Archive for September, 2007

Patience on Cho Oyu…

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

team-at-c2-xixa-background.JPG      Team at C2 with Xixabangma in the background (centre)

Climbing big mountains like Cho Oyu has to have patience. I like the way how Phei Sunn described climbing Mustagh, it is like painting the mountain, every stroke counts, up and down. And with patience, come with luck and our own adaptability!

There is an American female climber who has climbed several mountains like Elbrus, Vinsons and some 6000m+ & a 7000m, she gave up after reaching C1 of Cho Oyu. She left the mountain to return home. She said that 8000m is too much for her, she cannot even sleep and breathe properly at ABC, so it is time to tell herself to turn back!. She is the first foreign women to take part in the Tenzing Norgay Everest marathon some yrs back, and with that, she did not doubt about herself climbing a 8000m peak. I believe her decision is prudent. There is no wrong in turning back.

The team is now resting at Nyalam (3600m), we are returning to ABC on 17th Sept, then, will wait for good weather for the summit bid, sometime between 25th & 27th Sept. The purpose of traveling back to Nyalam is to have better oxygen in take. ABC is at 5600m, still too high to really rest well, thus, we made a day trip down to Nyalam.

Back to myself, I have since stop coughing after arriving at Nyalam, flu has long gone too. This prove to be a good decision to come down to Nyalam. I bet my cough will not go away if I am resting at ABC. Kim Boon is happy that the team is feasting each time at ABC. It is very important for individuals to be able to eat and sleep well at high altitude. Our first dinner at Nyalam was really good (we did not stop for lunch, only had porridge for breakfast at ABC before leaving for Nyalam), we quickly snatched up the food that was served and literally ate like there is no tommorrow. The waitress was shocked to have to refill our rice and dishes so soon. I bet she must have a different impression of what Singapore women are like! Sorry Singapore ladies, we gave you a bad name! :p

I’ll talk about my last climb to Camp 2 (C2)

Surprisingly, when I arrived at C1 the second time, I had headache and nausea. This is new to me, I definitely had headaches before, but never felt nausea. I took a Diamox (250mg) immediately (a little too late though), then a pain killer as the headache got more severe. As I rested inside my tent, I tried to eat some rice brought up by our
sherpa (Kami) together with a pot of instant veg. soup. Gosh, the nausea feeling got worst, so I popped in a ‘Vomittng” pill prepared by Dr Mok. Ha… just 10mins after that vomitting pill went in, I threw out all that I took. I wonder if the vomitting pill was to help suppress the vomit or to induce! Glad that I have a ziploc bag readied, or else my tent will smell like shit! Can you recall when was the last time you vommitted? I hate that contraction feeling on the stomach, and everything just got thrown out from it, I thought my lungs were out too..:p

Thank goodness, the vomiting was the end. After the vomit, I felt better, and I could eat more. I took another 2 pain killer pills for my headache, as the last one came out with my vomit q(^0^)p, and slept early. Oh, not forgeting my tentmate, Peh Gee, she was the one who helped me with hot water and stuff during that 2hrs of ordeal. PG was not feeling too well and yet, was handling the chores. Though she did not have headache, she was feeling nausea too. The next day morning, I woke up with a clear mind, and feeling better. But not for PG. She vomitted. Due to that, and she have been complaining of unwell since the start, the team made a conservative decision. As such, we made plans for her to decend to ABC to rest till we return. The team proceed to C2 as planned, and PG descent to ABC.

pg-jo-at-c1-tent.jpg   PG and me at C1 (inside tent)

The climb up to C2 was a whole day affair. Though I took shorter time to reach the first ice cliff, I felt that the climb seems tougher. Perhaps that was due to my vomitting the night before, and a poor breakfast meal. I fell behind the rest very quickly, Yihui decided to walk with me, and soon, the team split into two. Kami, our lead sherpa, is with Jane, Lihui and Dr Mok, while Jamling followed Yihui and me. Jamling was earlier with PG at C1 to wait for another team of sherpa to bring PG down to ABC. Being a climbing guide, Jamling caught up with Yihui and me quickly.

I diligently ate up energy gels, and raisins. For me, raisins are great, it is easy to eat and replenishes energy fast and it is inexpensive:) Soon, I found myself cruising on snow again. I caught up with the rest at the middle of the first ice cliff, but noticed that Yihui was falling behind. After we cleared the 2nd ice cliff, then I got to speak to Yihui, and she told me she was feeling weak. Nevertheless, we need to move on, C2 was supposed to be “just round the band” from where we were (the top of the 2nd ice cliff). We kept walking. We were traversing on a slope with fixed rope all the way. The band seems long, and never ending…as I moved on, I could see Cho Oyu summit vividly! I started to think that getting to C2 is already so tough, I cannot imagine the C3 climb :p. I told myself, one step at a time should be fine!

Eventually we arrived at C2, feeling alright (no headache or nausea… thank goodness), we were about one hour behind the front team, it was a good 10hrs walk from C1 to C2. C2 is at 7028m a.s.l.

The next day’s plan was to walk up as high as we could and return to C2 for another night. We don our clumsy down suits for the climb. I really hated the down suit, it was so huge, and walking with it was really not as easy as I thought. I regretted for not buying a one piece suit, and that the two piece suit size is too big for me. I cannot imagine how I have to cope with it on summit day, where i will need to wear a harness over that down suit, climb the rock band on fixed rope clumsily, and wear a mask, carry at least another 8kg oxygen tank on my back. 🙁

We climbed for about an hour, we were only up at 7150m a.s.l. Yihui was falling behind us rather far. Dr Mok diagnoised that Yihui was suffering from a so-called Classic AMS, hence she needed to turn back and for better, to descend. Descend was all in our mind. Quickly, Jane decided that the team should descend to C1 for the night. We trek down to C2 (the return journey was so fast), changed out of our down suit and headed for C1 at noon. We arrived at C1 by 3.30pm. Got it? 10hrs to move from C1 to C2, but took only 3.5hrs to descend from C2 to C1… basically, the ice cliffs took up most of the climbing time, we only took 10-15mins to abseil off the two ice cliffs while climbing up took hours.

Some quick facts:
First ice cliff – 10-12m high, almost vertical at approx 6700m
Second ice cliff – 30m high at 70-80 degree gradient at approx 7000m

We look forward to a week long of good weather and please continue to cheer for us.

Joanne Soo
16th Sept

Hi everyone :)

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

Greetings again 🙂

We have just concluded our first acclimatization cycle. We are now back at ABC, resting. I am eager to share with you what is happening at this side of my world. I am living well, Kim Boon and Dr Mok are great climbing pals too. Since I arrived at ABC, I caught a flu and having a cough till now. It is really irritating. I have done a lot to prevent myself from getting running nose and cough, I have been taking Vit C and Ginko pills religiously, yet, I still catch them. Anyway, Dr Mok gave me anti-biotics, and I am getting better day by day.

I spoke about the scree slopes between ABC and Camp 1 in my last email? Yes, I have finally crossed it. Comparing the Mt Rinjani’s scree slope, this slope is definitely easier, just that it is at the altitude of 6200m to 6400m a.s.l. That’s the challenge. It was even tougher to decend after a heavy snow fall the night before. I slipped and fell several times, cursing each time I picked myself up and reminded that I will have to do this again the next round :p When I was in it, the trail reminded me of my climb on Mera in 2004. I believed Clarence, Jack, Nicholas and Ivy can relate this very well with me. The trail is exactly the same as the one we descent from the high pass to Chutanga after a heavy snow fall, where we all happily descent without our crampons …then, I had to slide on my butt with Clarence :p The only diff here is that the slope is longer, slightly steeper, and 1200m higher in altitude…yaks! But I had fun recalling those moments as I descent, probably that’s why I slipped more …

Back at ABC, I have also met up with Raja and Chu. It is nice and feeling good to meet up with more fellow friends from Singapore. We have not had a good sunny day for long. Today, 8th Sept happened to be a good sunny day. All are out to sun our gear and many are getting their cameras to capture the magnificient Cho Oyu. The peak still remains mysterious to me. Clearing the first ice cliff is tough, the ice cliff is at 6770m, the second ice cliff is yet to be known. Our sherpas said that the second ice cliff is not as steep, but hell, it will be at the altitude of 6800m at least.. the gradient of the slope do not matter anymore …it is the altitude. Also, I must thank Carmen for her Millet boots, it kept my feet warm and steady during the climb 🙂 Here at ABC, I looked forward to login to the internet and hoping that we received emails from Esther, and updates from friends …

Tommorrow is the 9th Sept, the race day for SAFRA AVventura Race. I hope that the weather will stay clear for everyone, and all participants will enjoy the race. The organising committee must be busy by now. Safra Staff – Siyi, Catherine, Kim Seng, Iswandi, Ernest, Zaidi, Zadee and many more – all the best to the organising. My fellow committee – Kenneth, Jispal, Khai Munn, Thiam Huat, Karen, Chee Yeong and Boon Kui – all the way! And Michael – Thanks for your support towards SAC.

Till my next update, I will stay focus and healthy.

8th Sept
Cho Oyu ABC
4.25pm (Nepali time)