Daily update: Leaving Dave behind—for a bit

The high altitude is really taking its toll on the almostEverest climbers. Gerry makes it to Everest Base Camp, but Dave has to be left behind.

Gorak Shep, Nepal
5:00 P.M. local time (7:15 A.M. EDT)

We started out early this morning from Loboche to Gorak Shep over another part of the glacial moraine. Very rocky going, and about another 1,000-foot (305-meter) elevation gain. It didn't look like David was acclimating to the altitude yet—he was very weak and couldn't hold down his food. So after a consultation about one-third of the way here, we sent him back to Loboche with our Sherpa guide Pasanz. David will spend the night in a nice warm teahouse, where he'll rest, drink fluids, try to eat as much as he can hold down, and continue taking Cipro and Diamox. We'll meet up with him again tomorrow when we return to Loboche before starting for Island Peak. Hopefully, he'll be fitter, more acclimated, and ready to go on with the trip. Otherwise, we'll adjust our itinerary. It's vital that everyone is as fit as possible for the altitude. We don't take any chances with anyone.

Dave and Mike near Loboche. Ganesh stuck his head in, too.

The day began warm and bright, and by the afternoon when we reached Gorak Shep, it had clouded over again. We were pelted with snow. I was very tired, so after I helped pitch camp and we had lunch, I napped while Gerry, Bruce, Migma, Galjay, and Rudra headed off to Everest Base Camp. Bruce turned back—too snowy, he said, but Gerry has just returned, successful in his endeavor. He even brought me a little souvenir stone from the base camp. Isn't that thoughtful?

Gerry said there were tents everywhere (he estimates at least 150), and he saw the shrine where a ceremony, called a Punja, is performed for the climbers' safety. He also talked to the Korean team and the Austrian team and saw a huge avalanche up the mountain. I'm going to let him write a special dispatch to describe it.

The terrain going into the base camp is "unbelievable" according to Gerry—he doesn't know how supplies make it in there. I'm glad I rested. I think it would be too much for me at this point.

Actually, while setting up camp here at Gorak Shep, we heard a thundering, which was the first avalanche I've ever heard.

The Korean team hasn't made it past Camp 2, and the Austrian team hasn't made it past Camp 3. The mood in base camp, according to Gerry, was as gray as the weather.

All day we saw military helicopters flying back and forth—evacuations, no doubt.

Luck was with me for staying behind, because I met a gentleman who is heading up the Nepal Light Project. An engineer at Calgary University, he will be using low power, newly invented white LEDs to light up two villages. He is also part of the Everest 2000 team. An article will follow shortly.

The whole team includes (not in order) Rudra, Ang Dawa, Galjei, Mingma, Ganesh, Pasaign, Nam Tre, Purba, Bruce Andrews, Gerry Koeneman, David Bard, and Mike Jackman.

As far as our tech equipment goes, I'm working off the gel cell tonight. It's trickle charging the laptop battery very slowly. The Pumori 2000 expedition has had its share of computer problems, too. I saw their leader, Bob Slozan, on the trail today, and he told me that two of their three IBM laptops have died. They've heard grinding noises coming from the hard drives. I'm thinking the fine dust is somehow getting into their drives, or perhaps it's the air pressure. If so, these Compaq Armadas are holding up very well. We still have about 2,000 feet to take them, so we'll see.

Oh, one special note: Tonight is the first night of Passover according to the Jewish calendar in my PalmPilot. I've brought along a small container of Matzoh to mark the occasion, in some way at least. I'll share it at dinner with my climbing team and any of the staff who want to try it. I like it, but I hear it's an acquired taste. So, I'm celebrating Passover in Nepal.

That's about it for today. As with every day, the physical demands are almost unbelievable. I look forward to seeing my buddy David in good health tomorrow and continuing on our trek and reporting to you on our adventures and "high" tech.

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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.

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