A good team in base camp is crucial to the No Guts Know Glory team’s success on the mountain. Fortunately, we have one of the best. Raj is our Sirdar and cook. Sirdar is the local equivalent of “the boss.” Raj takes care of everything. He orders the food, hires the porters, coordinates the Sherpas, oversees the cook assistants, makes sure we are happy, clean and well-fed and most importantly, bakes the cakes – without an oven.
When we decided to come back this year,” said Rob Hill. “The first thing I said to John was make sure we get Raj as our cook. He was with us in 2008 and his desire to get everything just right shows up everywhere in base camp. It’s amazing really. Our tents are flat, and dry, our camp is comfortable, our food is great, healthy and clean, the rest of the camp assistants are friendly and supportive. When we walk through base camp and see other expeditions’ sites, it’s obvious not everyone is receiving the same level of service that we’re getting. I’m extremely thankful for the whole team, especially Raj. They’re the reason I stayed in base camp while John and Darrell went to Dingboche. I knew I was safer, less likely to get sick, with Raj taking care of things.
Organizing an Everest expedition has become less of an ordeal over the past 15 years than it was in the past. There are several excellent Nepalese logistics companies that serve the established guiding companies. We have one of the best: Himalayan Guides and Expeditions. They have been in business for over 15 years and have fine tuned the art of providing infrastructure for Himalayan adventure. Still a family run business, Himalayan Guides provides excellent support for their staff, including insurance and benefits, an annual gear allowance and retention benefits. When they hire porters, they pay top dollar and ensure that all the porters have the necessary clothing and footwear to carry heavy loads to base camp.
“We’re given excellent support,” said Raj, who speaks English very well, a result of his university level education. “Whenever we need anything, the office in Kathmandu works hard to get it to us fast. Which can be a challenge when we’re high up in the mountains.”
Each week the team has been established in base camp, a runner has returned to Lukla to pick up fresh meat, vegetables and fruit shipped up from the valley below. Employment hierarchy is a way of life in Nepal and the local support members work very hard to establish themselves with their companies. In addition to Raj, we have Durja; he collects water from the surrounding lakes at least a dozen times per day, cleans dishes, delivers food to the dining tent and provides support around base camp – levelling areas for tents, building pathways and sorting porter loads. Durja was also with us in 2008.
We also have Jatha who’s job includes most of the prep work for meals and ensuring that the dietary needs of the Sherpas are met, as well as helping around camp. This is Jatha’s first season working at Everest. Judging from his work ethic, he has many seasons ahead of him and will likely graduate to camp two cook very soon.
Lagan, or “Captain Jack” as he’s affectionately called by the team, trekked in and out of base camp from Lukla with the IBD Adventures team as a porter, has also been a familiar face around base camp. He’s a regular hire of Himalayan Guides and will be with the team when we return to Lukla after a successful summit, helping to carry personal gear for the trek out.
“These guys never stop working,” said John. “They’re up in the morning hours before we are and they’re still often working when we go to bed. From what John tells me, when we’re up the mountain climbing, they’re doing the same for only him, instead of four of us, but apparently they start cooking real fancy when it’s just John working away in base camp. I don’t doubt it, hard work is part of the culture in the mountains, and everyone that works for Himalayan Guides wants us to go home and tell everyone about how good it was – they understand it keeps them employed.”
The climbers are spending one more night in C2. Weather permitting, they plan to climb to C3 early tomorrow morning. The summit push began on May 18, 2010. Rob Hill is trying to raise $29,035 for his non-profit, IDEAS, during his Everest climb. That’s one dollar for each foot above sea level he must climb to achieve his dream. To help him reach this lofty goal, please donate online now, or if you’d prefer, send a cheque to the IDEAS office:
#521 – 119 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC, V5L 2N4
All donations over $20 will receive a Canadian tax receipt for charitable giving. For more information on IDEAS and its programs, please click here.