Friday, April 14, 2017

Made it to Everest Base Camp

It's Judy here updating the blog for Randy and Anders.  After their 10 day incredible trek through the Khumbu Valley, they have finally arrived at Everest Base Camp and are settling in.

Here's a picture of their camp at the base of the Khumbu Ice Fall.  The pictures below were posted by their head guide on the Madison Mountaineering website.  Internet coverage is patchy up at Base Camp, but some Internet repeaters will be set up tomorrow and hopefully Randy will be able to continue blogging. Otherwise you might be stuck with me! It's amazing that they even have Internet at this remote place and very surprising they can call me on their satellite phone. I talked to them a couple times since they arrived there; each time we were cut off many times, but that is par for the course when they are on these expeditions.  I'm grateful anytime I can hear their voices.

Madison Mountaineering Base Camp at Everest

This is a picture from the Yak trail of Everest Base Camp in the distance.  "Yak's Eye View".  You can just make out the tents set up on the edges of the Khumbu Ice Fall.
Yesterday was an easy day for the team; they trekked about two hours from Gorak Shep to finally arrive at their new home away from home, the infamous Everest Base Camp.  Anders and Randy each have their own 4-person tent set up side by side. While in Khathmandu, they had sent some bags up ahead with the yak teams, so now they are reunited with the rest of their gear and clothes. Both are relieved to finally have their own relatively spacious place to unpack and reorganize a bit. And I'm not mentioning any names, but one of them is relieved to not be listening to the other person's snoring! Mostly they need a few days to rest, get better acclimatized and, for Anders particularly, prepare physically and mentally for what's ahead.  I guess I need to do that same last thing...

After 10 days of mostly carbs, they were delighted to finally meet up with Madison's traveling chef, Andrew Dubber, and enjoy a delicious lunch of fresh salmon and grilled vegetables in a propane-heated food tent.  Anders and Randy are pretty meticulous (aka obsessive) when it comes to trying not to get sick, so they avoided a lot of the somewhat dubious tea house food along the route, and stuck to "anything fried" -- fried potatoes, fried eggs, and fried rice, so at least they knew it was cooked through.  As Anders says, when you eat in some of those tea houses you are sort of "rolling the dice", but luckily they have both avoided any type of food sickness so far. Needless to say, they both said the salmon lunch was amazing.

Chef Anthony Dubber with his impressive stock of supplies preparing lunch
Some of the team members waiting to dig in (Anders' guide Brent in the red coat on the left)

They spent the afternoon resting and getting set up and they even both took showers.  Randy said the showers were great, and when I was skeptical he admitted "well actually they sort of suck, but they are pretty nice for Nepal and Base Camp, and at least they are warm." 

Later they had a wonderful chicken dinner that Anders said was incredible. Afterwards, they relaxed in the food tent with it's relative warmth and watched the movie "American Hustle". 

Last night was their first night sleeping at Base Camp.  Anders slept well; Randy woke up at 2am freezing and had to get up and put on his down vest and puffy coat. Evidently, avalanches are very common in the surrounding mountains, and so it was not unexpected, or particularly noteworthy to anyone other than me it seems, that there were quite a few last night.  Randy had earplugs so didn't hear any of them and didn't seem overly concerned since he said they happen all the time so are "no big deal".  

The sun came up today providing some welcomed warmth and, after a hearty breakfast, the boys walked down the valley to another part of Base Camp to visit with their good friend from International Mountain Guides, Greg Vernovage.  Greg, a former Olympic volley ball player and expert mountaineer, is the Expedition Leader for IMG's Everest group.  Randy and Anders have previously climbed with Greg, and he has become a good friend of our family's, visiting us last year while in California. He has been providing advice and encouragement to Anders during his planning and prepping for this endeavor and much reassurance to us about Anders' mountaineering ability and readiness to take on this ambitious effort.

All the trekkers that had joined the group to hike to Base Camp have departed, so all that are left are Randy, the climbers, and one other father who is leaving tomorrow.  Randy might hike back down to Gorak Shep tomorrow and visit a tea house so he can get better Internet and send us some of his pictures. I guess Nepal's version of hanging out in Starbucks?  Anders and the rest of the team are planning to start their first rotation on April 17th.  That means that they will climb up through the challenging Khumbu Ice Fall and make their way up to Camp One.  They will stay there a night or two and might then climb up to Camp Two.  A lot depends on the weather, the conditions of the route, and how the climbers are faring.  Then they would descend back to Base Camp, rest a few days, and get ready for another rotation.  All of this is geared towards furthering their acclimatization and preparing them to head up to the very sparse-air zones that are part of summiting Everest. 

I asked Randy and Anders their impressions now that they are finally in Everest Base Camp looking up at the daunting mountain and in particular the treacherous Khumbu Ice Fall.  Randy said it's definitely steeper than he expected, and I think he is relieved he doesn't have to climb up there! Anders said it looks "interesting"... not sure what that really means, but possibly what you say to your mother when something looks treacherous. Anders said the trek was an incredible experience for him, in particular seeing Everest for the first time and receiving all those blessings along the way.  But he's happy to be at base camp; he is always ready to get on with the climbing part.  At this point he said he's eating a ton, resting a lot, getting used to the altitude, and taking it "one day at a time."  

So I guess I will try to do that as well.  Hopefully we will get Randy back on here tomorrow with some pictures and some updates about their schedules and how they are doing.  

Cheers and thanks for following along,



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