NEWSLETTERS - Ama Dablam 2013

The Daily Moraine - 4th edition23 October 2013

An unexpected ascent

View of Island Peak, Makalu, Baruntse and Cho Polu

After a relaxed evening in our cosy lodge during which we chatted to a few trekkers, who told us that the path to Everest base camp was now clear and the snow had more or less disappeared, we woke up to another beautiful day with clear skies. However, before we could leap out of bed in the morning, two of us - namely Greg and I - had to detach lots of cables from our bodies. We both had agreed to take part in a medical research study that monitors your sleep at altitude. "I felt as if I was a character in 'Emergency Room' last night," said Greg when he came back with all his cables stuffed into a bag. The study is trying to find out whether increasing pressure during exhalation improves your sleep at altitude, which would also help you acclimatise better. In the study, this is being done with a plaster you put underneath your nostrils. "It felt a bit weird having this plaster around my nose and it actually impaired my breathing a bit," Greg continued. Whether or not this plaster works remains to be seen, for Greg and me, however, it did not really seem to make a difference.

After breakfast, we headed out for a short hike, but for some bizarre reason we ended up ascending a 'little' hill that was almost 1,000 vertical metres above Pheriche. As usual, we went ‘Baci’ speed and managed to reach this ‘little’ 5,000m-peak in 1 1/2 hours. “I was lured into a false sense of security when I left the lodge only wearing my old trainers and leaving my rucksack behind,” I said to Russell as we were expecting to simply amble over to Dingboche and have a coffee there. But when we reached the ridge between the two villages, we saw some trekkers walking up the hill to our left and we just happened to follow them. Going 'Baci' speed, we naturally overtook every single group and when we reached the summit, a young fit-looking American trekker asked us: "Why are you guys so fast? I am 26 and exercise a lot, but keeping up with you was impossible." Our team of 'Bacis' was obviously flattered by his comment!

North ridge seen from our little hill

The route

From our little summit we had a very good view of the North Ridge, which looked just as steep as yesterday. "I have just found the right word to describe the route - it looks daunting," said Greg while looking down toward a beautiful lake, which is nestled at the bottom of Ama Dablam. "The Sherpas will start fixing the rope tomorrow and I guess it could take them five to six days, depending on the conditions," Russell explained.

Russell explaining the route

In the afternoon the whole team stretched out their legs inside the sun-kissed lodge and recovered from the strenuous morning that ended up being much more than just a quick stroll for a nice cup of coffee in Dingboche. But before that the two women in our team went for a quick wash in the ice-cold stream just outside Pheriche. "This was certainly one of the best baths in the last 40 years," said Katharina followed by a loud and distinctive Austrian yodel.

Tomorrow we will leave the amenities of the Snowland lodge and Pheriche and head to our base camp, which according to Phurba Tashi, gets the sun from 7.30 in the morning to 2 o'clock in the afternoon, which means that the time we can charge our devices with solar power is limited. Depending on our power and internet situation, we will do our best to send the next edition of the Daily Moraine as quickly as possible.

Billi Bierling