Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Friday, October 27, 2017
Greetings from Gokyo at 15,800 feet perched on the banks of the scenic turquoise Gokyo Lake. We've covered a significant amount of terrain and gained approx. 4,400 feet since our last post from Namche Bazaar on Tues. Oct. 24th. Our Garmin InReach tracking map shows exactly where we have been, stopping overnight in the villages of Khumjung and Machermo:
For those who have seen the Discovery Channel series "Everest - Beyond the Limits", you may find it of interest that we stayed with Phurba Tashi at his Tashi Friendship Lodge in Khumjung. Seeing Phurba Tashi in his every day family life milking naks (female yaks) and running a small lodge, was in sharp contrast to his role as Russell Brice's lead Sherpa (sirdar) with the responsibility of making life and death decisions high up on Everest - all displayed in dramatic fashion on TV.
Anyhow back to revealing the name of our "secret mountain". Since we are now within days of hiking to reach the base of the mountain and it seems unlikely anybody else could catch up to us at this point, the name of the unclimbed peak is ...drum roll ...Tharke Khang!
Like nearby Burke Khang and Everest, Tharke Khang is also a border peak straddling both Nepal and China (Tibet). We first set eyes on the mountain two years ago while climbing Burke Khang and it is both majestic, rugged-looking, and high at 6,710 meters or 22,143 feet. It's also extremely remote and difficult to access in part due to the large glacier crossings.
Last month while still at home we had a bit of a surprise when we learned that Reinhold Messner's son was at the base of Tarke Khang and was preparing to climb it. The Himalayan Times reported the news and we quickly researched and confirmed that despite the similar but different spelling to Tharke Khang, it was in fact a different mountain altogether (also known as Glacier Dome) and is located in the Annapurna Region. Our first ascent attempt was still a go!
This little scare was yet another reason we felt it was best to keep the name a secret. So now you know the rest of the story and are in on our "secret" ...until of course we post this blog report on Facebook. :-)
Thanks again for following along. Our next stop is base camp. We will continue using the InReach Explorer for map tracking and satellite text messaging but we're not sure about the timing of the next post since all communication is via satellite from here on out.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
We have good news to report from the village of Namche Bazaar at 11,400 feet where we have now spent two nights acclimating to the altitude. We still have a long way higher up to go and this is just part of the process.
As you may recall from our October 10th "...secret mountain adventure" blog post we knew there were other teams on the hunt to make a first ascent of one of Nepal's remaining unclimbed peaks. We just didn't know whether anybody was planning to climb "our" peak, or could possibly be ahead of us on the approach to the area. Well our guide Garrett Madison made a visit to the government agency responsible for issuing climbing permits in Nepal, the Ministry of Tourism, and he learned that nobody else has yet applied for a permit for "our" mountain. After submitting the requisite forms and fees, our Madison Mountaineering expedition is the proud holder of the first and only climbing permit ever issued for our "Secret Mountain." I guess it's possible somebody could walk into the Ministry of Tourism office tomorrow and request a permit. However given that it's already late in the Fall climbing season, those chances are low.
Now it's simply up to us to make our way to the base of this peak and go climb it!
Scott Fisher's ice axe is securely in our possession and ready for the task, and we even have a way for you to track the ice axe (and us) as we approach the base of the mountain. Bill Burke was kind enough to loan us his Garman InReach Explorer satellite tracking device and it has some neat mapping features so you can see exactly where we are in the Himalayas and where we have been. (Assuming the display is functioning properly there should be a green line showing our path.)
Here's the link:
It's also located on the web version of our Summit for CAF blog on the right side of the page under "links to check out."
We may not make a new blog post for a few more days or so, but you can always visit this Garmin link to see where we are as we continue onward and upward. Thanks for following us and Scott's ice axe on this adventure!
Paul & Denise
Sunday, October 22, 2017
Is it lost? Some things just can't be replaced. These were some of the things that went through our heads as we filed the lost luggage forms after arriving at the Kathmandu International Airport late Friday night. All four of our expedition duffel bags went missing and without this gear the climb would be over before it even started. We were told that three of the bags were thought to be in Kuala Lumpur but they didn't know about the fourth.
Fast forward to Saturday night as I stood in front of the same baggage carousel watching with nervous anticipation as each and every bag emerged. Finally it happened, my first bag rolled out and I felt like I won the auction for Scott Fischer's ice axe all over again. The other three bags followed shortly after and being reunited with all of our vital climbing equipment meant we were back on track to fly to Lukla early the next morning.
Although this is our fifth trip to Nepal and also our fifth time flying into Lukla (which is ranked #1 among the most extreme airports in the world) it is still just as exciting to land here as it was the first time. After touching down on this short 1,500-foot runway carved into the mountainside, we all cheered and said our own private prayers of gratitude.
After a team photo, Denise and I along with Scott's ice axe began making our way north to the village of Phakding where we are now. Tomorrow we will continue upward to Namche Bazaar.
Thursday, October 19, 2017
|Scott's kids Katie Rose and Andy Fischer-Price with the winning bidders|