Tashi Delek from Phakding
April 3- Phakding
Tashi Delek from the village of Phakding in the Khumbu Valley!
Our flights this morning out of Kathmandu went as smoothly as they ever go
which is definitely something to be thankful for. This past October Winslow
and I were delayed 5 days trying to get our flight out of the city. So today
was payback- we had a nice 6:30 a.m. breakfast, left for the airport at 7 a.m.
and landed in Lukla just after 10. Just like clockwork.
The Lukla landing is always an exciting one with its short 7% grade runway and
didn’t fail to disappoint with the added fun of some limited visibility on the
approach. We lost some elevation coming into Phakding from the 9,000+ level of
Lukla which is nice for day one. Tomorrow we’ll be up early to begin our day
up to Namche Bazaar. The crew is psyched to be hitting the “capital of the
Khumbu”. Surprisingly we only have 4 people out of our 14 that have not been
in Nepal so many of our team members are veterans of this trek.
Today our last MI-17 heli cargo flight was able to make it into Syangboche
which sits over 12,000’ just above Namche Bazaar. Our first helicopter cargo
flight was about a week ago. The gear, food and equipment from that flight
began its journey to BC today aboard a long train of yaks. Many of our Sherpa
climbing staff are headed with those loads as well to start establishing the
BC for the season. Most likely they will arrive on the 5th giving them a week
to set up for our arrival on the 12th. The work to get BC in shape is
extensive. It’s a true construction crew breaking up the ice and moving large
rocks to create a more hospitable and flat environment for our home the next
I know you’ve been introduced to the team already through previous cybercasts
and the team bios. In a few days time we’ll be posting the link to another
website which will cover the group that consists of myself, Jeff Dossett and
Melissa Arnot. We hope you’ll follow along with this cybercast as well as that
Alpine Ascents’ 2008 Everest Expedition is definitely underway despite the
turns and twists of the last couple weeks. With permits in hand not only are
we excited but the large numbers of Nepalis that depend on expeditions for
work each season are ecstatic. It is good to see that the Nepal government has
seen the value of keeping the season alive.
We’ll be in touch over the next couple days.
Namaste, Dave Morton
Team at Namche 04/03/2008
Hello family and friends,
Today is Thursday the 3rd. We are sending this cybercast from Namche Bazaar the
Sherpa capital located at about 11,000 ft. It sits in a horseshoe shaped valley
with mountains all around. We traveled through the Sagarmata National Park. We
ascended three thousand feet over a distance of five miles.
Namche Bazaar is a beautiful village and leading market place in the Khumbu
valley. We will stay here two nights acclimating to this altitude before
ascending higher to Thame. Along the route we crossed numerous bridges over the
Dud Koshi river. John mentions that the wind was always blowing up the valley.
We are enjoying the hospitality of the Panorama lodge. Looking forward to
spending a full day tomorrow at Namche Bazaar.
All the best,
John and Jose Luis
Earlier Update: Kathmandu Tour
Namaste friends, family and loved ones,
The team had a real eye opening look at life (and death) on our tour of
Katmandu today. As the early morning light dawned we ascended the 365 steps to
the top of the famous Monkey Temple that looks down upon the city. Home to
over 900 rascally primates and a Buhdda-eyed stupa, the temple mount is
stunningly picturesque. Students sang for us at the boarding school where we
sponsor 18 young scholars. We were awed by the Hindu cremation pyres along
Katmandu's holy river. The Sadhus (holy men) however, garnished the most
photos as they struck up meditative poses amongst shrines of Shiva.
The team is in high spirits as we anticipate an early morning departure to the
mountains. So, please stay tuned for our further adventures.
Everest from the South Side
Base Camp - 17,500 feet (5350
This is a
picture of the popular South Col Route up Mt. Everest. Base camp is located
at 17,500 feet. This is where climbers begin their true trip up the
mountain. This is also where support staff often remain to monitor the
expeditions and provide medical assistance when necessary. Many organizations
offer hiking trips which just go to base camp as the trip is not technically
challenging (though you must be very fit).
camp, climbers typically train and acclimate (permitting the body to adjust to
the decreased oxygen in the air) by traveling and bringing supplies back and
forth through the often treacherous Khumbu Icefall. This training and
recuperation continues throughout the climb, with the final summit push often
being the only time to climbers do not go back and forth between camps to
train, bring supplies, and recuperate for the next push.
is in constant motion. It contains enormous ice seracs, often larger than
houses, which dangle precariously over the climbers heads, threatening to fall
at any moment without warning, as the climbers cross endless crevasses and
listen to continuous ice creaking below. This often acts as a testing ground
to judge if less experienced climbers will be capable of continuing. The
Icefall is located between 17,500 and 19,500 feet.
Camp I -
Icefall, the climbers arrive at Camp I, which is located at 19,500 feet.
Depending on the type of expedition, Camp I will either be stocked by the
climbers as they ascend and descend the Icefall, or by Sherpas in advance.
between Camp I and Camp II is known as the Western Cwm. As the climbers reach
Camp II at 21,000 feet, they may be temporarily out of sight of their support
at Base camp. Nonetheless, modern communication devises permit the parties to
stay in contact.
Camp II -
climbers leave Camp II, they travel towards the Lhotse face (Lhotse is a
27,920 foot mountain bordering Everest). The Lhotse face is a steep, shiny
icy wall. Though not technically extremely difficult, one misstep or slip
could mean a climber's life. Indeed, many climbers have lost their lives
through such mishaps.
Camp III -
23,700 feet (7200 meters)
To reach Camp
III, climbers must negotiate the Lhotse Face. Climbing a sheer wall of ice
demands skill, strength and stamina. It is so steep and treacherous that many
Sherpas move directly from Camp II to Camp IV on the South Col, refusing to
stay on the Lhotse Face.
Camp IV -
26,300 feet (8000 meters)
As you’re leaving C4…it’s a
little bit of a down slope, with the uphill side to the left. There are
typically snow on the ledges to walk down on, interspersed with rock, along
with some fixed rope. The problem with the rope is that the anchors are bad,
and there’s not much holding the rope and a fall could be serious. Fortunately
it’s not too steep, but there is a ton of exposure and people are usually
tired when walking down from camp. The rock is a little down sloping to the
right as well, and with crampons on, it can be bit tricky with any kind of
wind. There’s a little short slope on reliable snow which leads to the top of
the Geneva Spur, and the wind pressure gradient across the spur can increase
there as you’re getting set up for the rappel. Wearing an oxygen mask here can
create some footing issues during the rappel, because it’s impossible to see
over the mask and down to the feet. For that reason, some people choose to
leave Camp 4 without gas, as it’s easier to keep moving down the Spur when
it’s important to see all the small rock steps and where the old feet are
going. Navigating down through all of the spaghetti of fixed ropes is a bit of
a challenge, especially with mush for brains at that point. One lands on some
lower ledges which aren’t so steep, where fixed ropes through here are solid.
At this point, it’s just a matter of staying upright, and usually, the wind
has died significantly after dropping off the Spur. The route turns hard to
the left onto the snowfield that leads to the top of the Yellow Bands.
which is at 26,300 on the Lhotse face, is typically the climbers' first
overnight stay in the Death Zone. The Death Zone is above 26,000 feet.
Though there is nothing magical about that altitude, it is at this altitude
that most human bodies lose all ability to acclimate. Accordingly, the body
slowly begins to deteriorate and die - thus, the name "Death Zone." The
longer a climber stays at this altitude, the more likely illness (HACE - high
altitude cerebral edema - or HAPE - high altitude pulmonary edema) or death
will occur. Most climbers will use oxygen to climb and sleep at this altitude
and above. Generally, Sherpas refuse to sleep on the Lhotse face and will
travel to either Camp II or Camp IV.
Camp IV is
located at 26,300 feet. This is the final major camp for the summit push. It
is at this point that the climbers make their final preparations. It is also
a haven for worn-out climbers on their exhausting descent from summit attempts
(both successful and not). Sherpas or other climbers will often wait here
with supplies and hot tea for returning climbers.
From Camp IV,
climbers will push through the Balcony, at 27,500 feet, to the Hillary Step at
28,800 feet. The Hillary Step, an over 70 foot rock step, is named after Sir.
Edmond Hillary, who in 1953, along with Tenzing Norgay, became the first
people to summit Everest. The Hillary Step, which is climbed with fixed
ropes, often becomes a bottleneck as only one climber can climb at a time.
Though the Hillary Step would not be difficult at sea level for experienced
climbers, at Everest's altitude, it is considered the most technically
challenging aspect of the climb.
29,028 feet (8848 meters)
climbers ascend the Hillary Step, they slowly and laboriously proceed to the
summit at 29,028 feet. The summit sits at the top of the world. Though not
the closest place to the sun due to the earth's curve, it is the highest peak
on earth. Due to the decreased air pressure, the summit contains less than
one third the oxygen as at sea level. If dropped off on the summit directly
from sea level (impossible in reality), a person would die within minutes.
Typically, climbers achieving the great summit will take pictures, gain their
composure, briefly enjoy the view, then return to Camp IV as quickly as
possible. The risk of staying at the summit and the exhaustion from
achieving the summit is too great to permit climbers to fully enjoy the great
accomplishment at that moment.
readers of this page know, the return trip can be even more dangerous than the
climb to the summit.
Pictures from Enrique
Guallart-Furio web site http://ww2.encis.es/avent/
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