Off to our next stop! (we hit 5100 m today)

Namaste from Dingboche!!

Well I spoke too soon about the great weather as on Monday we woke up to a snow covered Namche! I woke up Sunday night in the middle of the night and saw a lightening storm and thought, "oh great, it's going to be pouring on our long hike!" Instead, it was snow!! So it ended up being a very special day as Tristan, from Singapore, saw snow for the very first time!! It was super cute to see her expression as the snow started to fall and she couldn't stop taking photos :) After lunch on Monday we had very long hike uphill in the snow. I was actually grateful as that hill would have been a bear in the heat....so cold was good. Monday was one of those days where you just put your head down and hike...it was a long 7 hours and I was happy to pull out my 'mountain mix' on my IPOD and have some fun dance tunes to get me up the hill to Prembuche. We left the trekkers at Debouche, where they visited the oldest monastery in the valley and we continued 2 hours to Prembuche. The hike did have some amazing sights and we got to trek through the forest. Part of the last couple of hours were a muddy slip and slide adventure partially down hill, as the melted snow had caused quite a mess on the trail. My backpack was not my best friend that day, as the adjustments had gotten messed up and it hit my tailbone the whole way :( Backpack adjustments are extremely important and I will now check them every morning before I hit the trail. I did not sleep that great at Prembuche, mainly cuz I felt like there were little creepy crawlers all over me :( We had little cots with foam pads to throw our sleeping bags on top of, but honestly I would have preferred a wooden board with no fabric, as it is just cleanlier. I cannot wait to be in my tent on the glacier in my own little clean environment :) I now have a little bit of a rash on my back, but I am sure it will clear up. I used A LOT of wet wipes..LOL!!

Yesterday was a short hiking day. We first went to Pangpoche to visit Lama Geshe and receive our blessing for the climb. He also gave us another kata and synge, as well as a blessed card for us to take a picture with at the summit of Everest. It was a very special and spiritual morning. Lama Geshe is the second highest ranking Lama in the world and it is tradition for climbers to receive his blessing before a climb. He personalized our cards as well and it was funny because when he asked my name he could not pronounce it, so I told him to just put "G". He thought that was pretty comical and chuckled as he wrote my card :) He didn't get Pam's name either, so she became 'Pim' when she told him it was like Tim, but with a 'P'...haha. We had a nice lunch afterward and then hiked up to Dingboche...so it was only about 3 hours of hiking and we only went up about a 1000 feet. The hike was again beautiful with views of Ama Dablam and a rushing river below. It was a day of dodging Yaks though, as the trail was busy with two-way Yak traffic!! As we get higher the Yaks get bigger, but also cuter and more decorated with bells and cords :) A lot of us decided to just let Yaks take over the trail versus trying to pass them. Once we got to Dingboche we had some tea, went for a hike up the local hill, went to the Internet cafe, and then Mama's Bakery!! Oh the bakery was YUMMY- we had fresh made chocolate cake, cinnamon rolls, cheese sticks, and french press coffee :) Melanie, Mylene, Tristan, and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience :) Who would of thought all of these goodies in the middle of the Himalaya's!! Dinner last night was all cheese-cheese balls, macaroni and cheese, and some fries. We also had tomato soup, popcorn, and some fruit cocktail. Oh my...so much food!!!! But we ate it all and we need to if we want to keep going. 

Today we had breakfast and then headed to hike up about 3000 feet to Nangkar Tshang 5100 m, as an acclimatization hike. It took us about 3 hours to get up, we stayed up there for about an hour and had lunch and then about an hour or so hike down. The team did excellent and all made it. Special props to Tristan who made it considering her altitude sickness :( She had done great the last couple of days with Diamox, but today was a big day, especially for a girl that has never gone above sea level. The views from the top were impressive and we could see Makalu, Peak 38, and Ama Dablam....absolutely breathtaking!! The weather was good to us again, but chilly! We had some interesting conversations with Angel, our guide about general climbing physiology, climbing books, life and death, and about how great adventures can be. It made the hike up fly by. Today was about watching your own body closely and seeing what made it tick. Key things to look for was your breathing, pace, stamina, thirst, etc. I was a little nauseous and so I knew to drink more water and I felt better. 

The last couple of days have been great though, and it's nice getting to know the climbing team better and learn more about why we are all here! The popular question I have gotten is what is next after the 7 summits...let's just say I have some ideas, but one step at a time. I need to get through this bad boy first. Everyone is doing really great though, pushing through, and with smiles at the end. Some of us are having funcky dreams, not good ones per say, but not bad either, just weird. I forgot the weird dreams you have up at altitude...lol. My dad is still having fun, but definitely getting a workout everyday :)

Well I have three more nights with the trekking group then I stay at Base Camp. I am going to miss Melanie, Mylene, Tristan, Steve, and my Dad A LOT! I really thank them for supporting the campaign and coming all the way here!! My little support crew will be heading back soon and it will be me and the climbing team, our guides, and Sherpa crew along with 500 others or so at Base Camp.

As we have been walking long distances the last few days with weight on our backs, I can't help but think about how much of an effort it is for us, but how normal it is for others. Not only in countries like Nepal or Democratic Republic of Congo, but most third world countries where you walk for miles and miles for food, water, and medical care. We are so lucky and blessed!

On a final note, I just want to say how amazing the Sherpas are and how amazing what they do is. So many of us Westerners would never even have a shot at these mountains if it wasn’t for them. What they do and the loads they carry is extraordinary. They are extremely humble and do so much with their limited resources. We are blessed for them!

More later and Ciao for now! Technology has been a bit spotty so we shall see how it progresses up the valley. 

Remember, if you would like to support our efforts, you can make a tax-deductible donation to V-DAY and International Medical Corps.

Hugs all around!

G

P.S. I am told our next stop is not so great...lol...just tonight and tomorrow night then it’s Base Camp!!!

Tristan in snow for the first time :)

Tristan in snow for the first time :)

Here is the latest from the Peak Freaks blog:

April 5, 2011- 08:45hrs: In DINGBOCHE - Winter is still here!

Trekker Craig Law checks in: "Yesterday was a long day. We started with a 2am thunder snow. Woke up to an inch of snow on the ground and cold. Turns out it stayed below freezing the whole rest of the day. Our hike started in flurries and as we got down the path, it continued to get heavier and heavier. By the time we were heading down to the river we could barely see across the valley. With trail muddy, I managed to take a spill and although I’ll be taking a few Advil for the bruised spine, it was my ego that took the beating. We enjoyed lunch near the river (Had authentic Dahl Bhat...sherpa food of potatoes and veggies, flavoured with rice), then crossed another suspension bridge….(this one with hand rails way out to the side so they were useless for those of us who need Zanax to cross these things) and while talking to myself and hyperventilating, managed to get across…only to find the trip leader (Tim) right behind me….busted. So I turn to him and casually say “bet you cant tell that is one of my phobias, can you”. He was kind and said I did fine. Not fine would have been to crumple into a fetal position." It was very cold but warmed up to the high 30s by midday with the sun. Wind was strong so a layer change was necessary for the last hour or so of the trip.

Lama Geshe was in fine form. There was no evidence of him having had a stroke this past year. This is a busy time for him and we shuffled off early to accommodate the crowds waiting for his blessing. No time for small talk or to catch up. There was a group waiting at the door and another one outside. Too bad as we usually have time to sit back and shoot the breeze with our climbers and tells stories of days gone by. 

There's a bit of chaos I'm told in Kathmandu trying to get flights in and out of Lukla due to the weather. Happy to not be in that line-up. There are a couple of expeditions on the same schedule as us. A day or two behind or ahead so everyone is spaced nicely. Tomorrow we will go for an acclimatization climb above Dingboche and return back here to the lodge. 

Communications: A shout out to family members at home to let you know you won't be getting a call on the new 3G service from your loved ones for a couple days as we are in a dark zone. The tower at Tengboche is not in line with where we are right now and we won't get the next signal till we get in the sights of Gorak Shep, the place where the highest tower is installed. Here is the schedule of where we are now and when you might expect a phone call again. 

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April 5: In Dingboche
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April 6: In Dingboche (acclimatization day)
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April 7: In Lobuche
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April 8: Arrival base camp - Ncell coverage day, possibly in Lobuche but can't promise anything. 

Weather: I got a call from Ang Karsung who is at base camp and he said they had a very cold night last night up there. Unusually cold spring this year. Tonight it's clear skies which is making it pretty chilly. It's expected to be around -15c tonight warming up above freezing in the morning and then another cold night. Winter is still be here. 

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Elevation and Distance Chart
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SPOT- check to see where they are now. Everyone is transmitting except for Angel, he's still in Argentina, je je :)
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FACEBOOK- for more photos
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3D GOOGLE EARTH: This will be real fun when they start climbing. Download the plug-in on your computer and play with it. 



April 4, 2011- 7:30hrs Nepal Time- YAK PRESS: Climbers in Pangboche (3901m-13,000ft)- Trekkers are sleeping in a lovely village below Tengboche called Deboche (3734m- 12,368ft) situated in a rhododendron forest. 

Tim: "When we woke this morning in Namche Becky's weather prediction had come true. It snowed! What a beautiful day for trekking. Amazing photo collection will come out of Everest this year. 

Early tomorrow morning the trekkers will take a short hike back up the hill to Tengboche to join in on a chant with the resident monks in the monastery and by late afternoon will re-join with the climbers in Dingboche. Everyone is doing well. Dinner and pillow time, talk to you again tomorrow. Over and out, Tim." 

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What's "boche" you ask? It means village. 
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What's "Khola" and "Koshi" ? names used for rivers. The difference in names is the direction in which they run. North-South or East-West. 

Pangboche is the highest year-round settlement in the valley where the Imja Khola river, coming from the right, joins the Dudh Koshi river a little above the village. It has a famous gompa (monastery) which is thought to be one of the oldest in the Khumbu region. Buddhism is believed to have been introduced in the Khumbu region towards the end of the 17th century by Lama Sange Dorjee. According to the legend, he flew over the Himalayas and landed on a rock at Pangboche and Tengboche, leaving his footprints embedded on the stone. He is thought to have been responsible for the founding of the first gompas in the Khumbu region, at Pangboche and Thami.

This is home of our good friend Lama Geshe as well the monastery here houses the famous yeti scull. I think Lama Geshi is now 83. He suffered a stroke last year and has just recently returned Pangboche. Tim is so looking forward to checking in on him. He has a special connection with this man who he believes has helped keep him and hundreds of others stay safe while climbing. It gets pretty intense with emotions during this time for the team. You will hear all about it tomorrow. Stay tuned! 

Photo: Namche Bazaar this morning: Thanks Mark Mangles (Mango) for this photo.

April 3, 2011- 21:00hrs Nepal Time - First views of Everest and lots of blessing going on.
Nelson Dellis in Namche Bazaar checking in:

So we’ve been in Namche Bazaar for the past day and a half. Namche is one of the larger villages in the Everest region and sits at about 11,000 ft.

We spent most of the day yesterday just resting from our long trek in. Took a nice hot shower and slept to help let my body recover.

Today we did an acclimatization hike up to a small village called Kunde where Edmund Hillary built one of the famous hospitals in the region. We ate lunch at Ang Nima Sherpa’s home – had some wicked garlic soup, egg fried rice, and then a few glasses of Chang (the local rice beer which is known to make you dizzy, which it subsequently did, hehe).

We then trekked to the neighbouring village, Kungjung, where Hillary’s famous Sherpa school resides (he built it 50 years ago).

We really got the Sherpa lifestyle experience today. The villages we visited today were the original villages where Sherpa’s were from. We saw them planting potatoes, Sherpa kids throwing yak poop at each other, met some of our climbing Sherpas, got necklaces blessed by a Lama (not the Dalai Lama, but some Lama)….oh and we got our first (well, second really) view of Everest. So amazing! It had a huge snow plume coming off if it due to the 100mph winds that are currently hitting the summit.

Tomorrow we have a big trekking day to Tengboche Monastery to get blessed, and then on to Pangboche for the night.

WEATHER: It did not snow in Namche last night it was a prediction that didn't happen. Clear skies allowed Roger to fly into Lukla today but other flights were either cancelled or delayed due to high winds later on. 

FACEBOOK Photo Album: EVEREST 2011 is now up. 

SPOT: Mark and Tim's seem to working just fine. You can see where they were today and where they are now. 

CRAIG LAW'S BLOG SPOT: Craig has some nice photos and descriptions on his personal blog. Have a look!