07.11.2008

After Grigory, Olga and Deny landed at the base camp, the main task for those remaining in Nabire was to fit somehow all the remaining personal and common gear within the 285-kg limit. It turned out that Alexei and Vladimir with all their possessions (sleeping bags, clothing and gear) could not possible weigh less than 100 kg each. The share remaining for me, as well as for the remaining products and utensils, was a mere 85 kg. After minimizing all my personal gear (deciding that I would not even take my sleeping bag) and standing on the scales, I’ve got a figure of 82 kg. I had only 3 kg remaining for food and utensils! Upon returning to the hotel after an early supper, Bob and I sent off everybody to sleep, while we tried to somehow reduce the common gear. There was not much left to discard, which is why we packed 10 kg of food into a box, hoping that we somehow will manage to stuff this bag into the helicopter. Then Bob went to sleep, since he and I did not sleep all of the previous night, performing the same operations on the luggage of the first helicopter, while I traveled to the Internet cafe in the hopes of refilling my satellite phone credits using my credit card.

Rising at 4 a.m. next morning, we were standing next to the helicopter at 5:30 a.m. The sky was overcast and there was a drizzle. We all waited impatiently to hear what the weather situation was at the base camp. Deny called us from there at 6 a.m., saying that weather conditions at the base camp were excellent and that Grigory, Olga and he were an hour away from the summit. By that time, weather in Nabire had also cleared, with the clouds rising, and we were told that we could take off in such weather. We only had to wait for a forecast for Enarotali, where we had to make a refueling stop. We were took to the scales together with our backpacks. No miracle happened, nobody lost much weight overnight, therefore the food would not fit into the helicopter. We resorted to a trick, making the impression that we were leaving some of the gear from our backpacks and demanding to be weighed again. In this way we managed to smuggle another 5 liters of kerosene for the kitchen onboard the helicopter. However, the food would not fit anyway. We could not help it: opening the box and stuffing vital foods into our pockets, we sat by the helicopter. The weather people at Enarotali were taking their time. Bob kept speaking on the phone with pilots, the helicopter company, insisting that weather conditions at base camp were good. After another 30 minutes of waiting, I got a call from the chief pilot, who said the weather conditions in Enarotali made a refueling stop impossible, which is why our flight had to be deferred to the following day.

We returned to the hotel and checked back into the same rooms from which we checked out two hours ago. At this moment Deny called, saying that they were on top of the Carstensz Pyramid peak. Everything was fine and they would be starting the descent in half an hour. Eight hours later I got a call from Grigory, who said that they descended successfully and were going to sleep back at base camp. The entire climb took them 14 hours - seven on the way up and seven more on the way down. Our congratulations to Olga Boreykina - the first Russian woman to have climbed the highest peak of Oceania!