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26 December - Christmas in the Mountains

Well, the hollidays can be a tough time of year. I always thought that this is exactly what I wanted to be doing in life: to be out in the field, in a far away place, making television in the toughest of conditions. I guess finding somebody that you truly love can change all of that.

But, I guess the holliday was out of my hands. As it was, we made a nice dinner (even if it was more mutton, chicken and rice) and managed to find a bottle or two and some presents to celebrate with. Some firends from the BBC and CNN dropped by, very impressed that we were still sticking it out here. As I write this 4 days later, CNN has now joined us in Tora Bora, just in time for all the stories to dry up. So it now looks like we will be playing the age old news game of "If you leave, then I'll leave" and vice versa.

But Christmas was a scant holliday for us. We still had to turn a package and make a live shot for the 7pm Eastern time "Fox Report." Of course, by the time it came to do the liveshot it was already past Christmas here. And no mention was made the the night before when we did prime time liveshots on Christmas eve in the USA it was already Christmas here. At least in a boxing match the ref call call the match and make a TKO out of it. Here, it seems, NY is planning on seeing just how far we can bend before we break. Maybe I've just been away for too long, or my rotation is getting too close. But, the schedule and the editorial demands are quickly coming into conflict.

Well, before the Christmas dinner and all of that we made a little trip up the mountain. We weren't looking for news, just to go up and say hello to the local Mujahideen commanders and see about arranging a trip to Al-Qaeda caves for the next day. I tagged along, partly to get out of camp and also to get some new stuff for the website. The pictures below tell the story best.

I'll save some of my other thoughts for the next update. Since things are getting a bit slow on the news front, I think the next update will be a lot of thoughts on Afghanistan and a lot of boring picture of camp. So, without wasting more words, here's the latest shots from Fox News, Tora Bora. And finally, another heartfelt thanks to all of you who keep coming to I know that most of you are friends and loved ones of the find people that I work with, but I still hope that I am bringing you interesting thoughts from a place far removed from the 21st century.

Ben at the main Alliance camp in the mountains

Al-Qaeda Hilux truck, bombed out by US forces during air campaign

looking at captured Al-Qaeda notebook on artillery

Al-Qaeda caves from a distance. Arrows show cave entrences.

two fighers for the Eastern Alliance.

Ben with an Eastern Allicance "soldier"

tank guarding the approach to Tora Bora

view from the inaccessible entrance to Tora Bora

another view of the same

"Mujahideen Ben"

Al-Qaeda training camp. The main camp is behind the ridge, here you can see bombed out tank

a Mujahideen mans a TOW rocket

More Mujas, they think the digital camera is the most amazing thing in the world

afternoon scene from camp before CNN moved in and ruined this view

early liveshot on our Christmas morning

donkeys moving through the tanks and our liveshot

Pat Butler improvised a shower. Some dumb Muja took a crap in it the next day. Fucker!

The cozy confines of the back of a Hilux pickup

Tanks that form the backgroun of our liveshot

The team on Christmas night

Brad, from CNN and Jake, BBC, join us for Christmas dinner

Chris from photo agency Getty Images also dropped by

It's not turkey or ham, but it's better than starving

Keving and Mal celebrate the old English tradition of the Christmas "Popper"

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