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Asteptarea / The Waiting Game

June 14, 2010

NE Fork Camp: 14 iunie / 14 June

– Cele doua mesaje anterioare au fost dictate la tel si cu o conexiune destul de fragila. / The previous 2 msgs were dictated over a poor connection.

– De data aceasta am sa alternez versiunile (RO/EN) pe paragrafe. / This time I will alternate the versions (RO/EN) by paragraphs.

RO: ‘Rabdare’ – nu e un cuvant pe care cineva l-ar folosi ca sa ma caracterizeze… Si totusi rabdarea a fost si este cuvantul cheie pentru mine in aceasta expeditie. Sunt in tabara de la NE Fork (aprox. 2315m alt), in cort si ma uit pe usa deschisa la Denali – la traseele West Rib si Cassin, la ninsoarea usoara dar constanta care cade deja de vreo ora si la ocazionalii pedestrasi care se intorc de pe ruta normala si sunt in drum spre Base Camp si zborul salvator catre civilizatie. Pe varfurile din jur seracurile cad cu frecventa si mai ales furie, intrerupand sunetul monoton al ninsorii pe cort.

EN: ‘Patience’ – is not a word someone who knows me would use in relation to me. Yet, ‘patience’ is the key word for me on this expedition. I sit in my tent at the NE Fork  Camp (aprox. 2315m alt) and watch through the open door, Denali. I am watching the West Rib and the Cassin routes, the light but steady snowfall that’s been going on for the past hour and the occasional pedestrians, usually dejected, on their way down from the West Buttress and on way to Base Camp and the conforting flight home. On the sourrounding peaks the seracs are releasing chunks of themselves, punctuating the monotony of the drizzle on my tent fabric.

RO: in ultimele zile ramasesem fara baterii la PDA si cea de la telefon era doar pe sfert asa ca nu am reusit sa comunic prea consistent; nu ca as fi avut mare lucru de spus… La plecarea de acasa imi facusem un plan destul de riguros de aclimatizare pe care speram sa am suficienta consecventa sa il urmez. Stiam ca fara aclimatizare imi va fi greu pe Cassin; de asemenea, la intalnirea de orientare ni se spusese ca orice persoana cu edem (HAPE sau HACE) care necesita evacuare va fi refuzata reintrarea in parc pentru acest sezon. Mi-am urmat astfel cu rabdare programul de aclimatizare pe traseul normal (West Buttress) si am ramas in tabara de la 4330m alt. (Basin Camp) 5 zile.

EN: Over the last few days my PDA’s batteries ran out and the quarter left on my phone’s battery meant scant communication; not that I had much to communicate. Before leaving home I drafted a fairly rigourous acclimatisation plan and was hoping to be able to follow it. I knew that it would be hard on the Cassin without proper acclim; I was also aware from the orienteering meeting that any cases of HAPE or HACE that needed evacuation will be removed from the park for the season. Therefore I patiently followed my acclim plan and I remained at Basin Camp (4330m alt.) for 5 days.

RO: 5-7 iunie am ramas in Basin Camp (4330m alt.) Pana pe 6 am ramas de voie insa in 7 am ramas de nevoie. In 6 seara a inceput sa ninga si a tinut-o tot asa. Tom a decis ca in ciuda durerii de cap sa urce la High Camp (5245m alt) in 5 iunie. I-am dat cortul meu si eu am ramas intr-unul de imprumut, urmand sa urc pw West Rib Cutt-off o zi mai tarziu. Vroiam sa ma simt 100% inainte sa schimb tabara.

EN: During 5-7 June I remained in Basin Camp (4330m alt.). 5-6 willingly but on the 7th not so much… On the 6th evening it started snowing and kept on going. Tom decided that despite some headache he would like to go higher, to the next camp (5245m alt), on the 5th. I gave him my tent and I remained in a borrowed one. I was supposed to join him next day but via the West Rib Cutt-off. I wanted to feel 100% before moving higher.

RO: din pacate ninsoarea din 6 si din 7 a facut total impracticabil WR Cut-off si cu avalanse curgand peste tot am pornit spre High Camp (5245m alt.) in data de 8 tot pe traseul normal (West Buttress). Am ajuns in High Camp pe 8 seara si dupa ce m-am instalat a venit si Tom care tocmai facuse varful pe ruta normala. Era inghetat si obosit asa ca a ramas sa discutam a doua zi. Eu aveam in plan minim 3 zile de aclimatizare aici. Varful era optional (8 ore distanta). A doua zi, discutand, Tom a ajuns la concluzia ca varful pe West Buttress e suficient pentru el si cu doua degeraturi la degetele de la mana aspiratiile lui se indreptau spre casa, asa ca in 10 dimineata a pornit la vale cu un grup care facuse varful. Urma sa ma astepte pana pe 13 la NE Fork camp pentru a lua o decizie formala.

EN: The snowfall of 6th and 7th June put the West Rib Cut-off out of the question for me so on the 8th I moved up to High Camp (5245m alt) still on the West Buttress route. I was still on  myacclim schedule and needed 3 days at High Camp. The summit was optional via this route. After I settled in Tom showed up, straight from the summit, frozen and tired. We resolved to talk next day. With two frostbitten fingers and with the summit in the bag via West Buttress, Tom decided that that was good enough and would prefer to head home. I had to remain to High Camp for at least 3 days to continue my acclimatisation program so, next day, on the 10th, when he joined another party on the way down we agreed to meet at NE Fork Camp on the 13th and take there a formal decision.

RO: Noaptea aceea (10 spre 11 iunie) a nins din nou,ca si noaptea anterioara, mai bine de 1.5m iar ziua de 11 a fost furtuna in High Camp. Lasasem ceasul cu termometru in vestibul si in 3 ore a inghetat complet asa ca nu am idee ce temperatura a fost. Am strans tabara si am coborat, in 11 iunie, dupa ultimii rangeri inapoi la 4330m alt, in Basin Camp.

EN: That night (10 to 11 June) it snowed again, like in the previous night, more than 1.5m of fresh snow. The day of 11th was really stormy in High Camp. I left my watch with the thermometer on in vestibule and in couple of hours it froze solid – I have thus no ideea of the temperature. I packed the camp and went down, after the rangers,  on the afternoon of the 11th, back to Basin Camp (4330m alt.)

RO: Din grupul de Romani care au fost zilele astea pe munte, au urcat pe varf, pe traseul West Buttress, Marius Gane si Teo Vlad in 7 iunie iar in 8 iunie Alexandru Halibei si Camelia Manea impreuna cu Tom Chew. Ioana Molnar si Claudia Damoc care au ajuns in High Camp (5245m alt) in 8 si respectiv 9 iunie au prins zilele de furtuna si au coborat in Basin Camp, cu mine in 11 iunie, urmand sa astepte acolo o fereastra favorabila pentru a urca inapoi in High Camp si apoi pe varf. Marius Gane si Teo Vlad au coborat din Basin Camp spre NE Fork in 9 iunie pentru a astepta conditii bune pentru traseul West Rib.

EN: from the Romanians present on the upper camps those days summited, via West Buttress, Marius Gane and Teo Vlad on the 7th of June and Alex Halibei and Camelia Manea, together with Tom Chew, on the 8th. Ioana Molnar and Claudia Damoc who reached the High Camp on the 8th and 9th got the worst of the weather and descended with me, back to Basin Camp, on the 11th, to wait for a window in weather and return for a summit bid. Marius Gane and Teo Vlad descended on the 9th to NE Fork camp to wait for the West Rib to get into condition.

RO: cu aclimatizarea facuta insa cu doua zile in urma conform programului stabilit pe hartie, in dimineata zilei de 12 iunie am pornit spre NE Fork Camp intr-o adevarata furtuna de zapada cu vizibilitate sub 1m. Fara urme batute, cu sania dupa mine si in zapada mai sus de brau, chiar si cu rachete mi-a luat timp. Pe parcurs am dat de un grup de 8 Americani, cu ghizi, care facusera bivuac la Windy Corner si care se puneau din nou in miscare. Am asteptat 1h pana au pornit insa a meritat, avand acum beneficiul urmelor batute de ei. Tot am ajuns tarziu la Motorcycle Hill / 11k ft Camp (3350m alt) si obositi tot grupul ne-am oprit pentru noapte. Furtuna isi vedea de treaba ei. Pentru a confirma ca lenesul munceste de doua ori, in toiul noptii m-am trezit tavalit cu cortul. Din lene estimasem 1m fiind suficient de adanc pentru adapost si m-am oprit din sapat. Vantul, noaptea aceea, a avut alta parere si dupa ce la 3am m-am recuperat de pe coclauri am sapat inca 1/2m inainte de a-mi continuat somnul.

EN: Acclimatised but 2 days behind according to my schedule, on the morning of 12th I left for NE Fork Camp in a snow storm an with below 1m viz. Without tracks, towing the sled and in waist-deep snow, even with snow shoes took a while. On the way I came across a guided party of 8 who bivied around Windy Corner but were getting ready to continue downhill. I waited 1h for them to get ready but the benefit if them breaking trail was worth it. Even so I arrived late at Motorcycle Hill / 11k ft Camp (3350m alt) where we all abandoned the slog and decided to camp overnight. The storm went on. To confirm that lazyness’ payoff is doing the work twice, around 3am I found myself and my tent tossed around… I estimated that 1m was enough for my hole but it seems the wind that night thought otherwise. After collecting myself and my shelter from where we were blown I dug the remaining 1/2m and promptly resumed sleep.

RO: Ziua urmatoare (13 iunie) a fost superba: senina, calma si insorita. Am strans tabara si am continuat (partial calare pe sanie) drumul spre NE Fork Camp. Pe drum m-am intalnit un grup din Singapore, pe Coco si Ovidiu Popescu (proaspati ajunsi dintr-o expeditie in Mexic), un grup de 3 sibieni cu care am cunostinte comune si in final un grup de 8 persoane ghidate de prietenul meu din Beijing, Sun Bin. Curand am ajuns la NE Fork unde am dat de Marius si Teo si unde ma astepta Tom. Aproape hotarat sa ia drumul spre casa, I-am sustinut 100% decizia. Cassin ridge nu e un traseu in care sa intri cu indoieli daramite ezitant. I-am urat drum bun si l-am rugat sa aranjeze cu pilotul si sa-mi lase niste alimente proaspete la KIA Base Camp. In rest planul meu ramane neschimbat, depinzand doar de vremea buna. Dupa plecarea lui Tom m-am uitat in jurul meu, la micul nostru sat de 3 ‘case’. Biblerul meu galben, sediul unui ”one man show’ acum, VauDe-le verde al lui Marius si Teo si cortul colorat al lui Russel Brice si al prietenului/clientului sau londonez. Toti ne uitam la acelasi munte, asteptand vreme buna: eu la Cassin, Marius si Teo la West Rib iar Russel si prietenul sau la West Buttress.

EN: next day (13 June) was awesome – sunny, clear and calm. I broke camp and I continued (partly riding my sled) to the NE Fork Camp. On the way, coming up, I met a party from Singapore, then Coco si Ovidiu Popescu (freshly off a summit from Mexico), a three-man party from Sibiu with whom I had mutual friends and finally a party of 8 guided by my Beijing friend, Sun Bin. I soon reached NE Fork Camp where I met Marius and Teo and was awaited by Tom, by this time quite decided on taking a flight out. I fully supported his decision – the Cassin is not a place to be on half-heartedly. I bid Tom farewell and asked him to arrange with the pilot to drop me some fresh food at KIA Base Camp. Everything else from my plan stays unchanged and pending good weather. After Tom’s departure I looked at our little village of three dwellings: my yellow Bibler, the home of one man show now, the green VauDe of Marius and Teo and the colourful tent of Russel Brice and his Londoner friend/client. We are all looking at the same mountain bidding our time: myself at the Cassin, Marius and Teo at the West Rib and Russel and his friend at the West Buttress.

15 iunie! / 15 June!

RO: Marius si cu Teo sperau, ieri (14 iunie), cat a fost vreme frumoasa, sa porneasca spre West Rib. S-au impachetat si pe la amiaz erau gata. Desi ma tentase initial si pe mine, la cum arata cerul la 1pm mi-a disparut entuziasmul. Russel Brice gandea la fel si fiecare am ramas in cortul  nostru cu o carte in mana… In 1/2 de ora a inceput ninsoarea si de ieri o tine tot asa. Pana la urma baietii au pornit doar intr-o plimbare prin ‘Valley of Death’.

EN: Marius and Teo were hoping yesterday to go for the Rib. Although, innitialy would have liked to join them, towards my route, the state of the sky by 1pm convinced me otherwise. Russel Brice thought strongly the same and both of us remained in our tents reading. 1/2 hour later the snowfall began and carried on, unintrerrupted, throughout the day, night and until now. The boys left only for a stroll up the ‘Valley of Death’.

RO: Ieri am asteptat toata ziua vesti de la Tom care trebuia sa imi dea de stire sa ma intorc la KIA Base Camp dupa cortul usor in care a ramas peste noapte si dupa mancarea proaspata pe care l-am rugat sa o cumpere (oua, paine, unt, bacon, ciocolata, etc…). Pana azi insa nici o veste… Daca pana dupamasa nu primesc nici un semn si daca ninsoarea se mai domoleste am sa merg pana la KIA (3+2h) sa recuperez macar cortul de care am nevoie pentru Cassin… Sper totusi ca Tom sa nu fi uitat ce l-am rugat…

EN: Yesterday I waited all day for news from Tom so i can go to KIA Base Camp to recover the lightweight tent and hopefully the fresh food shopping i asked him to do for me in Talkeetna (eggs, bread, butter, bacon, chocolate..). However, until now, I have no news from him… If I still have no news in the afternoon and  if the snowfall lets in a bit i’ll have to go to KIA anyway (3+2h) to recover at least the tent i need for Cassin.

RO: Din cauza norilor panoul solar nu a mai facut fata sa incarce si telefonul si oricum, din cauza acelorasi nori receptia e doar 1 linie – insuficient pentru a trimite acest email acum, in aceste conditii. Zapada se aduna in continuare pe cort, langa cort si pe peretii di jurul vaii. Avalansele continua sa curga alimentate non stop de ninsoare. Rabdarea mea cu vremea din Alaska incepe sa se risipeasca…

EN: Because of the heavy clouds and snowfall the solar panel could not fully charge the phone so I could send this email, nor the reception goes beyond 1 bar which is also insufficient. The snow continues to collect on thetent, around thhe tent and on the walls around the valley. Fueled by the snowfall, the avalanches continue pouring. My patience with Alaskan weather starts to wear thin..

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