Everest Basecamp Trek #1: Season’s first trek a great success!
Not easy writing up a final trip report when you’re not quite ready for the trip to be over just yet. That’s the main summary of this first Mountain Madness Everest Base Camp trek this Spring season.
Saturday, April 14th: we’re back in Kathmandu reflecting, the first trip of the season had many successes, but as importantly, we had an outstanding team that supported each other throughout the adventure. We left off our last report having just left Dingboche, perched over 14,000 feet. From there it was a continuation of the theme: crisp, clear, cold mornings and dustings of snow each afternoon.
And along with spectacular views, and peaceful days on the trail: 100% success for the whole team achieving base camp!
And just in time for Andre’s birthday. For our Brazilian, it was a trip of a thousand firsts — first snowfall, first tent camping, first time above 12,000 feet. So, breathless and hit with the Khumbu cough, hitting base camp was a state of awe and wonder taking in the sweeping peaks all around us. His pure happiness at this lifelong goal achieved inspired more than a few of us.
For Al, our Alaskan hardman, no day seemed tough enough to put up a real challenge. He topped out on Kala Pattar on our trekking day into base camp, just as the icing on top the cake. And managed making the top of the peak just before the clouds rolled in, obscuring those classic summit views. Mani, our lead sherpa, seemed quietly impressed by his efforts. How much so? Well, he gave Al the proper Sherpa beasting, tearing back down off the summit and streaming back down the mountain to Gorak Shep in what’s known around these parts as “Sherpa time”. And Al held on! A highlight of the trip for Al, but I think even more so for Mani.
Next up was Matt. He swears the family won’t believe him, so it’s going blog official here: Beyond his excitement and steady strength all the way up and down this trek, our last day of ascent into base camp saw him fighting off the guide’s enforced Snickers refueling. I think this might go down as legend in the house back home. But yes, we can confirm it’s likely the one and only time in life the ‘gentle’
suggestion of downing a whole bar was met with, “Do I have to?”
Strange things this low oxygen world! Once we rolled into camp though, it was a full range of excitement and celebrations. A feast of egg and bacon breakfasts, stepping out to views of blue ice towers, and the clinking of rocks and tents as base camp slowly came alive — mess tents going up, helipad platforms transforming from raw chunky edges into fine, smoothed out pads. All in anticipation of a busy season just beginning.
Phil. Phil was always our wild card this trip. Happily befriending the wild life along the trail, his day’s highlights involved adopting team puppies and surreptitiously feeding them our dinner leftovers beneath the table, till the tea house owners caught on and sent our new friends packing. He survived allergies, sore knees, headaches, and still strolled into base camp first of our team. Making the best of challenging conditions and somehow immune to the cold afternoon snow showers we met each day, we credit the ever-present buff.
And last but certainly not least, our team legend, Kari. Hit with a classic Khumbu virus just above 14,000 feet this trip. (We credit the team of a couple dozen teenagers sharing our teahouse in Dingboche) she pushed on and persevered. Likely beyond what any of the rest of us could have achieved in similar conditions. Through nights of rough sleep and days of sniffles and Sudafed, Kari fought on. She arrived into base camp with a grin bigger than any of the rest of us, and making sure her trusty side kick Dawa was taking in plenty of hot sweet drinks just along side her. This was truly a team supporting each other to make dreams come true. And for the Sherpa teams and myself, just a purely dream team to guide through these wild Himalayan peaks.
So a trip of firsts, of universal success at our base camp goal, and most importantly a trip filled with memories and friendships for a lifetime.
Thank you team! And thank you Dawa and company for a truly memorable Himalayan ascent.
- Mara and the Mountain Madness team