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April 22, 2001

From: Kevin Cherilla 
Base Camp Manager

From left to Right: Zac German, Maurice Peret, Reba Bull, Kim Johnson, Jonathan McDonagh, Jason Dimmig, and Kevin Cherilla.
Photo by Didrik Johnck

NFB 2001 Everest Expedition Base Camp.
Photo by Didrik Johnck

From left to right: Mingma, Tinzing, Pesang, and Mankumar.
Photo by Didrik Johnck


Namaste to you all!

For many years I have read books and magazine articles, watched movies and documentaries, have spoken to many climbers, and even dreamt about what it would be like on Mt. Everest.  Finally, on April 4th, as I left the little town of Gorak Shep at 11:00 a.m. I realized I would finally get to experience Mt. Everest first hand.  As I walked towards base camp for the next hour and a half on the rocky serpentine trail that winds through the Khumbu valley and dead ends at base camp, I knew my dreams would finally become reality. 

For the next 60 days seven of us will spend our days on the rocky, moving ice slab of the Khumbu glacier that makes up base camp. Nuptse, the west shoulder of Mt. Everest, Khumbutse and Pumori, surround base camp and offer spectacular views and incredible avalanches, several times a day.  Every time we look to the East we stare directly into the Khumbu icefall and watch climbers go up and down like little ants.  We share this little plot of land with approximately 300 people from all over the world.  There are 19 different teams on 10 climbing permits. 

All of us here at base camp have daily tasks that need to be completed in order to assist the 13 climbers to the summit of Mt. Everest. 

Our day usually begins every morning at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast, which usually consists of dry cereal, fried eggs and pancakes.  Some of my daily tasks consist of doing web-site dispatches, answering emails, getting loads together for the Sherpas and climbers, cleaning the toilets, organizing the food for on the mountain, and other little odds and ends jobs that keep base camp organized.  I also do the daily radio check-ins at 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. with the climbing team while they are on the mountain and stay tuned to the radio around the clock in case of any emergencies.  Every evening at 5:30 p.m. I do a weather broadcast over the radio for all of the teams on the mountain.  During the climbers summit attempt I will be in the communication tent around the clock monitoring their progress.  On occasion I visit other expeditions to find out critical information about conditions on the mountain, see if they are going high on the mountain in order to take something to our climbers, find out if they have any DVD movies they would like to swap, and just to be friendly.  I also entertain the many trekkers from around the world that come by our camp.  I even made a snowman and snow-woman with several expedition members after a big snowfall!  During my "off time" I enjoy writing in my journal, taking day hikes into the Khumbu icefall, Pumori base camp, ice climbing and listening to tunes.

Base Camp Staff:

Hi everybody!  My name's Zac German and I'm one of the people hanging out here at Base Camp helping to keep things together while the climbers are up on the mountain.  My official responsibility is academic.  I'm part of a Brown University research study looking at the effects of altitude on cognitive function and speech.  Each time the climbers reach a higher camp, Jon, Jason, and I test them by recording their speech patterns and administering cognitive tests over the radio.  In addition to the research, I've gotten involved with getting our communications systems set up.  This could potentially be an around the clock job because, given the primitive nature of Base Camp, we're forced to jerry-rig everything from our solar panel setup to our email network.  Thankfully, we have enough communications people here that we're able to spread the workload around, which leaves me time for short day hikes or the ever-dreaded process of doing laundry by hand.  Well, that's about it for me.  Take care!  PS.  Send bacon!  Spam and yak meat just doesn't cut it...

Jonathan McDonagh and Jason Dimmig: We are fourth-year medical students from the University of Vermont.  We are also helping to run the Brown University study thanks to our friend and advisor Geoff Tabin, MD... we are also getting medical school credit to come live at Everest Base camp for two months!!  We spend a lot of our spare time ice climbing on the seracs of the Khumbu glacier and hiking part way up Pumori to get views of the Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse at sunset.  We really like yak cheese and spam, not to mention Nepali grown potatoes- you should try them some time.  In Jon's spare time at home he likes telemark skiing and rock climbing.  In Jason's spare time he also enjoys rock climbing (with Jon and crew from the medical school), skiing, and hangin' with fiancee Christy and Stella.  When we get home we're going straight to the Shed Pub in Stowe, VT for a pint of Mountain Ale and a Shed Burger.  After that, we plan on dropping out of medical school and starting an internet company promoting the 'Khumbu Weight Loss Program.'  More seriously, Jon is moving to Seattle to begin residency at the U. of Washington, and Jason is staying in Vermont for a year and then heading to U. of California, Davis with Christy and Stella for residency.

Reba Bull: 
Hi. First of all, I feel extremely privileged and grateful to be a part of such a wonderful group of people with such an exciting goal.  I especially want to thank my husband, Brad Bull, who encouraged me to experience the amazing people and country of Nepal along with witnessing the NFB Expedition.
There are many things about base camp life that I could share.  But, I will only mention a few of my favorites.  When it is difficult to get out of my sleeping bag in the morning, I know that all I have to do is go down to the cook tent and see Tinzing's smiling face (our cook) and my day is immediately brighter and warmer. 
When the climbers are up on the mountain for days and we meet them at the base of the icefall, their excitement to be back "home" is overwhelming.  It is a thrill to have this opportunity to greet them upon their return.
The one thing that we search for in our busy lives at home is time.   Here, I have all the time in the world.  I spend it reading, hanging out with the rest of the base camp crew and I even get a bit of high altitude baking in here and there.
This is an experience of a lifetime.  I am thankful for the opportunity. 

My name is Maurice Scott Peret and I am a Rehabilitation Instructor of the blind at Blind Industries and Services of Maryland in Baltimore.  I am the communications specialist for the National Federation of the Blind here at Everest base camp.  Along with Erik Weihenmayer, who is high up on the mountain, I can answer any questions about blindness that you might have.  I look forward to hearing from you. 

Kim Johnson, Film Crew Base Camp Production Manager: I'm happy to be here at Bast Camp documenting the expedition with filmmaker/climbers Michael Brown and Charley Mace who are up on the mountain with the team.   Thanks to Aperture Films, Newport Productions and Allegra along with the NFB, we're here capturing the story as it unfolds on HDTV, high-definition television.   Believe me, it's an incredible adventure and I'm glad we'll be able to share it with everyone soon.  Each day is a new learning experience whether it concerns figuring out how to keep cameras and batteries operating in very cold temps at the top of the world or yaks from tearing through the communications tent here at Base Camp.  We smile at the warming sun each morning and marvel at the beautiful alpine glow on the mountaintops each evening. 

Now that you have been introduced to the wonderful base camp staff, please tune in daily to find out what we are doing.  Along with a great climbing team I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful base camp team.  We share many stories and laughs together throughout the day and we hope to bring you the same!  Enjoy our base camp team picture and the picture of our base camp Sherpa staff.

Make yourself a great day!


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