Sunday, April 9, 2017

We meet Lama Geshe and move up to Dingboche

We both enjoyed a good night sleep the night of the 8th/9th and after a good breakfast of bacon and eggs (and of course, lots of coffee) we headed out into the courtyard of our tea house.  There the owner performed another Khata Ceremony and tied a small saffron colored string, that had been blessed by the Dali Lama, around each of our necks—to protect us and bring us luck on our adventure.

We then climbed several hundred feet up into the hills above the Tea House to the Monastery in Pangbouche.  There we went inside and attended a very interesting ceremony with the High Lama of the Khumba Valley, Lama Geshe.  He blessed a bunch of our prayer beads and flags for our team and then blessed each of us individually—blessing our Khatas and tying another saffron colored string around each of our necks.  He told read from his scriptures (or the Budhist equivalent), chanted mantras that we repeated, and told stories and would break out laughing every now and then.  Very cool experience!  We are well and truly blessed on this trip—in more ways than one!

We left the monastery and continued on up the valley towards Everest.  Aba Dablam now was directly across the river from us and it took on a new shape and the impossibly steep north ridge increasingly came into view.  As we progressed further up the valley the Nuptse massif began to obscure the Everest pyramid although we could still see the massive wind bloom streaming to the northwest.  Lhotse was now the star of the view up the valley.  Both Lhotse and Everest looked very calm when we first looked up the valley this morning but as the day progressed the wind picked up and the conditions up above 8,000 meters became increasingly severe.

The pace was very slow early on as we were stuck behind Yak trains or had to adhere close to cliff walls as they passed.  In many places there were several hundred feet of exposure and in these NFZs you definitely wanted the Yak between you and the fall as opposed to the other way around.

After a short rest about half way up, Brent led our little group on up ahead and he once again put the hammer down.  I felt really good and was able to make a very good pace today—albeit, this was a far easier trek today then the past few days.  Anders and Brent surged up the hill and left the rest of us far behind—those two are in superb climbing shape for sure.

We’d regroup from time to time and at one point we had to hurry to get back on the trail just before a train of Yaks ambled through.  Anders and I just made it in front of the pointy end of the lead Yak and about 15 seconds later Anders poked me in the butt with his trekking pole while simultaneously yelling: “Dad, Yak!”  My adrenal glands immediately demonstrated their efficacy and Anders nearly went hypoxic laughing….This is what goes for humor around here.

We rolled into Dingboche, shortly after one and found our way to our humble tea house aptly named the Yak.  Today we covered 5.1 miles over the course of 3 hours and 12 minutes.  We gained 1,791 feet and descended 456 feet.  A relatively easy trekking day, although we are now based at 14,250 feet, and that provides its own form of stress to our bodies.

After lunch (ramen and potatoes) the six of us decided to do a late climb up above the town to get some more elevation and vertical into our bodies.  Kent, stopped at about 14,600 feet, which was a PR for him.  The rest of us continued climbing up to about 15,300 feet (higher than any mountain in the United States, with the exception of the big ones in Alaska).  This added another 1:35 to the day’s work and we covered another 2.1 linear miles.  We added a total of about 1085 feet of both ascent and descent, so a pretty good day when all was said and done.

The big news, at least for me, is as we climbed higher we were “treated” to our first views of Loboche, the mountain Anders and I are scheduled to climb in about a week’s time.  This was frankly a little unsettling and when I can upload pictures you’ll see why.  Brent and I talked for a while and he said it wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked, which wasn’t a whole lot of comfort.  This is a topic for some considerable thinking on my part in the days ahead—Anders of course was psyched, it truly is a full on mountain.

Here we are climbing above Dingboche:

Anders with the north ridge of Aba Dablam to his left:

Here is our first peak at Loboche.  The route is up the ridge at the intersection of white and dark--angling up to the right and then up the summit ridge to that pointy thing at the top:

But that’s a story for another day.  Internet is very spotty here so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post this and I’ll certainly have trouble uploading pictures but we’ll give it a shot.

Anyways, thanks for following.  We both feel great, the weather’s beautiful, and we have open and happy hearts.


Anonymous said...

Amazing, amazing adventure! Great to read your perceptions, humor and deep appreciation of every minute of this! You and Anders must appreciate crossing each new threshold of courage and toughness - at a "speed of life" far beyond your bocce fields of glory!
Best wishes and blessings to you on the incredible challenges ahead! It's especially cool to read your appreciation and awe of these experiences and your awareness of the blessings.
Dave P

Mark Parsells said...

Randy, Glad you and Anders are doing so well. We are keeping you guys in our thoughts and prayers at the Parsells. What an amazing experience! Best, Mark P