After Hours optimize

Daily update: Challenges and victories on the trail

The almostEverest trekkers have passed 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) and made their way into tundra country. Mike describes the Himalayan panorama and the team's challenges, and he touches on the do's and don'ts of high-altitude interpersonal dynamics.

4/17/00
Dingboche, Nepal
3:00 P.M. local time (5:15 A.M. EDT)

Barren and desolate. That describes the terrain we covered today. From this morning's frosted camp, I could see a band just above us where the tree line ended—tundra country, complete with lichen and shrubs. The band just above that was a wasteland of gravel, rock, sand, and boulders that no sane person would venture into. We ventured into it shortly after breaking camp.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The evening before, the weather finally cleared. If you've ever been to a planetarium and taken in the show, you've seen the incredible images with dark, shadowy mountains in the foreground and moonlit silver mountains in the background, shining with a fluorescent light. Above, you'd see the bowl of the sky and millions of constellations. These were images I thought were made by a machine. But standing in the dark last night, with the moon just two days from full, I had a planetarium theatre as my personal backyard. Orion and the Big Dipper dominated the sky—the moon washed out most of the stars. I searched in vain, my breath steaming, for a shooting star. Maybe another night.

Then the morning dawned, all golden. I was first up. Frost lined everything, and I rushed to get the video camera and capture shots of the camp and some digital stills of these amazing peaks that are off in the distance. It looked like molten gold had been poured on them. The camera did well at 30 degrees F, and I hope our shot captures at least some of the feeling that it was a morning to live and suffer for.

View of distant peaks from camp


David filled you in on the major events of today. Gerry is, well, intestinally challenged, and David and I are both incredibly tired. Again, I'll mention that we owe Bruce Andrews our gratitude—he showed us how to set a rest pace that made the impossible possible, and saved our skins on the long, high approach to Dingboche. He arranged for Gerry's pack to be portered so Gerry could make his way as best his health would allow. I have a picture of Gerry, a distant figure making his way slowly across the barren rock with his trekking poles, one step at a time, dwarfed by the ridge and distant peaks. Gerry and Bruce are today's heroes. Gerry's sleeping now, and I'm typing next to him—the world could end and he wouldn't know it.

Sweeping clouds bring changes in weather—snow, then the hot alpine sun, then the temperature plunges.

David hinted at interpersonal dynamics. I'm sure everyone who is in the company of another for an extended period has to learn how best to get along. David and I, though friends for many years, are no exception. I'm not sure what the secret is, except lots of tolerance. He tends to get snappy and irritable, and God knows what he'll say about me other than my snoring. We're still looking out for each other—making sure we rest on the trail, drink, share snacks and a snappy word or two when one of us is trying to set up the satellite phone and the network won't cooperate and the batteries are draining and we're short of breath and dinner is being served, which we're not eating because we're dealing with the dispatches…well, you get the idea. Who cares in the long run? We're in Nepal.

I think I'll stop here.

Looking forward to the rest day tomorrow!

Peace,
Mike
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Mike Jackman is an editor in chief of TechProGuild, an editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with his co-editor in chief David Bard, he is traveling to Nepal to report on high-altitude technology and to climb 20,285-foot Imja Tse. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike’s an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.