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Everest Base Camp with Mountain Madness

Cultural Lessons on the Everest Base Camp Trek

A cou­ple reports from MM Guide Shayan Rohani who checked in with us last Thurs­day from the trail to Ever­est Base Camp and then again after the team reached Base Camp. Check out Shy’s sto­ries below:

(all pho­tos from pre­vi­ous trips)

Thurs­day May 17, 2012

After a cou­ple of lux­u­ri­ous days in Nam­che, includ­ing foot reflex­ol­o­gy that seemed to cure one per­son­’s stom­ach ail­ment, we head­ed out for Thengboche.

Theng­boche is a love­ly vil­lage tucked away with one of the old­est prac­tic­ing monas­ter­ies in the Khum­bu val­ley. We attend­ed a Puja cer­e­mo­ny that, while very inter­est­ing, one per­son was dis­ap­point­ed hav­ing expect­ed singing lla­mas not chant­i­ng lamas. On our way to Theng­boche anoth­er mem­ber nar­row­ly avoid­ed an attack from an angry yak. We are all more care­ful around the yaks after that expe­ri­ence. In Theng­boche anoth­er mem­ber was hav­ing trou­ble sleep­ing because of a res­i­dent mouse. Try­ing to be a help­ful guide I asked the lodge own­er if she had a mouse trap. She made an awful face and I imme­di­ate­ly real­ized I made a huge cul­tur­al mis­take. Being Bud­dhist the mouse was wel­come in her lodge and she cer­tain­ly would nev­er con­sid­er using a dead­ly trap. Peace and har­mo­ny to ALL beings she said. It was a good les­son for me.

Yaks car­ry­ing loads. Sub­ra­ta Guha photo

We con­tin­ued up the val­ley skirt­ing Ama Dablam so close you felt like you could touch it. We arrived in Ding­boche with a few hav­ing some alti­tude sick­ness but it seems that after some rest they are get­ting bet­ter. Today we took a hike high above the vil­lage to fur­ther accli­mate. The weath­er has been great afford­ing out­stand­ing views.

Ama Dablam. Deana Zabal­do photo

We have met more Ever­est climbers head­ing home. High winds have pre­vent­ed work high on the moun­tain. Only half of Camp 4 is in and no rope is fixed above. Rumor has is almost all par­ties are pack­ing up. We will be inter­est­ed to see if there are any hold­outs when we arrive and inquire what their game plan is. This could be the first sea­son in many with no suc­cess­ful ascents from the Nepal side. Wish us luck, we may not have any con­tact until we return from BC.

Till then!

MM Guide Shayan Rohani”

Ding­boche acclima­ti­za­tion hike gives us great views of Taboche. Deana Zabal­do photo

Wednes­day May 23, 2012

All right! We are back in Nam­che Bazaar. Our trip has been very event­ful since I last wrote. After leav­ing Ding­boche one mem­ber decid­ed to turn around due to alti­tude relat­ed ill­ness. Sad­ly, we con­tin­ued to Lobuche with­out him. 

Many of us had a chal­leng­ing night in Lobuche with the high­er alti­tude becom­ing more appar­ent. We con­tin­ued the next day to Gorek Shep where we had planed to climb Kala Pat­tar in the after­noon. The weath­er how­ev­er was­n’t coop­er­at­ing so we decid­ed to risk going for it in the morn­ing when the weath­er is typ­i­cal­ly more sta­ble. It also meant we would have to link the hike up Kala Pat­tar and the hike into Base Camp in one day.

On the high trail to Lobuche Pass. Sub­ra­ta Guha photo

We awoke the next morn­ing to a fresh blan­ket of snow and more clouds. There was dis­cus­sion and debate as to whether or not we should go for it with the weath­er being so lousy. After break­fast we decid­ed to go. We could always turn around if the weath­er got worse. An hour into the hike it became clear the weath­er would improve. The clouds began churn­ing and views of moun­tains and sky began to appear. It turned into a spec­tac­u­lar day with the clouds veil­ing and unveil­ing the moun­tains for fresh per­spec­tive over and over. Four hours lat­er we were on the top and feel­ing suc­cess­ful and for­tu­nate. We still had the descent and then tra­verse to EBC ahead. This would be eas­i­ly as much work as the hike to the top. We head­ed down at 10:30 am and began tra­vers­ing through moraine from the Pumori glac­i­er. When we arrived at Pumori BC (about half way to EBC) we met our staff and had a great pic­nic lunch and warmed our­selves in the intense Himalayan sun. We then con­tin­ued, arriv­ing at Base Camp, exhaust­ed, around 4pm. We had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet some climbers who would be head­ing up in the a.m. We also found out that around 100 peo­ple had sum­mit­ed the day before and at least 4 had lost their lives. We talked pas­sion­ate­ly explor­ing what it meant to us and how we felt about the risks asso­ci­at­ed with climb­ing the high moun­tains. After that, we went to bed for some well deserved sleep in our cozy tents and lis­tened to the glac­i­er crack and groan beneath us while avalanch­es echoed through the val­ley dur­ing the night.

Deana Zabal­do photo

The next morn­ing we woke to per­fect skies and big views and admired as about 80 climbers scaled their way through the ice fall. We took some part­ing shots and start­ed off for our trek home. It took a while to warm up and get our groove on but we even­tu­al­ly did and cruised down being drawn by the ever thick­er air. We arrived in Periche in the evening and enjoyed anoth­er meal and went to bed . We also were reunit­ed with our friend who had descend­ed due to illness. 

We con­tin­ued the next day an easy half-days walk to Deboche tucked in a tru­ly enchant­i­ng rhodo­den­dron for­est below Ama Dablam. We relaxed and enjoyed our first beers of the trip. Our sick friend gave it one last day to recov­er but still was­n’t get­ting bet­ter and so the next morn­ing he took a chop­per to Kath­man­du where he can rest and recov­er. It was sad to see him leave after all the effort he put in but I think it was the right deci­sion. Good thing for res­cue insurance.

Life at Base Camp. Deana Zabal­do photo

We strolled down to Nam­che and it seems we have found our groove, cov­er­ing ground quick­ly and treat­ing each oth­er as fam­i­ly. It’s been a great trip and we are all look­ing for­ward to our last day’s walk through the lush Sher­pa vil­lages in the low­er val­ley. We will spend the night in Luk­la tomor­row night and then take the dra­mat­ic flight back to Kath­man­du for a day and a half of R&R before we fly home.

Nepal is magic!”