Thursday, April 4, 2013

A rest day in Namche

Sunrise on the Himalaya
April 4, 2013
Namche: Elev 11,350 feet. SpO2 = 93  RHR = 74

I woke at 5:00 a.m. feeling fully rested and restless. I love mornings, and the thought of wandering the empty stone alleys of Namche was just too tempting. I pulled on some clothes and eased out of our room. I had noticed a sign in the lobby the day before informing guests that the doors would be locked at 10:00 p.m. “So don’t come back later than 10:00” it counseled. I understood how literally this was meant when I came upon a large timber thrown across metal brackets on the inside of the hotel doors. I removed the timber and let myself out. 

A soft hue of pre-dawn light was settled upon the snowy peaks above. The shops were shuttered. A lone black cow starred me down from the other end of the alley. No people moved about. Very few windows shown light. I climbed higher up the terraces, taking the uphill fork whenever the path split. There were pastures and gardens, one-room homes and brightly painted prayer wheels. A man in a yellow jacket emerged from one teahouse with a tripod and camera. He had set them up by the time I passed. It seemed likely he knew something I did not, so I lingered for a moment. The day’s first light suddenly grabbed the tips of the highest peaks around us. Magic. 

I called my son, Trevor, in Chicago from the dining room of the lodge. It was marvelous to hear his voice and share a few of my experiences. He told me about his school work and thoughts he was having about joining a fraternity. There are many advantages the Everest Climber of today has over Sir Edmund Hillary. I count this as foremost; the ability to hear the voices of loved ones while so far away for so very long. 

Though acclimatization requires us to stay in Namche today and tomorrow, we nevertheless will tease our physiology higher with day hikes. After a breakfast of apple/banana pancakes we set out on one such sojourn today, our objective being the Everest View Lodge, approximately 1,200 feet above Namche. Japanese investors built this magnificent Guesthouse on a hilltop with it’s own airstrip. The rooms are pressurized with oxygen piped in so high-end guests may fly in from lower elevations without suffering the discomforts of altitude. It has a stunning view of the Himalayas, including our first sighting of Mt Everest. 

I spent a bit of time writing in a Namche bakery after returning from our hike. Guy Manning, from my Antarctica Team, came in with his team for lunch and I was introduced to them. Guy's wife is accompanying him as far as Everest Base Camp. I had heard much about her during our Vinson Massif climb and it was good to finally meet. I left the bakery and, a short bit later ran into two team members. While we chatted there in the alley a tall figure walked up to say hello. It was Mike Roberts, my Guide from the Mt Elbrus climb in Russia. He and I had been in contact recently as the local newspaper back home sought permission to use a photo he had taken during that climb. I knew Mike would be leading a Team for Adventure Consultants on Everest this season and sooner or later we would meet up. It was good to see him. Mike is probably my favorite of the excellent Guides I have had the pleasure to climb with. I look forward to catching up at Base Camp. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dave,
    I have read a few books about people who have conquered the Top of the World, Mt. Everest. I have read about base camp, the competition, treks, and challenges but never have I gotten such a clear and fascinating look at an actual journey as you have been able to relay to us on a daily basis. I could never quite picture what Base Camp looked like, or the actual paths over glaciers that you traverse. It is incredibly interesting to see your journey from your arrival at Katmandu and your wanderings through the small villages which I never knew really existed. Great job. Thank you.