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.
“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!”