A yak eating a cardboard box.
A yak eating a cardboard box.
In the mountains, we often spend as many days resting as we do climbing, if not more. While the purpose is obvious, it is even more important when climbing at altitude because the human body has a much more difficult time healing. Muscles don’t recover as quickly and your immune system is taxed, which can cause the body to crash if you push it too hard. For that reason, today was supposed to be a rest day but Geoff and Brent had different plans for Anders and I. Instead of a leisurely hike up the hill behind Dingboche with the rest of the team, they decided that we were going to push it a little harder and accelerate our acclimatization.
So what does a “little” harder mean? Well according to Brent, a “little” means more like 3,400 vertical feet, up to 17,600 ft. We were all feeling very strong and were up for the challenge. It was a perfect opportunity to gain altitude and trigger the production of more red blood cells. As I mentioned yesterday, anytime that you can climb high without damaging your body, it’s “money in the bank”, as Brent says.
The Father/Son teams set off at around 9 AM with only a vague idea of what Brent had in mind. Dad and Randy held their own and our crew gained altitude at a very respectable rate. The best part of the climb was that every step that Dad took was a personal record for his highest altitude ever! He topped out at 16,500 and we all gave him high fives. He was pretty damn proud! After Dad headed back down to Dingboche, the rest of the squad pressed upward.
The air became thinner and our conversations shorter but we finally topped out on a col overlooking the remainder of our trek to EBC and Nuptse. The views were incredible, so we took some time to snap a few pictures and grab a snack. Before heading down, I fired up the speaker and initiated the dancing with one of the greatest songs of all time, You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling. Feeling inspired, we raced down the hill, back to thicker air and coffee.
Geoff and Brent leading the way back down to Dingboche.
When I got back to the tea house, I realized that they had a shower and paid my $5 to use it. What I didn’t realize was that it was a solar powered shower and since it was already past sunset, it was a nice ice cold shower. I’d complain but I was just grateful that I was able to finish after it shut off twice while I was covered in soap. Probably my last shower for a while…
Hope all is well in the States and where ever else you are reading from! I sure could go for a burger and an IPA right now…
First things first, check out yesterday’s post because I finally got the pictures uploaded and they are worth checking out!
Today’s Fun Fact: Beyond Tengboche, there is absolutely no cell service, only a service called “Everest Link” that costs $6 for 200 MB, hence the reason that I was unable to upload photos yesterday. I hope you enjoy these posts because they are going to cost me from here on out 😉
Alright, let’s talk about today… The plan today was to move from Pangboche to Dingboche, a wind swept village that sits at 14,250 ft. Before hiking to Dingboche, we visited the home of the Lama of Pangboche, Lama Geshe. We brought Kata’s (Nepali Ceremonial Scarves), prayer flags and prayer beads for him to bless. He spent time blessing each item, our Expedition, and each member of the team. He was very reverent but also had a good sense of humor. It was an incredible experience!
We spent the next few hours hiking along the canyon, weaving through yaks and porters, and had some incredible views. We eventually passed the tree-line, which is the point at which no more trees grow, due to the altitude. So I guess I won’t see a tree for a month and a half.
Once we reached Dingboche, we had a quick lunch but the Father/Son teams hadn’t had enough. Despite gaining 1,500 feet on the trek in, we wanted to do some additional acclimatization, so we decided to hike another 1,000 vertical feet. Anytime your body feels good and you can gain some altitude, it is smart to do so because it speeds up your body’s production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen and allow you to perform at a higher level at altitude. We pushed up the trail quickly, gaining 1,000 ft and reaching 15,200 ft in only 30 minutes… not a bad pace at altitude. Halfway up, Dad reached his own personal record for altitude, which had previously been on Mt. Whitney (14,500 ft). He was all smiles and I was pretty damn proud of him!
After hiking down, we grabbed some coffee at the bakery in Dingboche, then had a delicious dinner. Now, I’m trying to get this post out before the tea house manager shuts down the Everest Link… Hope you get it!
Today we set out from Khumjung and hiked through Tengboche and finally make it to our next stop on our trek to EBC, Pangboche. Now for your next fun fact of the day… villages that end in “boche” are named so because Buddha once spent time there or at least that is what I’m told. Despite the influence of Western Culture, this country continues to hold their religious traditions in very high regard. There are prayer flags flying all over the mountains, prayer wheels everywhere, and prayer stones carved on rock throughout the region. Whenever you approach the wheels, you spin them, and always approach them clockwise or else you risk bad luck. You have to stay very aware because you don’t want to be that dumb American that walks the wrong direction!
Anyway, after waking up at the teahouse in Khumjung, we had breakfast and the Father/Son crew teamed up again to set out on a fast pace to our first destination, Tengboche. Our group consists of Anders Christofferson (son), Randy Christofferson (father), Brent Bishop (guide), Geoff Schellens (guide), and of course my Dad and I. Brent is a well known and very accomplished alpinist, who has been to the region many times to climb mountains like Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam. In fact, his father, Barry Bishop, was a member of the 1st American Expedition to summit Everest (1963) and the first person to ever climb Ama Dablam. Our first goal of the day was to visit the Tengboche Monastery, where there is a memorial for his father and his longtime Monk friend, Tinley Sherpa, has resided for 30 years.
After descending to the river and then making a hot and dusty hike back up the other side of the canyon, we reached Tengboche. We were warmly greeted by Tinley, who took us to a nearby shop where we purchased beers to take to the Memorial. Yes, I know that it sounds strange to hear about a Monk showing you where to buy beer but would you really expect anything less from my adventures and there was definitely a purpose. We soon found the Memorial, which honored several highly respected climbers and overlooked the massive peaks. Brent told us the story of each of the climbers and we cracked the beers because it’s a tradition of his to have a beer with “the boys” each time that he visits. Tinley said a prayer for them, we hung new prayer flags and Brent placed his Kata from yesterday on his Father’s Memorial. Needless to say, it was a very special experience.
Tinley invited us to his living quarters to have tea and catch up. The six of us barely fit through the doorway but found it very cozy once inside. Brent surprised Tinley with a new red backpack, the color that the Monks in Nepal wear, and he was very excited about it! As we were finishing up our tea, Tinley showed us a 300+ year old prayer book from Tibet that his parents had given to him and he blessed each of us for our journey. We said our goodbyes and promised to visit him on the way back through the Khumbu valley.
The rest of the hike was mild and we quickly covered the last three miles, snapping some epic pictures of Ama Dablam on the way. When we arrived at the teahouse in Pangboche, we were greeted by the wife of Brent’s old climbing partner and Sirdar. The eating quarters had amazing memorabilia from Everest, including old equipment from the Sir Edmund Hillary’s 1953 Expedition and the American 1963 Expedition, Brent’s Father’s team. There was even a picture of the National Geographic documentary about Everest that Brent was filmed in, which made him blush.
It was an amazing and very moving day that I will never forget.
Well, my hypothesis, that a visit to the Irish Pub would accelerate my recovery from the bug that I’ve had, proved to be correct! I woke up feeling better than I have in a couple of days. Still not 100% but my body feels better.
We had a leisurely morning and a great breakfast. Before we left the tea house, the owners held a Nepali ceremony to bless our expedition and entire team. We each received a Kata, ceremonial scarves, to bring us good fortune. It was a very special experience.
Picture of the Ceremony.
Ang Phurba Sherpa, our Sirdar (Head Sherpa and Certified Badass)
After the Ceremony, the two father/son teams decided to take a different route to Khumjung to visit the Hillary Memorial, a Memorial for Sir Edmund Hillary, his wife and his daughter. It was a great light acclimitization hike up to about 13,500 feet with some great views.
The Father/Son teams, Randy and Anders Christofferson and the Stenderup’s.
Anders, Geoff, and Dad on the ridge to the Hillary Memorial.
View of Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam from the Hillary Memorial.
After taking some time at the Hillary Memorial we descended to Khumjung (12,300 ft), where we will spend the night. We weaved through the small farms, which Dad was very interested in, and dodged yaks, until we reached our tea house.
Yak taking a rest in Khumjung.
We got settled in at the tea house about an hour ago and now it’s time to go get some coffee!
PS – If you haven’t already, scroll down and sign up for email notifications, so you get an email each time I provide an update. Then you won’t have to go to my website, just to find that I’ve been too lazy to post. Set it and forget it!
Hey Everyone! You won’t believe it but there is an Irish Pub in Namche at 11,300 feet and in fact, there are two!!! Some of the alcohol is brought in by mule because the yaks get too hot at lower elevations. The rest is brought in by porters, who are people that make a living by carrying a ton of weight and use their heads to hold most of it. Anyway, we didn’t want that hard work to go to waste so we had to invest some time at these establishments.
As for the rest of the day, it was fairly mellow and I am happy to report that I’m feeling slightly better than yesterday but still haven’t kicked it completely. We took a nice acclimitization hike up to 12,700 feet where I caught my first glimpse of Everest. It was amazing. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out my Instagram link below to see my first picture!!
After a ton of pictures we headed back for lunch and relaxing. Geoff and I went shopping in the bazaar for some last minute essentials. We ended up with a book titled “The History of Nepal” which we hope will put us to sleep and another called “My Search for the Yeti” by Reinhold Messner.
Alright that’s enough for now, I need to get some sleep.
Today we woke up around 7 AM and had a great breakfast in Phakdingbut right before our 9 AM departure, something felt “off”. Most of you don’t know my thoughts on “sick days” but I’m sure my colleagues in Monterey do and will find some pleasure in knowing that I do, in fact, get sick. We had a decently long day ahead of us with 2,500+ ft of altitude gain, ending at the historically famous village of Namche Bazar, and I as not too psyched to spend the day with a GI issue. While not ideal, Geoff kept me laughing (but not too hard) and I actually enjoyed the hike’s views.
Anyway, I’m starting to feel better, now that I’m curled up in bed in a nice Namche tea house at 11,300 ft elevation. Bedtime now… talk to you tomorrow!
Epic flight into the world’s most dangerous commercial airport! We just had a great breakfast at a tea house and are about to begin our trek to Everest basecamp. Our hike today will be liesurely and probably lots of fun. I haven’t decided what prank I will pull on Geoff first but it’s likely the old rock in the backpack trick. I will catch everyone up on the past few days when we arrive in the town whose name I cannot pronounce or spell.
PS – We haven’t lost Dad yet but we still have lots of time!