After our blessings from the Lama Geishe, we made our way with sunny skies to Pheriche and another rest day. A long the way, we meet with Yak herds, Trekkers and climbers.
In particular, we’ve been pacing with the first American to climb Mt. Everest, Jim Whitaker and his Eddie Bauer “First Ascent” team that includes 13-time summiter, Dave Hahn. Whittaker is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his summit while supporting Hahn in his push to log yet another – all supported by the good folks at First Ascent.
There are a number of commercial ventures up on Everest this year including the North Face, National Geographic, Prince Harry and the broad assortment of groups like ours from all over the world.
But some of the most incredible people are the ones who donate portions of their time, money and effort here for the locals. Among those, the Himalayan Rescue Foundation is one that dedicates the time of doctors here to help locals and travelers alike.
But now, Journey is cranking in the tea house and the wifi is cranking while the wind and snow pound against the windows. It all serves to remind me that I’ll be sleeping in a tent at over 16,000 feet tomorrow – with no wifi.
We awoke to over four inches of snow. It could have been a l-o-n-g slog to Pheriche, except we have a great group. And, along the way, Heidi one of our climbers, handed out puppets and stuffed animals to two small children that we met along the way.
We made our way ups the Dodh Kosi river; a deep green color of green, like eyes. The color of green, I’m told, that means hope.
At the Pangboche monastery, we received our blessings from the Lama Geishe, and had our Katas (scarves) blessed. And, funny, when we stepped out side the sun came out…
Geishe asked us all to “Give up all intentions to harm others for your heart
And do your best to benefit them all.
If each and everyone feels the universal responsibility to do so,
We will all enjoy the feast of Peace!”
IMG wisely adheres to the motto, go slowly to the top. We would be spending three days in Namche. Today, though, we went to the Khumjung Gompa. A Gompa is a fortified place of worship for Buddhists. And, given how the Tibetans are being treated in China, it sounds like a good idea.
The hike took us straight up out of Namche to over 12,000 feet where we got to see the world’s highest airstrip, and then ambled on to the Everest View Hotel. Another 70 F day, with beautiful views of Mt. Everest.
We met Russell Brice of “Surviving Everest” fame, and our head climbing Sherpa – a way more important person in my book!
A day on a dusty trail ended with a great view of Namche.
Leaving Phakding for Namche, April 1, 2012
We were in the trail by 8 since the trail to Namche Bazar, at 11,352 feet, would be one of our longest, and have the most vertical gain of our travels up the Khumbu valley.
Shortly before I left, I had decided to check into nailing down a new pair of approach shoes. While climbing with my good friend and AMGA Board Member Kyle Lefkoff, I noticed that he was wearing a pair of La Sportiva Gandes – and he really liked them. Before climbing Aconcagua, I took a pair of La Sportiva Lhotses and wore them almost out of the box to the summit. In fact, Sportiva pretty much fit my feet like I’m their shoe model. I’ve never invested in Sportivas and been disappointed. Gande Guides it would be!
Another important item for caring for one’s health on an extended expedition, along with great footwear, is being sure to replace essential minerals and vitamins along the way. On an approach that will last up to a week, vitamins and electrolyte replacement are crucial elements in maintaining one’s health and feeling strong. For a trip of this magnitude, we chose ThermoBoost from SlimGenics. Loaded with B vitamins, amino acids and guarana, ThermoBoost has been proven to help increase oxygen uptake – a crucial feature for us as we move higher.
Our day-long hike was uneventful and the weather was beautiful. The only cause for concern was a fire down in the Khumbu that created a layer of smoke chilling any scenic shots.
Flight to Lukla March 31, 2012
After two days of breathing the pollution and absorbing the noise, it was time to hit the trail.a
We were rolling by 4:30, debut I was still the last person out with my duffle bag. Head guide Eric Simonson’s eyes bugged out since the bags had left 45 minutes prior.
I had become that guy…
At the airport, things moved with third-world smoothness and we were loaded on to a Twin Otter plane headed for Lukla. I kept telling myself not to look at the interior as a way to gauge how well the plane had been maintained. Or we would be in a lot of trouble.
The flight went off with the accustomed third world smoothness. It wasn’t until I saw the runway that we realized that life in Nepal was not only efficient, but effective. Looking through the cockpit windshield, you could see the airport – built into the side of hill dead- ending into stone wall. The strip itself, was a wide swath that angled up at a 10-15 degree slope to aid in slowing down landing planes, as well as help launch planes on take off. At an elevation of 9372 feet, the air is thin for planes (and humans) requiring a bit more umph for old, overloaded and underpowered planes.
It was still unnerving though you knew that this had been done at least 20 times or so without incident.