The Big E
So many people have asked many different types of questions about my trek up Mt. Everest (starting after TechEd on August 30th) that I decided to do a brain dump here. Ken Getz's sister asked two important questions here:
* How do people go to the bathroom when tied down to sleep on the mountain?
* How do people cook stuff up there? Like how do they boil water for coffee? Is there like a platform to cook on?
Well you are not actually tied down, the tent is “tied in” to an anchor so if there is an avalanche or massive wind, the tent doesn’t blow away. So here are the options:
Cooking is always a challenge at high elevation. At the lower elevations you use portable camping propane stoves that porters or sherpas carry. At higher elevations, it gets really hard to cook with propane over 18,000 feet (the magic elevation for a lot of reasons since at 18,000 there is exactly ½ the oxygen in the air then at sea level. This is why most major base camps for major mountains are at <18, 000, Everest is at 17,600 for example.) So you don’t cook much over 18,000 feet, but at the same time you also don’t spend that much time at that elevation, you really use base camp as a “base” not because it is on the base of the mountain. You eat a lot of packaged foods and energy bars. Usually for coffee/tea at higher elevations, you use a thermos. We have some thermoses that can keep coffee/tea hot for 24 hours.
I bet you also want to know how to shower and clean our clothes. Clothes are simple, we boil water and then when it cools wash our clothes in a bowl each night and hang it do dry, we wear the “quick dry” athletic gear so it dries overnight. Showers just don’t happen, so we wash also with those bowls and at lower elevations set up a little “wash area” like in the military and shower under a watering can type of thing.
What is funny is that a lot of people walk around base camps in their underwear and flip flops during the day-because they are doing laundry, I know I always do. If you hike fast and get there in the afternoon, it is warm and your clothes are sweaty. If you want to sleep in clean clothes (no time for laundry in the AM before hike), you have to wash in the afternoon and hang all afternoon. So a lot of people wash everything they have dirty, including the clothes on their back.
Also, Kevin and I are going with Wally Berg, super famous Everest dude (see his world famous NatGeo photos here. He is also getting married on the trek at Namche Bizarre, look for my photos and bolog entries after the trek.) Wally has summited about 6 or 7 times and was the guy who took the GPS up in 1989 and they reevaluated Everest's height based on his readings. Wally's recomedation gear list besides the ice axes and crampons type stuff for us to bring are:
q Running Shoes - for travel & easy walking
q Hiking Boots - leather with sturdy mid-sole and a vibram sole. ½ or ¾ shank, boots should be warm and fit well over light and heavy sock combination. Fit is much more important than brand. Take time to select a pair that fits, and break them in well. (Asolo, Merrill, Scarpa Delta M-3, Sportiva TRK)
q Gaiters – Short, simple gaiters are best (Outdoor Research Rocky Mt. Low) Gore-Tex gaitors are not necessary.
q Sport Sandals – Excellent in camp during evenings when worn over wool socks, Perfect for living in tea shops, Sherpa lodges and for visiting monasteries. (Teva)
q Down or synthetic camp booties - optional luxury, any brand with thick foam soles
q Lightweight Socks - 3 pairs Synthetic/Wool Blend (Bridgedale, Patagonia, Wigwam, Fox River)
q Heavy Socks - 3 pairs Synthetic/Wool Blend (Smartwool, Bridgedale, Wigwam, Fox River)
q Lightweight Pants - 2 pair (any brand Supplex or “stretch woven” pants).
q Lightweight Long Underwear Top - (Patagonia Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op)
q Midweight Long Underwear Top - Zip T- neck design is good. Light colors are better for tops because they are cooler when hiking in direct sunlight and just as warm as dark colors when worn underneath other layers. (Patagonia Capilene, North Face, Mountain Hardware).
q Lightweight Long Underwear Bottom - dark colors are preferable. Patagonia Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op.
q Midweight Underwear Bottom - dark colors are preferable because they do not show dirt (Patagonia Capilene, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op).
q Briefs - 4 pairs synthetic or cotton. Running shorts also work well for underwear.
q Short-Sleeved Shirts - 2 synthetic; most nylon running shirts or athletic shirts work. (North Face Tek Ware, Patagonia Tech Dri, or any brand of PowerDry).
q Fleece Pullover or Full Zip Jacket- (Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, ArcTeryx).
q Fleece Pants - Polartec 100 or 200 A good alternative for fuzzy fleece for this layer is Mountain Hardware Chugach Pants. (Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, ArcTeryx).
q Down Insulated Jacket - Medium Weight, Hood Recommended. (Marmot, North Face, Mountain Hardwear).
q Waterproof/Breathable Jacket & Pants - jacket must have hood, pants must have full-length side zips (ArcTeryx, Marmot, Mountain Equipment Co-op).
HEAD & HAND GEAR
q Liner Gloves—Lightweight Synthetic (Patagonia Capilene or any brand of PowerStretch).
q Windstopper Fleece Gloves – (any brand of Windstopper fleece).
q Mittens w/ pile liners - Outdoor Research
q Bandanna -Traditional Cotton, 2 or 3. Very important item, large size is best.
q Sun Hat - any lightweight hat with a good brim or visor
q Wool or Fleece Hat - any brand of warm hat that can go over ears
q Balaclava – Should fit underneath your wool or fleece hat or be thick enough to be worn alone.
q Sunglasses -1 pair High quality 100% UV 100%IR. For general use, travel and lower elevations
q Glacier Glasses - 1 pair High quality 100% UV 100%IR min 80% light reduction, side shields are optional, but size and shape of lens should offer maximum protection from bright light on snow.
q Headlamp w/ spare bulb - AA or AAA battery powered (Petzl or Black Diamond)
q Spare Batteries – bring plenty for reading in tents at night
q Backpack - 2500 cubic inches or more, internal frame. Top opening mountaineer’s rucksack style is best. Avoid large zipper openings and excessive outside pockets. Larger packs are better than smaller, because they are easier to pack with cold hands and they distribute loads more effectively. ( Dana, Arc’Teryx, Gregory)
q Sleeping Bag – 0 to negative 10 degree Down 700 fill minimum (Marmot, Mtn Hardwear, Moonstone)
q Water Bottles - two 1 quart, leak-proof wide-mouth (Nalgene Poly or Lexan bottles)
q Pee Bottle – Optional. One 1 quart, leak-proof wide-mouth (Nalgene Poly or Lexan bottles)
q Pee Funnel for Women Optional (Freshette)
q Pack Towel - Small or Medium size (PackTowl). Do not bring “terrycloth”, Bandanas work in a pinch
q Trekking Poles – Recommended. Useful for going up and down trails of the Khumbu. (Leki 3-section)
q Swiss Army Knife - Remember not to leave in carry on bags for any international or domestic flight
MEDICAL & PERSONAL
q Sunscreen - SPF 30 or higher, non-oily (Dermatone or Terrapin)
q Lipscreen—SPF 30 or higher, any brand
q Toiletry Kit—t.brush, t.paste, lotion, alcohol-based anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial soap, comb/brush, shave kit, lighter, small long-burning candle, needle/thread, throat lozenges (bring travel size bottles to keep you kit small)
q First Aid Kit - ibuprofen/aspirin, assorted band-aids, moleskin, little of hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin-type suave, Nu-skin spray, small gauze pad, roll of adhesive tape, tweezers, safety pins, small bottle of water purification tablets. Include any prescription travel meds that might be prescribed by your doctor. (Antibiotics, diamox, malaria meds, sleep aids)
q Large Trash Compactor Bags For waterproofing some items inside your duffel.
q Zip-loc bags - always useful
q Baby wipes
q Earplugs - Very useful for sleeping in tent and lodges. Available in most hardware stores.
q Expedition Duffel Bag – Important. Large one with strong zippers. Wild Things “Burro Bag” North Face, Eagle Creek, Patagonia Black Hole.
q Small Travel Bag – or second duffel bag. For storing travel clothes and personal items at the Hotel in Kathmandu
q Nylon Stuff Sacks – 2 or 3, for organizing, light colors preferable for labeling
q Clothes for Kathmandu and International Travel 2 –3 three changes depending Comfortable simple travel clothes. Evening in Kathmandu can be slightly cool in autumn and spring. Bangkok is very hot.
q Work-out clothes and/or bathing suit simple and versatile, for hotels
q Passport Belt/Pouch
q Small Padlocks - for locking duffel bag(s)
q Film Be sure to keep in your carry on luggage, in clear zip- lock bags so that it can be inspected.
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