Adventures in Nepal

Letter 2 - Everest Base Camp Trek.

(Written on November 13th, 2000)

Hello Everybody!!!

A bit late but we made it and we are back from Everest region enjoying now life in Katmandu. It took us 25 days of walking. It was a complete contrast to our first trek. Here the scenery was the main point while in Dolpa, culture and people took a major interest. The Everest Region is called Khumbu and its people are called Sherpas, This region is one of the richest areas in Nepal due to the massive amount of tourists.

We start our way there by landing in Lukla, a small village, which its airstrip is not more then a small gravel field. There is a gorge before the strip, and the strip is very short, so the pilots land immediately after the gorge - which means a big boom while landing - so we understood that the thrill has just started !!! The views along the trek are extremely nice. Huge white peaks all around, and mostly blue sky. We have trekked in many places, but this is definitely the best of them all. We started to walk in the direction of a village called Chhukhung, located on the feet of Island Peak (6189 m). There are some peaks in Nepal, which are quite low in the Nepalese standard (around 6000 m), that are called trekking peaks. One can climb them mostly by walking, except the final part where you need to do a technical climb with ice-axe, ropes and all that stuff. Island Peak is one of those trekking peaks.

The big Stupa in Namche Bazar, the biggest village in the Khumbu region.

We have NO experience in technical climbing, nor equipment which is needed for that climb. But we still wanted to climb Island Peak. Hence, we decided to go to Chhukhung and see if we can join one of the climbing groups. On our way, we met two climbing guides who told us that they have a group of three people who are going to climb the peak, and we may join them, if we agree about the amount of money that should be paid. We asked them about the nationality of their clients, and they said - Israel, we were shocked cause Israelis normally don't do technical climbs. Excited we asked for their names and couldn't believe our luck - Those people were Gideon and Michal Stupp - our friends from Israel!!!! So as you can assume we joined that group. We had a great difficulty to arrange climbing equipment for ourselves. In all Chhukhung there were only two pairs of climbing boots, which luckily, like the Cinderella story, fitted our legs. The climb to that peak was quite tough. We slept in two base camps (5100m and 5600m) and then at 2:00 O'clock in the morning we started our final climb to the peak. It was very cold and hard to breathe around 6000m, but no one thought to give up.... Around 6:00 we reached the snow line.

Around 6:00 we reached the snow line (photo taken by Michal Stupp).

From there we walked with crampons and were tight to each other with a rope (In case one falls into a crevasse, a huge hole in the snow, the others can pull him out). We were all tight with climbing equipment so even to pee was a great mission.

In case one falls into a crevasse the others can pull him out.

We kept going, and finally reached the main obstacle on the way to the summit. It was a 150m of vertical wall which we should climb (remember, this was our First technical climb). On that wall, you have to put your ice-axe in the ice and then pull yourself up. It was definitely one of the most difficult things I have ever done. Nir was before me. He started to pull himself up, and I could see him really suffering and struggling to make it... Then I started, It was so difficult and I didn't know if I'll be able to pass this wall, eventually I made it, but the story is not finished yet.

It was a 150m of vertical wall which we should climb.

I reached the end of the wall exhausted already. Then strong winds started to blow. The guide said that we should hurry, otherwise we won't make it to the top. So I even didn't have time to catch-up with my breath and we had to continue. The last part to the summit was walking on a narrow ridge (a knife - both sides are falling steep down). At last, we reached the summit - all covered with praying flags, which mark it.

The last part to the summit was walking on a narrow ridge.

YESSSSSSSSSS we made it!!! we reached the summit around 11:00. The views were really great you see so many immense peaks just next to you, glaciers and many lakes - really feel like in heaven!!

Island Peak (Ima Tse) summit, 6,189m'.

We were freezing up there (I think that we didn't recover from it till now...) and we went exhausted down. Do you remember the wall? Of course! How r we going to walk it down? Well, we did a kind of snappling down the ice wall, and to make us even more excited, the snappling rope, finished before the wall ended. Oh, this is really enough, what can we do? Then we found out that there is another rope, which we should shift to it. So we did it with our shaking hands. Three more hours took us till we reached the base-camp. There we collapsed into our tent not eating anything, just lying down and trying to recover...

On the way... (photo taken by Michal Stupp)

After Island peak we reached Chhukhung again, and we planned to cross a mountain pass to another valley. But then something really weird happened... In the night I inhaled an apple pip (GARIIN) into my lungs and couldn't breathe... what will we do? I hardly passed the night. In the morning we found a doctor (who was traveling) in Chhukhung. She advised us to go to the medical clinic down the valley which normally takes care of people with altitude sickness. We went there but they couldn't help (they don't have the equipment to pull the GARIIN out). We were thinking about evacuating me with a helicopter to Katmandu, since I had a problem with breathing. But we decided to wait there two days and see if I'm getting better - and I did. So we decided to continue (we had two more weeks ahead of us...) and take care of the GARIIN laterĊ.

The medical clinic at Pheriche.

From the clinic we continue to KALA PATAR which is a "hill" (5555 m) next to Everest base camp, from there you can see mount Everest (8848 m) and many more mountains above 8000 m (overall there are 14 peaks over 8000m in the world and I think that 8 of them are in Nepal).

Sunset on Nuptse 7,861m' (right) and Everest 8,848m' (left)

From there we crossed another mountain pass - Cho-La (5400 m ) to the next valley - the Gokyo valley. The pass is covered with a glacier and in order to cross it you have to walk on that glacier - which was very exciting for us.

Cho-La, 5,420m'.

Gokyo is a great valley, most of which is covered with a glacier that starts in another 8000m mountain called Cho-Oyu. You have to cross that glacier before reaching Gokyo (fantastic!!) There are many blue lakes in the glacier!!!!

Gokyo village and lake, 4,750m' (on the right); Gokyo Ri, 5,340m' (above the village) and the snow-capped Cho-Oyu 8,153m' (rightmost).

We traveled around Gokyo and climbed few mountains (Gokyo-Ri and Knobby view, around 5500 m) where we got great views of the mountains around including Everest, the glaciers and the lakes (One of the most beautiful places that we have ever seen).

Gokyo lake, village and glacier as well as the snow-capped Chola-Tse 6,440m as seen from Gokyo-Ri.

A view from Knobby view upper summit, 5,553m' south to the forth and Gokyo lakes. On the left, the Gokyo glacier is seen.

A view to Knobby view upper summit (from where the left photo was taken). In the background - the slopes of the Cho-Oyu 8,153m'.

From Gokyo we crossed our last mountain pass for this trip (called Renjo-La 5450 m) to the next valley - The Thame (Bhote) valley.

Renjo-La, 5,417m'.

Thame is a very interesting village with very interesting monastery - Gompa (which we visited). We slept in Thame in the home of Appa Sherpa who is a man that holds the world record for climbing Mt Everest 11 times!!! More than anyone else in the world.

Thame Gompa, 3,800m'.

From there we made our way slowly to Namche-Bazar. Namche is the main village of the Khumbu area. There you can fin d almost all the facilities you want!!! They have there great German Bakeries, and all our way down we were dreaming about their cakes. Nir even turned few praying wheels. The prayer is written on top of a praying wheel, and when you turn the wheel you actually pray - this is the Buddhist way of praying. While doing so, Nir asked that the bakery will have all the kinds of cakes we saw while going up - which really came trueĊ.

Arriving at last to Hermann bakery.

We reached Namche, ate well and went down to the "lovely" airport in Lukla. On our way down we have heard that an airplane of the same company that we were suppose to fly with, has just crushed!!!!! (People were not killed but the airplane was total loss) what can we do? We reached Lukla, took our flight (with some fears...) and reached Katmandu safely.

And here we are telling you our story.

Hope you are all well... To the one of you who wrote me I'll reply personally. Please, please, please write to me. ItÒs a great fun to read your mails here in Katmandu.

See you Very soon (in two days) in Israel


P.S. I have sent you all postcards (a month ago) did you get them???, cause I have some suspicion that they didn't arrive.

I have sent you all postcards...

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Last modified: Sat Jun 2nd 17:05:00 IST 2001