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Everest Olympic torch diary

As the Olympic torch makes its way around the world before arriving in Beijing for the Games in August, the BBC's Jonah Fisher joins it for the high point of its trip - on Mount Everest.

The sixth of his diary instalments finds him peering at the weather conditions to try to work out when a torch climb may get under way.

Everest camp
Lack of information on the weather is proving frustrating

It is a week since we arrived at the base of Mount Everest. Not much has changed.

The mountaineers have yet to make it to the summit with the Olympic torch and the organisers have yet to give us any meaningful information on the climb.

Luckily we have not had to rely on the Chinese officials to work out what is going on.

It is obvious from the snow and high winds we have been experiencing that it is unlikely that the climbers will be making an attempt on the summit anytime soon.

From piecing together various fragments we know the Chinese mountaineers are waiting with the flame at advanced base camp 6,500m (21,300ft) above sea level.

Over the past week it has become clear that the following information is considered classified by the Chinese: firstly, the number of climbers and composition of the mountaineering team; secondly, how long it is likely to take the team to get to the top; thirdly, and most importantly, any information on the weather.

It is this last refusal which is driving many of us to distraction.

Fun new game

The weather is by far the most important factor determining when the torch is taken to the top of Everest.

Last week the top weather expert for the climbers, Yang Xingguo, gave us a forecast in which he ruled out a climb for the next three days.

Just as we suspected at the time, by giving us meaningful information he was stepping out of line.

EVEREST TORCH DIARY
Yak at Everest camp

Mr Yang has not been able to speak to us again and the idea of a reliable weather forecast is now ridiculed every day.

The torch officials talk at length about what they have noticed from looking out of their windows while refusing to pass on any officially gathered weather information.

So every morning we also look out the window, peer at Mount Everest and try to guess what is coming next.

One thing that has changed since last week is our accommodation arrangements.

Originally we were all housed outside in extremely cold makeshift sheds.

After two of our colleagues left due to bad health, the international journalists have been brought inside and now have proper hotel rooms like the Chinese officials.

The Chinese journalists are rather unfairly still freezing outside.

With little to report on we amuse ourselves by watching the security officials trying to keep track of us.

A particularly fun new game is to march off unannounced for a walk.

The challenge is then to spot the poor individual who has been sent to keep an eye on us.

They are usually seen breathlessly clambering a nearby ridge or cruising past in very slow-moving car.

Having complained so much about the lack of information we have at last been told the make-up of the mountaineering team.

There are 31 torch-carrying climbers aged between 19 and 45. Three of them are women and 22 of them Tibetan.

The bad news is that despite the weather improving - all the ropes ladders and tents which had been pre-positioned on the mountain have been destroyed by the heavy snowfall.

Only once they've been repaired will thoughts turn again to reaching the summit.





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