Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reporting in from Gokyo: incredible views from Gokyo-Ri!

Good morning!  RC here sitting in my room at the Fitzroy in the tiny village of Gokyo.

Before an update on my doings, I wanted to let you know we heard last night from Madison EBC that Anders is doing well up at Camp One on Everest.  It was cloudy/snowy yesterday afternoon/evening so he wasn't able to get a sat phone call out.  Brent was able to radio down to EBC that all was well and the foursome was resting comfortably at 20,000 feet.  There plan is move across the Western Cum and on up to Camp 2 at 21,000 feet.  Hopefully, Anders will be able to get a call out to Judy today so we can have details on their progress.

Back here at lower altitude in the next valley over things are going really well.  I had a quiet evening reading and went to bed around 9.  I had a good night's sleep and awoke at 5 to prepare for our climb of Gokyo-Ri this morning.  I woke up not particularly sore from the big day yesterday but I could definitely feel the effort in my legs.  Truth is I burned a few matches during the climb yesterday.  Later, during the climb I definitely felt I like I hadn't recovered and while it wasn't a problem on today's climb, I decided to change my plans yet again.  I'm going to spend another night in Gokyo and rest up this afternoon.  This will lead to an easy Saturday, which will put in me good position to bring my A game to the recrossing of Cho La on Sunday.  Here's the new plan:

4/21 (today). Climb Gokyo-Ri in morning, rest in afternoon
4/22.  Cross glacier and travel down to Dragnag...should take 3 hours or so.  Overnight there
4/23.  Big day.  Early departure and cross over Chhugyuma (Cho La) and either stay at Dzonglha (7 hours) or push on to Lobuche (9 hours)
4/24.  3-6 hour hike to EBC depending on starting point...should arrive mid day

Back to this morning's climb.  I had a delish cheese omelette and Tsewang and I were climbing shortly after 6:30.  Gokyo-Ri is very straight-forward, basically a "walk up" and we made steady progress, although as I mentioned I was definitely tired and a bit underpowered.  The views were incredible as we climbed up above the lake and looked back and down to Gokyo.  To the south is range of mountains that are reflected in the lake and to the west high above is Renjo Pass.  To the north stands mighty Cho Oyo, the 6th largest mountain in the world.  It's part of a massive range of snow covered mountains that are simply stunning.  As we climbed higher the massive pyramid of Everest increasingly came into view to the East with Nuptse standing guard to the South.  By the time we reached the summit, Everest, Nuptse, Pumori, Aba Dablam, Cho Oyo, Chamar, Chakung, Chumbu, and Ngozumba (among many other peaks) were all clearly visible.

We reached the summit after two hours and given yesterday's effort, I'm glad it didn't take any longer.  Round trip the climb was just 2.9 linear miles but involved 1,866 feet of altitude gain and just over 2,000 feet of climbing and descending.  Not counting time on the top, door to door in took three hours. The peak was right at about 17,400 feet, about the same as EBC.  We stayed on the summit for about an hour.  It was a nice morning and the views were incredible.  I'm going to try to update this post with a few pictures shortly.

The clouds began to climb up the valley and we headed down.  It was a truly memorable and special morning.  I'll report back later today and hopefully, we'll get some news from Anders!

Early into the climb, looking back down on Gokyo:

Mighty Everest with Nuptse to the right.  You can clearly see the ridge Anders will take on summit morning, rising from the right.  The South Summit is where the angle changes from 45 degrees to about 15-20%.  The South Summit of Everest is higher than any other mountain in the world--except for Everest of course:

Cho Oyo to the north--a stunning mountain:

Me with Everest over my right shoulder in the distance:

A panorama with Cho Oyo on far left (North) and Eversest/Nuptse to the right (East):

One more in front of Everest:

Admiring the views.....

Onward and upward!

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