Saturday, April 14, 2007

Everest Team Phones Home

Janet Belarmino, Carina Dayondon and Noelle Wenceslao.

The Philippine All Women Everest Team is now at Everest Base Camp in Tibet! According to Erwin "Pastour" Emata, the place is one big tent city dominated by Chinese climbers preparing for the 2008 Beijing Olympics Torch Relay.

The team was able to make a satellite phone call early this evening, which I was able to record. I will post excerpts from the call late tonight...


I first got 2 text messages from the Everest Team at around 4:30 in the afternoon. One was from Noelle Wenceslao and the other was from Dr. Ted Esguerra. Dr. Ted's text said they were already at Chinese Base Camp and also had some bilins (reminders). While Noelle's text went:

"Everest Base Camp na! Sa lahat ng Pinoy na gustong tumulong, pwede bumili ng SMART LINK Satellite Services Prepaid Card from any SMART store and text us the pin number. Pangtawag namin. Please pass."

(We are at Everest Base Camp! To all those Filipinos who want to help us out, please buy us prepaid satellite phone cards and text us the pin numbers. We'll use them to call. Please pass.)

The team is using a SMART ACES Satellite phone but the SIM card is prepaid so they have to reload it after they call. I can't remember exactly how much the prepaid charges are per minute, but I think it's even cheaper than using your cellphone's roaming service -- if you're within the coverage area.

The thing is, Noelle, like Dr. Ted, texted me, from a Globe cellphone number. So I texted back, surprised that they still had a signal at Base Camp. I also asked if I could call them. Noelle texted back:

"Langhiyang mga to, full bars hanggang base camp! Pero may advanced base camp pa! Pwede tumawag actually pero cheaper if we call you NOW. Penge na lang SMART LINK ha? :)"

(Our cellphone signals have full bars in base camp! But we're not sure about advanced base camp. You can call but it will be cheaper if we call you now. Just give us back a prepaid card ok?)

And that's how I ended up recording our phone conversation. The only hitch was my phone could only record audio a minute at a time, and I had to keep asking them to stop so I could resume recording. The team said they would be spending just a few days in the Chinese Base Camp, at 5,200 meters, where 4X4 vehicles (and not with a "car" as I mentioned in the call) can still drive up to.

The actual launchpad of the climb is the Advanced Base Camp (ABC), which at 6,400 meters can already give you a nosebleed just thinking about it. To put it in perspective, this is higher than any mountain on any continent, except of course Asia and South America. Here's a list of the highest mountains around the world.

Highest Mountain in Africa
Kilimanjaro, Tanzania: 5895 meters

Highest Mountain in Antarctica
Vinson Massif: 4897 meters

Highest Mountain in Australia
Kosciusko: 2228 meters

Highest Mountain in Europe
Elbrus, Russia (Caucasus): 5642 meters

Highest Mountain in Western Europe
Mont Blanc, France-Italy: 4807 meters

Highest Mountain in Oceania
Puncak Jaya, New Guinea: 5040 meters

Highest Mountain in North America
McKinley (Denali), Alaska: 6194 meters

Highest Mountain in the 48 Contiguous United States
Whitney, California: 4418 meters

Highest Mountain in South America
Aconcagua, Argentina: 6960 meters

Highest Mountain in the World
Everest, Nepal/Tibet: 8850 meters

Base Camp on the Nepalese side, at 5500 meters, was already debilitating. I can imagine how comfortable it will be at ABC.

In any case, the Philippine Team is in good health and good spirits. According to Dr. Ted, the girls have a blood oxygen saturation level ranging from 90 to 97%, and blood pressure of 90/70 -- which is extremely good.

We should expect another update from the team in a day or two, before they move out of Chinese Base Camp.
In the meantime, here are excerpts from the earlier phone call with Everest Summiter Erwin "Pastour" Emata, Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino and Dr. Ted Esguerra.

P.S. Everest Summiter Leo Oracion isn't with the Team at the Tibet Base Camp because he will be going to the Nepalese side to make arrangements to meet the girls after they traverse or cross Mt. Everest.


monix said...

Waaahhh! Noey has signal! Matignan nga if it's still working.

I super miss them! I don't normally pray, but heaven knows how much I hope for their safety everyday.

livingplanet said...

Great blog and good job!

Kaya talaga ng Pinay. Mabuhay kayo.

Mabuhay ang UP Mountaineers!

We'll keep you in our prayers.

Anonymous said...

hi noelle, carina and janet! my heart is beating fast as i'm typing this. i'm imagining how it's like to be up at 6k asl and soon at 8k asl, to be in very cold chilling weather, feeling ko kasama ako dyan sa mission nyo. no doubt about it. kaya ng pinay. kaya nyong akyatin ang everest. am praying for good weather on summit day. praying for your safety hanggang makababa kayo sa basecamp. just take it one safe step at a time and before you know it you're on top of the world!!!!! mabuhay kayo. paano ba makapasa ng smart link load sa inyo? at least kahit konti, may maitulong ako. i know how hearing a familiar cheerful voice can boost a sagging spirit.

aileen suarez of awc4