Hello from Burke Khang Base Camp, reporting first with the only bit of bad news. Unfortunately a second member of our climbing team had to be helicoptered out due to health/medical reasons. This time John Dahlem aka "Coach" was stricken by debilitating back pain that he couldn't manage nor conceive of carrying a heavy pack any higher up.
In addition to our guides Garrett and Sid and our Sherpa team, we are now down to five climbers: Bill, Nick, Kathy, and yours truly Paul & Denise.
We just received some very good news from Sid and our Sherpa team via radio from ABC. Conditions are good and they have successfully finished setting 750 meters (apprx. 2,500 feet) of rope up one of the steepest and what we believe will be one of the most difficult sections of the route. The top portion of this buttress is reportedly quite extreme with a 70 degree pitch. Immediately above this section our Sherpas have established Camp 1 and have graciously carried up tents which are awaiting our arrival.
Meanwhile we have been taking daily acclimatization hikes above Base Camp, the most interesting of which was yesterday's hike to near the border of China. We reached the south side base camp location of Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world.
We have also been enjoying the use of our very cool Oakley Airwave Snow2 goggles and Recon Jet sunglasses - both of which have cutting edge heads up display screens. The technology enables us to monitor our time and altitude without looking at a watch buried under a down jacket and glove, and it also tracks and records our daily altitude gains. The goggles even connect to our smartphones via Bluetooth so we can view and control music playlists (and even text messages if we were in cell range) without having to take our phones out of our pockets or take off gloves. Any skier or snowboarder can appreciate that convenience nowadays.
The Recon Jet glasses have a built in camera for taking video and still shots to capture whatever you see at the touch of a button. Thank you Recon Instruments for sponsoring us and being a part of history in the First Ascent of Burke Khang!
As far as Looking Up and ahead, our plan is to leave for ABC early AM Nepal time on Thurs. Nov. 5th. On Nov. 7th after a rest day at ABC (apprx. 17,500') we will head up the steep buttress utilizing the 2,500' of rope fixed by Sid and our Sherpas, and with luck we will reach Camp 1 before dark. Nov. 8th will be our planned move from C1 to C2, and Nov. 9th will hopefully be our summit day!
This is all subject to the weather, our continued good health, and of course the unknown factors of a route and a mountain that has never been climbed before! Our team is excited beyond belief!
P.S. Here's a shot of Everest taken from outside our tent at Burke Khang Base Camp in the afternoon.