After hiking up for six days from Lukla, I met up with the team in Lobuche to prep for our ascent to high camp the next day. Pasang and I had been walking together since Pangboche, and after a relaxed day of acclimatizing, picnicking, and hiking in Dingboche, we were excited to finally spot the rest of the team up on the hillside above our hotel in Lobuche getting in a little jumarring and abseiling practice. We also caught our first glimpse of our objective: Lobuche East
The next morning, the whole team (minus Will, who was still in Gorak Shep climbing Kala Pattar) headed out together down the ridge towards our approach to High Camp. Pu Mori and Nuptse towered behind us, and we could look down the entire length of the Khumbu glacier before we dropped down into a valley at the foot of Lobuche and started climbing up the steep scree slope which falls away to the southwest of the peak. A quick traverse through the cliff bands with the help of a handline set by our guides and we were ready to hunker down in our tents and rest up for our peak attempt.
Mountain climbing is inherently dangerous and uncomfortable, but you would never have known it from our experience. While we kept busy hunkering out of the blowing snow Maile got busy in the cooktent and delivered a steady stream of hot drinks, biscuits, and soups directly to our door. Meanwhile, Lhakpa and Dende went on a mission to fix some of the lines we would need in just a few hours.
The next morning at 4 am, with the full moon just setting behind Taweche, we set out in harnesses, headlamps, and helmets. Lhakpa and Sumit led the group up a treacherous mix of ice, snow, and slick rock, while (other) Lhakpa, Dende, and Pasang helped keep everyone safe, moving, and warm from the back. A few inches of snow the day before made the going much harder than usual, and in some places fixed lines were necessary to get up icy slabs that would have normally been an easy rock scramble. Just as the sun rose, we stopped to put on our crampons and take in the incredible views of the Himalaya. I was fumbling with numb fingers to get mine out when Dende suddenly appeared at my side, gold tooth flashing, and offered me a cup of hot water to sip while he yanked them on for me.
Around 8 we reached HA’s normal High Camp at 5600m (Sumit and Lhakpa had made the call to camp lower this time because of weather conditions), and started the real climbing. 350 m of fixed ropes over about 6 pitches led to the top, and despite the bluebird skies, it was tough work jugging up the steep slope of snow and ice.Lhakpa led, checking the fixed ropes before clipping into them, and kicking steps for the rest of us to use. Just before our turnaround time of 11:30 am, Chris and Lhakpa, Anna and Dende, Erika and Lhakpa, and Pasang and I reached the first peak at 6090. On one side, Lhotse, Nuptse and Everest shed trails of snow into the atmosphere, while further south Ama Dablam, Katenga, and distant Makalu pierced the incoming layer of clouds. 180 degrees of Himalayan mountains and glaciers surrounded us, snowy, craggy, and unbelievably beautiful.
The hard work and incredible competency of our guiding team, with a good measure of motivation and biscuits got us to the top, but their patience and skill was even more necessary for the long trek down. We abseiled, then scrambled, trekked, and occasionally stumbled our way down through the 700 m of shifting mists back to our camp, where the rest of our team waited with cheers and hot drinks.
Once we all made it down, we packed up camp quickly and dragged back to collapse with fresh nourishment at our lodge in Lobuche. It was a great accomplishment for everyone, and we celebrated our success (and Easter) with a splurge of candy from home.
The next day, reunited with Will, we strolled down to Pangboche, stopping to check out the Himalayan Rescue Association post in Pheriche along the way.
This morning, our team parted ways, with Pasang, Lhakpa, Anna, and Chris headed to Ama dablam base camp, and the rest of us rolling down to Namche for a much-needed shower and rest day before we head back to Lukla, and on to Kathmandu.
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- Everest 2020 & Covid-19
- End of Spring 2017 wrap up and new beginnings….
- First Myanmar Everest summit and more
- Everest team at South col, ready for the summit
- Another year of new challenges in the Himalayas
- Ready for summit, waiting for a good weather window
- First summit of the season on Annapurna!
- First rotation to Camp 2 complete!
- Everest and Annapurna update 17.04.16