Dispatch—Day 1: March 27, 2009
Expedition Preparation Update
Photo: First Ascent duffels in Kathmandu
Last week RMI’s Basecamp Manager Linden Mallory and RMI’s Operations Manager Jeff Martin arrived at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport in preparation for the First Ascent Expedition. This is their report.
Photograph by Jake Norton

Kathmandu, Nepal

After 35 hours of flying we were amazed to see that all 16 of our First Ascent Maximus 150 Duffel Bags survived the airports of Seattle, Tokyo, and Bangkok, arriving in Kathmandu along with us. After a few false starts and more than a few spills—towering carts of duffel bags crashing to the floor—we moved our gear through the customs officials and x-ray machines and navigated our way to our vehicle before plunging into the chaos of Kathmandu’s traffic.

Next, we combined the 1,000 pounds [455 kilograms] of gear that we brought with us from the States with 2,000 pounds [900 kilograms] of supplies pre-shipped to Kathmandu. Preparing all of this meant unpacking, sorting, counting, resorting, recounting, and repacking the impressive amount of food, gear, and supplies. Ensuring that everything was accounted for, we separated the gear into 30-kilogram [66-pound] piles that the porters and yaks will manage to carry. Three days later, with head’s spinning from labels, weights, several trips to the local markets, and gear shuffled countless times, we triumphantly sealed our last duffel.

During the next week, the 27 overstuffed duffels and 18 60-liter plastic barrels we packed will make their way to Everest Base Camp. They first fly to the tiny mountain airstrip in Lukla before journeying the roughly 50 kilometers [30 miles] up the Khumbu Valley, shouldered by porters or yaks, to their destination along the rock- and ice-strewn landscape of the Khumbu Glacier.

The accumulation of duffels and barrels compromises a staggering amount of gear and supplies, including:

  • 38 First Ascent Katabatic Tents
  • 3 First Ascent Alpine Assault Tents
  • 2 First Ascent Pantheon Dome Tents
  • 30 -20ºF (-29ºC) sleeping bags
  • 60 bottles of oxygen
  • 7 portable Medical Kits
  • 2 Gamow Bags
  • medical oxygen
  • 2 laptops
  • satellite modem
  • a satellite phone
  • portable DVD player
  • array solar panels
  • 97 pounds [44 kilograms] of cheese
  • 103 pounds [47 kilograms] of sausage, jerky, and other meats
  • Over 2,000 Pro Bars, candy bars, and granola bars
  • 24 pounds [11 kilograms] of Gummy Bears
  • 22 pounds [10 kilograms] of Hot Chocolate
  • 40 pounds [18 kilograms] of Starbucks Ground Coffee
  • 45 pounds [20 kilograms] of salsa

With the supplies moving their way towards Basecamp we turned to finalizing permits for the climb. Upon picking up the Expedition Leader Peter Whittaker at the airport, we went straight to the Ministry of Tourism to secure our Everest Climbing Permit. Sitting around the well-polished wood of their conference table, sharing the seats of the many mountaineering legends who have passed through before, we discussed our planned camps, our gear supplies and our itinerary with a representative of the Ministry and our Liaison Officer. Then, after Peter signed a flurry of paperwork, we walked triumphantly out of the Ministry with our Permit in hand.

Now that the team is assembled in Kathmandu the final details of are settling into place and the climb is taking shape. The next task is to follow our supplies up the Khumbu to Base Camp, take stock, and focus our energies on the mountain.

Day 2 Dispatch »
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