NEWSLETTERS - 2014 Expeditions

Everest, Lhotse and Makalu #27 April 2014

Moving up the hill

Almost all Himex members, guides and base camp staff have now arrived in the Everest region trekking up the valley while our Sherpa team is at base camp setting up our temporary home making sure everything is in order by the time the first members arrive on 13th April. "The Sherpas are making good progress at base camp and we will be camping in our usual spot this year," our guide Gnarly told me over the phone from Khumjung, which lies at an altitude of 3,900m. "The team has gelled well and everyone seems in good spirits," he continued.

Mani wall on the way to Namche Bazaar
Mani wall on the way to Namche Bazaar

Saturday shopping in Namche Bazaar

Saturday shopping in Namche Bazaar

The Lhotse and Makalu teams left Namche after lunch on Saturday and arrived at our sirdar Phurba Tashi's lodge after a short walk while the Everest crew ambled up the hill to Pheriche this morning. "I am here with our sirdar Phurba Tashi and the ABC film crew. Usually Phurba Tashi would already be at Everest base camp but as he is the main protagonist of a Sherpa movie this year, he is being a film star at the moment," Gnarly continued.

And while Phurba Tashi is in the limelight, one of our trekkers and supporters of Annie Doyle's charity, Sunnyfield, was busy collecting some real Khumbu earth by dragging a big plastic sheet up and down the trail. "The reason why Sophie, our "crazy Didi", does this is to engrain the sheet with the earth of the land, before taking it back to Australia and painting a mountain scene on it," Gnarly explained. The artist and former Olympian Sophie Cape is planning to sell this piece of art and give the proceeds to Annie's charity for disabled children.


Sophie trying to get some good Khumbu earth on her canvas

On Sunday, the Makalu and Lhotse team were enjoying a rest day in Khumjung and, just as their predecessors, went to the Everest View Hotel in the hope to catch a good glimpse of the highest mountain in the world. "Well, it was good to be back at the Everest View Hotel, even though we did not get a view this time. Maybe I should ask for my money back," Gnarly said tongue-in-cheek.

Viewpoint just outside Khumjung
Viewpoint just outside Khumjung

Like Saturday, Sunday started off rather grey and hundreds of Everest aspirants as well as trekkers were once again stuck at Kathmandu airport, hoping to catch a flight to Lukla to start their trek. "Unfortunately all fixed-wing flights were cancelled due to bad weather in the Everest region and in Kathmandu but I hope it will improve tomorrow in order to keep the backlog under control," a trekking agent told me.

Beginning of April is the main climbing and trekking season when hundreds of people are heading to the hills to either go for a hike or climb some of the highest mountains in the world. As the small Dornier and Cessna planes that fly to Lukla can only operate in good weather, it frequently happens that the tourists get stuck for a few days and cannot get back to Kathmandu or into the hills. "For this reason as well as for safety, Himalayan Experience is using helicopters as they can operate in conditions that are impossible for fixed-wings to fly in," Russell once told me.

While dozens of Everest climbers were ferried back to their hotels in Kathmandu this afternoon, the Himalayan Experience crew is happy to be acclimatising to the higher altitudes as well as to the new environment they will be spending the next seven to eight weeks in.

As for more progress on the team, check out this newsletter as I will try and keep you posted as good as I can.

Billi Bierling, Kathmandu