Monday, April 21, 2014

Progress Towards Everest Base Camp

Greetings from the bustling Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar at 11,300 feet. We arrived here yesterday on Easter Day after an all-day hike gaining approximately 3,000 vertical feet in altitude from the village of Phakding.  The day before was our exciting landing at Lukla on the 1,500 foot long airstrip carved into a mountainside at a 12° slope. Although we had some turbulence and crosswinds on the approach, the air was calm during touchdown making for a smooth landing.

This morning here in Namche we hiked approximately 1,300 vertical feet above the village in order to aid in our acclimatization to the altitude, and also to get our first views of the mighty Mt. Everest!  Fortunately the skies were clear and we were able to fully appreciate the impressive grandeur and majesty of the peak and the other Himalayan giants such as Nuptse and Ama Dablam.  Seeing the highest mountain in the world in person for the first time was truly an awe inspiring experience (and a bucket list item) for all of the members of our team. It was just exciting for me and Denise, especially while pondering the concept that the last time we were here four years ago we were actually standing on the summit of this great peak.

Given the enormous tragedy of Friday's avalanche that killed at least 14 and likely 16 Sherpas, it still remains uncertain whether climbing from the south side will resume this year or not. This is a very difficult dilemma and an emotionally charge debate. There is no clear-cut answer to the decision to halt climbing out of respect for the fallen Sherpas or to continue because perhaps that's what they would have wanted the rest to do? There was a big meeting at base camp today and our guide Dawa, as a board member for the Nepal Mountaineering Association, attended a separate meeting here in Namche in attempt to come to a resolution. We're not sure what the media back home has been saying about the situation, as many times their facts are inaccurate, so if you're interested in reading a detailed account from an excellent authority please take a look at Alan Arnette's blog post from today:

Signing off for now, all is good with the team and tomorrow we head to Tengboche.

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