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Peru with Mountain Madness

Adventurous Season in Nepal Begins!

Our first Ever­est Base Camp Trek of the sea­son is under­way! We’ve got quite a few great trips lined up in Nepal this year. With four sched­uled Ever­est Base Camp Treks, two Island Peak climbs, a Khum­bu Ice­fall expe­di­tion and an Ever­est View Trek, which is great for trekkers with lim­it­ed vaca­tion time. Gas­par Navar­rete, a favorite Ecuado­ri­an guide, will be join­ing forces with guide Deana Zabal­do lat­er this month for an Ever­est Base Camp Trek, fol­lowed by an Island Peak climb with a father-son team. We are all very excit­ed about the great treks ahead of us! Check out the adven­tures of the cur­rent EBC trip, as both Deana and climber Chris Under­hill sent us a great update of the trip so far!

29 March 2011

Mani stone.

A jour­ney does­n’t always begin as expect­ed. Dur­ing ori­en­ta­tion in Kath­man­du, we went around the room with intro­duc­tions. I am always impressed by how many peo­ple say they have spent 10, 20, 30 years dream­ing of a trip to Ever­est Base Camp. Now here we all were togeth­er, thir­teen clients and myself, full of adven­ture, anticipation…in hik­ing boots and warm gear…ready for the trail! We were ready to fly, sit­ting in the shod­dy domes­tic air­port since 5am wait­ing for a flight to Luk­la, gate­way to the Ever­est region. No flights were leav­ing though. The Khum­bu win­ter has been unusu­al­ly late in depart­ing this year, and Luk­la – one of the most dan­ger­ous (and excit­ing!) airstrips in the world – has been cov­ered in clouds off and on for the past few weeks. No trail for us that day. Trav­el any­where, but espe­cial­ly trav­el in Nepal, requires a healthy dose of flexibility.

We wait­ed all day in the air­port to no avail. The rain and clouds in Luk­la did not abate. I jug­gled itin­er­ary plans, last-minute hotel rooms, and flight resched­ul­ing, and we all returned to the com­fort of the famous Yak and Yeti hotel for an extra night in Kath­man­du. One of Nepal’s most com­mon phras­es is Kay gar­nay?”. Lit­er­al­ly what can you do?”, it’s so ubiq­ui­tous because there’s always some rea­son to say it here! Weath­er in Luk­la is ter­ri­ble, again? What can you do? You wan­der out to explore the tem­ples and shops of the city, and hang on to your opti­mism for tomorrow.

The next day we were lucky. Our staff pulled strings to get us on the very first flight of the morn­ing, so we were at the air­port at 5am, lug­gage piled up on the scale, check­ing the weath­er reports for Luk­la. Fate was smil­ing on us, and the weath­er cleared. We soared over moun­tains, cir­cled around twice for stag­ger­ing Himalayan panora­mas, and dropped in to the short Luk­la airstrip before 8am. We eas­i­ly made up the lost after­noon and were right back on track for our trek. Lucky, indeed. Nepal is an unpre­dictable place, which is part of what keeps it interesting!

Inter­est­ing land­scape on hike from Luk­la. Deana Zabal­do photo

31 March 2011

Today, we arrived in Teng­boche and went to vis­it the area’s largest monastery. Ornate­ly paint­ed in col­or­ful pink, orange, yel­low, green, and blue, the prayer hall is filled with images of the Bud­dha, chant­i­ng monks, and a thin veil of incense. When the deep tones of after­noon prayers had ceased, we were ush­ered into the pri­vate quar­ters for the monastery’s head lama. In Kath­man­du, we bought prayer flags to string at Base Camp and at Scott Fis­cher’s memo­r­i­al, but the flags must first be blessed. The lama chants and throws hand­fuls of rice in his small wood-pan­eled room as we sit on car­pet­ed bench­es and squeeze against enor­mous cop­per bowls.

Scott Fis­ch­er Memo­r­i­al. Mark Ryman photo

When the rites are com­plete, he bless­es each of us on our jour­ney with a thin red thread to tie around our necks and silky white bless­ing scarves around our shoul­ders. We duck our heads through the gate, step back out into the mead­ow of Teng­boche, and head off to our warm tea­house, ready to head fur­ther up the Khum­bu val­ley in the morning.

Ding­boche, Sat­ur­day April 2nd

From Chris Under­hill, Phoenix, AZ:

It is dif­fi­cult to refrain from say­ing, Look!”, Look at that!” as you pass yet anoth­er OMG moment, as the scenic views you have only expe­ri­enced on YouTube or Google, appear before your very eyes. This is only at 14,000 ft. Imag­ine the delights on approach­ing base camp – our (and many oth­ers’) ulti­mate des­ti­na­tion. Moun­tain Mad­ness has ensured our safe­ty, guar­an­teed” (well almost) incred­i­ble morn­ing weath­er for hik­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy, and orches­trat­ed a group of Sher­pas, porters, cooks and yaks that take care of our every need.

Although this is a tea­house trek, we bring along our own cook staff and serve-up in the com­forts of the lodges, ensur­ing the best pos­si­ble food and hygiene. Deana Zabal­do photo

Step aside! Deana Zabla­do photo

Imag­ine: break­fast is served, and then as we strug­gle for oxy­gen up the trail, the kitchen staff pass us enmasse and we find the kitchen set up at our next stop, lunch await­ing us… Though some­times we encounter a yak-train, and guess who gets the right of way on the trails? Stay tuned for more…