Hello to all!
Apologies for the silence emanating from us here at Himex, but as you can see we’ve been working on getting a brand new site developed and built, and as with all things technical it has taken a little longer than planned, and so we’ve been unable to post any newsletters from the current expedition, but hopefully we are now fully up and running.
So, what’s been going on?
|Jacob SCHMITZ – Guide||USA||living in the Netherlands|
|Ross JOBSON||UK||living in the USA|
|David SHERWOOD||UK||Who are friends|
|Fiona WINK||UK||Another group of friends|
|Natasha HASIB||USA||Husband and wife|
|Johannes NEL||South Africa||living in the UK|
|Step NEL||UK||father & son|
|Cornelia VAN HERWIJIEN||Netherlands|
|Cassandra HUSTON||Aust||living in the USA|
|Jonathan HORNE||UK||father of Daniel|
|Andrew BRINSLEY||NZ||Who are friends|
|Andrew TAYLOR||NZ||Another group of friends|
|Annabel SYMINGTON||UK||living in Nepal|
Well, the expedition started on 25th March with all members eventually congregating at the Hyatt hotel in Kathmandu, to meet each other, enjoy a few drinks and dinner and hear from Russell about the plans for the coming 24 hours or so, as well as further down the line into the trek. We were a group of 14 trekkers, 2 summiteers, Jacob our guide, Russell and Nirajan Regmi our doctor. With a second group of 5 trekkers following one day later.
The plan was for the 26th to be a day of sightseeing etc in Kathmandu if desired, otherwise a nice relaxing day at the hotel before we set off on the 27th from Kathmandu airport by helicopter to Namche via Lukla. The organisation was all rather slick as is usual with Himex and it wasn’t long before we all arrived at our lodge in Namche ready for lunch, then a free afternoon to explore/do a bit of shopping and generally get into the swing of things.
On the 28th we had a casual start to the day and then headed out of Namche after lunch for our first taste of trekking as we made our move to our next stop, Khumjung where we would be staying in the lodge owned by our very own Phurba Tashi – already trekking life was starting to take effect and most people were in bed by 2030!
The 29th was an exciting day as we were going to go for a few hour’s walk to the Everest View Hotel and fingers crossed get our first sight of the mountain, and it was also Gaby’s 50th Birthday!! Like all small girls, they always want a ride on the Ferris Wheel, so we had to make do with a yak ride this day. The walk up was beautiful, with Ama Dablam being a prominent sight as we made our way up to the hotel, where we ordered some champagne to toast the birthday girl and Everest popped her head out through the clouds every so often as well, a birthday moment I’m sure Gaby will never forget. Unfortunately the day had a bit of a sad ending as we said goodbye to two of our group who had decided that they were struggling already with the rigours of the trek and made the decision to return home
The 30th was our next moving day, leaving Khumjung behind and heading to Phortsie which would take us several hours through the trees down into the valley, crossing the river and then climbing up again to another of Phurba’s delightful lodges. Alas, before we departed we had another goodbye, this time to Adrian who had come down with a suspected kidney stone overnight, and so Himex was able to divert the helicopter for Michael and Natishia through a break in the snow storm to collect Adrian in Khumjung and then collect the others in Namche and return to Kathmandu to get to a hospital, and sadly that was the last we saw of him.
On the 31st we moved on from Phortise, stopping for a quick tea break in Pangboche, then lunch in Somari before ending up in Pheriche at the Eidelweiss lodge which would not have looked out of place on the slopes of a French ski resort – fully stocked bar with card machine, en suite bedrooms, hot showers….it was a very welcome surprise to come across somewhere so modern on our trek. Unfortunately as was becoming rather too regular, we lost a member of our team who were trekking one day behind us due to a fall, rather embarrassingly on the path outside the Everest view Hotel, and a couple of broken ribs and so he had to call his trip off.
1st April is an ‘active rest day’ where the trekkers head up the hill near the lodge and the summiteers take on a rather steeper hill which sees them reach around 5,100m elevation – all good training for what is coming ahead.
2nd April see us lose yet another member of our party, Dave. He came on the trek with Adrian and I think the blow to morale to lose his buddy knocked the stuffing out of him and he decided to call it quits – another shame but goes to show the Everest trek isn’t a casual walk in the park. The rest of us say goodbye to lodge life as we are heading to the Himex Basecamp at Lobuche where we will be moving into our own personal tents and eating together in the dining tents – trekking life starting to become expedition life, and surprisingly trekkers and climbers actually enjoyed it.
3rd of April and the summiteers head up to camp 1 on Lobuche to keep our exercise levels up as well as keep pushing higher in elevation, whilst the rest of the team either take a walk in the surrounding area or relax at basecamp.
4th April and we’re on the move again, this time to our final destination of Everest Basecamp (EBC). This is going to be a long day with a stop at Gorak Shep then another hour or two into camp, with the various team members arriving slowly throughout the morning at EBC to lots of applause and congratulations each time – everyone had achieved their goal and through the pain and tears everyone was very proud of themselves.
5th April is the last day we’re together as a group, with most people flying out by helicopter early tomorrow morning, so there’s time for a bit of a wander further up basecamp for those that want to, otherwise a fairly lazy day taking it all in and reflecting on the great accomplishment everyone had managed – it really is not easy! An evening of celebrations, with a round of commentary comments by the very popular Jonty who seemed to have positive words for everyone.
6th April and everyone is up for early breakfast and goodbyes at camp before most of the trekkers make their way up to the helipad to await collection, and yet another efficient helicopter evacuation involving 8 flights, leaving Cassy and Nicole as the two trekkers who will walk out with our Doc and then myself and Ross as the two climbers for whom the trip was really just starting.
7th April and we’re packing and moving again!! The remaining group is heading back to Lobuche where the climbers will spend the next 7 days climbing the mountain, while the last of the trekkers will stay one night then carry on their journey home on foot.
8th April and it’s time for the final goodbye after breakfast as the trekkers leave the camp and the climbers set off up the mountain to spend the night at Lobuche camp 1…….
So, that’s how the trip went as far as it being a trekking expedition, and now I’ll bring you up to speed on how the climbing expedition has panned out so far….
9th April we wake up at camp 1 on Lobuche at 0315 to get ourselves dressed and ready to head off to the summit – this was a good reminder of how not to do a few things, like leave harnesses outside to freeze overnight etc so we can iron out these little issues before we get onto the big one! Eventually leaving at about 0430 we make slow but steady progress up the mountain and reach the top at around 0945, an elevation of just under 6,000m. We stay for an hour then make our way back down the mountain via C1 and then on down to BC for a late lunch.
11th April and we are refreshed after a rest day yesterday, so we head back up the mountain after breakfast at BC to spend the first of two nights in our high camp just below the summit and settle in to melt snow, cook food and prep our kit for tomorrow.
12th April we leave high camp at about 0730 and take just over an hour to reach a very sunny summit where we end up staying for around 3 hours to let our body have some extra time at this altitude before returning to our high camp tents in time for lunch and the snow to start and not cease for the rest of the day.
13th April and we are finally saying goodbye to Lobuche as we wake up early in high camp, quick stop at C1 to pack up any remaining kit then on down to BC for a very early lunch at around 1030 then make the trip back to EBC where we will finally settle in for the long haul.
15th April After a nice rest day at EBC we do some ladder skills training to prepare ourselves for what to expect up the icefall which all goes very well and Jacob is happy with our efforts – good to know we don’t look like complete novices!
16th April and we decide to hike up to camp 1 on Pumori to keep our exercise up and legs working – lovely views of Everest as well as EBC and a good way to keep our bodies in shape.
17th April is our Purja day, so lots of traditional chanting and prayers, with the erection of prayer flags around the camp and offerings to the Gods who will hopefully offer us safe passage up the mountain
18th April and we hike up to Kalapathar then across and drop down into Gorak Shep for a drink (or two) and a rest before walking back into EBC.
It would appear that the rope fixing is progressing smoothly under the supervision of Himalayan Guides who has the contract this year. Once again the rope fixing equipment was flown to C2, and work has already started on the Lhotse Face, although these last two days have been to windy to work on the face. Garrett Madison has claimed that he is doing this work, despite the fact that he has not even attended one of the EOA meetings concerning the rope fixing. Credit should be due to those who actually do the work, and this is Iswari Paudel’s company Himalayan Guides. This agency is providing the local Nepal logistics to Adventure Consultants, Jagged Globe, Ice 8,000 and Madison Mountaineering this year. Yesterday the rope was fixed to above the Yellow Band, so today the rope fixers are taking a well-deserved rest.
Our team arrived at BC earlier than normal as we feel that general temperatures are increasing. Despite various world leaders not recognising this, we are seeing that temperatures are slowly increasing from year to year. Despite being here earlier, the coldest night we have had is -14 C, with another night of -12, otherwise it is generally -10 or -9 where as in previous years it would normally be -18 to -12. We all need to take care of this world.
The other thing we are noticing is the increase of EBC trekkers, and the amount of litter and human waste that they are leaving……but also the amount of graffiti they leave on rocks along the way. We as expeditions have taken great care to clean up the EBC, and we must pay $5 per kg to remove our rubbish and human waste, and we have a rule that says we cannot mark any rocks. But trekkers have none of these rules. Trekkers come and take pictures of their own rubbish, poo behind rocks and then blame us as operators on their social media. In two hours our team collected 6 large sacks of rubbish from around trekkers rock, but sorry we are not willing to pick up their human waste. We all complain to the authorities, but like so much in Nepal they take little notice.
PHEW!!!! That just about brings you up to speed with how things have progressed, and hopefully now we are up and running with the new site I can bring you much more regular updates of our progress.
All the best