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  Dutch Mt Everest 2004 Expedition Dispatch 6

We arrived in basecamp with views on Everest.

An early wake up to leave on time. We agreed to leave at 7 AM but half an hour later still nothing happens. Chinese time has probably a different meaning than Dutch time. We are always the first ones at the breakfast table. Last night we had a discussion with the Chinese about reaching basecamp with a regular bus. Luckily they arranged two 4WD car’s. It takes five hours to reach basecamp and the journey would be impossible with a regular bus. A lot of river crossings and narrow roads above high cliffs. After four hours we see Everest for the first time. We see the Northridge and with a telescope even the summit. We are surprised to see that people live in this remote valley. The last part of the road to basecamp is very smooth. We arrive in basecamp where Prem and Dawa are waiting for us already. They arrived one day prior to us. The tents have been erected: our personal tents, the dining tent and the cook tent. Our personal tents are fake North Face tents. They look great and are good enough for basecamp. Prem and Dawa also help the Czechs and the other two from Spain and Greenland. But it should not become their habit to help the others. They have to safe their energy for the climb. They serve us tea, coffee and hot chocolate. Despite the lack of appetite and thirst we have to drink and eat something. After installing the solar panels and going through our gear we get a meal. Very comfortable in our camping chairs we try to get used to the altitude. Breathing is difficult and every move increases the heartbeat. Ron still doesn’t feel 100% and suffers from diarrhea and stomach problems. Hopefully the good food in basecamp will help him to cure. Tomorrow we stay in BC to acclimatize and maybe we can try our shower tent. It is about time!

Wilco’s first paraglider flight

We first eat some chocolates, shoot some video and take some pictures before I prepare my paraglider for take off. The rocks are very sharp and my paraglider lines are stuck in the scarce but harsh vegetation. While I spread my sail and put my lightweight (280 grams) harness on I imagine the flight already. There is a light wind uphill. When I try to pull the sail the lines are stuck behind the rocks and vegetation. But with some pulling and by using the wind I am able to get the sail above me. The sail is smaller than my regular one, so it is easier to control with hard wind. I expected it would not lift me from the ground very easy but because the windspeed is not constant I have to work hard. I decide to go and I am off the ground. I have the paraglider under control. It is difficult to use my bodyweight for steering due to the lightweight harness. I can only use the steering-lines. But what a stunning views. I fly over the Tibetan plateau on 4800 meter and can see all the Himalayan peaks: Everest, Pumori, Changse, Makalu and Cho Oyu. Already in 2002 I dreamed about flying here but I had promised to my climbing partner Hans van der Meulen not to fly before we had establish high camp. The risk of injures was to big. This time I have not promised anything and I am flying here over the high plateau. It is superb! I am sure Ron and Rex will be jealous.

After a few minutes I land in between some river streams. I see people running toward me from far. I have plenty of time to fold my sail before they arrive. It is must be the first time they see such a thing. They imitate my flying moves and even an old plastic bag is turned in a miniature paraglider. They run on the hill and throw it in the air. I applaud. Before I even get the chance to put the paraglider in my backpack they want to carry it for me. Of course I let them do it and as a team of eight we walk back to the road where I will meet Ron and Rex. Ron and Rex congratulate me with my successful training flight and I have a good feeling about it too. I already look for ward to my next flight in BC with confidence.

Organizing the transport with the Yaks

Today, April 6th, we had no early wake up. Luckily, because all exercise is hard at this altitude. So you need a lot of rest too. Breakfast is good. Much better than the Tibetans made for us. We have (probably fresh) eggs, porridge, momo’s and toast with jam: a feast. Ron still has stomach problems. So far he has no taken any medications. First see of nature solves it. In the afternoon he took some light medication to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is very dangerous at this altitude. And the day after tomorrow we have to be fit for the long and heavy journey to Intermediate camp and on to Advanced Base Camp (6400 meter). From ABC we start to establish the high camps. We are sorting all the gear. We have to make choices what to take to ABC and what to leave. A lot of luxury items have to stay together with half of the food. And we already prepare the bags with the hill food for the high camps.

Candy and a few chocolate bars.

It is just enough food to go from camp to camp. In the camps we will have instant meals to recuperate. It takes hours to melt snow for the meals. We also test the power charge equipment. To inform everybody at home as much as possible we have to make sure all the equipment works. And it has to be protected against the extreme cold. We pack the solar panels and batteries in the barrels for transportation. We have to bring a lot of equipment to ABC. Most of it goes with the yaks but we have to carry a significant part ourselves.

We have tourists visiting us daily. They like to talk to the climbers and enjoy the beautiful view on Everest. They leave for their hotel down the valley in the afternoon when the temperature drops and the water starts freezing. Tonight we drink a lot of tea and go sleep early. It is cold.

Greetings, Wilco, Ron and Rex

Pictures copyright the Dutch Mt Everest expedition


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