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Mt. Everest: Hahn & Team Arrive in Lukla

Another surreal day of spectacular hiking and beautiful mountain vistas… mixed with up-close and sad recognition for the cost of lost homes and disrupted lives in the Khumbu Valley.  I suppose it is surreal because we would never have chosen to be “tourists” in a disaster area… But here we are.  We left Namche at around 8 this morning under perfectly blue skies… And fervently hoping that this meant that the fixed wing planes were coming and going freely from Lukla… Dispersing the crowd we’d heard so much about.  The first part of the day was spent in the forests… Where there was little sign of the earthquake.  But the bigger portion of the day was spent in the succession of farms and small villages in the valley bottom outside the National Park boundaries.  Of course, many houses and buildings were untouched… but a significant number were cracked and damaged beyond reasonable repair.  Very few had collapsed… And we were told that there had been few injuries and few deaths in these areas… Probably because Sherpas would have been outside and working hard at midday when the quake struck.  And sure enough, the phenomenally strong work ethic in the area had men out moving rocks, plastering and repairing damage wherever possible when we strolled by.  People without any form of insurance stood in front of ruined structures, in this fabulously beautiful setting, and smiled and bid us “Namaste” as we passed.  Those that we knew, asked us first if we were all ok before acknowledging that they themselves would need to start over completely.  We walked until about 2:30 PM to reach Lukla just as the raindrops began to fall.  The town and the airstrip appear largely intact… And thankfully, the crowds (mobs…as we’d heard them described a few days ago) seem absent.  So far, so good with our plan for coming down the valley slowly so as to allow things to normalize in front of us.
One of our Sherpa team startled me today as we took tea in his sister’s place in Monjo… He thanked me for saving his life.  I was baffled and embarrassed until he explained that my decision (which had actually been made in consultation with Jeff Justman and Chhering Dorjee) to have the Sherpas drop the loads they were carrying for Camp II at Camp I on the day of the big shake had meant they weren’t in the Icefall later in the day at the exact wrong time.  As I say… I was startled… Hadn’t done the math myself.  We’d asked them not to carry on to CII because of the threat of snow and avalanches off Nuptse… Not because of imminent earthquakes.  But I’m now so incredibly glad that they were well down the icefall and safe for whatever reason.  I deserve no credit whatsoever for getting lucky… But our team can take generic credit for having put safety first, once again, and having reaped unexpected benefits.
We are “scheduled” for the first wave of flights to Kathmandu tomorrow.  Perhaps luck will still be with us.

Best Regards,
Dave Hahn


Comments (4)

Your team, the thoughtful decisions you make, and your sensitivity to local conditions and customs are all reasons that RMI enjoys such an enviable safety record and remains the gold standard for guided mountaineering. We all join you in your continuing support for the recovery efforts and in keeping the resilient Nepali people in our thoughts and prayers.

Posted by: Everett Moran on

So grateful that all of you are safe and on your way home even though your goal of the summit was not to be this year.

Posted by: Susan on

That might be so hard to leave this country this way after such a tragedy with so many loss but I hope you and your team will be able come back to see your wonderful friends in this beautiful country with magnificent mountains. Cheers up team.

Posted by: Chrystel on

Dave I am humbled again by the philosophy that RMI uses as a cornerstone of its operations.  Placing the safety of all (clients, guides and Sherpa) above all else in the pursuit of a goal. I am saddened by the loss of life and property in such as beautiful place but I am proud to see the your team act with grace and dignity while traveling through this land.  Safe travels.

Posted by: Josh on

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