley to be treated to horizontal plumes of clouds and snow coming off the top.

Our ABC setup this season includes an insulated floor and a heater and the team is enjoying  the warmth and comfort they provide in the mess tent. Our chef Ratna will be serving up great food for them and also providing the right ambiance for a members lounging at BC. Ratna becomes the social center for our trips as there is no better place early in the morning than his cook tent with hot milk coffee, music and conversation. The sherpas and  members from other teams will end up in Ratna's tent during the expedition and it is a place to make friends, get the latest news, talk over strategy and get the day started right. Out of his kitchen will come popcorn, french fries, soups, pastas, pizzas, momos (tibetan dumplings), curries and much more and i have yet to see another expedition eat better food than what Ratna prepares. He takes tremendous pride in making great food and does so with flare and panache. I hope you all get a chance to join Ratna on one of our trips and see it first hand for yourself!

The reality is that Ratna's ability to provide good food to our members is crucial to their ability to do the hard work of the climb ahead. They will be burning upwards of 5000 - 6000  calories a day and lucky if they can jam in 4000 calories a day. The more they can close that gap the stronger they will remain and the better a chance they have up high (where the gap is always widened on a summit push!). Typically members will lose between 5 and 10 KG (10-20lbs) but for members who can maintain a healthy appetite - and avoid GI illness - it is possible to keep that loss to just 2-3 kg.

We'll look forward to watching the progress in the coming days and Ben will be calling in every few days to give us the latest!

Stay tuned for more!

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