Friday, April 7, 2017

Moving higher up the Khumbu Valley above Namche

Friday April 7th dawned crisp and clear for us in Namche.  We’ve been blessed with excellent trekking/climbing weather to this point.

It wasn’t the best of nights for me as I just wasn’t able to sleep, or if I did it wasn’t for very long.  I’m not sure why as I certainly was tired enough and I didn’t have any stomach issues or anything like that.  None-the-less, sleep escaped me last night.  Anders in contrast had a good night sleep so we batted 500.  I’m hopeful to remedy this tonight.

We joined the rest of the Everest climbing team for breakfast after having prepared our trekking bags for transport via Yak just a ways up the valley to the town of Khumjung, which sits at about 12,300 feet or about 1,000 feet higher than Namche—this was to be our destination for the day.

After breakfast the proprietor of the Panorama Lodge held a Khata ceremony to bless us on our expedition to Everest and the climb that many of the team, including Anders, will be undertaking.  During this ceremony we each were given a long white silk scarf that was tied around our necks.  The Khata scarfs are quite long to symbolize a long life, made of silk to symbolize prosperity, and white to symbolize purity of purpose.

After the ceremony, Brent once again chose to split Anders and I off from the main group for a more strenuous hike to hasten our adaptation to the altitude.  This time the other father and son team, Kent and John, joined us.   Kent (56) runs a massive almond farm in Cali that is part of the Blue Diamond coop and his son; John works in logistics and is 31.  Both John and Anders are on the same program and John’s dedicated guide is named Geoff—who is a fun 35 year-old, who I’ve enjoyed talking about photography with.  Here are the four Everest climbers (Anders, John, Brent and Geoff):

And the two father and son teams (Anders and I on the left):

And finally the two young guns with the usual cast of Giants behind them:

Anders climbing up to the shrine:

The six of us make a great little team and we had a delightful time trekking and climbing together today.  Brent led us first several hundred feet lower down into the village of Namche and then up a series of switchbacks that rise ever higher above the western edge of the town.  I felt a bit tired from the prior two days of hiking and probably from my lack of sleep and this (plus the likelihood that my five teammates are all fairly stronger than I) led me to drop off the back pretty much right from the start.

This was supposed to be an “easy” day, as Brent described it (but I’ve learned that Brent’s definition of easy and my definition are not exactly the same) so I was fine with finding a rhythm and pace that felt controlled but kept me from falling too far behind.

The plan was for us to climb up a roundabout path to the airfield above town and then for Kent, John and Geoff to head up to the Hillary shrine that we had visited yesterday while we ambled down to the village of Khumjung.  However, when the fork in the road was reached Brent asked Anders and I if it was ok if all 6 of us climbed the extra 1000+ feet up with our compatriots.  This was a no brainer for Anders and not wanting to be the party spoiler, I readily agreed as well.  I knew this was going to be a pretty hard rest day but I felt I could manage it and I was here to climb anyways.

So up we climbed and we eventually reached the shrine, which my GPS (as well as the others) had at around 13,200 feet.  If this is true then it means we probably touched 14,000 feet yesterday.  We stayed for a while enjoying even better views of Everest, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and many other peaks, then we did yesterday.

After hanging out for a while, we quickly descended down a Yak path through the town Khunde and ultimately on into Khumjung, where after a delicious lunch (yep, soup and rice), Anders and I are resting in our tiny little room at a teahouse here.  It’s still pretty cushy as far as mountaineering standards go, but quite a step down from the comparative luxury we enjoyed back down in Namche.

In total we trekked/climbed for 3:22 covering 4.2 linear miles with about 2,600 feet of ascent and some 1,600 feet of descent.  Stat wise, this was an easier day that yesterday, but it did feel a little bit tougher to me.  Nothing to worry about as you have easier and harder days in the mountains as a matter of course.  Hopefully, I’ll feel a bit stronger tomorrow.

We’re going to rest a little and have dinner around 6:30 and I suspect have an early evening as I have some sleep to catch up on.

Onward and upward!

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