April 11, 2015
Yesterday the Puja ceremony was conducted at base camp. Our sherpas were excited about the Lama coming to bless them and their equipment. They built a stone stupa for him and adorned it with flowers (plastic), foods, yak butter and alcohol, rice and rice flour and prayer flags which only went up once he blessed them. There was a lot of praying and chanting involved over the 3 or so hours that it took and the Nepalese take it very seriously. They usually won’t move onto the mountain until Puja is completed.
I’ll post videos and pictures when I’m back in SA
Around base camp
All set up at EBC
April 11, 2015
Greetings from Lobuche again. Back here after 4 nights at Base Camp. We are very well set up there at 5350m on rock and ice. Sean, Rob, Nico, Wilmien and I each have our own tents which have mattresses and cushions dressed with white linen ….I half expected a mint on my pillow each evening!
Our head sherpa is Ongchho, he’s 40& has 4 kids. He’s our main go to guy and has lots of experience on peaks over 8000m.
Anh Kami is our camp 2 cook and has a very wizened and weathered face which one can’t help smiling at.
Phurna is our base camp cook, helped by Pursimba. It’s amazing what dishes they create ina tented kitchen. We’ve been spoilt with omelettes, oats, pancakes, pizza, lots of soups (garlic being the key ingredient), buffalo stew, yak meat burger patties, mixed rice, stewed fruit, roasted chicken and so forth. We might even be putting weight on in this expedition!
Actually it’s not possible. .. Just sitting around at altitude elevates your heart rate and Burns calories. One walk down to the toilet tent and back and we are out of breath!
Our Douwe Egbert filter coffee every morning is a real treat and TCP is in the hand washing water to make sure we stay clean and hygienic.
We are very well set up. Our comms tent is powered by a generator which charges all our technology. Inside we have inflated couches, a TV and sound system, and even a gas heater. It feels like glamping! No shoes are allowed inside so in the minus 15 temperatures we are wearing our down booties, wrapping ourselves up in our down jackets and huddling around the heater.
Every evening at about 5 we start a movie, then comes the call for dinner which always starts with a hot towel to wipe our hands and then the first course of soup. Dinner takes place in our smaller dining tent which boasts tables and chairs, spices and condiments.
After Dinner and fruit dessert er head back to the comms tent where hot water is kept on flasks so that we can make milo or tea while finishing our movies. Thanks to those who contributed their cherished movies to our trip. This week We watched Searching for Sugarman, Nachos Libre and last night ‘Joe’.
Bed time is inevitably before 9pm and then starts what’s sometimes a restless night, sometimes reaching for the “pee bottle” 2× a night (never fun). We emerge from our cocoon like states at about 8 am when it’s light and warm.
The day goes by with some writing in diaries, drawing, Reading, showering (we have a shower tent too) and afternoon naps or listening to music. Our barrels arrived from SA and we have unpacked some items we needed which was pretty exciting.
This morning we sorted our high altitude gear in preparation for Island Peak. We leave to climb the peak tomorrow in preparation for camp 2 on Everest. Island peak is about 6200m and we should be there for the whole week. Good news is that we got wifi at base camp this morning. $50 for one gig. .. We’ll see how it lasts.
We are early in the season, waiting to hear from “Kathmandu” when the climbing of Everest can start.
It’s going to be an interesting couple of weeks, the Khumbu icefall being our first challenge in about 2 weeks. It’s a waiting game to some extent.
food on the trip:Herbert and Liebisch: this one’s for you
April 6, 2015
Delicious cheese balls.
This trip is pretty much a no meat trip. Meat is not only hard to come by (everything gets trekked in so imagine meat coming up the valley over a few days) but also not the best choice for protecting oneself from gastro.
So its either potatoes/rice/noodles with some form of egg And veg.
Momos and tomato soup
Veg and rice curry.
Haven’t touched the Lindt chocolate. .. Can you believe it Bernard? ?
Thanks to my sponsors H&L for helping me “Eat my way up”
updates on the last two days
April 6, 2015
Dingboche yesterday morning after a light dump of snow. ..
We stayed in Moonlight lodge, run by a smiley faced Rum. After our acclimatisation walk up to 5100m we enjoyed lunch at the lodge… followed by cake and coffee at a “French bakery” which was in a warm sunny room.
I had a café latte and chocolate cake. Yum!
Food is mostly as follows: (my choices)
Oats and boiled eggs
Or omelette and oats
Chips and fried eggs
Egg veg fried rice
Cheese sandwich and chips.
Today it’s vegetable curry and rice.
Either of the lunch options or add garlic soup
Veg fried noodles
Lots of lemon ginger or milky tea is consumed. .
During down time we are either listening to music, writing in our diaries or reading and playing Bananagrams. Early to bed for us.
Darmik on top of Dingboche Ri 5100
April 5, 2015
After waking up to snow which didn’t last very long on the ground…we did an acclimatisation walk up to Dingboche Ri at about 5100m. It a bit a huff and a puff up there above 4800m. Took about 5 hours round trip and the views were spectacular.
The wifi here is very sparse and weak. Photos are on Facebook.
Thanks to Darmik for sponsoring the day…
First views of Everest
April 4, 2015
Today is the 4 April and we are at Dingboche 4355m “Hotel Moonlight” where the wifi is too weak for me to upload photos to the blog.
Today we left Debuche (Rivendell lodge) situated at 3820m @ just after 8 am. Breakfast was oats and boiled eggs followed by some of Robs French toast. We enjoyed beautiful views of Amadablam and when the clouds cleared we could see Everest too!
The walk was undulating and we quickly left the tree line behind as we followed the river up the valley.
We reached Sunrise guest house in Orshe at 11:20 am shortly after passing Pangboche with all its Stony walls, enclosures of some sort. .. perhaps for yaks. Yak dung was drying in some of them.
Some in the group have bad stomachs and headaches which is normal when eating new food and at altitude. Hopefully everyone feels better after resting here for two nights.
Lunch was fried chips and egg… At least once a day that’s the meal.. Or veg/egg fried rice.
We rested there for about 2 hours and 90mins and a huff and puff uphill later arrived at Dingboche where we stay for 2 nights. After the lodge keeper installed a new gas device I had a somewhat cold shower. .. Only for him to have a good giggle later that he’d forgotten to switch the gas on…
It wasn’t quite that funny when I was jumping around under the cold water…
Yesterday we left Namche at 8am and not long after being on the contour path we were treated to our first views of Mt Everest. Naturally everyone was taking photographs and soaking up the views.
After a long descent and passing porters bent double carrying crazy loads on their backs we stopped for lunch in the valley. I had mixed fried rice with eggs which was quite tasty and a couple of glasses of “milk tea”.
Then came the long uphill to Tyangboche monastery which took about 2 hours. .. The breathing was heavy but I drowned myself out with some tunes in my ears. I must have been breathing very heavily because one of the guys from another expedition walking at the same time as us asked if I was okay!
We had a look around the monastery under the watchful eye of one of the monks because no photo or “shooting of a movie” was allowed.
Then the quick descent to Debuche …
Acclimatisation day from Namche Bazaar
April 2, 2015
This morning we had breakfast of oats and omelette at Sona lodge Namche Bazaar 3443m. A few in the group didn’t sleep very well, which is to be expected above 3400m. The bladder also starts working harder to regulate 02 and C02 levels in the blood.
Namche sits in almost an amphitheatre in the mountains facing the peak of Kongde 4250m & is a colourful, bustling village where everything is for sale… From yak bells (I’m fancying one as my new homes doorbell) to climbing gear.
The acclimatisation walk took us straight uphill…400m to the above the Syangboche airstrip where we watched a Russian helicopter land on wheels.
Going up is hard. .. The breathing immediately becomes harder and the pace slows down.
The stairs we walked up alongside Juniper trees reminded me of the westcliff stairs we recently climbed… and I Thought of the athletes we shared that experience with.
When we reached the top of the hill we hoped to see Mt Everest far up the valley but there was a lot of cloud cover.
View down the valley
View up the valley
The mountains to the right of the valley are Thamserku 6618m, and most visible Amadablam 6814m.
It took us about 2 hours to reach the top of the hill and once there we enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate.
The walk down was very quick. .. There’s no speed limit on the downhills. We bumped into another group of trekkers from SA, our first ascent gear giving us away. Small world, Brian knows Tony (climbed Denali with him) from their kids being at the same school. They were excited to follow our progress.
Back in NB (by 11) we went straight to the “Everest Bakery” for cappuccino and breakfast which included cake.
After that I walked around town and when my sole came off my slop-like shoe I had to purchase another pair of shoes for relaxing in after taking off my boots. Fortunately gear is very cheap here.
The afternoon was spent relaxing, eating. Listening to music, updating loved ones at home and charging devices.
This is kind of the last outpost of civilisation.
Today was sponsored by Truter Jones. .. Thank you!!
Namaste from Namche Bazaar 3447m
This morning 1 April, (here I need to mention that i had two illy cappuccinos with breakfast – what a treat) left Phakding 2600m at 8 a.m and started the climb out of the valley along the Dudh Kosi River. The vegetation odds really beautiful, different to my last trip here which was in winter. The rhododendrons are in Bloom so you see pink or red splashes of colour amidst the green and brown.
It was hot at times and the game of stripping off then putting on again began and after a while I settled on two shirts, one long sleeve and one short.
I’m enjoying the quiet time, the peace and time for reflection. Every now and then the yak trains approach from the front or back and their bells ring alerting us to their presence and the need to get out of the way so they can pass. If heading onto a bridge. .. It’s not a good idea to take them on head on. It’s the first time we see trains of mules being used too.
Compared to 2003 there is much more development and settlements along the way.
Lunch was at about 11 at Jorselle (not sure of spelling) and since we need to avoid meat due to hygiene most of us had rice or noodles with cheese. Those who Ordered chicken were quickly disappointed with the toughness thereof.
While waiting for our meal we had lemon tea and played Sevens (card game).
We had to check in and pay R500 permit for the Sagarmartha national park and give other details… strange they ask what type of cameras we use.
After crossing a very high Bridge (which reduced some to tears) the climb started up to Namche Bazaar 3447m. We are at the Sona lodge and tucked into popcorn and lemon-ginger tea.
Now we sit around the dining room and rest or head into town where I spotted the famous Russell Brice from the Everest documentaries.
My day was sponsored by http://www.pwman.co.za/
Whether we go depends on the weather
Back at the airport…
Up at 5 a.m today from Thamel Eco hotel, situated close to Mandala Street, Kathmandu.
Not all of us slept that well because some Irish people were enjoying their evening rather loudly below us.
Fortunately after my massage and G&T last evening I slept soundly. We went to Kilroys for dinner, which was a blast from the past, having been there after the EBC trek in 2003. I had the same meal I did 12 years ago – Mutton Rogan Josh. The others are chicken tikka or tandoori chicken with naan bread. We avoid Ice in our drinks because of possible contamination.
Yesterday’s Momos For lunch were pretty good. ..A Momo is a kind of dumpling and is a popular Nepali dish. Mohan enthusiastically recommended we eat there.
In the afternoon we all did our own thing. I wandered the colourful bustling streets, my rainbow coloured umbrella bobbing above me head to keep the raindrops off me. I’m fascinated by the cashmere products and brightly coloured pashimas decorating the shop fronts.
Himalayan Java received a visit from me for a latte and a Brownie followed by a very oily massage at Mandala Spa.
Right now it’s 9:30 am and I’m sitting in a pile of luggage at the airport waiting to see if we get that flight to Lukla although we hear it’s raining heavily there.