From Dingboche ~14,200 feet-
So far, so good. Actually, it’s better than that. It has been a perfect start to the trip. With ideal weather, great food and comfy tea house accommodations, everyone is healthy and having fun.
In an effort to acclimatize, we went up Chukking Ri this morning. It took us four hours to reach the snow free summit, above 18,000 feet, with awesome views of the Lhotse Face, Makalu, Pumori, Cho Oyu and of course, Ama Dablam. Everyone did great and as a result, we will head into basecamp tomorrow, one day early.
Up to this point the trip has been amazing. We’re not even at basecamp and Dirk and Christy agree, it has already been one of the greatest experiences they’ve had. One aspect we hadn’t planned on was the personal time we’ve had with the sherpa team. After the last update from Namche, we took a route off the beaten trekking path, to Kunde and then Khumjung, where we spent the night at the house of our sirdar, or lead climbing sherpa, Phurba Tashi. We had a great time there and were able to meet his wife and daughter. The next day, we went to Phortse, a small village home to many climbing sherpa, including several on our team. We spent the afternoon again with Phurba Tashi, traveling over the hill to see his mother and three sons(two of them are twins), whom he hadn’t seen in several months. We had tea and yak yogurt with the three generations of sherpa. It was really something.
I should probably talk more about Phurba Tashi.
As I mentioned before, many of the sherpa staff are the same I was fortunate to have had back in 2003. On that trip, the sirdar, was Phurba Tashi. Back then, he led the sherpa teams’ effort to fix the ropes to Everest’s summit, and then climbed to the top twice more, with clients. Since then, we hear he’s only gotten stronger.
Originally, as a young ‘cook boy,’ Phurba offered to take a load up the trail when the team was short on porters, and when he flew by the climbing sherpa, it was noticed. Now, in 2008, he is considered by many, if not all, to be the top sherpa around. Earlier this spring he summited Everest three more times, all from basecamp, and at this rate will likely be the first person to climb Everest twenty times! His 8000 meter peak resume can be seen here. Add to that the effort he put forth to get to Manaslu’s summit just two weeks ago and in American terms, Phurba is a rock star. The resume of the rest of the team would take too long to go into here but is comprable in experience. For introductions sake, their names are: Dorje(from ’03), Nuru, Lhakpa Nuru, Lhakpa Nuru(yes, two of them) and Nema.
To put it another way, and to console mom, if there was an all-star sherpa team, most of our team would be starters and Phurba the league MVP. With Lachu on the sideline as a GM of sorts, we’re in good hands.
The rest is up to us.
Posting from basecamp may not be possible so next time we talk will hopefully be after we summit!