2001 Cho-Oyu Cybercast

10/5/01  10:30am, Seattle, WA
Update:  Due to continued horrendous weather, the team has decided to turn back from Camp II.  They returned safely back down to Advanced Base Camp and all are healthy.  In a year of few summits, the team members say that they are disappointed but extremely proud of their accomplishments.  They will send a final cybercast soon.

10/4/01  12:13pm, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Hello everyone this is Ruth at Alpine Ascents' Advanced Base Camp on Cho-Oyu in Tibet.  I'm reporting the last days events.  Yesterday the climbers all went to Camp II, it was a very windy difficult day, they got there about four or five o'clock exhausted but had a good night.  I talked to Todd this morning, they had a very ferocious wind blowing.  When I look at the mountain every half hour it changes from very thick clouds blowing over to snow.  We did have a lot of deep snow between II and III.  They are holding tight at II for now, they are going to check in every two hours.  They had hoped to go to III today and leave for the summit tonight, but we'll see what the weather lets us do.  

Everyone here at Advanced Base Camp is well.  The weather has definitely changed, it's now snowing down here, and everyone is pretty much in their tents.  Advanced Base Camp I don't want to say is boring, but I spent all morning two days ago looking for Mingma's tooth.  Mingma is one of the Sherpas who is helping us climb this mountain, and he was yelling at a Tibetan the other morning and his gold tooth fell out of his mouth into the rocks and I excavated for it all morning with no success.  I don't want to say it's boring here but you do have to find things to entertain yourself.  That's all for now and I will report again in 24 hours on the progress up the mountain.  Good luck to everyone and we hope that we have a weekend of opportunity on the way.

10/3/01  2:15pm, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Hello everybody this is Ruth at Alpine Ascents' Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp.  I thought I'd give you an update on how everything stands today.  Yesterday our group tried to tried to go from I to II and was turned around about half way particularly due to weather.  Everybody was healthy but quite exhausted on their journey to Camp I, it was also disappointing.  This morning the weather is much improved, however it's quite windy.  Todd and the group took off about 9 o'clock and when I last heard from them they are about half way again to Camp II, I think they'll have a much better day of it today.  Everybody seems in good spirits and there seems to be a change in the weather overall in this area.  Everything's fine here at Advanced Base Camp and we'll check in with you tomorrow to give you another update.  Hope everybody's well in the States, talk to you tomorrow. 

Update: The group has made it to Camp II, the weather changed a bit for the worse, but everyone is healthy but tired..

10/2/01  10:05am, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Update:  Team returned from II to I as a storm came in. They hope to re-ascend tomorrow...it's been a difficult year overall as very few people have summited the mountain.

10/2/01  8:30am, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
This is Ruth continuing the report from Advanced Base Camp.  Flying overhead are large black birds called Goraks, they look like very large ravens.  When they swoop down over your tents, their wings make a sound like a jet airplane without an engine and you have this constant sound of the birds overhead.  I had a fight with one yesterday as he tried to steal my only bar of soap and fly off with it.  

There's a Chinese bar up here that serves beer and cokes, it almost reminds you of M*A*S*H, it's a big tent that I think if you spent any real time in there you would surely come up with Tuberculosis or possibly any kind of serious lung infection.  Tomorrow, I will describe to you what a typical night is in camp.  But that's pretty much all for now, sorry to be so verbose, but it's very lonely up here and it helps to talk to you back home.  

I will also say that it is very hard here to stay here when our country has been hit with such a very tragic event, it's hard being so far from home at this time.  None of us feel it's real, all we know is what we hear on the BBC, and we have our own mental pictures but we feel so far removed from this tragedy and from the confusion and pain that is associated with it, that we know we will have to experience this when we get home.  We have also heard that Todd and Lhakpa have lost one of their friends, Jim Roux who was on one of the Boston flights. It seems like a small thing but we did carve a stone with his name and the date September 11th, and will leave it on the summit of Cho-Oyu in his honor, Todd is carrying that in his backpack right now.  We also decided to dedicate this climb to all those who have been touched by this tragedy.  It seems like again a small thing, but it's all we can do at this time.  

I'm going to talk to you tomorrow, and goodbye for now from Tibet, this is Ruth signing off from Alpine Ascents' Advanced Base Camp, goodbye.

10/1/01  8:00am, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Hi everybody it's Todd it's Monday morning the first of October.  We are just leaving, we are packing up, getting ready to start our summit attempt.  That will take us about 5 days, we'll go to Camp I, Camp II, Camp III, then to the summit hopefully, then back to two or three and then down to base.  So we'll be gone for the next five days.  Ruth will be giving updates as she hears us on the radio. Everybody is doing very very well.  The climb is good, it's calm today, it's very foggy today, so we'll be hiking in the fog for a while.  But we are looking forward to the climb and we'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.

9/28/01  8:39am, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Good afternoon everybody, this is Luis Benitez calling for Alpine Ascents International.  Sorry we've all been so tardy in delivering messages to the outside world, but we've been busy trying to climb this mountain.  As it stands rights now, we're all at camp II and everybody's coming back down to Base camp for a couple of days of rest before we start for our final summit bids.  The past couple of days have seen us at Camp I, acclimatizing, making small carries towards Camp II and dealing with more technical terrain between Camp I and Camp II.  Camp III is only a couple of hours above Camp II, so the point where we will push off for our summit bid is pretty darn close to where everyone has acclimatized up to at this point.

All the oxygen is in place, the tents are in place, everything seems to be about as ready as it can be.  The weather seems to be cooperating tremendously, mornings usually start out with light winds on the summit that dissipate by late morning, early afternoon, which seems to show pretty good signs for our upcoming summit attempts.  Everybody's in good spirits, seems to be feeling good, everyone's looking forward to a couple of days of rest back down there at Base Camp before we start off for our final attempts.  Some teams have already attempted the summit and are starting to leave, so Base Camp is beginning to become a little bit smaller, but there are still people here who are going to be trying right along beside us.  The National Geographic Team, a couple of teams from Slovakia that are trying to ski off the summit, A team from Spain, a team from Norway and I believe one more team from Japan.  So we'll be trying to check in as much as possible over the next couple of days, letting you know how we're feeling, what we're thinking and when we plan on leaving Base Camp for our summit bid.  Till then this is Luis saying to everyone back home have a pleasant day and we'll talk to you soon, bye bye.

9/24/01  9:15pm, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Hi this is Todd, we're at Base Camp right now, just checking in.  We went up to Camp I the day before yesterday and spent the night, had a great night up there. It's a beautiful day, it took us about 7 hours to climb up to the ridge at 21,000 feet, had beautiful views all around.  Everybody is very very well, we got up the next morning and hiked up about an hour or so up towards Camp II on the fixed lines, it was the first time we've put on our crampons and boots and used our ice axe. We moved up for about two hours and got used to the fixed lines and looked at what we needed to do to get to Camp II.  Yesterday and Today was a rest day so tomorrow morning we are planning on heading back up to Camp I.  Everybody's in good health and good spirits and the mountain looks like it's in good shape.  Several teams may be going for the summit tomorrow.  Talk to you soon, bye bye.

9/20/01  9:35pm, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Hi everybody it's Todd, it's about 9:30 on Wednesday night.  We have been out and been working pretty hard the last couple of days.  We did a carry up to Camp I from ABC which is 21,000 feet.  It's right on the ridge, a beautiful ridge, overlooking all of the valleys around and all of the beautiful mountains.  It's a long ridge, you have to walk about three or four hours up a glacier moraine, it's safe but kind of broken, a lot of ups and downs, and little hills and then we go around a kind of scree slope for about another 1,500 feet, so we are able to actually go to Camp I just in regular trekking boots, which is pretty amazing for 21,000 feet.

Everyone's doing fantastic and in good health.  We had a rest day today and we did some Jumar practice and some technical things that we need to work on for the mountain.  Tomorrow will be another rest day for us we and then will move up to Camp I and sleep and then head up towards Camp II.  The weather's been fantastic it's just beautiful and sunny here and the group's happy and eating well, and the mountains are beautiful, we've had some beautiful nights, the stars and the milky way are out.  All of the climbers seem fit and ready to go up the hill.  Life is good here in base camp, it was a very hard day, but everybody pulled through it really really well and our acclimatization is going along good.  

Also, quickly about our Puja, we had a Puja, the day before we went up.  It was great, Tsering, one of our four Sherpas, he used to be a Lama, now he is called a Bhikkhu Lama, and that means he has changed from being a Buddhist Priest to a climbing Sherpa.  He did a beautiful Puja for us, we put up our prayer flags and made the Tsampa flour and went through the variety of blessings and burned juniper and asked blessing of the deities and gods of the mountains to let us climb safely.  It was a beautiful experience and it was another beautiful and sunny day.  The weather's been really good since we've been here.  That's it for our cybercast right now, we hope everybody in America is great, and we wish you all the best.  Bye bye.

9/17/01  11:29am, Cho-Oyu Advanced Base Camp, Tibet
Hi everybody it's Todd from Cho-Oyu Base Camp, we got here last night.  Everything's great, we built a really nice camp, everybody worked hard because we're on a big glacier moraine, so we had to move big boulders around, but we've got all of our tents in camp, and we're all set up and everyone's relaxing today. The weather's beautiful, it's sunny, we've got some high clouds, you can't see the top of Cho-Oyu, but the mountain sits right in front of us.  We're really not more than about a quarter of a mile, or half mile from the Nangpa-La, which is right on the border of Tibet and Nepal, that's how we get down, we'd love to be able to cross that way and go down to Lhakpa's house, our climbing Sirdar, it's only two days walk away, but it's not legal for us to cross the border, so we're going to stay up here.

It's a high base camp, higher than most, at 18,500 feet, where Everest Base Camp is only 17,300.  Everybody seems to be doing great and recuperating, we pushed pretty hard for two days, we went from 16,000 up to here, with 7 to 8 mile days, over rocky terrain, everybody feels great and we're right on schedule.  The mountain looks good, it's absolutely beautiful here, we're surrounded by big glaciers and peaks that look like, we have one peak right across from us that looks like the Eiger.  Life is good, and we're eating well and everyone's very happy.  Our thoughts are with everybody back in America, and thank you for all of your emails encouraging us to keep going instead of returning home and we hope that everybody's life is getting back into order back there and that everything will slowly work out.  That's it from Base Camp right now and we'll talk to you soon.

9/14/01  8:40pm, Cho-Oyu Base Camp, Tibet
Hi everybody this is Todd, we're at Base Camp still.  It's our third night here at 16,100 feet.  Everybody's doing very very well.  Tomorrow morning we'll head up to our intermediate camp on the way to Advanced Base Camp, around 18,500.  All of our yaks arrived today, we unpacked and have sorted everything to bring all of our loads up.  We're still thinking a lot about what is going on in America, and hoping that everyone is safe and pulling their lives back together.  We did an acclimatization hike today.  It's been a beautiful sunny day, although everyday up towards the mountain, the mountain has been obscured by clouds, almost ever since we've come.  It's been snowing up high but hopefully by the time we get up, the mountain will be in good shape and ready for us to go to the summit.

Everyone gives their best to everyone out there, and thank you for all of the messages that were left for us.  We'll be in touch soon.  Bye bye.

9/12/01  7:56pm, Cho-Oyu Base Camp, Tibet
Hi, this is Todd from Base Camp at Cho-Oyu, we moved into base camp today. It's been three days since our cybercast.  We wanted to do one last night, and just before we got on the telephone, we heard about the terrible tragedy and terrorism in America.  It was devastating to the expedition.  We regrouped for the night and we talked a lot about what to do and we decided to go up to base camp, and we're all here, we're going to be here for the next two or three days.  We just want everyone to know how much we're thinking about you and how much we love America, and that our biggest concern now is not necessarily climbing Cho-Oyu, but in the welfare of our country.  

We are going to stay here for the next couple of days, everyone is good.  We would welcome all friends and family of people on the expedition, to feel free to call Alpine Ascents (206)-378-1927, and just leave a message to say that you're okay, if you're close friends or family of anyone on our team, and you should know if they are on this team.  And we'll give a call in and our office will give us the names and if everyone is okay.  Our thoughts are with you guys, and we hope and pray that life gets back to normal soon, and we're able to continue where our great country left off.  That's all for now, bye bye.

9/9/01  4:20pm, Nalaam, Tibet
Hi everybody it's Todd, we're in Nalaam right now at 11,500.  We've been here, this will be our second night.  It's been great, everybody's in great health and is doing well.  Nalaam is a great village, it's kind of interesting because you know you go from Nepal which is very kind of Hindu, Buddhist, and then you climb up a mountain, as soon as we cross the border and climb up 2,000 feet up a cliff we are living in the world of China and the influence it has on Tibet.

Zhangmu is a great town, we ended up spending an extra day there, because they had no jeeps to drive us, they seem to be a little short on supplies here right now.  but we had a great time, it was good for us to spend another day at 7,000 feet and we enjoyed Zhangmu.  And the next morning we took a mini-bus at 6am, and drove up a very very narrow road, overhanging just chopped out of the side of the cliff so the waterfalls go over the top of the car and it was an amazing drive, we did a lot of it in the dark, and the last half hour or so in the sunlight, and drove to Nalaam.  And Nalaam is a great little village, it has grown a lot in the last five years.  When I first came here in 1989, there was one house that was kind of a run-down shack, and five or six years ago there were a few more buildings and now we get hot showers and reasonable accommodations, it's great for the middle of nowhere.  The town has grown a lot , and it seems like trade has increased a lot between China, Tibet and Nepal, so it's been quite busy and fun too.  Looks like there will be several teams on Cho-Oyu, so we'll see how busy that will be be when we're there.

Everyone's good here, everyone's very, very healthy, we did a hike up to 13 and a half thousand feet today, and everybody did great, and we all feel good and we just had showers and we're going to have dinner here shortly.  We'll be heading off tomorrow for Tingri which will probably take us 5 to 6 hours, we'll actually go over a pass which is just at 17,000 feet and then drop back down to 14,000 in Tingri.  We're looking forward to that, we'll see how much Tingri's changed in the last few years.  

Still a lot of Tibetan houses here, even though the Chinese have built it up quite a bit, it's good to see, at least on the surface that the Chinese are letting the Tibetans live their own lives and do things that they used to do, somewhat. We saw a few monks when we visited a monastery today, a small one in town, but it was quite nice, and a lot of Tibetan people feel great at least. to be happy to be growing their food and their yaks, I guess because there is a lot of wealth here that you know everyone is prospering and I think everybody is getting on fairly well together, at least on the surface.

We were going to go visit a public school today, and it was not possible, they turned us down at the last moment, we made arrangements yesterday, and they just said politically it was not appropriate for us to do that, so we did not.  So again, we still deal with the politics of China in Tibet.  It is beautiful here though, and I can't tell you how good it feels that we're able to have hot showers and everyone is very very healthy so we've got a high outlook and everybody's psyched to head off to Tingri tomorrow. The best to all of you from Nalaam.

9/7/01  9:54pm, Zhangmu, Tibet
It's about 10 o'clock at night, and we are in Zhangmu, so we have crossed the border into Tibet.  It was quite a journey getting here, the road was washed out so we had to hire 80-90 porters to carry our gear across and get on small buses, then travel for another couple miles and get onto more buses, it took us a long time, when we got to the border it was closed, but doing a few manipulations and convincing a few Chinese officials, they let us cross the border and we made it to Zhangmu on time.  We ended up taking another rest day here, because there was no transportation to go up to Naalam.  So at 7,000 feet, everybody is great, we have met all of our Chinese people, we are psyched, our loads are good to go and we will head up to Naalam tomorrow morning and we will give you a call from there.  Everyone else is great and healthy and enjoying the trip.  It's been raining but things seem like they will clear up soon.  We'll talk to you tomorrow. 

9/5/01  10:10am, Yak & Yeti Hotel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Hi everybody, It's Todd, and I'm at the Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu, Nepal.  It's the 5th of September, Our entire group arrived yesterday, everything is in order, everyone is healthy and excited about the trip.  We did a gear check last night had some walk arounds and some some of the sights that are good to see in the evening in Kathmandu.  We've been having rain every day but beautiful afternoons and evenings.

We leave to morrow for the border which is I think an hour drive for us to Kotare, from Kathmandu, so we'll load all of our equipment, we have 80 loads and each load weighs 30kg.  That will be all of the food and equipment for our entire expedition, we'll put it on a great big bus along with 16 of us, 12 climbers and 4 Sherpas and head for the border.  There are a few issues in crossing the border at the time. There's one great big landslide about five hours out of Kathmandu on the road, so we're going to have to stop, unload the bus, carry for five kilometers all of our 80 loads and get back on another bus on the other side, and we have to do this twice before we get to our first night.  So we're going to leave at 5am in the morning and hopefully be able to make Kotare, and then Zhangmu.  Kodari is the Nepali border crossing area, and we will cross the Friendship Bridge, and climb uphill for 1,000 feet or so, to a small village called Zhangmu, and that's where we hope to spend the night, and then the next day drive up to Naalam.  But that is yet to be seen, it will be quite a journey tomorrow.  Everyone is out right now visiting different places, there at Bodnath, where the largest Stupa in the world is in the Buddhist Temple.  We'll have a Puja there, a religious ceremony to bless the expedition, in about three or four hours.  People are visiting Swamayabhu today, the famous monkey temple, that is thousands of years old, that is shared by the Buddhists and Hindus at the top of the hill, beautiful place, and then they'll go to Pashupatineth, which is the holiest place for the Hindus in Kathmandu.

Life is great, everybody is in excellent health, and they all say hello to all of their families and we will call hopefully on a day to day basis, and tomorrow's going to be a big day so somewhere along the line when we're trekking, we'll pull it out give you guys a quick call and let you know what it going on.  All is good on this side.

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