Up down, jig jag, sherpa flat

By | April 22, 2010

Up early, coffee by coach, a great breakfast was cooked by our hosts and we were off on our first real day of trekking.

Leaving Ghat(8,500ft), we passed through Phatding(8,560ft) stopping for tea. We hiked into the town of Bengkar(8,890ft) for lunch at the Waterfall Restaurant.

After a much needed hour break, we proceeded to Monjo(9,320ft) to get our park passes for the Sagarmatha Park (the name Everest means ‘mother if the earth’ in the Sherpa). The road to our guest house is downhill, the groups mood picks up and everyone gets a little pep in their step.

We arrive in Jorsale(9,220ft) a little after 4. We are staying at the Nirvana Lodge. It’s a nice cabin with a view of the river down below and our group fills the entire place. There are 2 patios out front seperated by the path to the front door. On the left we have the book club, everyone there is seeking some quite downtime. On the right, no quiet there. Personal horror stories, tales of work disasters, tragedy and triumph and pure comedy. We chat until Kami (our Sherpa leader) calls ‘soups on’.

Shortly after dinner, almost the entire group heads for bed. We’ve had a long day behind us, and an even longer day ahead.

Up at 5:30am for 6am breakfast, we hit the trail at 6:54am, as our trek leader announced while walking through the gates of Nirvana. We had finished 8L of coffee, and thank god for that.

‘hey Kami, is it a big climb today?’ I say to our Sherpa leader. ‘well, a little up down, jig jag, Sherpa flat’ he replies. ‘what’s Sherpa flat?’ I ask. ‘you will find out soon’ he says followed by his giddy little laugh.

We begin our days hike up a big hill and across the Dudh Koshi River (pronounced doodi koshi, and meaning milk river) and stopped at a small bend in the train for our first glimps of Everest. Wow. It may have been 40miles away, but it was spectacular. The jet stream was pulling a cloud of condensation off of the back side of it from our viewing angle, making it look as though it were on fire. The mountain wasn’t on fire, but our group was.

We climbed 2000 verticle feet in a little over 4 hours, reaching Namche(11,290ft) a little after 11:30am. Some of the group began to feel the first effects of altitude sickness. A little fatigued, a headache or two, but nothing to worry about. Coach, our trek leader Eoin White, said we may have gone a little too fast. The group has made a decision to stay behind him for the rest of the trip. a
Afterall, his is the only one of us who has made a successful trek to basecamp.

The place we were staying in makes the rest if our guest houses look like garden shacks. Big rooms, hot showers, cold drinks. I now understand why they are 10-20 times more than other places. It’s called the Namche Hotel, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

During our downtime in the afternoon, a group of us visited a museum on top of a hill. The climb was grueling after such a long day of hiking, but well worth it. I learned about the heritage and the culture of the Sherpa people. How and why they came to the khumbu, and their way of life. After the visit I realized it was more then worth me lugging myself to the top of the hill.

Leaving Namche with the same morning routine as the previous days, we headed out a little later then normal, 830am. We walked a few hundred yards along a flat, then proceeded to walk directly up hill. Over the day, we would gain an additional 1200 feet of elevation.

We crossed an abandoned air field, and up past another look out with a spectacular of the Mother of the Earth (Everest).

By 11am we were sitting on the patio of the Everest View Hotel. Holy shit. Sorry to swear, but words can not actually express what I saw today. The biggest mountain in the world, in all of it’s glory. I know I used the word epic in a previous article, but this was the most epic thing I have ever seen in my life. It’s massive. Although Mount Lhoste directly beside it looks taller, that is only because it is closer to our viewing location. Mount Everest is a 3 sided mountain which borders 2 countries, Nepal and Tibet. If you have never seen it, imagine then biggest mountain you have, double it, and you’re about half way there, maybe. It’s not just the height, it’s everything. The pictures I bring home and the stories I will tell are only a fraction of the feeling you will get from seeing it for yourself.

We leave the hotel, reluctantly, and head towards Khumjung(12,400ft).

We visited an elementary school named after the great Edmund Hilliary (I suggest you wikipedia him if you don’t know who he is), then proceed to our lodge.

We are staying staying at the Ama-Dablam Lodge in Khumjung. Tashi, our hostess, treats us all as if we were her own. Tea was ready when we arrived, bottles of water were available at the slightest of mention. She runs an amazing teahouse/lodge on the main route to, and from, Everest.

That is all for now, it’s 8pm and it’s time for me to hit the sack. Tomorrow we walk down 1000ft to the river, then proceed to walk up 2000ft to our next place of rest.

Stay tuned… The adventure continues.

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