Friday, April 30, 2010

Then and Now

Hello this is Brad Johnson writng. Today, April 30th, is our last rest day at basecamp before going up the mountain for the next 4 days or so. Our intent is on reaching Makalu La at 7400m (24,400ft,) and spending the night there for our final acclimatization bid. Then returning to basecamp for a good rest and waiting for summit weather.

The last time I was here was in 1989 and 1992. Both of those expeditions were with 5 other friends, no Sherpa support and only one other expedition on the moujntain. On each of those trips we did not have the luxury of heated dining tents and satelite weather forecasts to pinpoint our summit windows Instead we relied on our altimiters to watch for the oncoming of high pressure and guessed that it was time to go for the summit. In 1989 we had guessed corrrectly but were stopped at 8100m (26,600ft) by dangerous slab avalanche conditions. In 1992, we waited one day too long to depart basecamp for our summit bid and missed the summit by one day, again reaching 8,100m but turned around due to high winds.

I have witnessed big changes since 1992, not only in the technology world and what people bring to basecamp, but also in the journey to basecamp. On the trek from Tumlingtar to basecamp in 1992 the small hamlets of Num, Sedua and Tashigoan, consisted of 3 - 6 houses, now they are villages of 15 - 20 houses and hundreds of people.
Beyond Tashigoan there was nothing but trail and difficult places to camp. Now there are tea houses and cleared out areas in the forrest to camp.

The biggest change I have seen is that advanced basecamp is located 2 hours walk further up the glacier and several thousand feet higer from where we camped in 1992. The glaciers have receeded not only in length but in depth as well, by as much as 300ft lower in depth.

In 1992 the glacier was smoother and we walked on hard snow, this year the mountain is very dry and we are walking on white ice and sometimes blue water ice on the glacier.
Camp 2 is still in the same place we used in 1992.

I am anxious to reach the Makalu La and see what the upper part of the mountain to the summit looks like from there.

Thanks for keeping track of us on our blog and sending us your thoughts and good cheers.
If you don't hear from us for the next 4 days it is because we are out for a new adventure.
Have a great day and big hugs to you all.


Niels said...

Things shure have changed since 92, and Brad you should see the Mer de Glace now. Not to mention 77.000 answers on google on "Oh Eun Sun + Annapurna" two days after summit.

It now time for you Chris, to get your combi out of the compression bag, and start your push for the summit.

On with the boots....get it done!

Good luck to everybody.


Ps; If any one sees the Yeti, take a photo, just to update my collection - Thanks!

Tony said...

Glad to hear you are getting to the business now. Get it done guys!Just remember, come back alive,
come back still friends,
go to the summit ,
in that order.
Safe climbing.

Dale Johnson said...

Hi Brad. Great comparison of conditions of old and today. I hope the upper mountain is kinder than it was the last two times. It looks like your mates are the best. If it can be done, you'll do it this time.
Love you. Dad