Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Ascent of Burke Khang - The Countdown Begins

We are 19 days away from departure for our grand adventure of the never-before-climbed Burke Khang!  This post summarizes our planned itinerary to reach an area where we intend to set up Burke Khang Base Camp, and a subsequent post will describe our proposed climbing route.

Although this will be our fourth trip to Nepal, we anticipate the capitol city of Kathmandu will look and feel very different to us since the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake left its deadly mark on the country earlier this year on April 25th.  We will spend a night in Kathmandu and early in the morning on Oct. 22nd we plan on flying to Lukla, a tiny village carved into the mountainside at 9,350 feet. Lukla is the launch-point for Everest expeditions and treks. The Tenzing-Hillary Airport at Lukla is rated the most extreme in the world because of its short, uphill runway, and challenging topography.  From Lukla, we will move up the Everest Base Camp trekking trail to the famous village of Namche Bazaar, the gateway to the high Himalaya and the main trading center and hub for the Khumbu region.
Lukla Airport  - elevation 9,350'
Namche Bazaar - elevation 11,300'

After spending two days in Namche, we will leave the EBC trekking trail and make our way up the less frequently traveled Gokyo Valley.  We visited this region on our first trip to Nepal in 2008 and will be stopping in the same villages of Dole and Machhermo along the way to sleep and acclimatize. After four days of trekking, we will arrive at the village of Gokyo and spend an extra day relaxing and acclimatizing at the beautiful Gokyo Lake and enjoying the spectacular scenery.

Gokyo Lake - elevation 15,580'

Gokyo is the last village on our trek to Burke Khang Base Camp. For the remainder of the trek, we will leave the comfort of the Sherpa lodges and sleep in tents and cook our meals. Upon departing Gokyo, we will move up alongside the Ngozumpa Glacier until it reaches the Gaunara Glacier, where we will make a sharp right turn and proceed up the Gaunara Glacier to its fountainhead at the foot of Burke Khang. There, we will set up our Base Camp.  The trek from Gokyo to Burke Khang Base Camp will take two days, and altogether it is expected to be a 10-day journey from Lukla to Burke Khang Base Camp, hopefully arriving by Nov. 1st.

Namche Bazaar to Burke Khang
Gokyo Village to Burke Khang
Burke Khang

From this point forward, the hard work begins.
Our next blog post will describe our proposed climbing route so please stay tuned.  Thank you Bill Burke for allowing us to use some of your images and text, and most importantly thank you once again for inviting us to be a part of this historic first ascent expedition team!

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