Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rest Day in Namche, Lukla Bound Tomorrow!

From Ian in Namche
Nov. 24, 2009

Hi from Namche!

So everyone is now in Namche Bazaar resting after the last few hectic days. It is good to be down low where the air is thick!

The summit day itself was a long day for all, with Chris going all the way back to base camp after the early summit due to the cold. Whilst Henrik, Pemba and Mama made good time and arrived in camp 2 in the day light, Sam and I took a little longer and ended up descending the Grey Tower in the dark. We were only to hear of the horrors that other teams had suffered the next day. Some teams had suffered from the cold and the wind and ended up with frostbitten fingers and toes, whilst another had badly hurt his ankle after he took a fall high on the hill.

For those of us that slept at camp 2 the following day promised a long descent with many teams moving off the mountain. the Yellow Tower proved to be as exhausting going down as it was going up but the views seemed that little bit better. Camp 1 could be seen as we traversed towards it with the boulder field dropping away below. Mama and Pemba pushed on to strike camp 1 and then descend in rapid fashion. Slowly behind, and by now already tired, we followed. Our bags were now a little heavier although Sam seemed to have taken everything with him on the mountain including the kitchen sink and so had a huge pack towering over his head. Our descent was slow due to this and our fatigue, but the weather was kind and we tottered into camp in the early afternoon.

Ratna served up a feast for dinner including a summit celebration chocolate cream cake that was shared between all the team and the staff. In a sugar-high and exhaustion induced haze everyone retired to their tents to collapse comatose for a well-earned sleep.

The decision had been made to break base camp and head for Namche, a walk that would normally take 5 hours, passing through Pangboche, Debuche, Thengboche and finally up a long hill into Namche itself. Chris and Henrik blasted off with myself Sam and Mike bumbling along together at the back. In all it took about 6-7 hours for us all to reach Namche but the reward was a yak sizzler on Chris, very tasty after a long day.

As we had neared Namche we were treated to final views of the incredible Ama Dablam summit where only days ago we had stood. Ama Dablam's upper slopes, which were once unfamiliar and awe-inspiring terrain, are a vertical world we now know intimately and respect deeply. Then all of a sudden we rounded a corner and stark and snowy vista gave way to green slopes and houses and then the bustling enclave of Namche.

Now we are all recovering on a rest day as the shaggy yaks catch up and head to Lukla. Chris is indulging in a combination of beer and 18 hours of sleep, whilst everyone else is trying to rehydrate properly and catch up on deprived energy stocks - Sam's diet of Gummy bears and pizza seems to be helping him!

Tomorrow we head down the valley to Lukla to catch our flights to Kathmandu on the 26th. It will be great to amble along the Dudh Khosi river, stop for hot lemons at the myriad of tea houses we pass by. All the while we'll day dream of soft beds and hot showers in the hotel and celebration meals in the Rum Doodle and Everest Steak House restaurants!

When we get back to town and upload speeds are better we'll post some of our best images from the trip so check back in a few days for more!