(Photos in slideshow: Fabrice Imparato, Dan Mazur, Bruce Manning, Roman Giutashvili, Tunc Findik and Gennady Kopieka)
News of our recent expedition: Everest Nepal, Lhotse, & Training Climb
8 April to 6 June, 2012
Trip Summary: We had very good luck this year on Everest, Lhotse, and the camp 3 training climb. 4 members reached the summit of Everest and 3 made it to the summit of Lhotse, together with 7 Sherpas on the 26th of May. The camp 3 training climb members also had a very lovely time. The team leader was Arnold Coster, leading his 6th Everest expedition.
To begin the trip, we flew up to Lukla and then made a slow and careful trek (with several rest days) through the beautiful forested and terraced Khumbu Valley. Upon reaching our comfortable basecamp we rested and enjoyed some ice climbing training on the glaciers around basecamp. We rested for another day then walked across the valley on good snow-free trails and made an acclimatization camp at 5800 metres / 19,000 feet, where we stayed for 2 nights in order to adjust to high altitude. Then we walked back to basecamp and enjoyed delicious meals and another days rest.
Mia Graeffe summit at Lhotse with Sherpa (Grace). Team member crossing a ladder over a deep crevasse in the massive Khumbu Icefall. We have fixed rope and ladders laid through the whole maze of shifting glacial seracs (Sandra Le Duc). Everest Base Camp (Mia Graeffe). View of Nuptse, Lhotse, Everest and Ama Dablam just 15 minutes walk from Namche. (Sandra Le Duc).
Next we walked through the exciting Khumbu icefall and onto camp 1, where we spent the night and walked part way to camp 2, then returned for another night in camp 1. We went back to basecamp for more rest and then, after a few days, climbed back up to camp 1, and then camp 2, where we stayed for several days, adjusting to the altitude.
The weather held good and everyone was feeling well so we decided to walk up to camp 3 and sleep there for a few nights, and make an acclimatization walk up the famous Lhotse Face. All of us went back to basecamp after 5 days and took an extended rest, walking down to low 4000 metre 13,000 foot high villages to spend several days breathing thicker air and enjoying all of the beautiful green plants and friendly teahouses. Then we climbed back up to basecamp and carried on up to camp 1, camp 2, camp 3, camp 4, and made a summit attempt. The weather was a bit cloudy, windy and snowy, so we went back down to basecamp and took a rest for a few days, then we went to the summit again, with our sherpas, and this time we made it up to the top of the world with no problem.
It was incredible to be on top of the world and we felt very lucky. The sherpas were amazing and the leader and staff did a very fine job throughout the entire expedition!
Dispatches: Please click one of the links below to go directly to that dispatch or just scroll down.
Richard Maybank and Steve summit at Everest (Richard Maybank). Richard Maybank from the UK on the Summit of Everest (Lakpa Gyalu Sherpa).
Report compiled by Richie Maybank, UK.
If the first summit attempt was described as a nightmare, then the second Summit attempt must truly be a dream, with regards to the weather only as it still took about ten hours to get from Camp 4 (7950 meters) on the South Col to the Summit. At 1930 on the evening of the 25th May, the team assembled outside of their tents in order to start the second Summit bid. To give the Summit two attempts in a season is a fairly rare thing as only, even if a respectable number try, the success rate is extremely low due to fatigue suffered from the first attempt.
With this in mind the team set of from the South Col to the Summit in near perfect conditions. The difference between the two attempts was immediately striking as on the first attempt the amount of traffic descending was a constant obstacle needing to be overcome. On this second attempt the descending traffic was non existent. After approximately four and a half hours the team reached the Balcony (8500 meters) where oxygen bottles were changed to allow for the Summit push. It was at this point and slightly beyond where the team turned around on the first attempt due to extreme high winds, cold temperatures and snow.
Arnold Coster at the Summit of Lhotse (Arnold Coster).
From the Balcony, the team steadily climbed upwards towards the South Summit. Looking up, the South Summit could only be represented by a steady stream of head torches steadily climbing upwards. Luckily in the dark, the feature itself could not be seen. But after a further four hours the South Summit was achieved allowing the team to steadily cross grain across the narrow South Ridge and onto the Hillary Step just below the summit.
From the Hillary Step it was a mere thirty minutes more for the team to reach the highest point on Earth. John reached the summit at 0330 with the remainder of the team comprising of Sandra, Steve and myself all having reached the Summit by 0530 on the 26th May. Due to the teams' early arrival on the summit, the notorious traffic jams were at a minimal and largely avoided.
Over the next two days, the team gradually descended and was all back in Base camp by the afternoon on the 27th May.
With all high altitude climbs, the above would never be possible if not for the super human efforts of the Sherpa's. back to top27 May
I had a talk with the high camps this morning on the radio and it looks like that everybody will manage to get all the way down to Base Camp today.
Steve, Richie and Passang Sherpa spend the night in Camp 3 last night.
Sandra and John made it all the way down to Camp 2 together with the other Sherpa's.
I have send some more Sherpa's up to Camp 2 this morning and if we really lucky we can even carry all our group equipment down, like our camp 2 kitchen etc and have a feast with all our staff and members in Base Camp!
Arnold Coster, Exp. Leader back to top
View from South Col .Jon at Camp 3 (Jonathan Kedrowski)
This morning Jangbu Sherpa and John reached the summit of Everest at around 3:30am. Sandra, Richie, Steve, Chauwang, Lakpha and passing followed at around 5:30 am. The weather was beautiful and quiet. No winds and not too much people. They are all back at the Southcol taking a rest, before they will descent further. Depending how tired they are; some will continue to camp 2 others will decide to descent only to camp 3.
So all is well and this evening I will have more details.
Arnold Coster, exp leader
Member climbing up to Camp 3 (David). Camp 3 in a Perfect day (David
Today the two summit groups joined in camp 3. John and Sandra left BC yesterday to climb straight to Camp 2 and camp 4 today. Ritchie and Steve rested in camp 2 and climbed to camp 3 yesterday. This morning they all met in camp 3 and are climbing to camp 4 together.
The weather looks nice and this morning some other groups summited already.
Our team will rest a couple hours on the southcol this evening and probably set off for the summit push around 8pm.
Arnold Coster, exp leader back to top
South Col (David). Members on the Lhotse face between Camp 2 and Camp 3 (David).24 May
I am back in base camp for a day now organizing a 2nd summit attempt.
Richie and Steve waited in camp 2, but all the others decided to go down and try to recover in the thick air of base camp.
For most of our members our summit attempt on the 20th had a big emotional and physical impact. Most of us were prepared to see some tragedy, but not on this scale. So only 4 members decided to try again. Tomorrow John and Sandra will scale the icefall one more time to join Ritchie and Steve in C2.
Our plan is to summit on the 26th, early in the morning. According to the weather forecast there are low winds again; which gives us a chance to climb high.
Stay tuned for more news,
Arnold Coster, Expedition leader back to top 21 May
Whole Lhotse team summits!! Everest team forced back from South summit in high winds. All members safe in camp 2 or basecamp.
Members and Sherpas at the Summit of Lhotse (Grace). Grace McDonald Summit at Lhotse (Grace)
Team reports in live (click here to listen)
Team heading for the summit tomorrow!!
Team reports in live (click here to listen)
Sunset alpine glow on the summit of Mount Everest as seen from camp 3 (Alex Holt). Above the balcony, heading for the summit of Everest (Richard Pattison).
Our Everest Nepal and Lhotse team called in today to say they have reached camp 3. They plan to go for the South Col and camp 4 tomorrow leaving at 5:00 a.m. All of the members and sherpas are feeling really good, strong and excited for the summit push. They will call in another dispatch as soon as possible with more news of their progress. Thanks to everyone for following along and good luck to our team as they try to go for the summits of Everest and Lhotse tomorrow! back to top
Tomorrow we will head off to camp 3 at 7200m to start our summit attempt.
The weather is looking good for the 19th and 20th, but this morning over 300 climbers sett off to try to summit on the 19th. We will avoid this summit madness by going for the 20th for Everest and Lhotse. The plan is to summit early morning of the 20th and get back down to C2 the same day, but first we have to get up at Camp 3 tomorrow and Camp 4 around 8000m the following day.
Member climbing fixed rope on the Lhotse Face (David). Members reaching Camp 1 (Sandra Le Duc).
Today we had some misfortune; we lost our camp 3 due to a small avalanche. Luckily none off us were up there, so nobody got injured. Unfortunately some Sherpa's from another team got injured and had to be helicoptered out from Camp 2 this morning. Fortunately all our gear could be retrieved from the damaged tents and the avalanche has no major influence on our expedition.
Tomorrow morning we will set off at 5am in the morning to avoid the heat off the day and this way we can rest all day in Camp 3 for another early start the next morning to go to camp 4. The Lhotse climbers will branch off after what we call the 'Yellow Band' to their camp 4 under the Turtle shaped rock. The Everest climbers will continue to the South Col, where their camp is located.
From tomorrow I will send daily voice dispatches about our progress,
Arnold Coster, expedition leader back to top
Climbing the final few steps into camp 3. That's the Geneva Spur on the left (Squash Falconer). Climber works her way up the hard blue ice at the top of the Lhotse face (Alex Holt). Climbers work on crossing the Bergschrund at the base of the Lhotse face, enroute to camp 3 (Alex Holt). Making the big climb up to camp 3. Check out the big string of climbers climbing into camp 3 on the middle right side of the photo (Alex Holt).
Tomorrow the 16th the whole team will head up to camp 2 for the last time.
The weather looks good for the 19th and 20th, so we are going to try to summit both Lhotse and Everest. Today hundreds of people went up the icefall, we believe most of them will try to summit on the 19th. If there is any chance for us to summit on the 20th, weather wise, we will choose this day to avoid the crowds.
At the moment some of our Sherpa staff is carrying loads to Lhotse camp 4, mainly ropes for the summit day. Our Sherpa's will assist in fixing the rope to the Summit on the 18th.
So things are looking good and the whole team is happy to leave Base Camp and finish what they came here for.
Stay tuned for the voice dispatches from the higher camps.
Arnold Coster, Expedition Leader back to top
Mia Graeffe Enjoying days at base camp (Mia). Sandra enjoying day at BaseCamp (Sandra).
Dispatch from Sandra Leduc - A River Runs Through It:
Base Camp is melting. It's 13C outside and the birds are chirping. The area bordering the icefall has turned into a stream and the ground underneath our sprawling metropolis is shifting, causing landslides and tent slides. Spring is here and we all know that it means summit time is nigh.
We are now at our 3rd day in Base Camp, waiting for a good summit window. Every day feels like Groundhog Day: We wake up when the sun makes the heat in our tents unbearable, somewhere around 7:00am. Tea time is at 7:30am.
Breakfast at 8:00am. After breakfast, it's time to play lots of fun card games together. Then, all of sudden it's lunch time again.The highlight of our day is apres dinner. We get to watch a movie on the projector Arnold - our team leader - has brought with him. Last night it was I Am Legend. Some members desperately want to watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but we haven't reached that level of desperation. Just yet. When the movie ends, we stumble up through the boulders that make up our campsite and find our way into our sleeping bags, arms wrapped tightly around our water bottles and pee bottles for the warmth and solace they offer, and we drift off thinking of summits and three-course meals.
But our wait here is not in vain. It takes a bit of weatherman magic to craft a solid and successful plan to mount a summit attempt. From Base Camp, you need five days to reach the summit: One day up the icefall, past Camp 1 and up to Camp 2. One day of rest in Camp 2. One day up to Camp 3. One day up to Camp 4 and a departure that same day for the summit. So the decision to leave Base Camp for the summit is based on five-day weather forecasting. No small feat anywhere in the world, and least of all when it relates to Everest where for the most part, historical weather data is non-existent. Urs and Arnold have been reviewing available information several times a day and so far, the order has been to wait and see. Maybe we'll depart at 3am tomorrow. Maybe not. Odds are that we'll have a few more days sitting here, but we might get the call at 7pm to pack up and be ready. So we wait.
Team Practicing crossing a ladder in Basecamp during training (Grace). Grace in an icehole (Grace).
The 12th offered a bit of a break in the routine. It was Jon's birthday. We sang to him, gave him cake. Then he decided to get decked out in eyeliner because, here at Base Camp, we know how to have a good time. We also spent some time getting comfortable with our oxygen masks. Then, with mounting anticipation, we spent most of dinner talking about summit day.
From Camp 4, it should take us anywhere between 9 to 12 hours to reach the summit. We'll need half that time to get down. Arnold doesn't believe in fixing a specific turnaround time since people will likely be arriving and departing from Camp 4 at different times. His take is that you should monitor how long you need to reach the summit: If you're nowhere near the summit after 14 hours, "then something is very wrong". Right now, we think the 19th or the 20th may make a good summit day. But we know other teams are also thinking the same. So we strategize, hypothesize and wait. All part of the Everest experience. back to top
We had a couple of days rest in the lower villages, but we are back in Base Camp. Soon the weather will change to the better, but we still need some patience. There are a lot off rumors here in Base Camp about the weather, but no one knows exactly what is going to happen. This is the beauty from climbing, you can plan what you want, but at the end the mountain decides what will happen.
Luckily I have a very good weather forecast from Fugro Geos, this helps me a lot in making the right decision. Among with all the other information I have to carefully balance this an choose the right day.
For now we are not going anywhere and tomorrow we will have another full day to relax in base camp,
Arnold Coster, exp leader back to top
Resting at Dingboche to get thicker air, after doing lots of camp 2 and Camp 3 (Jon Kedrowski). Yak at Periche. (Steve)
Yesterday we all went down to Dingboche to breath some thick air. Dingboche is located at an altitude of 4380m. We spent our day eating, sitting in the sun and drinking.
Meanwhile, as we are resting our Sherpa's have the hard job to get everything ready for our summit attempt. This will take them a couple of days and then there have to be ropes to the summit also.
Our plan is to go to Lobuje tomorrow and be back in basecamp on the 11th again, then the real waiting game begins. We have to choose the right day for our summit attempt. It's all about timing
Arnold Coster, exp leader back to top
View of the Lhotse face from camp 3 (Arnold Coster).6 May
(1st - 6th May) The Khumbu Icefall, the Western Cwm and the Lhotse Face......
On the morning of the 1st May the team entered the Khumbu Icefall for the third time in order to move from Base Camp to Camp 2 at an altitude of 6400 meters, a height gain of 1000 meters in what can only be described as a really enjoyable 9 - 12 hour slog.
The move from Camp 1 to Camp 2 across the Western Cwm was only problematic from the point of view that Camp 2 can be seen from quite a distance away and just doesn't seem to get any closer.
On arrival at Camp 2, a 24 hour down period to allow rest and further acclimatization ensued. After this period, acclimatization walks ranging from only approaching the bottom of the Lhotse Face to actually touching Camp 3 were conducted over the following few days.
The 4th May saw the team head from Camp 2 to Camp 3 at an altitude of 7200 meters and a height gain of 800 meters made in one day. The route consists of a very gradual ascent of the Western Cwm to the Lhotse Face, and then a fairly steep climb up the face to ascend a further 400 meters to Camp 3.
The next day, the team descended to Camp 2, followed by an early morning start to once again tackle the ladders of the Khumbu Icefall for the forth time in order to return to Base Camp on the morning of the 6th May, nearly a week after initially venturing out on our second and last acclimatization round.
The team is now as acclimatized as it can be and shall now leave Base Camp to rest for a week at a lower altitude to allow our bodies to repair from all the various ailments picked up over the previous few weeks.
The next time we set foot on the mountain it shall be for the summit bid....
Richie Maybank - UK back to top
View towards the summit of Mount Everest from camp 3 (Arnold Coster). Climbing through the Geneva Spur (David).4 May
Team reports in live (click here to listen)
Hello Summitclimb news this is Arnold; leader of the Everest Nepal climb and training climb and I’m calling from Camp 2 at 6400m.
Today the whole team will go up to Camp 3 at about 7200m and sleep there except Joost and Adam, they will go a day later.
The whole team is doing well and everybody’s’ healthy. I’m a little bit low on battery power so that is why you don’t hear so many dispatches from me, but I’ll try to catch up when I’m back in basecamp.
Everything is well here and everyone is strong and we’re looking forward to going higher on the mountain.
Bye bye back to top
Descending towards the icefall and basecamp (Arnold Coster). Members and Sherpas coming down the Khumbu icefall for a rest (David).
Today most off our team headed up to Camp 2 again at 6400m. This means it was a 2 am wake up call again in base camp. After some porridge and egg and toast everybody set off in the dark to scale the icefall once more. The whole team made it in good time to Camp 1 and after a short tea break they continued to camp 2.
The last couple of days our team off Sherpa's worked extremely hard to cut ledges in the ice to pitch tents for us in camp 2. They even managed to set up a full kitchen and a small dining. This makes camp 2 our Advanced Base Camp and a comfortable camp to hang out to optimize our acclimatization.
A few off us needed more time in Base Camp and are heading up to Camp 2 tomorrow. Our plan is to spend some days up high and finally sleep in Camp 3 at around 7200m, but camp 3 is only partly pitched at the moment and we still have some work to do there. This 2nd rotation will take about one week. Once everybody slept in camp 3 our acclimatization is finished and we will head back to Base camp for our final rest before the summit push.
Once I reached Camp 2 I will call in voice dispatches about our progress.
High Altitude Greetings,
Arnold Coster, Expedition Leader back to top29 April
All members of the team arrived safely back at base camp on 27 April, 2012.
Since then, we've been hard at work sleeping, making ourselves presentable to the general trekking public - who, let's be honest, deserve to see a good show of rugged, handsome and clean mountain climbers, washing - in some cases our two pairs of underwear, eating everything like there's no tomorrow and watching thriller movies on the big projector Arnold installed in the mess tent.
More importantly, these last few days of sloth-like behaviour have been critical in allowing us to recover from various small ailments, like the Khumbu cough and colds. While at base camp, these ailments may seem insignificant, but at higher elevations, they can quickly become debilitating, forcing us to go down earlier than planned.
The team is now also smaller: Grace went down to Pheriche two nights ago to meet up with a friend. Yesterday, Rob (a.k.a. Pumba), who is on a shorter schedule to reach Camp 3, was feeling strong enough to head back up to Camp 2. Simon and Jess - who made it to base camp for a visit - left us to go back to Kathmandu. Evelyn and Eric's time was also up and they departed as well. As a result, our meal gatherings are noticeably smaller. We make do and huddle closely together, coughing in chorus under the soft glow of the propane heater.
Tomorrow, in the wee hours of the morning, the majority of the team will be heading back up the Khumbu icefall once more. This time, we'll bypass Camp 1 and go directly to Camp 2 where we'll be spending some 4-5 nights. Our foray will also include a trip up to Camp 3 as the lines on the Lhotse face are now fixed and ready. We're all excited to be on the move again and to continue our epic adventure. -Sandra Leduc back to top
Camp 1 with Lingtren, Cho Oyu, and Khumbutse in the background (Squash Falconer). Our members on the Western Cwm around camp 1. (Eric). 26 April
Hello there at home!
Last night we had the second night at camp 1. Stormy night but very warm. We had to get up at 6am and try to get going around 7. Of course the speedy's from our group were gone before that time but we got away around 7.15. It was still very stormy and cold to start up. Last day up to camp 2 was just going steady up. We just stayed there for around 20 minutes and then headed back to camp 1.
Going down to basecamp was not completely the same route as we did on the way up. Some avalanches had destroyed the original path set out by the "ice doctors" a couple of days before. Some of the places where there was a ladder to get over the seracs were still there but right next to that there was a complete new path which everybody took. The group scattered down because everyone has there own pace to get into which feels comfortable for them. I use the slow way because I am not fully acclimatized yet and it wears me out. Marlies also. But I get the impression we have a strong and focused group. Both for Everest as well as the two women (Mia and Grace) going to Lohtse.
Coming down in basecamp is like coming home to more luxury although its still basic there. But food and drinks available.
Everybody is a bit happy with the fact we get two rest days. I must say it's a nice group of different characters with the same goal.
If any mistakes in my English sorry for that.
Till my next opportunity to say something on this blog.
Cheers Joost back to top
Our members on the Western Cwm around camp 1. (Jon). Our members between camp 2 and Camp 3 (Jon)
Team reports in live (click here to listen)
Hello SummitClimb news, this is Arnold again calling from the Everest Nepal, Lhotse and Training climb.
Today we had a wonderful day. We all walked to camp 2 which is about 6400m. The weather was very nice and at times it was quite hot, but it was fine because there was a nice breeze to cool us down.
Now the whole team is having dinner back at Camp 1, 6000m, and everyone is taking a rest now.
Tomorrow early in the morning we will be heading back down to basecamp.
Everyone is looking forward to getting to basecamp. We’ll have a movie night, get some showers and get some laundry done. We’ll probably stay in basecamp for a couple of days before we continue.
That’s all for now
Bye-bye. back to top
Heading back through the icefall (Arnold Coster). . We have fixed rope and ladders laid through the whole maze of shifting glacial seracs 24 April
Team reports in live (click here to listen)
Hello SummitClimb News this is Arnold, leader of Everest, Lhotse and Everest Training Climb calling from camp 1.
The route here through the ice fall was pretty easy-going and everybody made it in good time. Now we are resting in camp and tomorrow the plan is to explore the route to camp 2 and we might even touch Everest 6300m and come back to camp 1 for another night of altitude acclimatisation.
That means the next journey after here will be Lhotse. We have 2 members sleeping in camp 2 already Eveline and Eric because they are on a tighter schedule than us and I hope that they will reach camp 3 first and clear the way for us too.
Tomorrow I will call in again and update you with our adventures so you’ll hear from me again then. Good-bye. back to top22 April -
By Dr. Jon Kedrowski for SummitClimb.com -
It was an enjoyable day in the sunshine as the team headed into the lower reaches of the icy and flat sections of the Khumbu Icefall near basecamp for some enjoyable skill practice.
Some buzz-words were spoken often by members:
Super-califrag-alistic-expialidocious, Lethal Weapon, Vertical Limit, Ladder Dancing, and a lot of laughs kept everyone focused enough to update their skills, but still stay serious enough to respect the task at hand and the dangers of passing through the icefall multiple times in the coming weeks.
It's Wind Beneath My Wings, rappelling down an ice cliff, and the wind at 5400m feels good you know. I can't wait, The "IceFall is Sexy", exclaimed one Female member of the team. Mia Graffe was seen tap dancing across the ladders, and made them look easy. This could be a sign of things yet to come for the young lady who is trying to become the first Finnish woman to climb Lhotse, Everests neighbor at over 8500 meters.
Our comfortable dining tent in base camp
The Sherpas seemed to be enjoying the progress of the team as well, and even took time to make some funny faces in a cut-out hole in the vertical ice, much like a cut-out hole at your local carnival. While crossing a double ladder, team members were critiqued by Jangbu Sherpa, who is an 11 time Everest Veteran, and looking to make it a cool Dozen times to the summit. He would giggle, laugh and give his "thumbs-up" approval for each member after a successful ladder crossing.
Arnold Coster expressed the importance of backing yourself up at all times with your safety line, then attaching your Jumar to the rope. "Efficiency is key, and when we go through the Icefall, we leave very early, 3am."
Hopefully we will be acclimatized well enough to go fast at a good steady pace because being fast and going early lowers risk".
Preferably we want to leave Basecamp, make it through the Icefall in 4 hours or less, and be up to Camp 1 above the Icefall before 10am. Getting there before 9am would be even better. Some members will take 4 hours the first time, while some will take up to 6 hours, but Arnold says that he wants everyone to be up there in less than 6 hours, before 10am. The Icefall and hanging Seracs of the West Shoulder of Everest stay frozen the best before the day's warmth hits by 10am. Any later in that area and you are asking for trouble in the form of falling blocks of ice and snow avalanches.
After resting tomorrow the 23rd of April, we will leave basecamp on Tuesday the 24th of April at 3am and go up to Camp 1 which is at roughly 6000m/20000 feet. On the 25th, If you feel well enough you can day/morning hike for 2 to 3 hours up to Camp 2 at the base of the Lhotse Face up through the Western Cwm. This camp is at about 6400m/21,400 feet. Once touching the Camp 2 for a brief Lunch, then we will return to Camp 1 for a second night before descending back through the Icefall very early on Thursday the 26th and then rest in Basecamp for 3-4 days after that. This upcoming rotation will help a great deal with acclimatizing and stimulating Red Blood Cells in the body. We will update again following this upcoming rotation. The team is doing well, and most members are feeling strong, including myself, looking forward to getting up on the mountain and into the icefall! Stay Tuned!
Jon Kedrowski back to top
Team practicing on ladders and ascending with ropes (Arnold Coster). 21 April -
This is Grace McDonald with a dispatch for the Summitclimb, Everest, Lhotse and Everest Training Climb Expedition 2012.
We had a leisurely 8:00 am breakfast and then we were all off to our tents to sort out our packs for our trip up to Pumori Advanced Base Camp at approximately 5,900 metres. This would be our next step in our acclimatization plan. We had nice weather and after a few rest days I think we were all ready to get in a little exercise. The group stayed together as we moved out of Everest base camp and then we all fell into our individual paces as we began the steep walk and eventual scramble up to Pumori ABC.
Three of us arrived in about 2 hours with one of our Sherpas, Pasang and we were feeling pretty good so we took a few minutes to hydrate and helped set up a bunch of tents. People continued to arrive and more and more tents went up. Eventually we were all settled in, two to a tent and we relaxed and continued hydrating. We had amazing views of Lhotse, Everest, Lingtren, the Khumbu Icefall and down to Everest basecamp. Unfortunately cloud eventually started closing in so we took dinner in our tents and some of us visited other tents for cards and music but most were off for an early night of sleep. Me, Jon and Richie hung out for a while socializing and ended up serenading our neighbors with a rendition of Bob Marley's Redemption song - perhaps not as appreciated as we thought but good fun. We stretched the night out as long as we could but eventually it was time to call it a night and the three of us headed off to bed. Most of us found it was actually a fairly comfortable evening. I think we all managed to get at least a few hours of good sleep - some had their best night of sleep yet.
Members and Sherpa’s equipment being blessed during prayer ceremony at basecamp (Mia Graeffe).
Being up so much higher, the sun hit us earlier and many were up and wandering around before 7 am, taking lots of pictures, snacking on oatmeal and noodle soup, packing up and helping the Sherpas take down the tents. There was a pretty cool looking ventricular cloud over Everest that attracted a lot of photo snaps. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits and some people planned to head over to Gorak Shep for their Internet fix before heading back to Everest base camp. Before everyone started heading down we watched Rob tape a few shots for his ongoing Pumba video and we managed to surprise bomb him with a bunch of snowballs during his last take. We had a great laugh and Rob enjoyed it as well. I'm sure it will make his outtake reel. A few of us walked down a longer path over towards Pumori basecamp to send off one member to Gorak Shep and then we wandered off back towards Everest basecamp where we caught the rest of the group heading down. It was actually a nice day for walking and once everyone got back into camp plans started hatching for showers. We were also all very happy to meet David, who is also joining us for the Everest climb. Sadly the snow has started falling so it's a bit chilly and people have been removing themselves from the shower line and instead taking to their tents for an afternoon nap. We'll have everyone up a bit later for dinner and a movie - tonight R.E.D. (hopefully we have enough battery power!)
While we were heading out to Pumori ABC, one of our Everest Camp 3 climbers, Evelyn, took an early morning trip through the Khumbu Icefall and stayed at Camp 1. She got back just before we did and is doing quite well. She and Eric are hoping to head back up to Camp 1 in a couple of days. They are on a slightly accelerated schedule.
We are planning on having a training day tomorrow to show off our hopefully amazing cramponing, jumaring and abseiling skills! Should be lots of fun.
After that we'll make plans for our first trip up the Khumbu Icefall.
Thank you for following our adventure here on the South side of Everest. We all appreciate your support. back to top
Everest basecamp on a misty morning (Fabrice Imparato). 18 April -
Yesterday we arrived in Base Camp. Our staff already pitched most off the tents and our comfortable dining tent. Last night we had the first of our famous movie nights and this evening we watched the 2nd movie.
Tomorrow morning we will have our Puja ceremony. In this ceremony we will ask the goddess of Chomolungma for safe passage. This is a very important ceremony for our Sherpa staff and it's also nice to have everybody together, so we can get to know each other better.
The day after tomorrow we will sleep at Pumori ABC at about 5800m. This will be very good for our acclimatization; this will make our first trip into the icefall a lot easier also.
So everything is going well here and we will have some climbing stories soon!
Arnold Coster, Expedition Leader back to top
Team at Thukla. Member from left Joost van Hassel – Netherlands, Sean McLane – USA, Sjoerd Wever – Netherlands, Richard Maybank – UK, Arnold Coster - Netherlands (leader), Jonathan Kedrowski – USA, Urs Jaeggi – Switzerland, Eric Ary Arnold – Netherlands, Simon Pacione – Australia, Robert Bradley – UK, Steve Camkin – Australia, Ms. Marlies Neefjes – Netherlands, Ms. Mia Graeffe – Finland, Ms. Grace McDonald – Canada, Ms. Maryana Plesh – USA, Ms. Sandra Leduc – Canada, Ms. Jessica Evans – USA (Deha) 16 April -
It's a cloudy and snowy afternoon in Thukla, which was only short hour and 15 minute walk up from Pheriche from 2pm to just after 3pm. This is the critical area for acclimatization. I hiked in a snowstorm with Arnold, Sandra, and Urs, and fortunately the snow and wind was at our back. We are all feeling pretty good. My sore throat is gone for now but I'm getting the Colorado cough I had most of last summer for my bivys project in Colorado.
Here they call it the Khumbu cough. For now I can manage it and its not out of control. Fluids, fluids, fluids and also the salt water gargles will continue. You can't really take any cold medicine while you acclimatize because it inhibits your acclimatization. Throat drops while I hike and a buff over my face while I sleep will manage it so that I don't cough up a lung, and it should improve. No worries though I should be ok.
Lodges in Pheriche with a clear view of Lobuche East behind (Sjoerd Wever). Visiting Lama Geshe and receiving a blessing in Pangboche (Deha Shrestha).
This morning we had some fun in Pheriche since we knew today would be a short day. Last night's snow left a fresh 1 inch blanket and made for some awesome shots of the Himalayas in all directions. It was very cold and crisp before the sun came up but worth getting up early. You could see the 8th highest peak in the world, Cho Oyo 8031m up the valley to the Northwest, probably 30 miles away. It looked windy up there for sure. Crazy to think I will hopefully get higher than that in the coming month.
After Skyping with my parents and visiting with the team for lunch and some brews and good conversation, we headed up to Thukla. This isn't really even a village, we are staying in a typical teahouse with a yak dung burning stove in the kitchen dining area and rooms that are simple beds with a pillow and comfortable mattress that you put your sleeping bag on. Although there is no heat in the hotel itself, it is still easier than a tent. I am sure temps will be in the 20s tonight, still nothing too crazy considering I've had it much worse over the years and was also in a tent the past two nights. I will probably sleep well all night I suppose.
The fog has settled in for the afternoon, but can't wait to see the new views from here in the morning as we will head for a 2 hour short day to Luboche at 4900m about 16,000 feet. Supposedly the views are incredible down the valley from here so I can't wait to see them. If you have any comments on these blog posts, keep them coming and I will try to weave them in as I go to my writing. My labtop should work all the way up to 5500m/18000 feet, which is good considering Basecamp in a few days is just below that height. I had this computer on all 58 peaks in Colorado last year, so I know it can handle work in the field. See you in Luboche!
-Jon back to top
Hiking out of Pheriche (Bill Dwyer).14 April -
So although today was only a short walk we still had a 6.30am wake up call with tea delivered to our tents and rooms. No breakfast in bed though.
After breakfast we took a short walk to a monks monastery where the team and staff participated in a Puja, which is where we are blessed for safety on our climbs. My self and some other members also had some small items blessed for example a necklace or purse.
The monk read prayers really fast and continuously for a long time and regularly had to gasp for air once he ran out of breath. We were at 4000m though. We all paid a small sum of money and given a blessed orange necklace (which for record releases all of the orange die all over you).
We then trekked back to camp to collect our bags for the days hike. This was a short 3 hour hike to Pheriche which is at an altitude of 4275m. The walk up was again sunny and the mighty peak of Ama Dablam was getting closer and closer. There were also really good views of the south face of Lhotse whose face is 3500m high. A very impressive sight.
The team is feeling strong and we had the afternoon to chill out and eat and drink.
The team and I sends their love to their family and friends back home who are reading these posts and we appreciate your support.
Only 3 days until base camp.
Written by Rob Bradley
P.s Simon asks that I write this. He asks that I, Rob Bradley, stops singing Yakety Yak don't talk back. He dose not want this to be the team song. back to top
Tengboche Monastery Gate (Joost van Hassel). Rhododendron at Tangboche (Steve)
The team left Namche (3440m) at 8am today. The weather was amazing and the views were breathtaking. Ten minutes into the trek we passed our yaks carrying all our bags and equipment (thanks yaks).
After I finished messing around with cameras and the yaks we walked around the corner and there it was. The Khumbu Valley with the most amazing views of Mt Everest, Ama Dablam and other mighty Himalayan peaks. You could see for miles. The blue sky, still air and great views was by far the best day of the trek to Base camp so far.
Clouds steamed off the summit of Mt Everest. An impressive sight!
It's a small crime that after walking up hill to Namche today we spent 2 hours going downhill to a place with the funniest name ever Phungki Tanga roughly 3000m give or take a few hundred meters. Here I changed my socks soaked up some sun bought a Snickers bar (as I forgot to collect my lunch) and set off to cross Duth Kosi river over the suspension bridge.
Then we set off to tackle the long steep hill up to Tengboche. This took a couple of hours but again the views were great and the sun was still shinning so although it was a long hill your thoughts were with the views.
The mountains were getting closer and closer and there were so many photo moments. After a break at the top we continued our trek for an hour to our final destination Pangboche (3950m)
Everyone is feeling great and as the sun goes down and the afternoon clouds disappears Ama Dablam is right behind our camp site. It seems so close you can almost touch it. Waking up in the morning to such beautiful surroundings will be a joy.
Thanks to you all for reading and everyone ends their love to their family and loved ones as do I.
- Rob Bradley back to top
Ama Dablam at sunset (Peter Hamel).
11 April -
We all arrived in Namche, the team is doing well. Below is Jon's update about our trek up to Namche.
Arnold Coster, expedition leader
A large stone village located on a large slope, I made the hike up to Namche in about 3.5 hours from Phakding. The elevation gain was 3000 ft/1000m. Grace and I left this morning from the lodge in Phakding and made great
time. I know because of Colorado I am definitely acclimatized to this elevation. Grace did well also and we were pleased that we could relax and enjoy the marketplace and the scene while the skies are clearing this afternoon. The rest of the team left about a half hour later than us and will probably arrive sometime this afternoon. We have already eaten lunch, some tasty carbonara pasta, and have had time to relax and have a pastry and
hot lemon tea at the bakery on main street.
Namche is the final large village on the trekking trail to Everest basecamp and you can tell how the people have benefited from so many people coming through this deep valley especially in the past decade. The stone lodges
are large and very accommodating. You can almost buy anything you might need for hiking and backpacking here, and things are cheap! Shoes for 1000 rupees (15 bucks), and good ones too! Jackets, backpacks, maps, you name it it's here. Since I will be here for two nights I am going to sleep in our tent accommodations tonight and then sleep in one of the lodges tomorrow to get a comfortable bed and a shower.
The trail up to this point wasn't too bad but it was pretty steep as we climbed up the Dudh Kosi river Valley and crossed the river 4 times on nifty cable suspension bridges. I'll try and get a video posted of one of my favorite crossings. The final 2 miles or so were straight up through the pine and juniper forest and then the village is tucked around a bend. Lots of yaks all morning but not as crowded as I had anticipated just yet with pockets of trekking groups here and there. I know that a majority of the teams are already in Everest basecamp and we should be there probably by Sunday. I'd love to bring my Mom and Dad here someday for a trek. What a great place to visit and see with your own eyes! Lots of Buddhist monasteries and little farms also dot the trail, and some places the cliffs and the mountaintops are very steep and neck-bending to look up at.
So far I am pretty healthy and can't even feel the altitude. That will probably change by the time we get above 15,000 feet/4700m, but for now I am loving it. As long as I keep hydrating and staying warm and taking care of
myself, even higher altitudes shouldn't bring more than a headache.
Tomorrows plan is to do a short hike up to about 4000m (13,000ft) above the village to a monastery and get some views of the surrounding high peaks if the weather is clear. Friday morning we will set off towards Tengboche, Lobuche, and Gorak Shep, the final villages before basecamp. I can't wait to see Everest for the first time as well.
That is it for now but thanks for your support and encouragement. I miss everyone from home but know I appreciate you following along and I am going to do my best to keep on keeping on! -Jon back to top
Namche Bazaar. Yak heading across a suspension bridge (Arnold Coster).
Everest Nepal -
- Arnold Coster - Netherlands (leader)
- Ms. Marlies Neefjes - Netherlands
- Ms. Sandra Leduc - Canada
- Jonathan Kedrowski - USA
- Joost van Hassel - Netherlands
- Richard Maybank - UK
- Urs Jaeggi - Switzerland
- Steve Camkin - Australia
- David O'Brien - UK
- Ms. Mia Graeffe - Finland
- Ms. Grace McDonald - Canada
Training Climb -
- Ms. Maryana Plesh - USA
- Ms. Eveline Wessels - Netherlands
- Adam Jones - USA
- Robert Bradley - UK
- Shivesh Ram - USA
- Simon Pacione - Australia
- Eric West - USA back to top