Words from Wik

Sharing my Experiences

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Two Years Later – Everest Day by Day

Today is the two-year anniversary since I stood on the top of the world. What I was doing last year at about this time was posting on Twitter every day what my thoughts and emotions were while I was on the expedition. For those that found that a difficult way of following along, I thought I would post it all in one post here on my blog. Not sure if it has the same effect as seeing it day-by-day, so let me know any feedback you might have. Otherwise enjoy!

Mar 31 2010, Everest Day 0: Breakfast meeting with entire group, going over final prep and details. Nice to finally meet everyone!

31mar2010: Last item to buy in Kathmandu: big comfy foam mattress. Was kinda pricey but how much is 2 months comfort in base camp worth?

1Apr2010: Early start this morning, heading to the airport for flight to Lukla, where hiking begins. Hope it’s no April Fool’s Joke!

Made it to Lukla, got on a flight before the afternoon weather came in. Funny landing on an uphill airstrip pointing into the mountain!

1apr2010: Hiked almost 3 hours to Phakding,spending night.But our duffels are still in KTM,how long will I have to live with no fresh socks?

2apr2010: almost 6 hours going from Phakding to Namche.Still no bags! But Namche seems like a nice place, everyone talks about the bakery…

3apr2010: rest day in Namche.some people are hiking to Everest View Hotel, I’ll just rest, 3400m already!

4apr2010: Today again rested in Namche, but bags are finally here! So sleeping in tents tonight. See pic of namche http://twitpic.com/4h2r4v

Pic of Namche

6apr2010:yesterday tough day,spent 7 hours hiking from Namche to Pangboche.Though I am one of the slowest in the group,a little demoralizing

On the way to Pangboche, stopped to rest in Tengboche and visited this monastery. Unfortunately it was closed. http://twitpic.com/4hl778

Tengboche Monastery

6apr2010: woke up in Pangboche, see pic. Short day, walked 3 hours to Pheriche, 4200m! http://twitpic.com/4hta4g

View of Ama Dablam from Pangboche

7apr2010:another short day,2 hours to Dhugla.Filling time by getting to know some of the people on summitclimb’s other expeditions. #everest

8apr2010: woke up in Dhugla (see pic), short day to Lobuche.Even though short hikes, altitude is tiring, need rest http://twitpic.com/4ijunc

View from Dhugla

9apr2010: Made it to #Everest Base Camp! I am spent, I could rest for a week. 5 straight days hiking to 5300m. http://twitpic.com/4itaz5

Everest Base Camp!

10apr2010: rest day in base camp.But more importantly,on this day happened the Smolensk air disaster, killing Polish President and 95 others

Smolensk air disaster occured before a planned commemoration of the massacre of 22000 Polish intellectuals/officials by Russians in WW2.

Being isolated at EverestBaseCamp, I wouldn’t know of this for days. Results of crash are still disputed. http://bit.ly/eWQq8R#smolensk

11apr2010: Base Camp. I feel like shit. Last night my stomach started acting up, I could barely drink water during dinner, let alone eat.

11apr2010:this morning I skipped breakfast.People tell me I lost 10 pounds overnight.Not surprising,not being able to drink or eat this high

11apr2010: Missing one meal is bad. At this altitude, missing two is serious trouble. I wanna go home…

11apr2010: stopped feeling sorry for myself, took some stomach antibiotics, and got lunch down… Let’s hope it keep getting better!

12apr2010: Still sick,but others want to acclimatize;not wanting to be left behind I join them.Pic from Pumori ABC http://twitpic.com/4k5qan

View from Pumori ABC

13apr2010: 7 hour hike yesterday, good to have a rest today. It snowed overnight, here’s how BC looks all white: http://twitpic.com/4kjk00

Base Camp after a snow fall

14apr2010: Rest Day in #everest Base Camp. Highlights: Breakfast, Laundry, Lunch, Dinner.

15apr2010: Training how to walk on ladders and rappel down ropes, in preparation for Khumbu Ice Fall ahead http://twitpic.com/4lauha

Training walking on ladders

16apr2010: First hike through the Khumbu Ice Fall. Falling seracs, most I’ve ever been scared in my life. http://bit.ly/fS1xRH

17apr2010: Rest day. Everest Quote: MV:”13 Hours in the Ice Fall.” Me:”How much water did you have to drink?” MV:”Two Sprites [cans]!”

18apr2010: sad day in Base Camp. Two members took a chopper to Kathmandu, going home. It’s too quiet now…

19apr2010: a few of us head to camp 1 to stash some gear and continue acclimatizing by sleeping there.Quicker through the ice fall this time

20apr2010: Woke up in Camp 1(see pic),not feeling good but happy to go down.First night sleeping high always tough http://twitpic.com/4ng6zc

Camp 1

21apr2010: Rest day in #Everest BC. Someone mentioned something about an oil spill in the GOM. I guess another ship crashed or something…

22apr2010: Rest Day. #Everest Quote: “I’m only happy when I’m complaining.”

23apr2010: Base Camp to Camp 1, 7 hours. Then, as if the day was not hard enough, 3.5 hours moving to Camp 2, carrying a big load.

24apr2010: rest day in C2, 6400m. Some went to explore the camp/area, I was too tired from carrying my load. Night was not fun either.

25apr2010: return to BC,had to go through the Ice Fall again (pic).Good to be “home”,BC seems great in comparison! http://twitpic.com/4pmeca

Khumbu Ice Fall

26apr2010: Rest day in BC.Getting a little boring here and there.See the attached pic,view of BC from the ice fall http://twitpic.com/4pzutm

Everest Base Camp as seen from Khumbu Ice Fall

27apr2010: Semi Rest day. Walk one hour each way to nearest town, Gorak Shep, for lunch (MEAT! Yak Steak!) and some internet access.

28apr2010: Rest day,day 2 of playing cards.Playing at altitude a card game that requires thinking is ‘interesting’ http://twitpic.com/4qs1x0

Looking at Khumbu Ice Fall

29apr2010:Rest day in BC.Discussions about summit push possibilities.It’s on everyones mind and lips.But one more acclimatization push first

30apr2010: Leaving early to Camp 2, hoping to sleep in C3 and make it our last acclimatization. 3 of us go today, rest will follow tomorrow.

1may2010: While we wait for other 3 to join us,take a rest day in C2.Quote: “I didn’t bring a book to C2,can you read yours out loud to me?”

2may2010:Planned to go to C3 but weather was bad,no go.Forecast says it will stay bad for days,some peeps went down.I almost went too but…

2may2010: … but when was the mountain forecast ever accurate? They’re wrong as often as they are right. Let’s wait one day and see!

3may2010: Good weather in C2,we should go to C3, but only Sherpas go, to check if no ‘snow hazard’ exists. I say if they go we should go >:(

4may2010:finally we can go up to C3.But wait,nobody else wants to sleep there,just touch it?No way,I want my acclimatization,I’ll stay alone

4may2010: in C3,all alone,7000m,no oxygen.My radio can receive but not send.I can hear them calling me from C2 [, worried I’m not responding].This is gonna be a long night

5may2010:C3,what a night,cold and some hallucinating dreams.Nature calls,might be interesting on a 45 deg slope,holding to rope for security

5may2010: Back in C2 safely, should be a relaxing rest of day. Ice fall tomorrow. Wait, sherpas want us all to go down to BC now? Why?

5may2010: Snow storm, so best get to BC today. Good idea. Except now we’re stuck in a white out, crevasses around, no rope. Bad situation…

6may2010: Everyone else goes to Pheriche (4200m) to build energy for summit push.I need a rest in BC (5300m).Highlights:Laundry and shaving.

7may2010: I go down to Pheriche to join the others. Doesn’t feel right to go backwards when I’ve already been so close. 4600m away from top.

Back in 2010 Mother’s day was on May 9th, so I called my mom from my Everest expedition. #HappyMothersDay to all Moms! Go call your Mom!

11may2011: long day,gaining 1100m back to BC.Plan is,we’re trying for weather window May 16th.Let’s hope its real, I don’t want to try twice

12may2010: rest day in BC.Weather window for 16th not looking that good with new forecast, but still doable.So we’re still leaving tomorrow.

13may2010: 7 hours from BC to C2. 5 of us trying to summit on this push.Weather is not great,but hopefully it will be in a few days! On Top!

14may2010: going from C2 to C3. Got blood gushing when I clean my nose or spit, hope that’s not coming from my lungs… #everest 2010

15may2010: what a bad night at C3,I maybe slept 1 hour.Windy,uncomfy (3 people per tent).Now I’m the last of our group to leave, alone to C4

15may2010: on the ‘yellow band’, as I go up some sherpas lower a body. Sobering thought. I am also getting sun burned. How bad can it be?

15may2010 19:00: arrive C4 after 10 hours, now I have 2 hours to rest before, literally, climbing mount everest? You gotta be shitting me…

16may2010: weather window never happened yesterday, windy all night. I feel stronger today but what’s the point if weather stays bad?

16may2010: one eternal debate among mountaineers: when going poo at 8000m and -25C, do you wear gloves when you wipe or risk frost bite? 🙂

16may2010 9pm: wow,the wind stopped and people are going for the summit.I’m surprised!Let’s go,but they say higher the weather is unpassable

17may2010: #everest summit! I didn’t expect that. Only problem: now I have to walk all the way back down! Huge inconvenience!

17may2010:10 hours from summit to C2,I broke down mentally.That wasn’t worth it.And I was alone,sherpa left me.Words can’t describe tirednes

17may2010: What did I do at the summit exactly one year ago? I wrote a blog post about it, see here: http://bit.ly/mzxIJW

18may2010: woke up in C2, not sure if the tears all night were real or a dream. Now my vision is foggy, my face is swollen. Snow blindness.

18may2010: shoved some contacts in my swollen eyes and headed (for the last time) through the ice fall to BC. Left alone, sherpas caught up.

18may2010: any uphill portion in the ice fall was soo hard! But now in BC, I’m home safe! No more danger, going home! Woohoo! #everest

19may2010: rest in BC, packing to leave the next day. Giving away remainder of my food and some equipment to sherpas and remaining clients.

20may2010: heading down home! Stopping at kala pathar on the way, nice view but sure is windy! Sleeping in pheriche.

21may2010: long day,pheriche to namche.So hungry after weeks of losing weight,I want to eat!But have to ration remaining cash, no ATMs here.

22may2010: Last long 6h walk,Namche to Lukla.First time near motorized transport in 2 months!Let’s hope the weather is good to fly tomorrow.

23may2010:Fly to Kathmandu!After paying for extra luggage,I am left with 5 rupees(7 cents).rationing money not easy when hungry post everest

23may2010: in Kathmandu, cashless, just climbed #everest and hungry beyond words, went to an ATM to get money and it ate my card. #FML

24may2010: That’s the end of my #everest adventure lookback, hope you enjoyed it! Keep an eye on blog.mazurw.com for more of my writing.

Having read through that myself, I think it definitely paints a nice picture of how things went down! It’s funny how much can be passed along in 140 characters (or less) per day!

posted by Wiktor at 14:00  

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Namche Bazaar, 3440m

Today we are taking a rest day at Namche Bazaar, our second stop on the way from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. If you look at our latest dispatch (which I see hasn’t been posted yet) you’ll know that everyone is doing good, and our bags not being here is the only issue that’s not perfect. So I wanted to elaborate on that a little bit because that’s pretty vague.

Myself, I am not feeling 100%. I started getting a little bit sick as we were leaving for our hike. I usually only get sick when I don’t sleep, and that was the case in Kathmandu, due to the jet lag. Also, the hotel room I was in was freshly painted and I seemed to get a little bit of an allergic reaction to that (or who knows what else that may have been in my room?) Anyways, it made me wonder what kind of paint they use in Nepal, somehow I don’t think it’s the latest and greatest in non-toxic paint, and I wonder how much lead is in it? Not something I would normally ask but under the circumstances… Anyways, I had a sore throat on the first day of our hike and felt pretty weak, right now I’m a little stuffed up, but luckily I have been sleeping a lot lately and seem to be getting over it.

I also have some stomach issues, I frequent the bathroom often among other things, but it’s something I experienced already on Cho Oyu, so I’m not too worried about it. I needed stomach antibiotics last time to sort that out, this time I’m hoping the pro biotic tablets I have can help.

There’s others on our team that are not at their best. One member has Giardia (sp?), another got a sore throat at the same time as me, but rather than get better his sore throat has been spreading lower, and now it’s sitting in his lungs. Others are getting typical headaches, things like that.

So things are not all perfect, but honestly this is about standard for these kinds of expeditions. But because it’s normal, don’t expect to hear these kinds of details in the dispatches that we send out.

That’s it for now, we’ll be another week or so in getting to base camp, I’ll try and write more if there’s anything worth mentioning, and if I have internet access. Hope everyone has a good Easter!

posted by Wiktor at 13:48  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aconcagua: Base Camp and Hanging Around

After three straight days of hiking (covered in my previous post) we reached base camp, which you can see in the picture below. When we first got here, I had a headache, was tired from all the hiking, a little bit hungry, and really needed a rest to get used to the altitude. So at first base camp was not an ideal place to be; walking around and doing anything was slow and required lots of effort. In the end, after coming down to be BACK here, it was such a luxurious place when compared to the higher camps (more on that in the next post).

Base Camp - Plaza Argentina

Below is our more ‘permanent’ tent that we used for a kitchen and dining center, and also as the place to hang out, listen to music, chat about the latest news and events (among other things: discussions about Obama when we realized he would get sworn in while we were somewhere on the mountain).

Dining Tent

A lot of time on the mountain was spent idle, just sitting around and letting our bodies acclimatize to the conditions. Below you can see me just hanging around in our tent, on my way in or out.

Hanging Out

So what did we do during this idle time? I seem to get asked that question a lot. Well for one, we slept a lot, which was 10+ hours, or from dusk til dawn on most days for me, and for everybody else I am quite sure; one of the main reasons for that was that once the sun set you did not want to be outside your sleeping bag. Also later on when I had nothing else to do I thought: “what a better way to kill time than to sleep late into the day?” And also, how often in life do I get to REALLY sleep as much as I want? 🙂

I also had some books to read, and John Grisham’s books definitely are a good way to pass the time. Below you can see Emil hanging out with his music, and the books beside him are mine, one a Grisham and the other being Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills.

Emil and his Music

I also had my iPod with me, which was great for chilling out, however with it I learned one of the first things about altitude: hard drives do not work at altitude. At about base camp my (hard drive based) iPod worked sporadically, and Ryan our guide confirmed that it happens to most ipods, and that if I try to use it at even higher elevations I could damage it for good. So, it stayed at base camp, and for my next high-altitude expedition I will look into flash-based models.

This might be a good time to bring up the other things I learned first hand about life at altitude:

– I had really vivid, realistic, not-enjoyable dreams. That was not too fun, and apparently it’s not all that uncommon either. They did go away once I acclimatized, and then came back once we went higher.

– People have a lot more gas at altitude, and trust me I experienced that first hand. I won’t get into the details here but there were some funny (and also some not-funny) stories about that.

– Loss of appetite. I had heard about this, but didn’t realize the effects of it until the trip was over. At higher altitudes you don’t eat much, partly because the food is not that good or interesting, partly because you have had that same type of food every day for a week already, partly because you’re busy hiking or just living. And I didn’t think too much of it at the time, after all there were some days that we just sat around and rested, so if I’m not hungry that means I couldn’t possibly be burning that many calories! Then once I got down and took my first shower (after 15 days on the mountain without a shower, my personal best!!) I realized how much weight I had lost, as washing and feeling my stomach I realized that for the first time in my life I had lost the ‘spare tire’ around my waist and could feel all my muscles! (Lesson: if you want to lose weight go climb a mountain for a few weeks. Results guaranteed.)

Day Hike from Base Camp

One of the days at base camp we took a little hike away from the normal routes of where we came from and where we were going. That was just to keep our legs active, as days of rest can yield some tight muscles when it comes time to need them. Below you can see me enjoying some of the topography of the area around base camp.

Day Hike from Base Camp

Another way to pass the time was to sit in the tent and relax, maybe drink some tea, which we did a lot of in the higher camps where we did not have our dining tent, and our sleeping tents were all the shelter we had.

Relaxing in the Tent

I also made sure to pray every day, as I have learned that mental strength is more of what gets a person to the top than physical strength. I would say a Rosary every day, and on some tough days of walking I would find myself praying as I’m going up, taking my mind off the burden at hand.

Nothing to do...

By the end of the summit push, when I had read all my books, my iPod was waiting at base camp, the weather outside was too bad to go and talk to people, I would just lay in my sleeping bag and do absolutely nothing. I think there was one day like that, when I can remember looking at my watch, thinking “I have about 8 hours left before I go to sleep with absolutely nothing to do”, and I literally spent that day laying there and just thinking, the first day of my life in a VERY long time where I did absolutely nothing, because there was absolutely nothing to do.

Alright, now that I’ve filled your head with what our idle time looked like, stay tuned for my next entry, when I’ll talk about the trips from base camp to the high camps.

posted by Wiktor at 20:17  

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aconcagua: Days 1-3, Hike to Base Camp

Hotel in Mendoza, preparing to leave

Our start in Mendoza can be seen above, as we get our stuff ready to pack in the trucks. For some background I just wanted to introduce the people that will show up in the pictures. Our guide was Ryan from the US, who has summited Mount Everest several times, and Aconcagua ‘about 7 times or so’, to put it in his words! He was guiding our group of three, which included Emil from Sweden, the youngest of our party, Kerry from Scotland, the oldest of our party, and myself! We got to know each other pretty well on this climb, which is one of those nice things about trips like these. If you want additional info on hiking distances and elevations, refer to my previous post.

Punta de Vacas, the 'before' picture

Alright, first let’s show the ‘before’ picture above, as we prepare to finally depart and start walking. The hike to the top of Aconcagua starts at Punta de Vacas (Point of Cows, as we walk beside the river ‘Cows’ (vacas) on the first day!), where we carry just what we need for the day and have mules carry the rest. The route is quite scenic, with some nice views and beautiful colors along the way.

On the first day of hiking

We start ahead of the mules, and while we were taking our lunch break they passed us, and would be waiting at our first camp for us. The ‘mulers’ as they are called, the guys that lead the mules up and down the mountain, are quite nice, and every night that they camp on the way to Base Camp (BC) they have a big barbecue with great Argentinian meats of all kinds! And they usually share some with whoever needs a little extra nourishment!

The Mulers and the Mules

The way was pretty easy, just trail hiking really, but there were some tricky points like crossing cracked glaciers that made it just interesting enough!

A dirty old glacier

The first night was spent at Las Lenas (2700m, which is high enough to make it part of our acclimatization), and was pretty uneventful, just hanging around the campsite and getting to know the other climbers, talking to the mulers, learning how to put up a tent correctly, and getting that first sleep on the uncomfortable mattress.

Staying warm the first night and taking pictures

The second day we hiked a little bit further, and spent the second night at Casa de Piedra (House of Rock), named such because there is a huge rock which has been party hollowed out and is used as a hut by the Mulers.

Casa de Piedra

This evening was a little bit more eventful in that we had a bit of a snow storm come in, a preview of what we would face on the parts higher up the mountain. Below are the tents we slept in, two people in each.

The snow falls on our camp

The third day the hiking was a little more difficult at times, starting off with crossing a river (which we luckily got to do on mule-back thanks to the Mulers, as the other option was to take off shoes and wade through ice-cold glacier water, which was not an attractive option on a cold morning after a snow storm).

River crossing on muleback

Also, the route was party on the side of a valley/canyon (that can be seen in the picture below), and made for some steep sections where good footing was critical. So on the picture below you can see our route, we started the third day at the end of the river valley behind me, and walked along and above the river.

The valley we walked on the third day

The Mulers on their way to BC, with Aconcagua in the background.

The Mulers leading the way to  Base Camp

From this point we also had a good view ahead at the mountain we were going to summit. This is really the first and last good view we had of the mountain as a whole, as when we got closer you couldn’t quite see it the same way. So I’ll use it to point out the route we followed, refer to that when I am talking about the higher camps in later posts (you may need to click on the image and pull it up in the gallery to see detail about the route we followed).

Aconcagua, and the route that would take us to the top

My typical mountain climbing dress: Waterproof/windproof yet breathable shell, polarized sunglasses, hat to protect from sun with a bandanna to have ear/neck protection, and my trademark Adidas pants.

Aconcagua and myself

After hiking about 5 hours each of the three days, we finally reached our destination, Base Camp called Plaza Argentina at 4200 m above sea level. And from this point on I will continue in the next post…

Plaza Argentina, otherwise known as Base Camp

posted by Wiktor at 21:58  

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