The Daily Moraine - 11th edition8 November 2013
The end is nigh
Our last day in the Everest region is just coming to an end and even though we are all looking forward to that hot shower, good restaurants and cosy room in Kathmandu, we are all leaving the Khumbu region with a laughing and a crying eye. After having been more or less on our own for the past three weeks, we were faced with the trekking crowds, who are still making their way up to Everest base camp, Gokyo, Island Peak or other attractive places in the Everest region. We left Dingboche, once the sun finally appeared at 8 o'clock in the morning and headed down to Pangboche, where we had our first cup of tea and watch the hundreds of tourists, trekkers, yaks and porters going up and down the valley. Well, 12 of the yaks that were congesting the trail were actually ours coming down from Dingboche to go to Khumjung from where we will take a helicopter back to Kathmandu on Friday.
Yaks carrying our gear back down from base camp
Our way to Khumjung certainly took longer than expected as we were intercepted a few times by Russell's old friends offering him yet another cup of tea. When we were enjoying one of these cups, we also bumped into John and Robbie from South Africa, who climbed Everest with Himalayan Experience in 2009 and were intending to climb Ama Dablam via the normal route. "I guess we are just hanging around and procrastinating down here," John said. "Nothing has really happened on our side and most teams have left already. We will wait for a little bit longer but I think our chances are pretty slim," he continued explaining that they were going back to their base camp the same day.
From left: Russell, Kazu, Ryu, Shinji, Mori, Riko, Greg, Billi, Katharina and Naoki
After having caught up with old friends, we made our way over to Tengboche, where we watched the monks ambling up and down the pastures with their mobile phones while we were having our last Dhal Baat - and in Greg's case the first pizza of this trip. "When I came here in 2012, I had the best pizza ever and I would like to re-live this experience," Greg said with a watery mouth. Unfortunately the pizza experience was not quite the same as 18 months ago and Greg's disappointment could not be overlooked. "I think they must have changed the chef or he must have had a bad pizza run today," he said with a sad look on his face. Maybe he should have saved his appetite and enjoyed his first pizza in Kathmandu - either at the Hyatt or at one of the many pizza restaurants in Thamel. But who knows, his first meal back in civilisation might also be a hamburger, something he has been craving since the very beginning of the expedition.
When we finally reached Phurba Tashi's house in Khumjung, the first thing we all had to do was to be weighed to make sure that we will not bring down the helicopter tomorrow. "Sorry that we have to do this but once we know how much everyone weighs we have a better chance to get more cargo onto the chopper," Russell explained while hanging on the scales, which was not one of the digital ones we use in the western world but one with a big hook that you would normally find at the butchers. After everyone had a go at the scales, we sorted our gear to make sure that everything is ready once the helicopter arrives tomorrow to pick us up and take us away from this beautiful place marking the end of our expedition.
Naoki being weighed with the 'butcher's scale'
However, before we finish the 2013 autumn editions of the Daily Moraine, we would like to share with you the speech, Greg held on our last night at Ama Dablam base camp, which is a nice way to sum up our expedition:
It goes without saying that none of this would have happened without him. I know how frustrating it is for him when he can't get people to the top. He works all day and night to solve problems and overcome obstacles in order to give us a chance. A once-in-a-20-year storm became an insurmountable challenge, even for Russ. By giving "his all" and his inspiring Sherpas and guides to give 'their all' we got higher on the mountain than conditions should have allowed. He is a strong leader but at the same time, he is the first person to serve us our meal or collect the plates so the Sherpas don't need to. Russ makes it possible for ordinary people to experience the extraordinary in the Himalaya.
Hiro, Shinji and Phurba Tashi
I was stunned, amazed and at awe with their effort to get us up the mountain as far as possible. Whenever they came off the ridge after a long day, it never really showed how hard they had been working. They was always a smile on their faces and they never seemed to lose their energy. I would like to thank them for their courage, their skill and determination to put in the route.
Kazu, Hiro and Shinji celebrating the end of the expedition in Dingboche
She is an extraordinary person. Her cheerfulness and passion for her work as a journalist and optimism are inspiring. I love that she cannot say 'no' to challenge.
The Austrian comeback kid. Her strength and willpower are amazing but above all I think it was her faith that carried her up the mountain. Her devotion was an inspiration for me to work on my own faith.
I admire him on his many accomplishments with his photography and climbing, and congratulate him on bringing adventure and nature to people from all walks of life.
The camera team - Riko, Ryu and Mori
I congratulate them on their hard work in discouraging conditions brought on by the heavy snow and rainfall a couple of weeks ago. I wish them the best of luck for the documentary! This is certainly no Disney fairy tale - this film will show what really happens on the mountain. I would really like to get a copy, but don't cut out the ugly American guy when you edit the film.
Kazuya is always 'genky'' (happy), friendly, courageous, kind, cheerful, hard working and humble; he is just like a boyscout. I like his professionalism and it has been an honour to get to know him on this expedition.
The kitchen staff
Last, but certainly not least I would like to thank Lacchu, Lhakpa and Gyanu, who fed us well throughout the expedition and never ceased to smile, even when they had to get up early to serve us tea and a hot towel in the cold mornings before the sun appeared behind the mountain. It has been a pleasure getting to know them and I would like to thank them for all their support for this expedition.
Although getting to the top is the goal of any expedition, experiencing the joy of the mountains and comeradery of the team is what makes an expedition successful. Let there be no question that we succeeded!
These were Greg's last words, however, he may have thought that he would get away with not getting mentioned by doing a speech, but he won't. I would just like to add that it has been great to have Greg on the trip as I have hardly ever met someone so enthusiastic and gang-ho as he is. He has been a great contributor to the positive and good spirit on this expedition and I envy him for his passion for his climbing and the outdoors. As we have mentioned before, this trip to Ama Dablam has been in preparation for Everest in spring 2014 and we would like to wish him all the best for this big challenge. But with his enthusiasm and positive attitude, he will surely make it to the summit if weather and conditions permit it.
As far as the Daily Moraine is concerned, we would like to thank all of you for having subscribed to our paper for the past three weeks and we hope that you will continue your subscriptions in spring 2014, when the Daily Moraine will be back reporting live from Everest Base Camp.