Trek Day 13-Pheriche to Kathmandu

We woke to the sounds of yak bells going by the Lodge on their way up the trail at sunrise. At 6:45am Phor Temba knocked on the door to collect our bags while we went to breakfast. It’s hard to believe that we won’t be trekking anymore. We walked outside at 8am and waited for the helicopter to arrive to take us to Kathmandu. Once all our bags were loaded onto the helicopter we climbed in on top of the bags, Kevin, Brad, B-1, Bob and me and held our breath while the helicopter lifted off the ground. Once airborne we took off down the valley following the trail back to Lukla where we began this fabulous journey. This was the best way to end our trek, so excited to be riding in a helicopter with great views of the majestic mountains and the trail below. We landed at Lukla, unloaded the gear then climbed back in with seats and went to Kathmandu. Arriving 45 minutes later at the airport, we were met by Sapan who took us to the Yak and Yeti Hotel and a SHOWER. Continue reading

Trek Day 12-Day Lobuche to Pheriche

This is our final hiking day, can’t believe that this wonderful journey in the Khumbu Region is coming to an end for us. As we were getting dressed our thoughts were with Kevin, Ake, Brad, and B-1 with Tashi as they attempt their ascent of Mt Lobuche using their ropes,crampons and ice picks. Their climb started at 3:30am so they were well on their way up the mountain when we woke up. Phor Themba was waiting for us when we arrived for breakfast. Our bags were packed and ready to go when we went for breakfast, so our porter can pick them up in our room and take them outside to load on their backs. We left the tea house at 9am for a gradual descent to Pheriche. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had spectacular views of Mt Lobuche. When we reached the memorial site we could see in the distance the ice face of Mt Lobuche with climbers on it. And we speculated that they are the rest of our team ascending the ice face. We watched them through the binoculars for some time as we continued down to Dughla. Continue reading

Trek Day 11-Day Everest Base Camp to Lobuche

We woke up at sunrise as the sun warmed our tent, it was 20 degrees last night. We packed our bags getting ready to leave Base Camp and had breakfast at 8am. It was the last time the team would be together. We took lots of photos before saying farewell. Panuru and the other Sherpas have been such a great support throughout our journey, we could not have done this without them. The porters who carried our bags all the way to Base Camp are amazingly strong to be able to carry the entire load from their forehead and always smiling no matter how tired they are feeling. Panuru has to stay at Base Camp to help pack up all the tents and gear, Phor Temba will be our Sherpa who will guide Bob and I down to Pheriche. The others will be going with Tashi who will guide them up Mt Lobuche. We started down the mountain to begin our journey home, it was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies. As we headed back down we had the same magnificent views of the towering snow capped mountains……..fantastically corniced with overhanging ridges of ice. We reached Gorak Shep where we stopped for some ginger tea before continuing on down to Lobuche. Not only were we going DOWN the trail but we were also losing elevation and gaining more oxygen. Continue reading

Trek Day 10-Day at Everest Base Camp

Never imagined that we would be sleeping at Everest Base Camp, on the Khumbu Glacier at 17,650 ft, the highest we have ever stayed at over night. We borrowed Kevin’s -40 and -30 degree sleeping bags, so we were warm and cozy inside the tent. However, getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom was not fun at all. The sun woke us up around 7am it was so bright inside our yellow tent. Breakfast at 8am with the sound of the helicopters flying over head. It was a massive evacuation from Everest Base Camp. All day the helicopters flew people down the mountain or up to Camp 2 to remove all the gear that had been taken there before the avalanche happened. The sun was shining brightly and we were able to walk around Base Camp to experience the overwhelming magnitude of this “city on ice” nestled in a valley at the base of the highest mountains in the world. As far as the eye could see were tents filled with the climbers and Sherpas who were preparing for their ascent of Everest, which unfortunately was cancelled this year. Now sadly leaving their camps to return to Kathmandu and places beyond. Continue reading

Trek Day 9-Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp

We woke up at 4:30AM, I can’t believe we are up this early to climb Kala Patthar, it even snowed last night, there is at least 3 inches of fresh snow everywhere. We were already to leave at 5AM to begin our climb in the early morning light. The ascent up Kala Patthar makes it’s way up a series of switchbacks before leveling off, as it traverses to the eastern side of the mountain. The trail becomes steep again as we scramble over slippery snow covered boulders to the top, which is marked with prayer flags. We had to stop several times just to get warm and when we reached the top the guys were already there taking photos of the great views of Mt Everest, Nuptse and glimpses of the summit of Lhotse. The sun was rising behind Everest by the time we  summited and we celebrated our climb with photos together. This was our Everest ascent at 18,209ft, it is the highest altitude that we (Bob and I) will reach on our trek to Everest Base Camp. It was an easy hike all the way down and arrived back at Gorak Shep around 8:00am in time for breakfast. Continue reading

Trek Day 8-Lobuche to Gorak Shep

At 5:30am I woke up when Kevin, B-1, Ake and Panuru were leaving to climb up to Lobuche Advanced Base Camp. It was so cold I climbed back into my sleeping bag to keep warm, it was freezing in our room. We eventually got up at 7:30am and went into the dining room for breakfast and to wait for the guys to return around 9am. We waited for awhile before leaving for Gorak Shep not very far away. The trek goes through the Lobuche Pass along some moraines. The views across the glacier of Mt Nuptse, Mt Lho-La and Mt Khumbutse were so inspiring all day long, which made it easier to keep climbing, and forget about the pain. Along the trail we saw the beautiful Snow Cock perched at the side of the path and our first view of Everest Base Camp in the distance. After 2 1/4 hours of hiking in thin air we arrived at Gorak Shep, 16,942ft, our last tea house before Base Camp. Gorak Shep is a frozen lakebed covered with sand, it was the original base camp for Mt Everest. Gorak Shep provides the best launching pad for an ascent of Kala Patthar which looks like a giant dune looming over the lakebed. It was to bed early in order to get up at 4:30am to climb Kala Patthar, 18,209ft. Continue reading

Trek Day 7-Dingboche to Lobuche

Today we are heading for Lobuche, 16,108ft, the terrain is very sparse now, as we are above the tree line. Our team split up to go in two different directions, but still arriving in Lobuche later today. Ake, Brad and Kevin are hiking over a pass called Kongma La, 18,159ft, that will take them about 7 hours to Lobuche and B-1, Bob and myself with Panuru and Bollie are going up the valley via Dughla to Lobuche, taking about 4 hours. We left the lodge around 8am, again it was a beautiful sunny morning and the mountain views were spectacular. We followed the side of the mountain, looking down to Pheriche and the valley below. We passed by stone huts where Sherpas come to spend the summer months with their yaks because of the warmer days and the lush vegetation. We arrived at Dughla around 9:30am and stopped for a drink. We could see climbers on Mt Lobuche through binoculars hiking up the glacier to the summit. Dughla is a glacial lake, small hamlet and mountain pass. The place consists of several huts, maybe three, located at an altitude of 15,075ft, and is essentially a resting place catering to hikers. From here it was straight up for 650 feet, but because of the thin air walking feels a little bit heavier. At the top of Thokla Pass, 15,846ft, we came upon the memorials for fallen climbers and Sherpas, along the ridge as far as you could see were chortens or rock memorials, with a name carved in the stone or a brass plaque. The symbolic prayer flags flowing from the memorials. There were climbers from many countries, following their passion and chasing their dreams. Doing a job. Such as Scott Fischer, Alex Lowe, Anatoli Boukreev and many Sherpas. Since the year 2000 thirteen Sherpas died on Everest, and then sixteen in this years disaster, the most of any single nationality. Leaving the area walking a bit slower thinking about your purpose, your home, it is now clearer than ever that climbing Everest is deadly serious Continue reading

Trek Day 6-Dingboche

We are staying at the Peak 38 View Lodge in Dingboche with wonderful views of the surrounding mountains for two nights, and today is a ‘rest day’ to help with acclimatization. We still went for a hike! Kevin and the Brads, Ake and Panuru left at 7am to climb Nangkar Tshang, 16,500 ft. Bob and I stayed in the lodge and had a nice breakfast and at 9am we left with Bollie, are guide, for an easier hike. We climbed up the ridge from the lodge above Dingboche, over 1,300ft, called Chubejung Kharka. There’s a Gompa (memorial) on the way up the mountain known as Nangkartshang with many prayer flags blowing in the wind. From here we had a great view looking down the valley to Dingboche. We hiked higher up the mountain until we met the rest of our team coming down from the top of Nangkar Tsang. From this climb there are great views of Mt Makalu, 27,765ft, the 5th highest in the world, Ama Dablam and the Chhukhung Valley. Continue reading

Trek Day 5-Phortse to Dingboche

As we were getting ready to leave Phortse this morning, Panuru’s wife gave us each a khata ( white scarf) to wear to the monastery in Pangboche to receive blessings from the Lama. We left Phortse at 7:30am and it was uphill out of Phortse, with great views looking back at the village. Once again the path was clinging to the side of a steep slope, but with stone steps built into the cliff face. We had wonderful views looking across the Imja Khohe Valley to Tengboche, the old monastery there, and a clear view of Thamserku, 21,680 ft, rising from the valley behind Tengboche. Continue reading

Trek Day 4-Namche to Phortse

Leaving Namche today to continue our trek to Base Camp. It was onwards and always upwards right after breakfast with a full stomach is challenging to climb up and up and up! It was a steady climb, the path in places clinging to the side of a steep slope. B-1 commented that it looked like a great ski hill in the winter, very steep and nasty. The views of Ama Dablam were spectacular rising 22,493 ft from the valley below. Approaching the Mong-La (pass) we stop for lunch at the Mountain View Lodge & Restaurant. We could see Phortse, the village we are staying at tonight, from the restaurant, looking down across the valley. After lunch it was a very steep downhill to the River below and then up again to reach Phortse. At the River crossing Kevin challenged B-1 to do ten pull-ups while hanging from the under side of the bridge over the raging River and Kevin would have to carry his backpack up the hill to Phortse. After ripping off ten of the best B-1 handed Kevin his pack and offered to carry mine instead, thanks B-1! Panuru, our Sherpa guide, is from Phortse and we are staying at his Guest House with his wife. While Kevin, Ake and Panuru went off to rock climb near by, we settled into our room, showered and read. Continue reading