- Melissa Arnot
- Alex Barber
- Gabriel Barral
- Jake Beren
- Zeb Blais
- Katie Bono
- Anne Gilbert Chase
- Sean Collon
- Leon Davis
- Elias de Andres Martos
- Cody Doolan
- Paul Edgren
- Mark Falender
- Leah Fisher
- Eric Frank
- Steve Gately
- Josh Gautreau
- Thomas Greene
- Casey Grom
- Dave Hahn
- Walter Hailes
- Tim Hardin
- Mike Haugen
- Andy Hildebrand
- Mike Hinckley
- Joe Horiskey
- Nick Hunt
- Tyler Jones
- J.J. Justman
- Levi Kepsel
- Mike King
- Adam Knoff
- Katy Laveck
- Ben Liken
- Josh Maggard
- Paul Maier
- Linden Mallory
- Lindsay Mann
- Andres Marin
- Jeff Martin
- Erik Nelson
- Billy Nugent
- Brent Okita
- Logan Randolph
- Tyler Reid
- Dave Reynolds
- Kel Rossiter
- Geoff Schellens
- Shaun Sears
- Garrett Stevens
- Jason Thompson
- Mike Tomlinson
- Mark Tucker
- Mike Uchal
- Pete Van Deventer
- Alex Van Steen
- Ed Viesturs
- Maile Wade
- Mike Walter
- Seth Waterfall
- Solveig Waterfall
- Peter Whittaker
- Win Whittaker
- Bryson Williams
- Dan Windham
- Robby Young
Posts from 03/2012
While we were expecting a chilly night of sleep, it was surprisingly warm in Pheriche. The colder temperatures rumored in the valley this spring didn’t affect us as much as we anticipated, much to everyone’s pleasure. Without needing to reach the next village before the weather set in, we took our time at breakfast, going through several thermoses of tea before we headed out for a hike. Leaving Pheriche, we climbed directly up the tall hillside behind town and across a rolling plateau to a ridge running from the higher hills above. Pausing there we had clear views southwards back down the Khumbu Valley towards Tengboche and eventually Namche. To our west the valley continued up further before turning sharply north and into the final cirque of mountains where Everest Base Camp is. To the east ran the Imja Khola Valley, framed at the top by a ring of mountains surrounding Island Peak - the climbing objective for a few of us next week after we visit Base Camp.
We climbed a bit higher up the ridge, eventually stopping in a spot protected from the gentle but still biting breeze. Staying up there for awhile, we looked at the panorama of great Himalayan peaks and giving our bodies the feel for the higher elevations to come. We descended back to our tea-house by midday and spent a few hours relaxing the the sun room - a greenhouse like room built on the second story that heats up quite quickly during the day - before heading next door to the Himalayan Rescue Association Clinic. Volunteer doctors staff the small medical facility here, offering medical care for the local population as well as trekkers affected by the altitude. They gave us a very informative briefing on altitude and demonstrated the use of a Gamow Bag - a portable hyperbaric chamber used to simulate lower elevations.
The team remains in great spirits, managing the newer altitudes well and keeping the trip lighthearted and convivial. Tomorrow we climb further up the valley to the tiny village of Lobuche, sitting alongside the toe of the Khumbu Glacier. It is exciting to be approaching our destination and we are looking forward to the days ahead.
On The Map
What a commute. It seems like I left days ago to get to the office, (actually, that is true). It feels so good to get on the trail. The charm of the city is OK but being here in the Everest region of the Nepal Himalaya, is tough to beat.
The flight into Lukla is always a bit hairy for us in the back of the plane but it is business as usual for the pilots. Local support has been stellar as usual. Thank you Sagar and Kili Sherpa of High Altitude Dreams for all your hard work in getting our team to this point. We were on one of the first flights from Kathmandu to Lukla this morning, not too bumpy. We were greeted by our Lukla staff at the landing strip. All of our gear arrived in good shape and we started along the trail, our first three hour tour in the multi-day trek to Everest Base Camp. We arrived in Phakding in good style. Looking so forward to what usually is my first real sound night’s sleep to the music of the Dudh Kosi river, which is situated just outside my room. Location of couple of good sized floods, one in 1977 from an avalanche off of Ama Dablam, (a nearby peak standing at 23,355 ft) and in 1985 when a glacier lake broke loose. Not to worry, I won’t miss a wink over it. Love to live on the edge!
—RMI Guide Mark Tucker
Living on the edge (of the river) is the great adventure for the day. Well, maybe the exhilarating flight on the tiny airplane between two mountains was a greater adventure. The trail is great. It is plenty busy but not overcrowded. The hike was mostly downhill, which was a great way to ease us into this trek. We are enjoying the warm weather before we move up to higher & colder ground. Mark has been encouraging us to eat food often to keep our energy up. And the tea houses serve large quantities of food. It has become a running joke in the group since John is not a big eater. John keeps claiming that he is being force fed. All kidding aside, the team as a whole is in good spirits and is getting along well.—Kim
This has been a long day, but a fantastic start to the trek. We headed for the airport at 5:00 am, trading the crowded noisy streets of yesterday for more space and speed. Mark arranged for boxed breakfasts to ensure we were nourished and ready for the trail when we arrived.
We moved through the airport smoothly and quickly - which is saying something given the throngs of people all heading off on their own adventures. Mark and the High Altitude Dreams crew were all over the details and in no time we we in the air heading for Lukla. The flight was short, the runway was shorter. It took a few minutes to collect our gear and sit down in a nearby teahouse for breakfast - again.
After a couple hours on the trail we stopped for drinks and food with a great view of Kusum Kangguru. A couple hours later we arrived at our home for the night - and had lunch - again. The rest of the day we just hung out and relaxed, saving energy for our first real uphill push. I’m sure dinner is soon. —John
On The Map
The team got a great night sleep and was up early for time in the gardens and the workout room. No joke, Kim felt the need for some exercise after 35 plus hours on planes over the last few days. After a nice leisurely breakfast we discussed logistics and did a gear check to ensure we would be ready for an early morning departure. It’s exciting to think that after all of our training, planning and traveling, we’re finally ready to hit the trail.
With details all sorted out we headed out to visit some of the World Heritage sites that Kathmandu is home to. The adventure began as soon as we left the hotel. To describe the traffic in Kathmandu as thinly veiled bedlam would be charitable. It’s amazing how many cars, truck, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians - all vying for the same small piece of road - can manage to avoid catastrophe. But they do. It’s makes for an interesting ride as a passenger to say the least.
Our first stop was Swayambhunath; also know as the “Monkey Temple” because of the mobs of monkeys that call it home. It occupies the highest ground in Kathmandu and the views of the valley from the top are fantastic - but they aren’t free either. For the views and to walk around the stupa we first had to walk up 365 steps to the top. At last, all our training paid off and we made it up with no problem. Though Mark did make sure and remind us to use it as an opportunity to practice the rest step!
Next we headed to Pashupatinath. It was quite a contrast to our first stop. Not only is it Nepal’s most important Hindu temple, but the banks of the river are lined with open-air cremation ghats. While there were a number of cremations in site the team was sensitive to the occasion and moved through the area quickly and quietly. We wandered through the rest of the complex getting to see a large number of shrines and temples.
We headed back into the the city and had lunch in a delightful rooftop restaurant overlooking the Stupa at Bodhnath. The view was awesome and it was nice to be able to relax as a team away from the crowds. Though after lunch we did dive into them and wander around the streets for a while before heading back to the hotel for any last minute preparations and a good night’s sleep before our early morning wake up.
A special shout out to Katie from Dad and Kim!
A good day indeed.
On The Map
The weather is settling into a predictable routine here in the Khumbu Valley, the morning breaks clear and calm and by late afternoon the clouds sweep up from lower in the valley and settle in around us. This morning was no different as were found a beautiful and clear day awaiting us when we awoke. We packed up our bags and headed up the trail, leaving the forest of Deboche behind us. The first stretch of walking was cold as we traversed the shaded side of the valley, but after crossing a short bridge above the raging river below, we found the morning sun and quickly warmed back up. The trail climbs from Deboche, gradually ascending along the hillside past row after row of mani stones - the rocks carved with Buddhist prayers - and through occasional archways, decorated with paintings of ancient stories.
We entered the village of Pangboche where we stopped to visit Lama Geshe, a renowned Buddhist Lama of the region. Formerly living at the Tengboche Monastery, he now lives in a small unassuming building in the small village and is frequented by climbers, trekkers, and travelers alike seeking his blessing before their journey. We sat down in the small living room of his home with him and he offered us a blessing for the rest of our journey, chanting the prayers, tossing rice in the air, and draping a kata scarf (prayer scarf) around our necks along with a small piece of red rope into which he has sent his prayers. It was a very lighthearted ceremony, Lama Geshe breaking his rhythm every so often to laugh in a deep voice, or chuckling as he tried to pronounce our names. I always feel calmed by time spent at Lama Geshe’s and we emerged from his home ready to continue onwards.
We continued up the valley, gradually gaining elevation as we ascended above the river. After several hours we began the steep but notable climb over a small saddle well over 14,000’. The winds picked up by this point and were whipping past us as we crested the gap and descended the other side into Pheriche. Just as we reached our tea-house here the clouds crept over the pass as well and soon settled in around us. Our tea-house is one of the nicest to be found in the Khumbu and the owner Ang Nuru worked hard on improvements over the winter. Needless to say, the group was thrilled to find hot showers, warm rooms, and a beautifully decorated and comfortable dining room. We will spend the day here in Pheriche tomorrow, helping our bodies acclimatize to the new elevation before we move higher. The group continues to do well and sends their best to everyone back home.
On The Map
We’ve enjoyed a very leisurely day here in Deboche, taking full advantage of our rest and acclimatization day. The morning broke clear and calm. From the windows of the tea-house we could see the summit of Everest and the surrounding peaks and we gazed out at the panorama of mountains over a breakfast of apple pancakes. After breakfast we grabbed a water bottle and few warm layers and walked through the rhododendrons of Deboche to the Buddhist Nunnery tucked inconspicuously off the trail on the other side of the village. We spent some time exploring their Gompa, with it’s large prayer wheel and room for meditation and prayer all housed in a small compound.
We then climbed the hill back up the ridge top village of Tengboche, which we passed through yesterday, and continued further up it’s ridge to a view point. Following a small path that see little travel, we passed dozens of long strings of prayer flags strung along the ridge, the five colors of the flags fluttering in the wind blowing up the valley, until we reached a small chorten. Below us the Tengboche Monastery stood on the ridge, surrounded by the skyline of sharp mountains stretching off in every direction. We relaxed up there, enjoying the views and the warm late morning sun while also taking advantage of the higher altitude to give our bodies some exposure to the new elevations before dropping down again.
Upon returning to Tengboche, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the cafe and bakery in the village, resting and reading while we passed the time. While there a trekker from Germany came in with a large gash on his head - while he was climbing the hill to Tengboche a passing yak herder threw a stone at one of his yaks to urge it on, however his aim was off and the rock hit the man squarely in the back of the head. Luckily for him, the doctor in our group sprang into action, quickly fixing him up and sending him on his way - relief and gratitude written clearly across his face.
The clouds settled in by later afternoon, covering the village in a thick fog that was punctuated only by the sound of the horns blowing from the Monastery announcing the afternoon prayers. We followed the monks into the large and ornately decorated prayer room at the center of the Monastery, framed around a statue of a sitting Buddha two stories tall. The monks settled into their blankets and poured steaming cups of tea while we found a seat along the edge of the room. Then a deep hum filled the chamber as they began to chant their prayers, each one accentuating a different syllable but beginning and ending each mantra in perfect unison.
Leaving the monastery we descended the fifteen minutes back to our tea-house and settled in around the fire while the clouds blew through the trees outside. It was a restful and enjoyable day, the ideal break from the hiking we’ve been doing before we head further up the valley to the village of Pheriche at 14,000’ tomorrow. We have appreciated all of the comments and send our best to everyone at home.
On The Map
With over two days of flying behind us, our team has arrived in Kathmandu. All of the luggage has arrived and everyone is excited for the adventure to Everest Base Camp and climb of Island Peak.
We will meet for dinner tonight to discuss the details of the upcoming days. Our plan for tomorrow will be to take a tour of Kathmandu and then pack and organize our gear for the flight into the Khumbu Valley.
We will keep you posted on our adventures in Kathmandu!
RMI Guide Mark Tucker
On The Map
It was again very chilly this morning as we packed up our bags and prepared to leave our teahouse in Namche, but as soon as we started hiking the steep steps that lead out of Namche warmed us up quickly. The first few hours of the trail traversed along the hillside beyond Namche, contouring along the steep slopes above the river far below. Occasional stupas with prayer flags streaming for their gold topped spires dotted the ridge lines we traversed. The trail was bustling with activity; trains of yaks carrying loads to and from the villages higher up the valley plied the narrow path along with children heading to school, trekkers, and the average Khumbu “commuter” walking between the villages. It was another crystal clear morning and the views of Everest and it’s neighboring mountains were incredible.
Finally reaching the end of the traverse in the village of Kyangjuma, we paused for some tea, much to the delight of the local Sherpani women selling jewelry along the side of the trail. With our packs a bit heavier, we descended through the pines to the river crossing at Phunki Tanga, a small village of only a few buildings sitting at the base of our big climb for the day. The trail from there ascends through pine forests, rhododendron trees, and into junipers in a seemingly endless series of switchbacks. The southern exposure of the hillside is fully exposed to the midday sun and we were soon very hot, hiking in t-shirts and shorts - a drastic change from the cold temperatures of the morning. We settled into a steady pace, slowly ticking off the switchbacks one by one, until all 1800’ of the climb lay below us and we created the ridge into the village of Tengboche. Tengboche is dominated by the large monastery overlooking the center of the village, and equally by Everest and Ama Dablam which loom largely in the distance. A breeze was blowing down from the valley above and we quickly pulled on our warmer coats as we passed the monastery’s front gate.
In Tengboche we treated ourselves to a slice of apple pie at the local bakery before descending the other side of the ridge a few minutes to our next tea-house in the village of Deboche, tucked away in the forest of rhododendron just below the monastery. The team is acclimatizing well and everyone felt strong today on the trail, easily navigating the trail while keeping up the light hearted jokes and banter which has become the norm on the trail. We are sending our best to everyone back home and appreciate all of the comments and good wishes left on the blog.
On The Map
Taking advantage of the clear weather this morning we took a day hike above Namche. The steep steps right out of the door of the tea-house quickly got hearts pumping and we climbed out of the cold morning shadow in Namche into the morning sun above. The trail we followed ascends steeply up the hillside, making dozens of short switchbacks as it gains the flat plateau above. By the time we arrived the top, at over 12,000’, we were breathing hard, feeling the effects of the new elevation. Thankfully, the trail flattened out and walked across the gentle plateau through clusters of juniper trees and fields of grass cropped short by grazing yaks.
We reached the edge of the broad bench of Namche and were greeted to incredible views of the mountains higher up the valley. Hardly a cloud hung in the sky and we could clearly see Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, Taboche, and Cholatse - all famous peaks of the region. Above them all stood Everest, it’s recognizable triangular summit hanging in the sky above. The winds in the upper mountains were blowing strongly this morning and the peaks had plumes of blown snow trailing off their summits and ridges. We gazed out at the mountains for a bit and then continued walking to the Everest View Hotel where we found a seat on the back patio and treated ourselves to a cup of tea while enjoying the views.
Afterward, we continued on to the village of Khumjung, a large village near Namche and where the Sir Edmund Hillary School is located - serving kids all over the region. The school was quiet since they are in the midst of their final exams but a few young boys were outside playing in the school grounds. We passed through the school and made our way back along a stone lined trail to the edge of the bench above Namche and dropped back down into town, completing a large loop.
We spent the afternoon back in Namche, taking advantage of the down time to grab a hot shower, track down an espresso at the local bakery, and peruse the many small shops on Namche.
Tomorrow we leave Namche and head further up the valley to the village of Deboche.
On The Map
We hit the trail early this morning, contouring along the hillsides of the gradually narrowing valley, occasionally crossing back and forth above the Dudh Kosi River on long suspension bridges. After a couple of hours of walking we hit the entrance to Sagamartha National Park, the park that encompasses the upper region of the Khumbu Valley, including Mt. Everest.
After pausing for tea and snacks, we tackled the big climb of the day - the 2,500’ ascent up mountain side to reach the village of Namche Bazaar. The ascent is a series of switchbacks and long traverses through pine forest. Being south facing it is typically very hot and dusty but by the time we reached the climb, clouds were forming and kept the temperatures very comfortable. Everyone hiked well, making good time up the trail and by mid afternoon we rounded the corner and walked into Namche Bazaar.
Situated at 11,300’ in a shallow drainage perched on the hillside, Namche is the center of trade and commerce for the upper portion of the Khumbu Valley. It’s location at the convergence of several trade routes - some all the way to Tibet - and the fresh water springs in its heart made it a meeting grounds many centuries ago and it remains the largest town in the region today. The entire town is built in a series of horseshoe shaped terraces up the hillside. At over 11,000’, it is easy to feel the altitude when just walking around. We walked through Namche’s narrow streets to our teahouse and arrived just as the clouds began letting occasional snowflakes fall from the sky.
We are heading out on a day hike tomorrow to several villages nearby before returning for Namche for the evening. The group is in great spirits and more than eager to check out the offerings of Namche’s many shops tomorrow afternoon when we return.
On The Map
We left the hotel well before sunrise this morning, driving through the nearly deserted streets of Kathmandu to the domestic airport. We hauled all of our gear through the narrow entryway and into the terminal, found our flight to Lukla, and as the sun rose just before 7am we were already taking our seats in the plane. Yesterday afternoon’s clouds and light rain dissipated overnight and the morning sun shone through clear skies - perfect flying weather. We buckled our seat belts tight, took the cotton balls offered by the flight attendant and crammed them into our ears, and then took off from Kathmandu. True to their name, the STOL (Short Take Off Landing) airplanes we fly in get airborne in a matter of a few hundred meters and we were soon flying above the outskirts of Kathmandu and over the hills of the Terai - the middle section of Nepal and the foothills of the Himalaya. Flying east we had incredible views of the Himalayas out of the side of the plane and we spent the entire flight staring through the windows at the countryside below and the mountains hanging in the distance.
The flight was amazingly smooth, hardly a spot of turbulence - uncommon for flights around mountains of this size, and we soon banked a hard turn to the north and descended into the Khumbu Valley. The airport at Lukla is a short strip of tarmac noticeably slanted and the landings there are always…exciting. The approach takes the flight directly at the hillside until the entire mountain fills the view through the cockpit window and then in the span of several football fields the planes go from airborne to stopped. The pilots pulled off the smoothest landing I have ever had in Lukla and within minutes we were stepping off of the plane and onto the footpaths of Lukla.
Needing a little bit of time to get all of our gear from the flights we sat down in a tea-house near the airport and had breakfast, tea and coffee before hitting the trail.
Lukla sits several days walk from the nearest road head and only footpaths connect all of the villages up here - there isn’t an automobile for dozens of miles in any direction. All transportation takes place on the stone lined trails, carried by animals or on your back. It is a far cry from the chaotic traffic jams of Kathmandu and a welcome relief to hear no horns or engines. Leaving Lukla, which sits about 1500’ above the valley floor, we made a long, gradual traverse down to the Dudh Kosi river. The trail passes through fields of recently planted crops of cabbage, carrots, potatoes, wheat, and other vegetables and between the stone walls of small villages dotted along the way. Every so often the trail splits around giant boulders carved with Buddhist prayers or wraps around the stupas and prayer wheels.
For fear of falling into romanticism too easily, I’ll simply say that it is a beautiful walk with sights and sounds to be seen in every direction. Hanging above it all are the giant snow covered peaks of the Himalaya. At 15,000 - 20,000’ they are minor mountains compared to their neighbors to the north, but seen from the valley floor far below they are impressive. We walked for several hours through the fields and villages, crossing occasional suspension bridges across side rivers.
By mid-afternoon we reached the village of Phakding and settled into our tea-house. Sitting right along the edge of the Dudh Kosi River - which means Milk River due to its milky blue color from the glacial sediment it carries - our tea-house is tucked away in a quiet spot with views up and down the valley. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sun in the grassy terraces in front of our rooms before the mountain’s shadows brought the evening chill. We sat down in the dining room around the wood burning stove and had an excellent first meal in the Khumbu, enjoying some delicious momos - the local dumplings.
Tomorrow we head further up the valley to Namche Bazaar, the cultural and economic center of the region. The team is in great spirits.
Everyone is feeling healthy and well and we are all very excited to at last be on the trail.
On The Map
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