Welcome to the moon

November 3rd 2017 –

This day makes me think of the old television series The Beverly Hillbillies. The opening jingle told the story of how Jed Clampett (the old mountaineer) accidentally discovered oil on his land so he packed up his family and moved to Beverley Hills. There is a wonderful scene of Jed and his family in their old truck stuffed with everything they own, driving from the Ozarks to California. At this stage you might be thinking I’m suffering from altitude sickness, but hang in there, I’m perfectly lucid.

Today we moved a big chunk of Basecamp to High Camp in the tradition of the Beverly Hillbillies. Binoy and I trekked behind three porters carrying everything they needed for a small kitchen, food, and a whole lot of other supplies. The sleeping tents had already been set up at High Camp in advance. All of the larger tents, heaters, and heavier items stayed at Basecamp, but it was a pretty impressive operation just the same. We are talking about almost 900 meters in vertical ascent over quite a long distance.

Leaving Basecamp you eventually start winding around the backside of Ama Dablam. The view changes completely from the straight-on sight of the summit route you see from Basecamp to a side perspective that makes the mountain look a little more tame. If only appearances could be trusted.

The High Camp is on a slope above a flat plain, so I asked Binoy the obvious question: ‘why didn’t they put High Camp on the flat plain?’ Apparently the location for High Camp was selected because there used to be a stream nearby which has since dried up. Given the amount of effort required to collect ice and snow to melt for boiling water, I get it.

It’s hard to find the words to describe the scene tonight. The sun was setting behind the mountains on the other side of the Imja River casting a beautiful orange and crimson glow along the ridge line. Behind us, the moon was rising and almost full, lighting up everything to the point of making a headlamp unnecessary. There remained some moving cloud at lower elevations partially masking the mountains directly opposite and the view of the summit of Ama Dablam. Everyone on the team stood together as the sun set, spellbound by the magic of this place.

There are no trees of course; we are well above the tree line. The landscape feels like the surface of a planet in a sci-fi movie. Boulders the size of people, or cars, have been thrown into place over thousands of years. There is nothing else. It’s as though the boulders are simply sitting on top of more boulders and there is no solid ground. At one stage we all noticed an Alpine Finch resting on a boulder near our tents. It’s washed red colour made it seem out of place against the grey of the endless rock.

The cook, Pemba, made Dal Bhat tonight. I tried to stay just inside the kitchen tent to watch him cook. It was warm near the gas burner. He cooked the rice, lentils, and beef to perfection. I can’t seem to bake a pumpkin loaf from scratch with every modern convenience. This man is a wizard.

Tomorrow, the support team go no further. It is only Rinji and me heading to Camp 1.

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