Sunday, May 2, 2010
ABC Part Deux
Well, I am sure you all can tell how much affection I have for ABC. It has only grown since my last blog. I read through my last blast and realized that I didn’t really give you any visualization of this place. From about 15 minutes outside of BC you are walking on what appears to be rock and dirt but really it is the end of the glacier that begins at the foot of the North Col. As you walk the 14 mile trek in to ABC you would swear that you have just been on a dirt trail until you trip up and dig down an inch or two and you hit solid blue ice. About half way up you hit an area where you can stand next to the glacier as it towers over you about 4 stories high. As you draw closer to ABC the glacier widens and your trail narrows till all you see out from you is a sea of ice. This view goes on for miles as you turn right to head up to ABC. You are now surrounded by beautiful mountains and this Icelandic blue ice glacier. All the tents are on the right hand side of the glacier where the width is about 100 yds and stretches for about 700 yds. There isn’t anything green or any other color except dirt, rock and ice. As for animal life you would be surprised to know that there are plenty of black crows and little sparrows to eat up all the leftovers and in our dining tent we have a family of 3 mice. Not rats but mice which are much cuter and easier to live with. As for the various nationalities they are all here. I would have to say that the USA is not well represented. I would put no more than approximately 12 Americans although I have only met 8 not including ourselves. Right next to our camp we have the tres amigos Alfredo, Pedro and Stephan who are from Espana. This is great because these three guys are a hoot. Fortunately Julio speaks perfect Spanish (these guys speak Castillion) so there is quite a dialog until I try to jump in with my 3rd grade Spanish of Dos cervecas por favor. They just look at me and laugh and feel so bad for me they start to speak English. Their age ranges are 30’s, 40’s and 50’s respectively which fits in well with Julio and me. All I can say is I would love to go out in Madrid and party with these guys some day. Next to them is the Amical group of Rolf and Andreas. Rolf I believe is head of a company called Lowa and Andreas is his climbing partner. I met Rolf down at BC when he was trying to negotiate the Yak herders. He came over and we started talking about the art of the deal with them. He said he ordered and paid for 16 extra yaks in addition to the 18 he already paid for. He said look around and count how many yaks there are, 14. Then the Yak herders told him he owed an additional $3,000 or they weren’t going to move his gear. WTF. Guess who you pay for your yaks???? Yes, the Chinese. Once again skimming off the top. Talk about how to shoot yourself in the foot. Needless to say it has been very nice to have Rolf next to us because he is our weatherman. Apparently he gets his information from some high tech people out of Austria and we get it from him for free! Thank you Rolf! Just below us is the Jordan Romero team. This is the father/son team where the son is trying to be the youngest to summit all 7 summits. They are very nice and are the only people to let us use their phone and internet for free which is incredible. Thank you! The 7 summits club is down and to our left. They are a big group (27) and have quite the set up. I met a guy by the name of Jamie who is using their services and has invited me over twice. They have a communications tent. Are you kidding me? They have a bank of phones, computers and a 48 inch HD TV for watching movies. We can’t even get a generator to work let alone have a communications tent. I am very jealous and they guard it like a hawk. I tried walking in backwards but they kicked me out. Further above us is the Chinese. This is a huge group of about 80. They have been here since the beginning of April and are the most acclimatized. They run up and down the mountain like they are at sea level. What I like is that they definitely have fun. They have a movie tent and you can hear these guys party all night long. How they do it I do not know. It is hard enough for me to go from my tent to the dining tent let alone party. I hope I reach that point. My Sherpa tells me that they aren’t really Chinese but Tibetans. Then you have the Germans who are here in force along with the Italians, Hungarians, Japanese, Irish, British, Australians, French and I’m sure some others. So each night everyone goes to sleep about a half miles walk from the base of the North Col and staring up at the summit. It really looks like you could reach out to the top but then you realize that it is 8,500 vertical feet. What is also interesting to note is you can always here the crackling of the glacier off to one side and the rock fall from the mountain on the other. Remember that we ARE sleeping on the glacier which is constantly moving and directly above our heads is a huge slope of rock. I’d have to tell you that sometimes I have slept in my boots just so I could run out of my tent if I needed to. I think it just might be a Californian thing because my Sherpa’s think I’m nuts. It keeps my feet warm too! More later.