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  Nepal Team Makes Base Camp

19 April 2015 -

Today's Update from Expedition Leader Dan Mazur: Everest Nepal team reaches base camp. Everyone is well. The Everest trekkers and Island Peakers joined for lunch too!

16 April -

After Dingboche, the team braved the small hill overlooking Dingboche village to merge onto what was a traffic-ridden Everest Highway, full of climbers and trekkers simultaneously taking advantage of the renewed pleasant weather. Yak teams tolled their friendly bells, sherpa herders shouted their impenetrable curses, and trekkers generally carried on, chatting away about whatever came to mind. For us, it was 'how the recent Tom Cruise films have had very clever plots', and 'what a ranuncula flower looks like if you've never seen one before because it's kind of hard to describe', and 'what we'll be doing seven years from today in the "I am", present case format'.

There were young teenagers sporting street wear, and older folks bent over trekking poles. There were older Japanese with their ever-pristine kit, walking in a perfect line spaced two feet between each trekker, moving aside together whenever anyone needed to pass. They were a perfect millipede.

There was a young group of bright-eyed Israelis, walking in pairs, casually joking and laughing, some listening to music and oblivious to their settings, and one, curiously, with a roll of toilet paper strung about her neck. They were a perfect school trip. This flow of people was a testament to Everest and the Khumbu region's perennial draw, to nature's ability to inspire people of many paths, and to merge them onto one highway.

We came up on Dukhla shortly, halfway between Dingboche and Lobuche, and stopped for a bit of noodle soup and juice. A bit of romance spontaneously flared up between one of our trekkers, and a pretty young girl from another group. He left the mines to work as a team leader on the ski slopes; she was a nurse, soon moving, but already in love with her future home. Sparks flew, diamox was offered, and bystanders were made gently awkward. Afterward, up the hill we went, and soon, we'd rolled into Lobuche, and the Above the Clouds Lodge. A few celebratory beers were had, and a fantastic set of meals: for lunch was a hyper-indulgent double serving of French toast, and for dinner, spaghetti with mushroom and tomato sauce, with mangos for desert. Fit for kings. In fact,, it was the "last supper", as the day after, the teams would split: Grant, Andre, and Kai would head for Lobuche base camp, and the summit they came for; the New Zealanders (Steve, Sally, Rosy, and Kyle) would head for Kalapattar and then back to Island Peak; and the Everest team for Everest Base Camp. There was a toast, and lighthearted jokes were made about the team members who'd become inseparable, and would now need to part.

That night, the afternoon snow cleared, and a crystal clear view of Nuptse emerged. It felt like the first night the stars really came out in full force. After dinner, team members stepped out to take extended exposures, and to bask in the night light. Lobuche by Leo Wang

15 April -

Dingboche is "quite the sprawling Himalayan metropolis", said one of the team members upon arriving. At about 4300 meters, the village's scale is a bit unexpected - a (very) rough estimate would place its length at about 2-3 miles, populated by the usual tin roof, cinderblock wall, and plywood construction trekking lodges lining both sides of one central artery of mud, wending its way higher and higher, eastward toward Island Peak. From a distance, it looked like a schoolyard hopscotch grid gone cancerous, its residents having piled up stone walls into square-shaped animal corrals, one after another, somewhat willy-nilly.

The team members of course gravitated to its bakeries; an activity which has emerged as the de-facto "time-killer" of choice. Not difficult to understand. Dingboche's best was apparently Mama's Bakery, a small but cozy shack toward the mouth of the village. The New Zealanders, Steve and his partner Sally, Steve's daughter Rosy and Sally's son Kyle, plus Grant, the minister from Australia, were joined by Garth and Leo, two Everest hopefuls -- all crowded in to sample what they presumed were the eponymous Mama's home cooked treats: chocolate donuts, carrot cake, walnut pie, and chocolate croissants. A few other trekkers filed in and out, including, notably, a film crew from New Zealand come for a documentary on the sherpa-climber relationship, one year after the shattering accident of 2014.

The next day, there was much small-talk admiring the beautiful morning - clear sunshine warmed those of us who sat outside the Yak Lodge, de-layered to soak in as many rays as possible. It was much like a scene from any small town: a few homebodies and lay-abouts arrayed along main street, unconsciously hoping for some news to chuckle at, scoff at, raise an eyebrow at, or ultimately just mindlessly stare at. "Hey is Bantha Brakk in Pakistan, or Northern India?" "I thought it was in the Trango Towers?"

Portable solar panels drank sunlight, propped on plastic lawn chairs from China. A couple teenage porters washed clothes along the muddy path, bogarting some sun-warmed water flowing through a section of the town's black rubber piping. Cards were played; a New Zealander's game of luck. It was called "3-up, 3-down"; unsure if it was only a harmless and catchy name, or a profoundly bleak and satirical statement on life.

Perhaps to fulfill the bad luck sign that was a full-circle rainbow entirely ringing the sun, from the day before, one team member fell a bit sick, and was ferried down toward Pheriche, for the swift helicopter ride back into Nepali civilization. Combined with exhaustion and a cold, the difficult decision to curtail her trek to Everest base camp was made - expedition leader Dan, senior Sherpa Jangbu, Garth, and Janet (aunt of the unlucky trekker) made two trips to help escort her onto the arranged helicopter. The first attempt was snuffed out by inclement weather, as by now, true to Northern Hemisphere mountain / Himalayan weather patterns, the snow was coming down generously. It was mid-afternoon, when her helicopter finally lighted. Kudos to the trekker for toughing it out day after day - just the day before she made what must have been a truly grueling hike from Pangboche to Dingboche - and to everyone for helping her off the mountain. A couple days later we found she was healthy and active, back in Kathmandu, entertaining ideas of shopping and the climber world renowned Momo Star.

I should also mention a few of our more stalwart members rallied for an acclimatization hike up to 5100 meters, in the morning sunshine. This, is an altitude gain of 800 meters. There always seems to be more than sufficient excitement, and anxiety, and eagerness, and nervous jitters, and generally, human nature, to fuel a few climbers for an "acclimatization hike", on what was a planned rest day.

And so passed a climber's day in Dingboche.

14 April -

Today's blog by Damian Bourke.

Early morning tea delivered to the room combined with a clear sky meant we were heading to Dingboche. This is one of the most majestic walks you can imagine. We have been blessed already with snow on the mountains, clear sky, warm day and great company. All team members are getting on well and we constantly interact whilst trekking. The groups from new Zealand even get on well with the Australians who like the Scot, who likes the Romanians, Czech and the Americans. Its our own global village.

Along the trek to Dingboche there are many stops for 'postcard' photo opportunities.

On arrival in Dingboche (4,360m altitude) the team is fairing well, some minor effects of trekking but hopefully all will come good quickly.

13 April -

The morning began with a beautiful snow fall in lower Pangboche. A 20cm layer of pure white snow (except for yak pooh!) It could be said the team preferred a clear day, but the weather had other thoughts. The beauty of the mountains enhanced with the white snow.

After a hearty breakfast we made our way to Lama Geshe for a blessing on our travels. A spiritual journey begins, whichever that may be for each member. After finding our way through snow back to camp, it was a rest afternoon and early night in anticipation of moving forward tomorrow.

12 April -

After a solid trek from Namche, the team slept as well as you can.
11 April 2015 -

West Face of Ama Dablam seen from Shomare. James Grieve Photo.




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