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  Canadian Mt. Everest 2005: The long descent


Dr Sean Egan

Update: Monday 2nd May, 7pm. Namche Bazaar
(EST is 9 hours 45mins behind Nepal)

Diary by Harold Mah

I left Base Camp yesterday, Sunday May 1st when our final packing was hampered by a three inch snow storm in the morning.  With Sean's children, Anna and Seamas, arriving in Kathmandu on Wednesday my goal is to make it from Base Camp to Kathmandu in three days by foot and airplane.

There were more tears as I said goodbye to old and new friends at Base Camp.  I hugged everyone and they all had kind words. My newest climbing friend, Gabrielle, is taking a picture of Sean to the summit of Everest. He is deeply saddened by Sean's departure and now climbs in his honour.

We hiked for eight long hours to reach Pheriche and our elevation dropped by almost 4,000 feet.  We travelled through rain, fog and snow as we descended.  The route on the valley floor is very interesting as it is made up of ruts, a foot deep, caused by erosion from years of trekkers and heavy monsoon rains. You would think that cars had driven up this route, from the depth of weathering.

We sped past Duhgla where Sean collapsed and died waiting for the helicopter.  I thought it was a miserable place when we passed through it on our way to Base Camp and now it is my version of the worst place on the planet.

On a more positive note, I met hikers who had helped Sean when he was ill.  They all had positive things to say and they all mentioned the funny conversation that Sean and I had on the radio that day.

I stayed in the teahouse at Pheriche on Sunday night. Everyone hangs out in the dining room around the yak dung-fuelled oven and the sherpas taught me some of their language. I slept in a small, unheated bedroom off the dining room, but it was still warmer than my tent at Base Camp. We were around 14,000 feet in altitude so there was more oxygen and I had more energy in my lungs and legs.

Today, Monday May 2nd, we hiked on to Namche Bazaar which was an elevation drop of another 2,500 feet. (The barometric pressure is 672hPa compared to 440hPa at the Lhotse face).

It’s been another long hike of eight hours. The team of four sherpas that is with me knows that I need to get to Lukla.  They are determined to get me there so we keep up a fast pace all day long. Between the five of us, we are carrying 5 backpacks, 4 duffle bags and 7 various size pelican plastic boxes containing satellite and photographic equipment.  The sherpas are amazing; they are so light on their feet and they never complain about their loads.

We are now below 13,000 feet which means that I see trees, blooming flowers, unfrozen dirt and many more trekkers.  I bumped into a large group of Japanese trekkers who thought I was Nepali until I told them I was Canadian! They had brought their pet dog along for the trek. Incredible!

Two notes of advice for all blog readers about travelling in third world countries. Rent a satellite phone, no matter what the cost and register your journey at your embassy.  This will make life so much easier if anything goes wrong.

I hope to be in Lukla by Tuesday afternoon and plan to catch a flight from there to Kathmandu to meet Anna and Seamas on Wednesday.  That will be a tough emotional time.

Everyone is still talking about Sean.  The sherpas bring up the fun they had with him.  I think about him during the parts of the trek that we walked together on the way up to Base Camp. He has certainly made an impression on everyone who was blessed to meet him.

Take care and thank you for your thoughts and emails.

More later

Harold

Dispatches

 

 

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