Hi – Fiona here,
Just a short update about the trek into base camp. I’m very excited because my Mum (Marg), Beck (Paul’s sister), and Denise (a family friend) have all decided to trek in to base camp with me.
Also, Paul’s two brothers – Tim and Damien have decided to trek into base camp with him. This will be fantastic support for Paul. I’m sure there’ll be so much talking that they’ll be at base camp before they even realise it! Tim lives in Boston and Damien in Ballarat (about an hour out of Melbourne), so it’s not often they can get together. Paul and Dame are leaving Melbourne late on 29th March and will meet Tim in Kathmandu.
Once at base camp Tim and Dame will spend a couple of days there and then head back out together. After a few more days, Paul will hopefully begin his acclimatisation rotations. Most climbers do 3 rotations but last year Paul and I did only 2 but made them longer in duration than other climbers. This was partly because Paul had a chest infection and so we started late, but it seemed to work pretty well and more importantly, it avoids an additional trip each way through the icefall. It does mean spending quite a lot of time at camp 2 – which is fine, provided you have a lot of books and patience. Some people believe that camp 2 is too high to spend much time there, but we both felt pretty comfortable (relatively speaking of course), although we didn’t sleep too well.
My trekkers group will leave Melbourne the night of April 25th and plan to spend a couple of days in Kathmandu to check out the sights and purchase some gear. We’ll then fly into Lukla and from there, we’ll begin our trek into base camp – taking a slow and conservative schedule to minimise the chance of altitude sickness. We plan to reach base camp on or before May 10th. By this time we expect that Paul will be completing his second (and final) acclimatisation rotation where he’ll have been to camp 3 without oxygen. But it’s very dependent on weather and his health so we can’t be too exact about dates.
Mum, Denise and Beck will stay at base camp for a few days and then trek out together, arriving back in Melbourne on 20th May. None of them have been to Nepal before and have varying levels of experience. Denise has trekked the Inca Trail in Peru so knows what altitude feels like, Beck has done some hiking in Australia, and Mum walks a lot and is generally very healthy but has never done any overnight hiking before. In the last couple of months she’s joined a gym, purchased hiking boots, got the green light from her doctor, and she and Beck have become regulars at the Thousand Steps walk in Ferntree Gully. She’s pretty nervous but I have no doubt that she’ll be fine. As an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, I’m sure she’ll love the interaction with the Nepalese people along the way as well.
If anyone else is interested in joining our base camp trek with us or meeting up along the way, please get in touch soon.
I’ll be staying at base camp as support for Paul until he finishes climbing. We’ve purchased what we hope are better radios this year, so that we can communicate more easily while he’s on the mountain. There are always a fair few other people around, but even still, it’s a pretty lonely experience up there. Looking back on it, we had a big advantage last year being there together, and also getting so many messages from everyone around the world. It really made us feel like we weren’t alone up there, that other people were cheering for us, and sometimes just gave us something else to think about.
Other than planning Paul’s climb and my trek, we took a brief trip to New Zealand this month to be there for Kelly (Paul’s cousin) and Mark’s wedding. It was beautiful – we loved the butterflies guys! Great to catch up with the rest of family there as well. We also stayed a couple of days with Kyna – a good friend who used to share a house with us in our university days. Last time we saw her was at her wedding and now she and Mal have two gorgeous little girls. We really enjoyed hanging out with them, picking apples off their tree, playing with the girls, and catching up on the last 2 years.
Paul’s training is going well and our new website is nearly ready. We’ve been extremely encouraged by everyone’s enthusiastic reaction to the idea – so thanks for all you comments.
Hope everyone’s start to 2007 has been great so far.