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Gorak Shep & Kala Patar

sunny 1 °C

It was 1.5 C in our room this morning, but the sun was up and not a cloud in the sky.

After arriving at Gorak Shep we rested an hour before heading up to Kala Patar. What a hike up, 300 meters elevation gain, and almost straight up. We made it in an hour and a half. We saw two avalanches on the way up.

What a view of Everest and Lhotse from the top of Kala Patar at 18,200 ft., not to mention all the other mountains all around us. You could also see base camp form there. We were lucky as clouds rolled in after we started our descent.

Mark & Adam, we now hold the Brancaccio record for highest mountain climbed!

We had a nap when we got back and then had tea when we woke up. Dr Kami was testing us with the oxygen-pulse meter. Most people we in the low 70's, Chris was 79 and Sarah was 86 oxygen level. Sarah was usually the same as our Sherpa guide Lhakpa's!

Posted by Brancaccio trek 04:13 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Everest Base Camp

all seasons in one day 10 °C

It was a very sunny morning when we headed up to base camp. The hike was a lot easier than Kala Patar, just a little longer. On the way up there was another Nepalese following us up and it turned out he is a Major in the army and he joined us. It was his first time to base camp and Lhakpa was educating him on the way up. He was going up because there was a cermony at base camp on the Sunday which was including the Indian Ambassador and the Chief of the Army (we think). He was very friendly and we were taking pictures for each other.

We first visited the Asian Trekking camp, they were supporting 2 teams, 35 climbers, and 34 climbing Sherpas! Their camp was like a hotel with a kitchen, communications tent, dining tent, and individual sleeping tents. We had tea with the camp manager and Lhakpa - they sure dring a lot of tea here!

Then we ventured a little further up to Summit Climbs camp. They have 2 Canadians on their team and everyone we met was great. The Dutchman Joost promised me a chocolate bar if we came up so we collected on his promise. They had a movie tent connected to their dining tent to watch movies! We met this group along with another in Dingboche.

Because we stayed longer than intended Lhakpa decided we should now have lunch so back to the Asian Trekking camp. There we had lunch with Apa Sherpa, who is a living legend in Nepal, having summitted Everest 21 times!

On our descent we met most of the Mountain Trip 2012 team as they were making their way back to their camp. It was exciting to meet people we knew on the path coming down from base camp.

Because of the ceremony on the Sunday several fully uniformed and armed Nepalese army personel passed us on our way down. It was quite strange to see armed people on the trail.

We headed back down. It started snowing once we got to Gorak Shep and we were covered in snow when we arrived at Lobuche. There were very few people staying in the lodge and we got the deluxe room, complete with mirror, 4 hangers in sorta a closet, and a night table!!!

Tomorrow we continue on our way down. Unfortunate we were now traveling with just our guide Lhakpa. Zach wasn't feeling well and they decided to take a helicopter back down to Khunde.

Posted by Brancaccio trek 04:19 Archived in Nepal Tagged camp base Comments (0)

Lobuche to Pangboche ↓(descent)

sunny -1 °C

When we got up it was -1.5 C in our room, but outside was sunny and would be warm for hiking. On our way to Pheriche we came to Memorial Hill and again stopped at Lhakpa's father's churung. We got a few more details about his father's death. There were 5 Sherpas killed that day when they stopped for a break and the snow beneath them collapsed. The Japanese team built the five churungs all in a row on Memorial Hill. We had brought a twonie to leave at base camp but forgot to do that when we were up there, so we decided to leave it on Lhakpa's father's marker. I think this turned out for better.

Lhakpa said in 1970 his dad would earn 1 or 2 rupees a day! There is an association that paid 30,000 rupees as a death benefit, but his dad's mother claimed half and his wife got the other half. Lhakpa also said to collect the money, his mother would have to show up in Kathmandu with him in person to be able to receive the money. Lhakpa was 2 years old when his father died and despite this tragedy has done very well for himself and his family.

We had an early lunch in Pheriche and both Sarah & Lhakpa were not feeling well after! We then took the scenic route to Upper Pangboche to visit the primary school and the oldest monastery in the Khumbu valley, 500 years old. We took a short cut to lower Pangboche that we thought they didn't want us to use when we had to climb over a wall near the bottom. We arrived quite early at the lodge and both had a HOT shower. The pressure was not that great with water only coming from 5 of the 40 holes in the shower head.

We met two groups in the lodge that afternoon. One was the Walking with the Wounded from the UK, who aborted their summit attempt. The climbers of that group were all wounded in military service.

The other was a multi national group who had summitted Island Peak 20,305 ft. One member of this group was Lydia Bradey, from New Zealand, who was the first woman to summit Everest without oxygen! Lydia was the only other kool person we saw, she was wearing a fedora like me! Another member of the group knew where Lethbridge Alberta was as he had been there recently with his work.

Posted by Brancaccio trek 22:29 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Pangboche to Khumjung ↓(descent)

sunny

Woke up around 6:30 am. I had French toast and it was good, Sarah had a pancake & it was not so good! Previously we had been having porridge almost every day as it was the safest thing to have. Most things they fried had a taste of fried rice with a little kerosene mixed in for good measure!

We saw some tar (something like a deer) on the trail. When we got to Tengboche we took the less travelled scenic trail that was in trees and much less dusty. The flowers were in blossom but looked like they had been damaged by frost. We stopped at L Sherpa Restaurant for lunch, we split an order of fries and Lhakpa had curry with his wife.

Then came the up hill hike to Khumjung, the last (sort of) big climb of our trek. We thought it would never end, but it did and we checked in to the luxurious Khumjung hotel. There are about 40 rooms and there were only 4 of us in 2 rooms, we had the whole place to ourselves.

We had a celebratory dinner at the Khunde hospital with the other Hillary Foundation group, there were 21 people for dinner, all us Trekkers and some hospital staff. The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada fully funds the operating costs of the hospital.

Posted by Brancaccio trek 23:26 Archived in Nepal Tagged khumjung khunde Comments (0)

Khumjung ↓(descent)

sunny 12 °C

We spent a second day in Khumjung. Someone decided we hadn't had enough hiking so we trekked up to the Khunde ridge and one of our last views of Everest. There are 3 memorial churungs, one for Sir Edmund, and 2 others for his wife and daughter who died in a plane crash in Nepal in 1975.

In the afternoon we visited the Khumjung monastery and saw a Yeti skull. A Yeti is like our Bigfoot. See they must be real!!!

Posted by Brancaccio trek 23:54 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Synagboche to Lukla to Phaplu

sunny 15 °C

We started our day with a visit from one of the local mums that Byron knows, who brought us white tea using fresh nak milk ..... eeuuuwww!!! Not the best tasting tea, to be polite!

So instead of phoning a cab to get a ride to the airport, we had to walk to the next town, not too far only about 45 minutes, and of course uphill. (remember the heading says descent!). This time we were taking a helicopter! Our group had enough for 3 loads. The pilot thought the weather was getting worse so instead of going direct to Phaplu he ferried us to Lukla first, so we each had 2 heli rides.

We had a national park guy hitch a free ride with us and while we were waiting for our second pick up he thanked me (us) for helping the people in the area.

A couple of interesting things while the helicopter was on the ground. First was hot fueling - filling the gas tank with 5 gallon containers while the engine was running and the rotors turning! Also while we were waiting for the helicopter to return one of the fuel jockies lit a cigarette and was smoking beside about 13 containers. Byron told him to stop and then had to get someone else to get him to butt out!

We all made it safely to Phaplu and walked to our luxurious accommodations at the Hotel del Sherpa! While not a Hilton each room had its own bathroom, they said there was 24 hour hot water, and the great room had a nice wood burning fireplace. The beds had clean sheets and blankets if you didn't want to sleep in your sleeping bag. It was a nice change after our 10 days in the wild in the tea houses.

We should also mention our starting and ending point airports were gravel runways.

Posted by Brancaccio trek 07:05 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

Phaplu

overcast 15 °C

Dr Mingma was a great host organizing our time in Phaplu, starting with lunch at the hotel, which was the traditional dhal baht, actually the first time we had it on our trip. We then had to walk up to the school where we heard they were having some sort of ceremony for us. We should also mention the school was located 500 ft higher than the hotel, no problem for me and Sherpa Sarah! Well they were all waiting for us as we were the guests of honour!!! All the students of the school, about 300, were waiting, and we walked through a receiving line and given flowers and many khadas by the students. When I got back I counted mine and I had 17 of them! A khada is a traditional Nepali scarf offered as a mark of respect and allegiance. We received them several times in our trip but this was the most overwhelming.

The formal program started with a capping ceremony for the graduating nursing students. Karen, Patti and Byron and several other head table members helped present the caps to the students. Next up was presenting certificates to the women who completed the women's literacy program. Brought a tear to my eye when one of those ladies spoke and said when she started she could not write her own name. When we left we made a point of going over and congratulated these women.

There were many other local and government officials there, some who had never been to Phaplu like ourselves. Dr Mingma was the host as it is his home town and he is also the Deputy Minister of Health for Nepal. We were treated to some traditional Sherpa and Nepali dances and some not so traditional ones by the students. After the dancing they then proceeded to feed us all, guests and students, which kept most of the students past their 4 pm quitting time.

The school is called the Zeke O'Conner school. Zeke was a very close personal friend of Sir Edmund Hillary and he is the founder of the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada. The Rotary Club of Calgary donated funds to add several buildings to the school which will enable them to provide grades 11 & 12 locally so the kids do not have to leave home to complete high school. This will also allow them to expand the curriculum to include the sciences. We then went further up the hill to view these other buildings that were nearly finished.

To be involved with helping these students having a school with both electricity and running water is incredible.

Posted by Brancaccio trek 07:28 Archived in Nepal Comments (0)

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