пятница, 8 мая 2015 г.

Force Majeure. Press-release

In connection with the grave consequences of the earthquake in Nepal on the 25th of April, numerous victims among the civilian population of Nepal as well as among mountaineers and sherpas because of the avalanches and rockfalls, an authorized organization of PRC – CTMA (China Tibet Mountaineering Association), by its order has closed all peaks of Tibet, including mount Everest, for climbing during the 2015 season. Thus, we had to finish the expedition 'Everest-2015' without reaching the desired goal - the summit.

On the one hand, this is unfortunate; on the other hand - after the discussion and careful analysis of the situation in the Base Camp with professional mountaineers such as Ivan Dusharin, Aleksandr Abramov, Kary Kobler, Noel Hanna, Mingma Gelu Sherpa, Sergey Bogomolov and I concluded that the decision of CTMA is well-taken and equitable - the risks for mountaineers at the slopes after the earthquake and the ongoing seismic activity are too high.

At the present time we leave in Katmandu all equipment for the ascent, the flags of our sponsors and business  partners, and leave the mount Everest until the time, when we'll be able to come back and continue execution of the plan. We hope, that in the season of 2016 or 2017 it will be permitted by PRC authorities to climb the highest point of the world.

четверг, 7 мая 2015 г.

Day 24. May, 3. The last post in the blog: we are leaving BC

For a few days Internet didn't work, and it was a hindrance in describing camp life during these days. Only today in the morning before our leave Internet was 'turned on'.

There was 'Abramov party' yesterday - Sasha invited all mountaineers, who weren't evacuated, to our camp for a party. I don't post a picture: on the one hand - the party was on the highest level; on the other hand - all invitees reminded me about the waiting room in spaceport from the movie 'Men in black' or movies like that. In general: very and very unusual ladies and gentlemen want to climb Everest.

At the time of the party it started snowing hard, the strong wind blew, as a result everybody were drunk and danced a lot. It was cool! And in the morning we saw the snow-covered Base Camp - the nature made a present for us before we left. 

Today early in the morning Tolya Menskiy started to wield in the kitchen - cooking for the farewell breakfast his specialty of the house - 'krepyzh' potato pancakes with carrots (carrots separately). It turned out to be very delicious. And our cook Dandy for two hours, during which they were cooking at the kitchen, had learned how to pronounce the name of this meal correctly ('draniki').

At last with a great pleasure I took a photo with kitchenboys. They are married Tibetans, they wear black braids with a massive white plastic ring in place of an elastic band, they wear blue or orange or both colors earings. Against my will I remember the words of Leslie White: 'If all the men in our society wear long hair or blacken their teeth (read - wear earings of a certain kind) then you - a man and an adult member of society should do the same'.

Since everything he read about this area had been written by mountaineers, for whom it was considered good form to play down difficulties, he got to a difficult situation.
Reinhold Messner

Messner wrote these lines about Maurice Wilson, who also wanted to climb Everest on Rongbuk glacier. I, Sergey Bogomolov, '7 summits' club team, Valdis Pelsh's film crew and also organisers of other 13 expeditions from the Tibet side got to a difficult situation: CTMA (China Tibet Mountaineering Association) had closed Everest and other Tibet mountains for the whole season of 2015.

In the past it happened only once - in 2008 during Olympics in Beijing - but that was a planned closing; urgently China closes the mountains for the first time. So we all faced a sudden insuperable difficulty. Well, that's fine, pack your stuff and go home.

According to the latest information the number of earthquake victims in Nepal is more than 7 thousand people; our partners in Nepal think that the government understates the number three times,  so the real number of victims is about 20 000 - a tremendous number. Earthquake shocks of different power still happen, in these conditions it is possible to say in Abramov's words: 'Do you want to the mountain or to stay alive?'

Thanks God - everyone is alive; and what concerns the mount - we'll cope with this misfortune. How our dear Ivan Dusharin says: 'having enough time and a good guide - is 80% of success'; we had it all plus preparation and acclimatization, but as ill luck would have it - force-majeur happened. I agree with Ivan, but 80% is not 100%. We did the utmost, we didn't get any results and in this situation all we are left for is to make sense of one single fact - how wonderful it is, that we are alive!  

On that minor-major note I consider this blog to be completed.

вторник, 5 мая 2015 г.

Day 21. April, 30. Puja. The expedition is completed. We start our way back home

Yesterday everything became clear: by order of the authorized body of the PRC all mountain peaks on the territory of China, including Everest, are closed for visiting by mountaineers in connection with the high seismic activity and ascents hazard to life for the whole year of 2015. All expeditions members are ordered to leave the places of their stay and to descend down.

Yesterday the liaison officer and the staff of the Chinese mountaineering service came to our camp for the meeting. They do not make any decisions, but came to calm us. Those, who used to deal with Chinese officials, know that this meeting was meaningless; and their faces' expressions speak for themselves. 

Now we need to get our stuff from ABC down to BC; we plan to start now, if yakmen with yaks will come. This procedure will take us three days. After that we are waiting for the road to Lhasa; the primary plan - to leave Tibet for Katmandu by cars - is now impossible to be implemented, since the road to Katmandu is destroyed by an earthquake, and its renovation will take month or two. We'll get from Lhasa to KTM by plane, if KTM will accept flights: at the present time Nepal airport works unstable.

It is also difficult to fly via China, because you need to have a Chinese visa: Lhasa airport serves only flights to KTM. All other flights arrive to domestic airports of China and if you take an international flight you have to have a visa. We have a group visa - 'the list', which allows us to travel only all together. We also do not know how soon will it be possible to fly from Katmandu, when will we get there, since it's not clear for what date it will be possible to change our flight back: there may be problems with free seats in planes, because of the emergency situation in Nepal. 

Since yesterday Internet almost doesn't work; we tend to think that it is because Chinese authorities want to 'force' us to leave. Since only one station serves the whole canyon - it is not a problem to drown the signal out.

Nevertheless the Puja religious procedure, which had been previously paid and pre-planned for today, is conducted. The monk came, incenses burn, prayers are recited, the needful things are sanctified. The primary meaning of Puja was to sanctify our ascent of Everest; now it has been transformed into something else. 

It is early to make the final conclusions on expedition - at first we need to get out from here, which is not easy. For now, I can only say the following: on the one hand it is disappointing - much time, money and efforts are wasted; the acclimatization went well, we are in a good condition, we aim to the summit. On the other hand, the tragedy, which happened on the southern side is a very serious reason to think about. By a lucky chance no one on the northern side was hurt; according to the forecasts of seismologists an underground activity in our area in the near future will continue with a displacement of the center in the direction of Tengri, there may be incidents in mountains in the vicinity of our route.

Whatever happens - happenes for the best. 

четверг, 30 апреля 2015 г.

Informational message

In connection with the situation in Nepal, expedition 'Everest-2015' is completed because of the impossibility of its continuation. The information with details will be posted soon.
Day 20. April, 29. BC (5200 m)

Yesterday in the evening Victor Bobok came to our camp to play and sing guitar songs. He used to work as a guide for Abramov, but several years ago somehow not nice left '7 summits' to work as a guide with his own clients. So Abramov and he didn't communicate with each other for quite a long time, because both were offended at each other. Now Sasha and Vitya reconciled and this is good. All our camp residents came to listen to the original songs and some people from other camps came as well. I love to listen such songs and love to sing to the guitar. But Bobok as a performer is so-so, so I decided not to waste my time and just left and went to read books before going to bed.

Today the film crew got up very early in the morning to film the necessary 'takes' with V. Pelsh. After the takes shooting the cameraman Sasha went around the camp with kitchenboys and filmed how they bring coffee to the clients.

Today early in the morning the famous showman Valdis Pelsh left us; it's a pity, now I can't write in my blog 'yesterday Valdis conducted the evening'. His first plan 'to ascend at least the North Col' wasn't realized unfortunately: Valdis wasn't higher than in MC - he wasn't in ABC. Evil tongues could also remember, that his attempt in autumn to ascend Elbrus was unsuccessful as well. In short, mountains are not easy for the Moscow celebrity.

Actually, it is not Valdis' fault that he leaves ahead of schedule - he got seriously sick, he almost completely lost his voice. It is not easy to be at such altitude in mountains without a preliminary preparation and strong desire. some fellows say, that Valdish got sick because he smoked and went without a hat in the frost and in the wind - these fellows just slander. Yeah, he smoked, yes, he went without a hat - but still he is a nice and positive person in general...

Well, to the regret of those who stay, showman by bus of the neighboring expedition started his trip back to Russia - through Lhasa, Chengdu and Beijing. The film crew will stay as members of the expedition to film the further actions.

After breakfast Tolya Menskiy and I decided to walk around and ascended almost the half of the neighbouring slope - 300 meters up. It is a wonderful view to the Rongbuk valley from there, the camps of all expeditions - including ours - are clearly seen.

There are many wild birds in surrounding mountains, they are about the size of pheasants, and a form of a partridge: they are not afraid of people, you can come closer - a few meters from them - to take a picture. When I came to the camp I found - to my regret - that all the workspaces in the Internet tent are occupied, and the club is fully occupied by the Sherpas, kitchen boys and their friends who listen to their sherpa-music. So I had to take a temporary workspace in the dining room. Now the lunch begins, so the today's post is done.

Day 19. April, 28. BC (5200 m). The day of rest

Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow are the planned days of rest in BC after the trekking to ABC. We spend the time in Internet tent, reading news about the awful events in Nepal and the Himalayas. The situation with the expedition continuation is not clear - there are a lot of discrepant rumours. The leaders of other expeditions come to our camp to talk to Abramov, share gossips, bring and drink up alcoholic drinks. The mood in general is rather depressed.

Except for rumors and gossip - there is no information at all. There were no official Chinese statements of authorized persons until now. The leaders of the expeditions wait for a big sports boss from Lhasa to arrive. Maybe after his arrival something will be clarified. Maybe not. When exactly will he come - is not known too.

Abramov gives a lot of interviews to the Russian mass media by skype right from the BC, Pelsh - by phone, Bogomolov - by e-mail. Except for these sources, there are tons of distorted and just fabricated informational messages. What is important - no one from the Russian trekkers, travellers and mountaineers, who were in Nepal at the time of the catastrophe, was hurt... This is important - there were a lot of friends in different places, and thanks God that everybody is alive!

For the past days we received a lot of letters from comrades and friends from different countries, who worry about the expedition, about my and Sergey's lives and well-being; it is very nice. I've tried to reply to everybody, but Internet doesn't work stable here, so many of my answers are short or standartized.

At the present time all we are left for is to sit, enjoy the nature and await developments.

Day 18. April, 27. ABC (6400 m) - BC (5200 m)

Early in the morning the sun has shined into the tent and the temperature inside of it has risen. We took photos with the flags against the background of snow-covered Everest, being in immediate proximity to the North Col - from ABC to the beginning of the ascent of the Col is about an hour of walk. After breakfast we began the descent to the path of an ascent - it is much easier to go down, than to go up: the way to MC took 3 hours 10 minutes - we ate a bowl of chicken soup there and then went to the BC - the way took 3,5 hours.

I have to say, that after what happened the day before yesterday I started to look quite differently on mountains - I mean, I now watch at every rock, couloir and slope as on a source of a potential danger in case of a rockfall, at the same time trying to find an appropriate boulder to use as a shelter. But, unfortunately, there can be a lot of stones falling from different sides, but very often there is just no shelter, where you could hide. 

When we came to the BC we discovered new unpleasant circumstances, which we didn't know at the time of acclimatization trekking: a massive earthquake happened in Nepal, Katmandu is partially destroyed, hotels are closed, airport works in the mode of force majeure, Russian travellers live on the territory of Embassy (sleep in tents at the lawn), a lot of people are dead (thousands of people). Moreover, a huge avalanche in the area of Solo Khumbu descended on the base camp of Everest (on the southern side), not less than 80 people were killed.

Khumbu Glacier moved because of the earthquake, breaking off the ropes were railing, as a result - about 100 alpinists are now isolated from the outside world in the camps 1 and 2. They will be evacuated by helicopters, probably. The government of China prohibited to go by the roads from Lhasa and through Zhongma/Kodari to Nepal because of the earthquake. And in the end  - those yakmen, who work for the expeditions, descended from the Rongbuk monastery down to their villages with all yaks for 'a few days', and sherpas, who fix the ropes on Everest, stopped their work for an indefinite period of time as well.

Thus, at the present time BC is like an island of calmness and comfort, isolated from the outside world; it is not clear yet, if we will be allowed to continue the ascent or not, but in spite of everything we do not lose a good spirits. Especially when there are no problems with food...