Mt. Everest Expedition: Bill & Sara McGahan Start Their Expedition
Hi. This is Bill blogging from Namche, Nepal.
I started climbing with my daughter Sara about 3 1/2 years ago when she was just 12, and since that time we have had many adventures together. I love climbing, but even more so, I love spending the time with Sara, who is now 16. When we are at home in Atlanta she is so busy and I never get to hear about all the things that go on in her life every day. So while we are climbing, and over meals, or watching a movie or TV show on her itouch, I get to hear all the funny things that happen on a daily basis. For example, I just learned all about the social importance of ‘threads” on Facebook, and the song with the line “the best 30 seconds of my life” (if you don’t know what song that is, that’s probably a good thing!).
So this past week has been fun. It takes a lot of patience to fly from the states to Kathmandu, with the layovers, cramped planes, visa lines and time changes, so its a big relief to finally get to a hotel room and start to work on your jet lag. Its been about a week, and I think I am finally over the 10 hour change.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is quite an adventure, which starts with getting up in Kathmandu at 4:30 am and then literally fighting your way through a mosh pit of folks in the airport. It’s actually great fun if you keep it in perspective. And of course, the 45 minute flight up to the mountains through a saddle into the very short landing strip (on a twin prop, specialized short takeoff and landing plane) is intense. If you have any doubt, go to youtube and search “lukla airport” and check out the clips. The strip is only open for brief spurts every morning due to the clouds, so you have to be on the 1st flight, hence the mosh pit.
There are two ways to get to Lukla, flying or walking, and the walk takes days. So, the main way (really the only way) is to fly in. All goods used by the many villages in the mountains get flown in. Then, once into Lukla, porters pick up all the goods and carry them up the trail. The trail is filled with porters carrying 70 to 80 pound loads on their backs, some the size of refrigerators. Most everything gets to the towns in the mountains makes it way there on the backs of the porters (or yaks or donkeys). All of our bags going to base camp are carried by these porters, and it takes them about 7 to 10 days to get up to basecamp. The porters climb from an altitude of about 9,000 feet, down to about 8,000 feet, and then all the way up to nearly 18,000 feet. Its just amazing what they do.
The “tea houses” that we stay in are really beautiful little lodges. They are made of stone (cut up here from the sides of the hills). The rooms are simple but clean, and the common dining room serves delicious food. We are eating so very well, and with dishes that we are accustomed to - pizza, chicken, steak, french fries, eggs, pancakes, etc… and these dishes - combined with the RMI condiments - have been great. We are buying bottled water along the way, but the bottles are getting more and more expensive the further we go.
Our climb so far has really consisted of getting into Namche, the center for all trekking and climbing in this area. The “Namche hill” is a 2000 foot hill from about 9,000’ to 11,000’ just before Namche that takes about 2 hours to climb. It was raining yesterday when we were ascending, so our biggest challenge was dodging the puddles and the yak dung along the way (not to mention the yaks which also have considerable loads on their backs).
This morning we awoke early to climb above Namche to get our first vies of Everest, Lhotse and the other massive mountains in the surrounding area. After a half hour trek at 6:30 this morning we were rewarded with perfect views. Everest had its tell tale plume of clouds streaking off the summit as it pierced the jet stream. It looks quite daunting, perhaps because it is.
Our trip is led by Dave Hahn, who is not only an insane climber, but one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet. He breaks it all down to seem so simple, and he makes me (and Sara) believe that all we have to do is take this adventure day by day, and climb by climb. This coming from a man who has summitted Everest 12 times, more than any non-sherpa in the world. If I were him I would be at least a little boastful, but he never is. And he seems to know everyone along the trail, at the hotels, and in the shops. Its one big mixer for Dave as we head to base camp!
So today is a rest day, and quite a beautiful one. Sara and I are going to break out Yatzee and the deck of cards. The goal today is to continue to have our bodies adjust to 11,000 feet while remaining strong and sickness free. Rest days are my strongest days in the mountains!!!
Thanks for following our climb.
(Photos by Expedition Leader Dave Hahn)