Posts Tagged 'lukla'

Photos from the Trek…

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The RMI Team Arrives at Namche!

First RMI Everest 2010 Dispatch from Dave Hahn…

March 29, 2009
11,500 ft.

We seem to be repeating ourselves here in the Khumbu, saying “that couldn’t have gone any smoother” over and over. Sure enough we got out of Katmandu right on schedule yesterday morning with an easy flight in a Dornier 228 twin engine prop plane. We all survived the uphill landing in Lukla, had a fine breakfast there and then hit the trail at around 8 AM. There are twelve of us at the moment, plus Raju and Lama Babu (our climbing sirdar). We’ll be joined any day now by climber Michael Brown, but for the moment, there are four climbers, four guides, two trekkers and two team managers and everybody is walking well. The gang walked just fine on somewhat crowded trails yesterday, through farms and small villages to Phak Ding. There we moved into Jo’s Garden, a traditional “tea house”, for the night. It is a peaceful place, with the Dudh Khosi -a river of constant whitewater- flowing furiously past and erasing all other sound. For many of us, the night was our first of full sleep in what seemed like a week -what with the hectic packing, repacking, flying, packing, more flying, early starting and jet-lagging. Today all seemed to be in good moods and good health and so we joined the busy trail again for the walk upriver. By late morning, we’d entered the National Park and found a nice outside table at a cafe for lunch. A few plates of rice and potatoes later and we got back into the walking. We tackled the notorious Namche Hill and cruised past about a hundred trekkers, porters and pack animals all grinding up in low gear. Conditions were just perfect for gaining about 2000 vertical feet since the ample cloud cover and a few gentle breezes kept the heat tolerable. But the clouds did rob us of what could have been a first view of Everest from the trail. No matter, we’ll see it soon enough. The team is tucked in at Camp De Base, a fine lodge in Namche, the “Sherpa Capital” as everyone calls it. We’ll spend three nights here, trying to get used to the big jump in altitude (we are up around 11,500 ft now) and enjoying the shopping, communications and social opportunities of this bustling and spectacularly placed town. Tonight, since it will be the first at true altitude, we won’t be able to drink much alchohol… but if we could, we’d be toasting Mark Tucker’s mom, who turned eighty back in California. Happy Birthday from the RMI Everest 2010 team!

Dave Hahn

No Summit for Wendy…

After a long and thoughtful decision-making process with Wendy and her guide team, it’s been decided that she cannot attempt the Everest summit again.  There are really two core factors at play: weather and health.

Rather than the usual 2 weeks of clear weather that allows teams a reasonable time frame to ascend to the summit, this year’s window was divided by a nasty storm.  Only very strong climbers can make it from base camp to the summit in a very short window.  Unfortunately between Wendy’s MS symptoms, a bout of the flu, long waits for acclimatization and weather, and fatigue… it was decided that Wendy’s expedition cannot safely continue the climb.  She is completely out of gas!  At the pace the team was moving up the mountain, they simply would not have been able to reach the summit before the next wave of storms closes Everest for the year.  In addition, a physician who examined Wendy on the mountain recommended that she not try again for the summit.  It’s a short window to find success on Everest, and the team just did not have the lucky breaks to get to the top this time.

Their highest point attained was the base of Lhotse Face and they are now down below base camp trekking out to Lukla.  Wendy hopes to be back in Kathmandu by the 25th.

When I spoke with Wendy this morning she was in good spirits.  While she would like to have succeeded, of course, not summiting was always a distinct possibility.  Only 20% of first-timers summit Everest on their first attempt.  This was a particularly difficult year to make it to the top due to the erratic weather patterns and crowding on the South Col (the north face of Everest was closed by China causing most climbers to switch to the South Col).

Wendy is proud of her team, pleased with her performance and is looking forward to coming home and working hard to use the Everest experience to promote her sponsors and advance the MS cause.  In spite of not summiting, the climb truly was successful in that Wendy has proved that people with MS can accomplish amazing things!

I’m expecting Wendy to be back in Boston around May 28th if the trek out goes smoothly.  Please feel free to forward specific questions via comments or email to trish@wendybooker.net.

Thanks, everyone, for watching Wendy’s progress and cheering her on.  She’ll have a personal blog update complete with stories coming soon.

Climb on!

Trish

* A note on Wendy’s ‘MS symptoms’… Above 20-22,000 feet her MS symptoms start flaring up. Numbness, dizziness, vision problems, etc. that she experiences from time to time seem to get worse above a certain altitude. The problem was pronounced on the Everest climb, and I think Wendy will talk to her neurologist about it when she gets home to see if there is some reason for the escalating symptoms that we can address.

Hail the Hyatt

I write from a computer on the sixth floor of my oasis, the Hyatt.  Out the window is the oldest Buddhist “stupa” outside of Tibet.  A stupa (excuse my spelling on that one) is a temple with a tower, it rather looks like an upside down ice cream cone.  Prayer flags are suspended from the top with twelve rings of enlightenment to the Buddha Eyes.  I like the Buddha Eyes looking back at me as I write this.  The stupa is perhaps a tenth of a mile from my window and it is all I can see.  The rest of the country side is totally obliterated by fog and low clouds.  No flight to Lukla at the moment and if not clear in the next two hours, no flight out today.

My three errant bags arrived late yesterday, felt like Christmas!  Clean clothes, a hairbrush, shoes ahhhhh all the luxuries one could hope for.  It was getting a tad weary to wash my one outfit out in the sink every night and put it on damp in the morning.  I’m smelling and feeling like a new person today.  Most of last night was spent organizing the gear and preparing for our now delayed departure.  The expedition bags will fly possibly separately from us and reconnect with us somewhere in the Khumbu.  We prepared a small backpack for a minimum of three days travel.  How is it the guy’s bags look reasonably small and light while Brooke and I look like we have enough gear for a small country?  I have my light sleeping bag, the -40 bag goes on to base camp, a light down coat, gortex in case of rain, various things like toothpaste, sunblock and ipod and a decant luxury -my old flat feather pillow!  Imagine that a down pillow complete with a Laura Ashley pillowcase is accompanying me to Everest…be still my heart. 

But now we wait and wait and well…wait.  Weather is the supreme decision maker in the mountains and certainly rules in the Himalaya and the weather is not looking too great for a departure today.

Good thing I am at the Hyatt reminded of the exotic world outside my door and reminded of the abundance of culture, sights and sounds that await.  I think the Buddha Eyes are smiling.

Climb On!

Namaste

I woke up this morning feeling homesick and melancholy, but I’m trying to practice the Buddhist philosophy and enjoy where I am at in this moment.

I’ve been really frustrated at the inability to use the satellite phone and send emails.  Connections are always poor and it’s really difficult to get anything to work properly.  I am having a funny experience today while visiting the Internet cafe.  There are ‘dzo’ everywhere (an animal that is a yak/cow hybrid), and as I am writing this blog a dzo is sticking it’s head through the window and watching all the activity inside.

We are staying another 24 hours here to allow our bodies time to adjust to the higher altitude and thinner air.  Just walking to the Internet cafe today was exhausting.  We are being attended to by an incredible team of Sherpa: Dawa (lead Sherpa and head cook) and Dawa Tenzig (high altitude Sherpa who never leaves our side).  As I sit in my tent in the evening I can hear them playing a card game with noises like I’ve never heard before – shouting and slapping.  Dawa prepares us rice, potatoes, daldaut and something called momo (like dumplings).  Everything is prepared without electricity and running water.  We are so grateful for them.  Next we are going about 5 hours north and we will be visiting the Teng Boche monastery which is the right hand monastery to the Dalai Lama.

We are still in Namche Bazaar, a vertical village at 11,500 feet in altitude perched precariously on the side of the Himalayas. The entire world passes from village to village on winding dirt roads.  As we have traveled from Lukla over the past 2 days the terrain has grown far more vertical and we are now just above the timber line.  It is dry and dusty and very primitive.  Heat is from yak dung burned in stoves.  The people are wonderful smiling, happy, courageous and go out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable.  This is the Sherpa’s region and an amazing place to all of us!

When I first saw Everest I just stood and stared for what felt like ten minutes. I noticed my legs were shaking.  I pummeled JJ with questions.  I memorized the names of the mountains surrounding her, all of which I had heard before, Llhoste, Nupste (excuse my spelling on all of these as I don’t have my English map with me), Ama Dablam, there they all were.  But it was Goddess Mother of Earth that spoke the loudest.  She is magnificent and beuatiful.  The ski is crystal clear, and the summit clouds spin off to the south since the jet stream is postioned right over her just now.  Climbers will wait on the mountain’s lower flanks until the jet stream moves 100 miles away and then make their attempt at the summit before the monsoon season begins.  It’s all about waiting.  And for me I will wait another year – and for that I am grateful.  Just being here and climbing the 17,600 feet to base camp is providing me with much needed mental preparation.

All along our journey we have experienced the flutter of prayer flags.  Just before we climb Barunste we will have our own prayer ceremony called a Punja (again excuse my spelling) and the prayer flags are already packed amoungst our gear.  It is a very special ceremony I am anxious to see and experience.  I am a guest of the Sherpa, but I feel so blessed to be with them and I know I couldn’t be in more capable hands.

Climb On!

Trek To Everest Base Camp

We flew from Katmandu to Lukla, a tiny mountain village very high in the Himalaya.  So high that the run way is on the side of a mountain and points uphill.  We flew in on “Yeti Airlines”  in a tiny plane.  When you see the runway it is a nail biter.  Once off the plane our gear is assembled and sorted and the trek begins.  The countryside is spectacular.  Tiny hamlets all in stone.  No roads only a foot path that winds all over the mountains from village to village.  This is the main and only infrastructure and all forms of commerce pass by.  Yaks, native people with baskets on their heads, kids and many trekkers heading to various places in the Himalaya.  We stopped at many a tea house for a break and socializing with the proprietors.  Everything is neat and tidy and amazingly built and maintained.  Remember all this is still accomplished as it was hundreds of years ago.  There is no running water or electricity only an occasional generator.  These are the true Sherpa who left Tibet and now live in the Khumbu valley.  This “highway” connects their villages but they are not connected to the outside world except for the climbers.

Today was a six hour climb to Namche Bizaar.  This is considered the big city!  They even have an Internet cafe!  About an hour before arriving I had my very first glimpse of Everest…..amazing and absolutely enormous.  The wind was high on the top but I was able to see the south col and Lhotse and Nupste on either side although considerably lower.  It is magnificent and she took my breath away.  Brooke and I just looked at her then at each other then back at her.

The conditions in Namche are not as inviting as they were our first night on the trail.  Here everything is a hike and a steep on at that.  It will take me most of a half hour to return to our tent as it is uphill from here.  The village is truly built on the very steep side of the mountain.  All along our travels commencing in Lukla we have been greeted by the Buddhist prayer flags. Along the way huge boulders are inscribed with Buddhist prayers hand carved in the rocks centuries ago.  We must always pass to the left.  Anytime there is a monument or a pray flag or bells, which we ring as we pass for those are the sound of our prayers going up to the heavens, we must pass to the left.  I love that part of the climb.

This will be all for today.  There is a good deal of political tension and satellite phones and communications are being confiscated.  We have heard that at Everest Base camp no satellite phones or computers are being allowed.  They are critical for the climbers and safety for high altitude rescues.  The Sherpa are also not being permitted on the mountain.  They are the ones who put in and maintain all the fixed ropes and routes so this too will make  climbing just now very dangerous if not impossible.  Word is that the Chinese are now putting pressure on Nepal until after the torch goes up the mountain sometime in May.  Glad we are not making an attempt to climb this year although we have already had to change our schedule.

More to follow.

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.