Entries By linden mallory

Everest Base Camp Trek: Arrive at Island Peak Base Camp

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 29, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 16,685'

Hey RMI, this is Linden Mallory calling from Island Peak Base Camp. We left Chukung and walked up to the head of Imja Khola Valley right at the base of Island Peak here.  Surrounded by Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, it’s a pretty incredible place. Got in midday. We had a little bit of wind and a very, very trace amounts of new snow that came in late afternoon but they are clearing up right now as I call. And we are doing well. Bit chilly up here but otherwise everything is stellar. We move up to high camp tomorrow in midday in preparations of our summit bid tomorrow night. So we will check in from high camp. Hope everyone is doing well and we’ll talk to you soon. Thanks.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Hiking in the Imja Khola Valley with Ama Dablam in the background.


Linden calls in from Island Peak Base Camp.

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Up To Island Peak or Down to Namche…

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 28, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 15,514'

Hey RMI, this is Linden Mallory calling from Chukung in the Imja Khola Valley, it’s a side valley off of the main Khumbu Valley.  In the last days before Island Peak, part of the group headed off back down to Namche today and four of us are headed up towards Island Peak.  We’ll be heading into Base Camp tomorrow to begin the climb.  Everybody is doing well; the weather has been nice so far and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays that way.  We’ll check in with you again at Base Camp.  Take care.

Trekking towards Island Peak.  Photo: RMI Collection Beautiful peaks and prayer flags.  Photo: RMI Collection


RMI Guide Linden Mallory checks in from Chukung.

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Team Departs Everest Base Camp

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 27, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 13,950'

The weather moved into Everest Base Camp yesterday afternoon, the clouds settling in around the peaks and snow beginning to fall. It continued to snow on and off again all evening and into the night. The weather did have a welcome side effect thought: the clouds above and snow on the tents made temperatures a bit warmer and it never got too cold last night. When we woke up this morning everything was blanketed in a couple of inches of fresh snow. We packed all of our gear up, said goodbye to the Sherpa team at Base Camp, and headed back down the valley.

The new snow on the trail actually made the walking on the glacier easier, filling in between all of the loose rocks and smoothing out the trail. After a cold morning in the shadows packing up, we quickly warmed up not long after Base Camp when the sun finally found us and we made good progress. We followed the trail back to Gorak Shep and onwards to Lobuche, where we stopped for lunch. Finally, we descended from the glaciers, rocks, and new snow above back down into the valley of Pheriche, reaching our tea-house here by late afternoon. It was a long day on the trail, with many miles to cover across difficult terrain at high altitudes, and the tea-house was a welcome sight when we finally reached it. The team was amazing today, toughing out the difficult sections of the trail and enduring the long final hours of walking to get here. We are all tired from the walk, and the many days up high, but happy to be here and heading downwards. We had a blast reading all of the comments on the Blog and want to thank everyone for their thoughts.

Tomorrow, part of the group continues descending to Namche as they make their way home while the Island Peak team heads up the neighboring Imja Khola Valley to Chukung, near the base of Island Peak, to begin our climb. We will check in tomorrow from Chukung. The connection up there is sporadic so we will likely be checking in via satellite phone for the next few days.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team playing horseshoes at Everest Base Camp yesterday. Photo: Linden Mallory Looking back towards Base Camp under the new snow.  Photo: Linden Mallory The team walking through the moraine near Everest Base Camp this morning. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek:  Experiencing Everest Base Camp

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 27, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 17,575'

The temperatures at Everest Base Camp were a big concern among the group for the days, weeks, and even months leading into the trip. Knowing that, before dinner last night we pulled out a special surprise for the group: A First Ascent Down Suit for each member of the trip to use while at Base Camp. Needless to say, they were a big hit. We sat around the dining tent toasty warm, discussing the best ways to go about the daily tasks in our new Base Camp attire - from sleeping to brushing our teeth to using the toilet tent.

It was a crystal clear night here last night, every star in the sky shining brightly in the blackness above. Around us the mountain was alive with activity: the glacier creaked and cracked, rocks occasionally came crashing down distant slopes, and chunks of glacier from far off collapsed sending low rumbles through the valley. Despite it all we were comfortable in our tents, cozy warm in our sleeping bags and down suits and the night passed smoothly.

The sun finally roused us this morning and we sat down for a delicious breakfast. Not a cloud was to be found in the sky and we enjoyed the time to sit around and talk, with nowhere in particular to be. Around mid morning I headed out into the lower stretches of the Khumbu Glacier with the three climbers heading to Island Peak and we set up a small ropes course on the ice features of the glacier. We focused on how to climb with crampons on firm glacial ice, the best techniques for overcoming steep obstacles, and then jumped onto fixed ropes and familiarized ourselves with ascending a fixed line, how to use an ascender on the rope, and how to rappel. The climbing team was soon zipping around the ropes course, clambering up and rappelling back down the large ice fin upon which we were practicing. Once we felt comfortable with using the equipment and moving across the terrain, and sufficiently winded from the 17,000’ elevation, we headed back to camp to meet up with the rest of the team.

We’ve spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in camp, resting from the days of hiking it took to get up here, and preparing for the hike out tomorrow. The team is doing very well, sending our best to everyone at home, and eager to share more stories from the adventures we’ve had thus far.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team in our down suits last night.  Photo: Linden Mallory Practicing fixed line travel today. Photo: Linden Mallory Walking through the ice features of the Khumbu Glacier this afternoon. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Arriving at Everest Base Camp!

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 26, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 17,575'

The sun took awhile to reach us this morning, the shoulder of Nuptse standing 9,000’ above blocked the sun rays and cast long shadows that gradually crept backwards as the sun rose. By the time we stepped out of the tea-house after 8:00 am the sun hit us and almost instantly began to chase away the nighttime chill. We left Gorak Shep in good spirits, eager to complete the final few hours of walking to Everest Base Camp.

The trail becomes notably less defined this far up the valley. In addition to seeing less traffic, the path is ever changing as the loose moraine settles and shifts with the passing glacier and the pull from gravity. Despite Everest Base Camp being a relatively short distance from Gorak Shep as the crow flies, no more than two miles, the trail itself is much longer as it twists and turns over the rough landscape, descending through boulder fields and climbing back up loose scree gullies. We picked our way along it, stepping from rock to rock and occasionally catching glimpses of the tent tops of Base Camp off in the distance.

About two thirds of the way to Base Camp the trail finally drops off of the side moraine bordering the glacier and crosses onto its surface. This low down on the glacier the surface is covered in rock that was pulled down from the mountain side further up and large features of ice, pushed up by the pressure of the glacier above, are interspersed with giant pools of frozen water that sit on the glacier surface from when the ice melts in the warm afternoon sun. The walking, while relatively flat, is tricky as every rock lies atop a sheet of ice below and the footing is continually shifting underfoot. Nevertheless, the group navigated the trail well and by midday we crested the final rocky rise and walked into RMI’s Everest Base Camp.

Our Sherpa team has been busy working up here for the past two weeks, hacking away the shifting ice and rolling the rocks aside to create large platforms on the glacier’s surface for our tents to sit on. With the creative eye of a designer, they set up a very comfortable camp here. Our dining tent looks right out at Everest, the lower stretches of the Khumbu Icefall filling the view out the door from inside. A series of large stone steps leads from the Dining Tent to the sleeping tents sitting in a semi circle on a small rise above. Just in front of them stands our Communications Tent, with direct sight to the mountain above for the best radio reception and good exposure to the sun as it tracks across the sky for the solar panels that power all of the equipment. The Kitchen and Storage Tents are just below, with a large stone path leading between them and the Dining Tent above.

The Sherpa team greeted us enthusiastically when we arrived, showing us around before we settled down for lunch. Kumar, the Expedition Cook, pulled together an incredible meal complemented with fresh baked rolls and steamed veggies. The change of pace from the typical tea-house food is refreshing and the food was excellent. After lunch we settled into camp, unpacking our gear in our tents and relaxing in the warm afternoon sun. We are all very happy to be here, pleased that we don’t have to turn around and walk back to the tea-house this evening and enjoying the life around Base Camp. Everyone continues to adjust well to the altitude and hiked well today. We are spending tomorrow here in Base Camp, enjoying this place for a bit and covering some climbing training in preparation for those of us that are headed to Island Peak next. We want to thank everyone for the great comments on the Blog, we read them aloud over dinner last night and enjoyed hearing the snippets from home.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team walking around a melt pool on the Khumbu Glacier this morning. Walking into RMI's Everest Base Camp. The sleeping tents looking up at the West Shoulder of Everest.


RMI Guide Linden Mallory checks in from Everest Base Camp.

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Linden and Team Arrive at Everest Base Camp

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 25, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 17,575'

Hey RMI, this is Linden Mallory calling from the Everest Base Camp Trek. I am calling from Everest Base Camp. We weren’t able to push out photos and a written dispatch today so I’m calling from the SAT phone instead.  Just to let you all know that we are all doing well and made it to Base Camp and everyone is so happy to be here. Keep your eye out for the dispatch tomorrow. We’ll do our best to get it out if conditions allow. Besides that the weather’s gorgeous and we are looking for to spending some time up here. Take care.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory


Linden Mallory and team arrive at Everest Base Camp.

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Team Summits Kala Patar

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 24, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 16,950'

Leaving Lobuche this morning we continued up the Khumbu Valley towards Everest Base Camp, following a shallow depression between the moraine left by the glacier pushing downwards and the mountains on the other side.  The trail climbed gently, gaining a few hundred feet over the first hour and we all felt good as we walked in the morning sun. Eventually we reached the rock covered Changri Nup Glacier, flowing into the Khumbu Glacier from the west, and we picked our way across it’s rocky surface, climbing up and down through the large gulleys on the surface. After reaching the other side we descended into Gorak Shep, the last village before Base Camp. Sitting in a shallow bowl wedged between the Khumbu and Changri Nup Glaciers and the slopes of Pumori, a large 7000m peak above, Gorak Shep feels a bit like a long lost desolate outpost in the mountains. The tea-houses are notably less luxurious up here and the cold a bit more biting, but when the winds start blowing and the temperatures drop at these altitudes the spartan teahouses begin to feel much more welcoming. 

We stopped at our tea-house in Gorak Shep and had a quick bowl of soup before setting out to climb Kala Patar, a rocky highpoint on one of the ridges above Gorak Shep that offers spectacular views of the mountains. It was warm and calm as we began the climb and the roofs of the teahouses soon shrank away behind us as we climbed higher, replaced by the rolling landscape of rock and ice of the Khumbu Glacier and its’ surrounding peaks. Near 17,500’ the afternoon winds picked up and the periodic gusts whipped past us, quickly dropping the temperatures and causing us to pull on warmer hats, gloves, and jackets. But the winds were not enough to deter us as we scrambled up through the large boulders of the final 200’ to the prayer flagged summit of Kala Patar. In front of us we could see from the summit of Everest all the way down to Base Camp sitting along the Khumbu Glacier at its’ base. Around us the peaks of the Himalayas stretched out in every direction. The skies remained clear, except for the small cloud trailing off of Everest’s summit and the low hanging valley clouds creeping slowly upwards from Namche far below us. Despite the winds it was a beautiful view and we spent a good while up there taking it all in. Finally, as the cold began to creep through our layers, we turned around and made our way down the small and rocky trail back to Gorak Shep.

With the sun starting to set over the mountains, we are back in our tea-house for the evening. The months of training and the days spent acclimatizing on the trail are paying off for the team as we reach these higher elevations. Everyone is handling the challenges of living at these altitudes well and we are looking forward to completing the final portion of our trek into Everest Base Camp tomorrow where we will spend the next two days. The team sends their best to everyone at home.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team climbing Kala Patar with Everest and the  Khumbu Glacier behind. Photo: Linden Mallory The team on Kala Patar with Everest in the background.  Photo: Linden Mallory On the summit of Kala Patar. Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Arriving in Lobuche

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 23, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 16,175'

Another beautiful day greeted us this morning. After breakfast we reluctantly said goodbye to the accommodations and staff of our tea-house in Pheriche and set off up the valley. The trail ran through small clumps of juniper and back and forth across streams running down from the hillsides, reaching a collection of stone buildings and fields where yaks are pastured in the evenings. The vegetation continued to thin out, the grass getting shorter and eventually the juniper bushes disappearing from the landscape as we made our way higher. Eventually we began the ascent to Thokla Pass, a climb up the toe of the moraine created by the forward push of the Khumbu Glacier. Although a moderate climb in length and height, the elevation makes it challenging and we spent the better part of two hours picking our way up the hillside.

Partway up is the small “village” of Thokla, in reality little more than two tea-houses sheltered from the winds that blow up the valley, but the perfect breaking spot for trekkers and yak herders making their way up the climb. We sat in the sun for a few minutes resting and sipping on tea before resuming our ascent, reaching the top of Thokla Pass at well over 15,000’ by midday. Built along the ridgelines of the pass are dozens of small chortens, each one paying tribute to climbers and Sherpas that have lost their lives on Mt. Everest. With views out to the surrounding mountains and prayer flags streaming from the many memorials, it is a solemn place that commemorates many famous climbers.

Continuing from the top of the pass we ascended into a shallow valley that runs parallel to the Khumbu Glacier, finding our way among the boulders and rocks that border a small stream that was completely frozen over, even in the midday sun. After another hour of walking we reached our tea-house in the village of Lobuche. Tucked into a small recess in the side of the valley, Lobuche was traditionally a summer grazing grounds for herds of yaks but now is more popular with trekkers and climbing expeditions on their way to Everest. Although the landscape is quite barren around us, our tea-house is warm and comfortable in the midday sun. We have all been surprised at how warm the temperatures have been the past few days. We settled into the tea-house and spent final part of the afternoon sipping on tea and reading, focusing on breathing well, even at rest, as we adjust to these higher altitudes.

Tomorrow we head to Gorak Shep, the last village before Everest Base Camp, and hope to climb to the summit of Kala Patar above it in the afternoon if the weather cooperates. The team continues to do well and sends their best to everyone at home.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

The team in Pheriche this morning.  Photo: Linden Mallory Reaching the top of Thokla Pass.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: Acclimatization Hike Above Pheriche

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 22, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 13,950'

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.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

On the acclimatization hike above Pheriche.  Photo: Linden Mallory Part of the team descending past prayer flags and a small chorten.  Photo: Linden Mallory The group taking a break with views of Ama Dablam.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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Everest Base Camp Trek: A Visit with Lama Geshe

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 21, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 13,950'

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.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

A team member receiving the blessing from Lama.  Photo: Linden Mallory Passing over the top of Pheriche Pass this afternoon.  Photo: Linden Mallory The team descending into Pheriche, the roofs of the village visible in the distance.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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