This morning we packed our bags and had a breakfast of eggs & toast and by 8am we were in a helicopter on our way into base camp.
The helicopter was a huge old Russian army helicopter which was packed full with people’s climbing gear as well a supplies for base camp, along with 20 people. Not much room. The flight in was very picturesque, especially as the rolling green foothills merged into the snowy Tien Shan mountains. The flight took about 40 minutes, with the last few minutes coming up the long Isulkyuk glacier. With a bumpy landing we had just completed what used to take 2 weeks by foot!
As we got off the helicopter we were greeted by Juri who is the base camp manager and Nadia who is his interpreter. She showed us to our tents, which are the same as in Karkara – big family size tents, except these are on wooden pallets because we are sitting on the ice of the glacier. These tents sure beat our small climbing tent!
Its great to actually be able to see Khan Tengri. In fact through binoculars you can see about half of the route very well. It seems that watching the climbers through binoculars is a very popular pastime here at base camp – we will have to keep this in mind when we want to go to the toilet while we are climbing on the route!
Had a good lunch of spaghetti, soup, watermelon & wafer biscuits for dessert. They sure know how to feed you here. It will be a bit of a shock when we get above base camp and have to eat our own lightweight food.
It’s a pretty good setup at base camp – we even saw a tent with a sign saying internet café, but when we looked inside there was no computer, so we are not quite sure how this is meant to work! Spent the afternoon sunbaking – it’s about 20 degrees here and we are in t-shirts.
So far no headaches, but the first night is the real test. Appetite is good, which is an important positive sign. Feel very out of breath when we walk around. Still absolutely no news of my bag. Plan is for a rest day tomorrow.
Paul & Fiona at Khan Tengr base camp.