The Life of an Expedition leader
It’s not all action, being an expedition leader. There are lot’s off things involved in organizing a climbing expedition. First off all you have to find expedition members, this might take over a year, then we have to get all the necessary Permits. When this is done we can start packing and finally the expedition members arrive and we can go on our way.
This year I will be leading an International group off climbers from 7 different countries to Mount Everest 8848m and Lhotse 8586m. In total we will be 10 members; with an additional 15 staff to support us on the mountain, but also in Base Camp. Our expedition will take around 55 days!
The last couple of weeks I have been busy checking equipment, I have to make sure that all the equipment I need is here and in working conditions. Some things I store here, other things are imported and have to be cleared through customs first. Finally when everything is here we will pitch all tents and pack them in 25kg loads. For a High Altitude expedition like Everest most expedition members will use Oxygen for their ascent. For a croup our size we are talking about 100 Oxygen cylinders! You are talking about hundreds of Kilos of gear!
A very important part of my equipment are my sat coms. This is our connection to the outside world and gives us updates about important things like weather. I find that Thuraya satellite equipment is most suitable for the Himalayas, because their Satellite is stationary and relatively at a high position. This makes it easy to shoot over big obstacles, like Mountains. I will have a communication tent at Base Camp where I run a full office. It has a laptop, Thuraya IP data modem and a couple off Goal Zero solar generators. Solar Power is the most reliable energy source for me; fuel driven Generators simply don’t work well on these altitudes, because off the lack of Oxygen. Higher on the mountain I use a Tablet in a special sleeve from Snowlizard. This sleeve makes my Ipad rugged and adds a considerate amount off battery life. Usually it will last my whole rotation above Base Camp without having to Charge the battery once. Together with my Thuraya XT phone it’s the perfect lightweight system to receive small messages and update my website about our progress.
When all the “Hardware” is packed we will started packing the food. We will have to bring food for 55 days: Rice, Potatoes, Pasta, Fruit, meat, veggies and of course special freeze dried food for higher on the mountain. On top off this we need a considerable amount of fuel for cooking! All this food is packed in 60l airtight barrels that weigh around 25kg each. We have dozens of these barrel all marked with numbers and a pack list, so we can keep track where everything is. Also during the expedition we will get resupplies, mostly veggies and meat.
Roughly we have 3 tons of gear & Food packed now in 120, 25kg loads. Each load should weigh 25kg, because a porter will carry one load and if Yaks or other pack animals are available they can take 2: one on each side. First all the loads have to be flown by Air to Lukla airport at around 2800m, from here everything will go by food or pack animal in 7 days to Base Camp.
Basically Base Camp is one a big pile of rocks, so our staff will be busy making tent platforms for days before our team will arrive. Actually most of our staff is already in Base Camp, but the expedition members will not arrive for an other two weeks!
Please stay tuned for more news: you can follow our progress on www.arnoldcosterexpeditions.com