We made it to Burke Khang Base Camp! Lots to report on since our last post five days ago, as the snow and heavy cloud cover have made satellite communications difficult. (We have been out of cell range for six days now.) We left the village of Gokyo on Friday Oct. 30th and as we made tracks in six inches of fresh snow, we waved goodbye to the last semblance of civilization we would see from here on out. Very few human beings venture beyond Gokyo so every step takes us further into a pristine and untouched frontier.
Our current Base Camp location at 16,500 feet is remarkably beautiful, overlooking a sea foam green glacial lake to the west, and views of Burke Khang and Mt. Everest to the east. Our tents are situated adjacent to the massive Ngozumba Glacier, the largest in the entire Solu Khumbu Region and far bigger than the Khumbu Glacier that flows down from Everest. Words and even the highest resolution wide angle lens cannot begin to do justice to seeing this awe-inspiring natural wonder in person. This monster size ice flow is more than a mile wide and we will need to cross it in order to reach our Advance Base Camp (ABC) - but more on that later.
In order to celebrate Halloween and our arrival to Burke Khang Base Camp, we decided to have a costume party in our spacious and well-equipped dining tent.
Complete with a delicious meal and even red wine, it was a fitting way to end a memorable day that was preceded by a wonderful Puja ceremony. The Puja is performed by a Buddhist Lama (which we happen to have on staff in the form of one of our climbing Sherpas) and the purpose of this ritual is to ask the Gods for safe passage on the mountain.
The next morning we said farewell to the members of our trekking team: Rebecca, Daniel, and Martha who are continuing over the Cho La Pass to visit Mt. Everest Base Camp, as we begin the technical portion of our climb of Burke Khang. It was sad to see them and their positive spirits go, as it was similarly difficult saying goodbye to Jenna in Gokyo along with Bud Allen, one of the members of our climbing team who was airlifted out by helicopter. Bud had a persistent flu and cough that wasn't going to get better at this altitude, so he made the tough decision to go home. Bud was extremely disappointed to leave and miss out on this opportunity to make a First Ascent of Burke Khang. We will do our best to get to the summit and will carry Bud along in our hearts and minds.
Our current plan is to acclimate here at BK Base Camp while our Sherpa team and assistant guide Sid Pattison (presently at ABC) attempt to fix ropes up the steep headwall to reach and establish Camp 1. Depending on their progress the rest of our team lead by Garrett will cross the Ngozumba Glacier and make our way to ABC on or before Nov. 6th. We will update you again when we can, meanwhile we are well and enjoying the beauty and relative comforts of Burke Khang Base Camp at 16,500 feet!
Paul & Denise