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Everest with Mountain Madness

Update from Everest Base Camp! Photos coming soon!

April 9

We woke up at Gorak Shep to what looked like ques­tion­able weath­er. How­ev­er, as we got on the trail towards the des­ti­na­tion we have all dreamed about for some time now, the weath­er improved and we had a pleas­ant trip to Ever­est Base Camp–which is far dif­fer­ent than any of us could have imag­ined. Base camp itself is spread out over a long dis­tance up and down over a glacial moraine into self-suf­fi­cient lit­tle com­mu­ni­ties of adven­ture seek­ers and their sup­port teams Upon arrival we walked out to the amaz­ing Khum­bu Ice­fall. We’ve been rest­ing in our cozy tents in the mid­dle of this inex­plic­a­bly amaz­ing place. We’re look­ing for­ward to a deli­cious din­ner and warm night’s sleep. Hope every­one fol­lows his or her dreams because today we
 achieved one of ours!

–Richard Kel­li­her and Aman­da Berndt

April 10 – 12

As we descend from Base Cam­p’s moon­scape to an alpine val­ley and beyond, every­one’s chip­per in what now feels like oxy­gen-rich air. We have said good­bye to Win­son (who is stay­ing to climb the Khum­bu Ice­fall) and Richard (who is head­ing out to climb Island Peak). Since we are retrac­ing our steps, I thought I’d take this oppor­tu­ni­ty to tell you about our sup­port staff, with­out whom we could nev­er make this trip. 

Ang-bai, though only 24 years old, heads up our team. His father was a trekking guide, which is per­haps where he gets his con­fi­dence and his orga­ni­za­tion­al skill. He is hard-work­ing and always think­ing ahead. Whether it’s arrang­ing meals or being sure porters have sun­glass­es to pre­vent snow blind­ness, he effec­tive­ly stays on top of every­thing. We work close­ly togeth­er to ensure a smooth trip. Ang-bai speaks Nepali, Eng­lish, Hin­di, and Sher­pa – and he’s learn­ing Kore­an and French!

San­tosh is our assis­tant – he helps out with meals, hikes with clients (often lead­ing the way), and pret­ty much does any­thing we need with a smile on his face. In the off-sea­son he’s study­ing to fin­ish high school. Our porters are Elmay, Gopal, Pem­ba, and Bal Kumar. Every­day they car­ry our bags and amaze us with how strong they real­ly are. They car­ry sim­i­lar loads work­ing in their fields and enjoy trekking – both for the oppor­tu­ni­ty to earn mon­ey and for the chance to do some­thing new. We’ve spent time drink­ing tea togeth­er and get­ting to know them, with me trans­lat­ing jokes and ques­tions back and forth. They all live in Ever­est region vil­lages and come to Luk­la for por­ter­ing work dur­ing the trekking sea­son. Only one of them has stud­ied through high school. Two of them are mar­ried (one an arranged mar­riage and one a love mar­riage) – and the oth­er two got shy when we asked about girl­friends! All of them are work­ing to earn mon­ey to sup­port their fam­i­lies (which means par­ents, sib­lings, and chil­dren), to improve their homes, and to pro­vide edu­ca­tion for chil­dren and sib­lings. Dur­ing our trip, they’ve tried some new food (green pep­pers! –which they liked) and are going to be sur­prised to see their pho­to on the inter­net before we part. We’ve grown pret­ty fond of them. Aman­da loves 
Pemba’s smile, and we are all hap­py to know that our being here cre­ates jobs for them. In a coun­try where the annu­al per capi­ta income is only $300, the mon­ey they mak­ing trekking will go a long way in their vil­lages. Shar­ing in their lives is a great part of our expe­ri­ence. Thank you, guys!!

–Deana Zabal­do, group leader