Posts Tagged 'sherpa'

Can You Say Ahhhhh

Yesterday was another acclimatization hike.  Seth and I left camp at about 9:30 am heading for Camp 1.  It was a nice hike since the terrain is different from down here in rock and ice.  Above Everest base camp along the Pumo Ri Ridge the landscape is a bit gentler with remnants of edelweiss and fall flowers amongst rocky outcroppings. Sounds so “Sound Of Music” doesn’t it?  Must be the edelweiss since that is the only similarity.  The terrain is steep and getting to that camp at about 19,000 feet was definately work.  I have to admit I am slowly acclimatizing and the hike felt good… well almost.

Not ten feet out base camp I slipped on some ice and went down onto my right knee.  After the initial feeling of passing out I limped into camp threw an ice pack on it, some antiseptic creme, a few bandaids and I think I’ll live.  Damn!  I always seem to take one step forward two steps back.

Tomorrow is dress rehearsal.  We will get up at 3 am, eat something at 3:30, and by 4 make our way into the icefalls.  Seth intends to see how things progress and if further acclimatization hikes are needed from there.  We will go about half way into the falls returning by late morning.  Not sure what I dread more – the ice falls or the 3 am wakeup call.  Either one… its going to hurt!

But today is rest, sunshine and a shower!  It has been over a week, and although it is a little odd to shower in a blue canvas tent with two Sherpa outside adjusting the water temperature and two more filling the water buckets asking you if everything is okay in there, the concept still delights me. Now I sit in my scrumptiously smelling tent with lotions and all that girlie-girl stuff I only break out on shower day.  I am clean, at least the layer closest to my body (as I work my way out the clothes do get dirtier and dirtier, but I won’t think about that).  For now all I can say is ahhhhh – and life certainly feels a little bit brighter way up here in the clouds.

Wendy

Climb On!

Puja Ceremony – An Update from Wendy… April 9th

We have been officially blessed, having partaken in an impressive Puja ceremony overseen by a Lama and all our Sherpa team.  This is my third time participating in a Puja, and they never  lose their impact.  To be sitting in a circle listening to the chants, drums and cymbals overshadowed by these incredible mountains and the bluest sky as prayer flags flutter and incense sends the blessings to the heavens is pretty inspiring.

One of those magical moments when all is right in the world.

Puja Ceremony just below the Khumbu Icefall

Puja Ceremony just below the Khumbu Icefall

Great footage of our climb can be seen at http://blog.firstascent.com/.

25 year old Leif  Whittaker is climbing Everest in honor of his father Jim.  Jim Whittaker was the first American to summit in 1963.  His climb with RMI is being documented… great viewing.

Climb On!

Wendy

Settling in at Base Camp

The latest RMI team dispatch from Dave Hahn…

April 8, 2010
17,575 ft.

Namaste from Everest Basecamp.

Our first full day at Mount Everest began with saying goodbye to Scott’s Dad, Jeff. As planned, he headed down valley this morning just after a sumptuous breakfast in our dining tent. The team enjoyed mild temperatures and an “easy” day resting and getting organized at 17,500 ft above sea level. We met for a strategy session in which we discussed plans for first week of the climb as well as for “big picture” plans for the how the rest of the climb might play out. Jeff Martin and Mark Tucker worked hard to buff out our electrical and communications systems (we rely largely on solar energy, satelite link-ups and handheld radios in these areas). Importantly, we gathered the entire team so that the American climbers could get to know the Nepali team members and vice versa. Tendi Sherpa and Lama Babu -along with our great chef Kumar- facillitated the introductions. We spent the afternoon resting and chatting. We intend to meet with the famous and hard-working “Icefall Doctors” who are currently putting in the climbing route through the Khumbu, and later we’ll tour the Himalayan Rescue Association’s basecamp clinic and meet the medical doctors. It seems abnormally hot and dry for early April, and each afternoon we’ve seen the air get murky with forest fire smoke from somewhere down valley. A quiet day has been punctuated by giant ice avalanches off the surrounding glaciers… keeping things interesting.

Dave Hahn

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

Resting in Khare…

After several hard days of trekking we have arrived in the tiny village of Khare in Nepal.  The elevation is about 15,000′ and we are now well above timberline.  Tomorrow will be a rest day and then we will continue on from Khare to Mera Peak to allow our bodies to acclimatize.  Once we leave Mera it will be another long trek to Baruntse.

Edelweiss

Edelweiss

I’ve been having problems with my satellite phone and the isolation is frustrating.  Luckily we have borrowed a phone from another climbing team and one of the Sherpa has brought another backup phone from a nearby village.  Cross your fingers that communication continues and the phones keep working!

In climbing up to Khare we passed through gorgeous fields of edelweiss – one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.

Climb on!

Wendy

So I Hear It’s Your Birthday

I write this from Kathmandu.  We arrived yesterday via a helicopter rescue from the Khumbu glacier just below Everest base camp.

To fully understand why it is I am here and where I just came from… at 16,500 foot elevation there is nothing.  Rock, ice and yaks.  The yaks are everywhere and the Sherpa use the dung as fuel for their fires.  The air is permeated with the smoke and dust from this fuel source.  We wear cloths over our nose and mouth and I believe hacking, spewing and nose picking to be the number one pastime in Nepal.

Somewhere along the climb I experienced a sharp pain in my lower right side.  True to form I ignored it.  A few days later it was more pronounced so I took a pain pill.  Upon reaching 16,500 it was difficult to stand up and now we became concerned.  We hiked to the village of Penboche to seek the advice of the Himalayan rescue mission where a doctor diagnosed me with possible appendicitis and recommended immediate rescue from the mountain.  The remoteness of the region, and the lack of sanitation or any medical facilities other than a hut surrounded by yak, made this not the best place to find oneself with appendicitis.  A helicopter was dispatched and flew me to Kathmandu and an awaiting ambulance.  I spent the last 24 hours in the Kathmandu hospital on an IV under the care of a Pakistani surgeon who was more than willing to operate.  I am now “out” of the hospital and will be returning to the US as soon as I am “released” from the hospital.  They have kept my passport, visa and Blue Cross and Blue Shield card (not sure why but I think they think I am a US official)

I have to admit I would rather climb Everest backwards and blindfolded than go through what I just experienced the last 24 hours.  I found the hospital frightening to say the least.  Not speaking Nepalese or Hindi (as this was a Hindu hospital to which I was taken) and not knowing what I was being administered nor what they wanted to do was extreme.

I am now happily at a cyber cafe where the Internet is a mere 25 rupees per hour compared to the 30 per minute at 14,000 feet, and am awaiting my trip back to the US.  Oh yea, after I “get released” from the hospital.

The good news!!!  Brooke and I return August 24 to climb Cho Oyu.  I am even leaving all my climbing gear here – although I am taking my appendix home with me.  Guess we were supposed to climb that mountain after all!

As always, the universe truly does provide, and I am ever so grateful that I have once again been so very well provided for.  The Khumbu Valley is magic and the Sherpa who live there are an amazing, warm and wonderful people.  I can’t wait to be with them again.

To Dawa Tenzing my high altitude Sherpa, Dawa Gelising Sherpa our base camp and overall project manager, Nema Sherpa, along with the 20 other Sherpa… you took incredible care of me and I know you will continue to see me through my mission.  I look forward to returning to you in August to experience Cho Oyu and beyond.

On April 24th I celebrated my birthday.  Nothing unusual about this annual event except that the Buddhist religion does not recognise birthdays, so this is something very unfamiliar to our Sherpa.  True to form, Dawa baked me a chocolate cake (remember no electricity, no oven), but there it was a chocolate cake complete with a candle and a huge bottle of Johnny Walker Red!!!  My very best birthday yet with all these Sherpas happily singing something that kind of sort of sounded like “happy birthday to you.”

Another lesson learned was what it really means to be a climber in some of the remotest places in the world.  It’s never the summit that counts – ultimately, it is how you come out after a dangerous and possibly life threatening situation.

Happy Birthday to me… Cho Oyu, I’m ready for you!

Climb On!

Wendy

Labor of Love

Writing from the highest cyber cafe in the world…  Cost = 30 cents per minute!  Arrived in Dingboche yesterday.  Today we rest again to gain strength and acclimatize.  Tomorrow’s trek will be long and hard with an elevation gain of 2000 feet.  There are many climbers down here from Everest Base Camp as they also use this trek to gain strength and prepare for the climb ahead.  I write this from beneath the shadow of a gorgeous peak, Ama Dablam, it dominates the horizon.

All is well.  I am feeling great.  No adverse affects due to the thinning air.  This email is a labor of love because just getting here took half an hour of climbing.  But isn’t technology great?

All my love …. Namaste.

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.