Thursday, April 12, 2012

Within Sight of Base Camp

Yesterday we trekked from Dingboche to Lobuche, one of the last small towns before base camp.  We started off on a high traverse across until we finally reached the town of Thukla which was at the base of a large hill.  We stopped in Thukla for a quick tea and soup, and then headed up the hill.  At the top of the hill we reached an area filled with stone memorials to the climbers who have died climbing Everest and the surrounding peaks.  It was a very peaceful place, but also a sobering reminder of the inherent danger of climbing 8000m peaks. 

Afterwards, we climbed another two hours to Lobuche where we had a great lunch (chicken cordon bleu) and dinner (yak steak).  We had a fair amount of free time in the afternoon, so I managed to finish two books I had been reading.  The first was Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, which chronicles the 1950 ascent of Annapurna which was the first time an 8000m peak was summited.  The second book was the Steve Jobs biography, which was very interesting regardless of how you feel about Apple.  We spent most of the evening playing cards before finally heading to bed.

Today we are on a rest day.  This morning we had a relaxing start.  Also overnighting in Lobuche was Jim Whittaker, a member of the first American team that summited Everest in 1963.  This morning he was being interviewed for a National Geographical documentary which is following another American team that will be attempting to follow the same West Ridge route Whittaker and the team followed.

We left around 10:00 am for an acclimatization hike.  We first hiked to the “Crystal Pyramid” which is a joint Italian-Nepali High Altitude Research Center which resembles the entrance to the Louvre.  Afterwards, we climbed up onto the nearby ridge to get great views of Nuptse, Pumori, the beginning of the Khumbu Icefall and Everest Base Camp (see picture below).  Our high point was around 17,060’ which felt pretty good to all of us so it seems as though we are acclimatizing well so far.  Interestingly enough, from the ridge it appeared as though we were looking down on Everest BC despite it being another 600’ above us! We were able to see an avalanche well above basecamp which was quite impressive.   Now we’re sitting in the tea house resting until lunch, and enjoying our last indoor day in a while since we are heading to base camp tomorrow.  We will continue to keep you all updated as internet allows!


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