Snowy morning in BC. I can’t believe we have been in Base Camp already 6 days…well, in a way it also seems like we have been here forever.
So, what has happen since I left Kathmandu (and left kind of reliable internet and connection to the world?..)?
We have had a fantastic hike up the Khumbu Valley. First we flew into Lukla, a very short flight 40 minutes from Kathmandu with a lot of turbulence and a scary landing which I all missed cause I slept through it. We had breakfast next to the airfield before we headed out into our adventure towards Everest Base Camp.
The first day we only walked for about 4 hours including a tea break. And arrived Phakding and moved into our lodge there after a wonderful hike through small villages and along the river, enjoying flowering cherry trees and rhododendron, children playing with thin cans, the long suspension bridges and loaded yaks.
This is our scenery through the Khumbu valley, increased with more stupas (small temples) along the way. The next day we hiking to Namche Bazar (3440m), the capital of the Himalayas. Here we stay for 3 nights and go for acclimatization hikes and of course visiting the bakery serving good cakes, coffee and wifi.
After our 3 days in Namche Bazar we head off to Deboche (3820m), but of course with a stop in Tengboche (3860) with the beautiful monastery and the famous bakery. We attended the ceremony in the monastery which was wonderful meditative, and then we headed down to our lodge for the night. The day after we hike to Dengboche (4400m), but not before visiting the great Lama of this region. We were welcomed at the Lamas house and got his blessings before we headed up to our lodge in Dengboche were we stayed 2 nights. Here we enjoyed one acclimatization hike (to 5200m) and a couple of visits to the bakery (our last bakery before Base Camp). Now the surroundings are changing; no more trees and rhododendron, it is now harsh and cold with rocky terrain and a magnificent view to more and more snow covered mountains. The next two days we hike first to Lobuche (4910m) and then to Gorak Shep (5140m). This is the last little settlement before Base Camp, and the next day we wake up to snow covered surroundings. Everything is so white, clean and shiny!!! What a nice way to enter Base Camp!! Everest Base Camp welcomes us snow covered: the nicest possible way!
Everest Base Camp: Our daily life and preparations for the climb
It is just so wonderful to be here in Base Camp. Now we have changed mode totally: from our hike up the valley to our upcoming climb of the mountains. All «summer-clothes» and hiking-equipment are packed away, and our climbing gear are the closest to us now.
I have moved in to my home for the next 6 - 7 weeks. My little tent is nicely organized and decorated with prayer flags with my best wishes for my friends and family written on them; waving and sending good wishes with the wind.
We have set up a plan looking like this:
15th: Pudja Ceremony
18th: Remembrance day for the big accident last year
20th: Climb to the first ladder in the Khumbu Icefall
21st: Rest in EBC
22nd: Move to Camp 1 (C1)
23rd: Rest in C1
24th: Climb to Camp 2 (C2)
25th: Rest in C2
26th: Descend to Everest Base Camp (EBC)
27th - 30th: Rest in EBC
1st: Climb to C2
2nd: Rest in C2
3rd: Climb to Camp 3, touch and descend to C2
4th: Descend to EBC
5th - 9th: Rest below EBC
10th: Arrive EBC again
11th: Rest in EBC
12th: Climb to C2
13th: Rest in C2
14th: Climb to Camp 3
15th: Climb to Camp 4
16th: Rest in Camp 4
17th: Summit :) :)
So this is the plan, but as you all know; all plans are made to fail at first try….No we do not hope so, but we have had a lot of snow the last days, and we have heard that there will be another weather system coming in. So we will be waiting out the weather if it is too bad. I will keep you posted on our progression.
But first let me tell you about our life in Base Camp. We start our day every morning with breakfast at 8am, after breakfast we get some time to check internet (if it is up running) and «dress up» for the ice; that means getting our climbing gear on, such as big boots, harness, crampons, helmet, ice axe. Then we head out to the ice 5 minutes walk from our tents.
As you all probably know Everest Base Camp is built on the Khumbu Glacier. That means, the glacier moving all the time and the camps have to be built up from the bottom every year. And we are actually living on the glacier. So our training area is right on our «doorstep». In the ice our sherpa team have set up different obstacles; ladders in different angles and ropes on steep ice walls. We practice here so that our transitions and different problem solving will go automatically when we are up in the Khumbu Icefall and on the mountain.
After some good hours training we go back to camp and our delicious lunch at 1pm. After lunch we normally have the time off until dinner at 6:30pm. In this spare time there is always some equipment to do improvement on, some emails to send, some pictures to transfer, a shower (bucket shower) to take or last but not least a lot of very good friends to visit. It is like a happy good family living here in EBC at the Khumbu glacier.
But the EBC is big, it will take me approximately 45 minutes to walk from one end to another. It is like a little city of tents this year housing 375 climbers and an equal amount of sherpas, and not to forget the staff (such as kitchen staff) supporting all the teams here. So it is pretty amazing to walk around Base Camp and meet all the people here and see all the impressive work been done constructing this Base Camp.
Life goes on here in Base Camp and in some camps the day ends with a movie night or with a good game of yatze.
We now plan for our first move up the mountain. Tomorrow Monday the 20th we will make our first move towards the Khumbu Icefall. We will do a climb of approximately 3 hours and return to our home here in EBC before we Wednesday the 22nd will move up to Camp 1 above the icefall at 5800m. And if all goes well we will try to have two nights in C1 and 2 nights in C2 at 6300m before we return to EBC (5300m) the 26th.
The climb begins
Today we went climbing 2 hours up the Khumbu Icefall, just to «get the feeling» and gain some altitude. Very early we met many teams coming down again.
This was the day were «everybody» wanted to move up to Camp 1, and that made major «traffic jam» up high. Many of my friends started out at 4am this morning, and we met them on their way down around 10am; they had to give up their move up to Camp 1 and turn around. A tricky 6 x ladder is making a bottleneck up very high in the icefall, and it is too dangerous to be sitting underneath it waiting for hours until it is your turn to climb it. Our climb was fantastic; it is so nice to be surrounded by the massive icefall, feeling so tiny little climbing in the blue, white and grey ice. It is nearly like the ice is talking to me, I feel so happy in-between all this white!
We had different reactions in my team, some were not feeling well and turned around early, some continued despite puking, some a bit anxious about being in the middle of the icefall, and some of us just enjoying it. I met both my friends in the Mountain Professionals team and my friends in the Hvitserk team and many many others whom I know from other climbs. This was a fantastic day in sun!