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Everest Basecamp Trek and Island Peak, Spring 2007

 

(photos in slideshow: Elselien te Hennepe)
Everest Basecamp, Kala Patar & Island Peak, Imja Tse:
news of our expedition
1 to 22 October, 2007
Dispatches:
Please click one of the links below to go directly to that dispatch or just scroll down.

Post-Trip Report: by Michele

Arriving in Kathmandu:

1) Arrive in Kathmandu.

Chaotic is the only way to describe the KTM airport. It's hard to be patient after such a long flight (from LAX). Have a few small bills ready to give your taxi driver and/or luggage porter because you get swarmed by people offering help and you don't want to flash a lot of cash.

2) Tour Kathmandu, a beautiful exotic Hindu and Buddhist city with an abundance of ancient temples (photo right by Dan Mazur: Our trek team is having fun on the way to Namche Bazaar. What a great group!).

If you have the time, take a taxi tour of KTM. Wear your seatbelt! Don't miss the Monkey Temple. When there, don't carry anything that looks like food or the monkeys will try to take it from you. A monkey launched itself at Brett and tried to take a gift he was carrying out of his hand. It scared the daylights out of him, but gave us a good laugh. Also check out Durbar Square, Buddhapath, and the cremation site (not for the weak of heart). back to top

Trekking to Everest Basecamp:

3) Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla 2,840 metre/9,300 feet. Trek to Phakding, where we camp in a field on the river bank at 2650 metres/8,700 feet.

Again, KTM airport was a zoo, but the short flight to Lukla was spectacular. Lukla reminded me of a rowdy border town...complete with internet access!

We arrived in Phakding after an easy trek. We stayed in a teahouse which was unexpected - we thought we'd be in tents. None of us complained though, since it was raining a bit and the cots in the teahouse were comfortable

We learned teahouses can sometimes be a bit noisy. Ear plugs are highly recommended.

4) Walk to Namche Bazaar 3,440 metre/11,300 feet.

There were a lot of fellow trekkers on the trail, which was expected. The beautiful scenery made up for the lack of solitude.

The climb up to NB was steep, but we set a good pace. Our first view of Mt. Everest seemed to inspire our group.

5) Rest, acclimate, and relax in Namche Bazaar (photo right by Dan Mazur: Yaks crossing the Jorsalle suspension bridge on the way to Namche Bazaar. This bridge is located just on the other side of Mt. Everest National Park)..

NB is amazing. You can buy just about anything here. Snickers bars, toilet paper, headlamps, climbing clothing, maps, gifts, excellent baked goods, beer....

6) Trek to Pangboche, 3,900 metres/12,800 feet.

Somewhat level trail along a beautiful gorge. LOTS of trekkers and yak trains.

Then a descent into a spectacular river gorge, then a brutal climb to Tengboche. The monastery held a ceremony open to trekkers....interesting, but we were all tired and hungry and just wanted to go to bed. Don't miss the Tengboche Monastery Museum. back to top

We spent the night in sparse rooms in Tengboche and awoke to clearing skies and wonderful views of Lobuche, Nuptse, Cantega....

We hiked to Pangboche where the local Llama performed a ceremony for us and blessed us for our trek to EBC and Island Peak climb. We also visited the 600 year old Pangboche monastery...the oldest in Nepal. This ceremony and monastery were both much more intimate than the ones in Tengboche.

7) Walk along to the village of Pheriche, 4,250 metres/13,900 feet.

Cold and windy. Saw our first helicopter. It was startling, since we hadn't seen any motorized vehicles in days.

The Himalaya Hotel was amazing. Candlelight, music (Beatles, Zeppelin, David Gray) and the best food of the trip. The rooms were nice.

8) Walk along to the village of Dugla at 4,620 metres/15,150 feet.

Really short hike to Dugla. We wanted to go further, but Mingma said it was best to stop here and acclimate. He proved his point when we went for a short hike uphill that afternoon and a few in the group got headaches from the altitude (photo right by Joni Allen-Ooms: Joni Allen-Ooms and Jacqueline Woods on the way to Base Camp).

9) Walk along to the village Lobuche, 4,930 metres/16,200 feet .

Climbed up to Dugla pass to an absolutely spectacular view back down the valley....lots of memorial chortens to fallen climbers.....prayer flags....

Lobuche was interesting. Don't miss the Pyramid research station. We had an excellent visit with a resident Italian scientist who told us about resources, environmental issues and politics in Nepal.

Even though the equipment list stated to bring 1-2 kg/2-4 pounds of snack food, I was starting to get really hungry. I had brought protein powder and Clif bars, but was running low on them. My diet consisted of boiled rice or potatoes with tuna fish, steamed vegetables and the occasional watered down dal bhat (lentils). I cannot eat wheat, so I was not able to eat noodles, pancakes, toast, etc. I started existing on Snickers bars....and learned to drink my coffee and tea with sugar, just to get the extra calories.

Make sure and take lots of extra rupees. I paid $4.00 US for a Snickers bar (worth every penny) and water was going for $2.00 US per bottle. We brought water purification tablets and our backpacking water filters, but never used them. For us, the convenience of the bottles outweighed the environmental impact (there is no recycling as of yet, and the bottles are sometimes used to start the fires in the teahouse stoves, since wood and dried yak dung are at a premium.)

10) A short day up the Khumbu glacier takes us to the rocky outpost of Gorak Shep, with three cozy teahouses at 5,160 metres/16,900 feet.

GS was surprisingly nice. We stopped for tea, then continued up to Everest Basecamp. It was a really long trek, but Mingma brought us tea, sandwiches and eggs, which were welcomed by all of us. Some in our group were bonking because they hadn't brought enough snacks, even though they had been told to.

11) Walk up to Everest basecamp, which lies atop the Khumbu glacier at 5,300 metres/17,400 feet (photo right by Dan Mazur: On 3 October, a large part of our team flew to Lukla on a 40 minute flight on this 18 seat twin-otter propeller plane. It was an exciting flight).

The trek over the morraines to basecamp was difficult due to the elevation and the long trek from Lobuche. We climbed out on the Khumbu for photos, then began the long trek back to Gorak Shep. I think a lot of people in our group underestimated this part of the trek. It was a very long day hiking, at altitude, and some trekkers didn't hydrate or refuel often enough to keep up their energy.

12 ) Walk up to Kala Patar. Walk down to Pheriche at 4,250 metres/14,000 feet.

Another tough climb, on the heels of EBC, but we were rewarded with one of the most spectacular views in the world. Again, Mingma brought tea and snacks and we leisurely enjoyed the view and took photos.

We then hiked back down the valley to Dingboche. We stayed in a very nice tea house here, and in the morning, said goodbye to those in our group who were not climbing Island Peak. They left for Lukla in the morning, and we left for the climb up to Island Peak base camp. back to top

Climbing Island Peak

13) We will take a leisurely walk up to Chukkung Village at 4,700 metres/15,500 feet.

Stopped here for tea.

14) Today we will go up to Island Peak basecamp at 5,100 meters/16,728 feet.

Not a bad hike to basecamp. Our tents were all set up for us and we had hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for our porters and dinner. We all flaked out on mats in the sun and rested until dinner. For the first time in days, we had some good, home cooked meals.

15) Today we walk up hill for about two hours up to Island Peak high camp at 5500 metres/18,000 feet. We will go to bed early today so we can rest for the approaching climb

A short, but steep climb up to high camp. It was cold and starting to snow lightly. We ate in our tents and went to sleep early (photo right by Mith Wlliams): Pemba and Mitch at Everest Basecamp.

16) We will wake up in the middle of the night and slowly and carefully head or the top at 6,189 metres/20,300 feet. Walk down to Chukkung.

I didn't sleep well due to the wind and excitement of the upcoming climb. The rock scramble up to the snow/ice field was challenging. My hands and feet got very cold when we changed into our climbing boots and harnesses at the snow/ice field. I would recommend climbing in your mountaineering boots, if they are comfortable.

We climbed fixed lines with ascenders on the face and final summit push of Island Peak. I was glad for the fixed lines, as they afforded the safety myself and other inexperienced climbers needed in order to summit.

The ropes were busy with climbers and we didn't spend too much time on the summit. A storm was coming in so we descended. We returned all the way down to basecamp and crashed in our tents. It had been a long day. We woke up to about 4 inches of snow. Our timing had been perfect on summit day! One day later and the weather would have prohibited us from climbing. back to top

Going Home:

17) Today we will make a relaxed walk down to Pangboche.

We returned to Dingboche and spent a relaxing evening there, then had a short hike to Pangboche. We were going to go to Tengboche, but the teahouses were full and it was too long of a hike to NB.

18) We will walk back to Namche Bazaar.

After spending the night in Panboche, we were all anxious to get back to NB, have a few beers and then head down to Lukla. After achieving our goals of making it to EBC and summiting Island Peak, we all just wanted to get back to KTM, take a shower and enjoy the luxuries a hotel room has to offer

19) Walk down from Namche to Lukla.

This part of the trek is all down hill on some rocky steps and steep trail. If you have bad knees, bring trekking poles and take it easy.

Upon arrival at our teahouse in Lukla, we ate dinner, danced and drank chang with our guides and porters. A few of us decided to follow it up at the Irish Pub (if you can imagine). Quite an interesting mix of people there.....

20) Return flight to Kathmandu.

We were worried about making our flight out of Lukla, since the weather had been bad and many flights had been canceled. The Lukla airport was a madhouse. I'm still not sure how our guide knew which plane we were supposed to be on, but I suppose it didn't matter much since everyone was going to KTM.

21) Extra day of rest and celebration in Kathmandu.

Do take a taxi out to Bhaktapur if you wish to visit an impressive temple city. We spent our last day shopping for a few gifts. I recommend planning your trip so that you spend an extra day or two before the trek in KTM, shopping and seeing the sites, because once we returned from trekking, all we wanted to do was go home.

22) Flight Home. Good Bye everyone, it was nice meeting you!

While waiting for your departing flight in KTM, bring some water and snacks....we waited in a crowded room past the security checkpoint for hours before our plane arrived. back to top

A final word or two:

The toilets in rural Nepal can be interesting. Prepare yourself. You may rather go in the woods.

Bring (or buy in KTM) Cipro (antibiotic) and diamox (for altitude sickness). Better to have it and not need it than be med-evac'd out. I acclimatized very well, but others in our group had various forms of altitude sickness.

Bring lots of hand sanitizer.

Bring extra food if you are a picky eater or have dietary restrictions.

We were told the luggage weight limit for the flight into and out of Lukla was 50 lbs. I should have thrown out some of my gear, like my ice ax and helmet that I never used, and brought my extra protein powder, gatorade and snacks.

Also, be prepared to meet warm, friendly people, and see some of the most awesome mountain scenery in the world.

Thanks to Dan, Raj, Mingma, and everyone who made this trip one of the highlights of my life. back to top

30 October, 2007

9 October, 2007

Mingma Sherpa and Joni Allen-Ooms, Everest Trek October 2007 (Joni Allen-Ooms) back to top

5 October, 2007

Hello. I hope you are well. We have arrived at Namche Bazaar, the capital of the Sherpa World at 3,445 metres/11,300 feet, and are having a rest day.

Yesterday was a beautiful and sunny day and we walked here from our last night's camp in the village of Phakding. Two days before we flew to the Lukla airport after spending a couple of days in Kathmandu and organising things. Tomorrow we plan to trek up to the 4,000 metre/13,120 foot high village of Pangboche.

Paul Hickman, Ama Dablam Leader-in-Training writes:

We had a wonderful breakfast in Phakding before departing on the 5-8 hour trek to Namche Bazaar. The trek was amazing as we crossed swing bridges and dodged yaks (not always successfully) along the trail. There are several teahouses along the way where members stopped to take in the views while hydrating. Some of the members were fortunate enough to have views of Everest and Nuptse. The hardest part of the trek was at the end of the trip where we trekked up "Namche Hill", which adds the greatest elevation gain and also seems to go on forever.

Once in Namche we met up with several of the members that originally left Kathmandu a couple of days prior to the main group. Most had beer and pizza at the Everest Bakery. A few even stayed out to enjoy the nightlife in a local bar.

Last night it rained for about 2 hours and we are hoping that it's localized. The visibility is rather poor today due to the low clouds.

Part of our group are staying in tents and the other part are in one of the local guest houses. A few of the members are dealing with chest infections, but as a whole everyone is healthy.

This is Paul Hickman from The SummitClimb signing off. Send us positive thoughts and good weather! back to top

3 October, 2007

Mitch, Brett, Michele, Mingma, Mike and Tashi on the summit of Island Peak (Michele Korkowski). back to top

Here we are enjoying a comfortable teahouse in Lukla right after our arrival from Kathmandu. back to top

Bir Kaji, Mingma, Mitch, then Santosh in the blue jacket, and Jangbu to the right, on Kala Pattar (Mitch Williams). back to top

2 October, 2007

All of our team members have reached Kathmandu with all of their bags. They have been spending time enjoying the city and touring around the beautiful Kathmandu valley. Their trek leader is Mingma and they have an excellent staff of sherpas. They plan to fly to Lukla in the morning, given good weather. Then they will trek to the village of Phakding in the early morning. We will keep you posted . Wish us luck! back to top

24 September, 2007

Here is our team roster:

Ebc trek: 1-17 october

  • Ms. Joni Allen-Ooms
  • Mr. Neil van Note
  • Ms. Jennifer Zhang

Ebc trek plus island peak: 1-22 october

  • Mitch Williams
  • Michele Korkowski
  • Brett Jensen
  • Jacky Wood
  • Michael Schulte
  • Trevor Dinsmore
  • Robert Van der Plas
  • Achiles Van Hoof

Island peak only: 12-17 october (appx)

...

Everest Basecamp

 

  • Everest Basecamp Trek Nepal
  • 30 March to 15 April, 1 to 17 May, 1 to 17 October, 17 Days in Nepal
  • Full Service Cost: $1650, £750, €1150

Follow the route first trekked by Tenzing and Hillary, when they made the first ascent of Everest in 1953.

Everest from Kala Patar area. A picture you could take. D.L.Mazur

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The Basecamp Trek will be moderately paced, allowing plenty of time for acclimatization and site-seeing and features the classic route to Everest basecamp, where you can follow "Everest Approach March" made by Sir Edmund Hillary and the famous: Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. The trek passes through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery on earth and through interesting and friendly Sherpa villages. Its enjoyable walking the wide trails on this relaxing and energizing trek, where our cooks pamper you and our trusty yaks and porters carry all of your baggage, so you don't have to. After a slow and careful walk up to high altitude, with plenty of time for rest and acclimatization, the team will stop at the tiny hamlet beneath Everest: "Gorak Shep". Using Gorak Shep as your basecamp (it was also Hillary's) you have the opportuntiy to spend an entire day walking up to the modern-day Everest basecamp, where all of the big Everest expeditions now go. The following day you can walk up to the ridge top known as "Kala Patar" for fabulous views of Everest. Full Service Cost includes return round-trip domestic flights, cook, food, porters, guide, and everything for your trek, even a visit to basecamp and a fun and easy climb to 5545 metre Kala Patar.

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SOME FACTS ABOUT EVEREST AND KALA PATAR

Everest was first climbed in 1953 by Hillary and Tenzing, their Base Camp was at Gorak Shep which we will visit. Just above Gorak Shep is the small hill-ridge of Kala Patar (5545 metres). It was from here that Eric Shipton helped to choose the first ascent route on Mt Everest, which Tenzing and Hillary climbed in 1953. According to David Padwa, the peak was named by Mallory during the first Everest Reconnaissance. The mountain behind Kala Pattar has an interesting story: Mallory wanted to name a peak after his young daughter. In the Sherpa and Tibetan languages, "Pumo" means girl, and "Ri" means mountain. So Mallory chose to name it Pumori. back to top

 

Touring the exotic temples of Bakhtapur, in the Kathmandu Valley (Felix Berg). A holy man praying near the Baghmati River in Kathmandu (Chris Kinny).

IS THIS TRIP FOR YOU

The Trek is suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness. TREKKING STYLE We will be totally self-sufficient. We will have our own cook who will prepare all of our meals, and we will camp in tents and stay in comfortable tea-houses through out the whole trek. Food on the trek consists of local fresh food. All your luggage will be carried by porters except for a small day pack. Each day's hiking is not too long (3-8 hours, with an average of 5 hours walking per day) allowing time to enjoy the scenery, take photos and meet the local people.back to top

...

Island Peak

  • Island Peak 6189 metres (20,300 feet)
  • 16-20 April, 2-6 May, and 18-22 October, 5 days
  • Full Service Cost: $790, £350, €550. Add-on to one of our Nepal Everest basecamp treks.

A fun and easy, exciting peak . Its a great trek to this mountain, known as Imja-Tse or Imja Tse at 6189 metres (20,300 feet). It is high, and nestled close to the flanks of Everest, just 4 miles away. Its extremely scenic but not a very difficult mountain, and you don't need experience to climb it.

In just five days, Island Peak is probably the easiest and most affordable way for you to obtain high-altitude experience and see how you feel at 6000 metres (20,000 feet). Its also a beautiful place to take an up-close look at the high peaks around Everest. back to top

Island Peak at the end of the valley, an easy walk from from Dingboche Village along the Everest Trek at 4412 metres (14, 500 feet).

A fun and easy, exciting, and beautiful trekking peak near Everest. Its a great trek to this mountain, known as Imja-Tse or Imja Tse at 6189 metres (20,300 feet). back to top

 

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