Just a couple hours from Everest Base Camp!!

We got snow! It was a beautiful snowy walk to Gorak Shep! :) snowy morning :) Since I last wrote last, we left Diboche and headed to Dingoboche and spent 2 nights there, then headed to Loboche and now in Gorak Shep just a couple of hours away from Everest Base Camp (EBC)! I stopped here to upload this blog and tidy up on a couple of things before heading to EBC as I am not sure what connection will be like, but I will not be spending the night here as there are too many trekkers here and I don’t want to catch any unwanted germs. Plus the tea houses are getting colder and colder as you head down the valley! My guess… I will be hiking back and forth between EBC and Gorak Shep to post updates and photos about once a week. So apologies in advance if I do not get back to you right away! sporting Altitude Seven :)

Of the past few days, the most eventful was by far Monday, April 8th. It was a day with highs and lows. In the morning on route to Dingboche, we stopped in Pangboche to get a blessing from Lama Geshe. We had quite the wait as 2 other expeditions were before us. I remembered this being a very special moment last time I was here. This time was equally as special and filled with laughter. Lama Geshe was convinced I was Nepali J haha. His soul beams joy and was really a special treat to meet him. As part of the blessing, he gives the climbers a card to take up with us to the mountain, a blessed Kata, and a blessed Synge to put around our neck. He also gives us a prayer to take with us on our journey and to set our intention.

This time the prayer was:

The Buddha said: You yourself are your own refuge, Nobody else can be your refuge. If you really tame your mind, You can attain the highest realization of the Buddha! May the precious mind of enlightenment, Arise where it has not arisen. Where it has arisen, may it not wane, But further and further increase.

It also has a request to all sentient beings on Earth:

Give up all intentions to harm others from your heart, and do your best to benefit them all. If each and every one feels the Universal Responsibility to do so, we will all enjoy the feast of PEACE!

I was really happy we were able to meet with him and get his blessing for our team. We also had our team’s prayer flags blessed that will hang in our Everest Base Camp. After leaving Lama Geshe’s we headed to Dingboche, I decided to wait to get lunch until we arrived as I wasn’t feeling like another break. So I split off from the team for a bit. The altitude was starting to make its presence known in my little body and so I just wanted to get to our destination. Upon arrival to our tea house, we heard a helicopter coming in. We had learned the day before that one of the Sherpa Ice Fall Doctors had died in the ice fall after fixing ropes to Camp 2. Apparently there was a crash in the ice fall and he fell victim to it. I know Alan Arnette has already posted more details on the incident, if you care to learn more. I was walking with one of our climbing Sherpas, Pasong, and he informed me that the ice fall doctor that had passed away was from Dingoboche. So to my surprise as we watched the chopper land, we saw the village gather around and the body of the ice fall doctor be delivered to them. It was a sobering and somber moment to say the least and also hard for many of the Sherpa that were here. As much as there is light around being in this majestic place, there is darkness when incidents such as this happen. For me it is a reminder that one must always have ultimate respect for nature and the mountains. We will only go as far as she will let us. My heart and prayers go out to the family of the fallen Sherpa.

On my walk over to Dingboche I was able to get to know Pasong, one of our climbing Sherpa’s so much better. Some of their life stories and adventures are quite remarkable and very humbling. Pasong used to be a monk, but had to change his life path due to his father passing away and having to make a sustainable living for himself and family. He was a monk from the age of 7 to about 17. Since then he has become a climbing Sherpa and has two summits on Everest, Ama Dablam, Makalu, and many more. Like many of the other Sherpas, he beams positivity and encouragement. It was a great walk and just as much as I wanted to learn about his climbing, he wanted to learn about me. He then wanted to know the details of my 2011 Everest attempt and from there offered some pretty awesome coaching tips.

Some of the main points:

  • Pray and pray that you will make it this time

  • It’s not a competition: If people go fast on the summit push, let them; if they go slow, keep walking

  • Try to eat at the South Col and take energy bars or Gu for the summit push

  • Keep an eye on your O2 regulator

  • Be the most careful on the decent because I will be tired

  • Enjoy it and do everything you can and give it your all to make it this time.

He then smiled and said, you’ll make it and we continued on our walk :) Learning of his summits on some of these major peaks was pretty humbling. The most impressive was his October summit on Everest where 5 climbing Sherpa and 1 client went for it. They fixed lines as they ascended, they ran out of rope at some point, and dealt with some pretty nasty weather (including white-out conditions), yet they made it.

As we walked and as our team had two days in Dingboche, it made me think how it’s always pretty cool how quickly a team can form in the mountains. How quickly we are all keeping an eye out for one another and how strangers become friends within days.The journey so far has been awesome, beautiful and breathtaking views, amazing people, and little reminders of how fortunate we are. My mornings have started with the scent of burnt sage, the sounds of yak bells, and fired eggs for breakfast (although I did try out some of the French toast the other day-not bad). The tea houses have been very welcoming and nice, although they have gotten colder as you go up the valley so by my last few nights in Dingoboche and Loboche I was sleeping in my light down jacket, leggings, and in my zero degree sleeping bag! Hence why I also didn’t want to spend another night in a tea house in Gorak Shep and rather just go to my tent :) Think it will be just as cold…lol. Some other favorite things around the trek have been these cute little black chubby birds with bright yellow peaks that have the funniest little chirps; they always make me smile. Also watching the horses and yaks roam free in some of the valley is really a splendid and beautiful sight.

We have all been keeping close watch on our bodies and health. I still have a slight cough and hoping to knock that out at Base Camp with a few days rest there. Alison and Rob went down to Pheriche to check in with the docs there and so they will join us at EBC in a couple of days. There has been a weird tummy bug going around the valley, luckily I didn’t get it, but others have not been so fortunate. All of these things are normal though and part of the deal. It’s your main job to keep yourself healthy so you can last the journey. Some of the team will stay in Gorak Shep tonight, so slowly we will all be in EBC soon and have our Puja Ceremony and get the climbing show on the road :)

Excited to get to Base Camp here momentarily and hit the first major milestone of this journey. Upon arrival, I will set up my little home for the next 2 months and settle in. We will likely go explore the ice fall and play on some ladders after a few days at EBC and once we have begun to adjust to living at 17,500 feet! Looking forward to my first night in the tent and starting the next leg of this journey. Also looking forward to catching up with friends there that are on other teams! It’s been such a pleasant surprise to know, that there will be some friendly and familiar faces up there :)

More soon and as always if you would like to support our efforts, please visit here.