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We’re off

Just leaving Dingboche and that’s our last teahouse for the next 5 or 6 weeks. Team on top form and we’re all itching to get to EBC.

Trekking to Dingogma where there is a beautiful grassy camping spot and then on up to around 5,100m tomorrow to camp at the Kongma La. Temperature dropping to around -10 to -15 at night which is good training for the even lower temps we’ll be experiencing at Camp 1 and Camp 2 on Everets where it will probably be down to -20 or lower.

We’re all pretty well acclimatised now and our O2 sats are around 90 to 95%. At sea level you’d expect 98 to 99% O2 and if you went to hospital with some of the readings we’ve been getting over the last 2 weeks you’d be a very poorly patient and on oxygen immediately. Typicall, for a lot of the team, our sats dropped to 80 to 85% (Bruce managed a lowly 75%) and although we are now back in to the 90s we’re going to be going higher soon and the sats will undoubtedly drop accordingly.

In 2005 my sats were below 70% and my pulse was above 100bpm for 6 weeks. The very day we decided to try for the 5 day summit bid, to catch an 18 hour window, my O2 popped up to 71% and my pulse dropped to 98bpm. I was so obviously ready and acclimatised!

We’ll be arriving at EBC in 5 days and then after a couple of days sorting our gear and moving in we’ll start exploring the Khumbu Icefall. We’ve heard that the ropes have been fixed to C2 (that was last week so probably further by now) and Camp 2 is being established so it’s all very positive.

All we need to do now is get acclimatised to above 6,500m, spend many uncomfortable nights in various tents on the hill in desperately cold conditions with frost coating the inside of the tents, keep fit and healthy, stay hydrated, get all our kit and equipment to the right places on the hill, stay safe and wait for the weather window. Easy as pie!

Rain, sleet, snow and thunder

Well what started out as a nice morning has rapidly deteriorated to an awful afternoon. The clouds bubbled up and quickly filled the valley to then make it reasonably dark in Dingboche – so much so that we had difficulty seeing the cards and dice in the bakery!

And now it’s thundering as well. Thankfully we are on a well earned rest day and so are staying put – but I do feel for all those trekkers who are now in the middle of their hike to their next destination. Particularly if they were hoping for views.

We’re off tomorrow to a great little camp at a grassy meadow on the way to the Kongma La and then 2 nights camping just below the col with some of the best views in The Khumbu looking across to Baruntse and Makalu. We’ll pop up Pokalde and then make our way to EBC.

Don’t forget that you can e mail any of the group at (abi, chris, giles, jen, partha, susan, tim).

Conditions are soon going to be getting colder and we’ll be living higher – which is quite a stressful and arduous environment. Added to that the fact that everything is going to be getting much more serious and suddenly messages are even more welcome than usual and are a real morale booster.

Also you can text the team on 00977 98131 65232 – please start your message with ‘For Abi’ or ‘For Chris’ rather than ‘Hey babe I had the most awesome dream about you last night …’

So that’s all for now and possibly for the next few days.

Cheers for now – Tim and the team.

A couple of well earned rest days

Just got a few updates from the satphone for the previous few days.

It’s a glorious sunny day & we’re heading to the lakes below the Renjo La. Only seen 2 westerners in the last 4 days. Awesome.

Played boules last night by the Renjo lake – a great setting. Everyone in fine fettle & ready for the Renjo La & down to Gokyo.

A superb day over the Renjo La, then prawn crackers & soup for lunch in Gokyo. It’s time for a pits & bits wash. All fit & well

A longish day up to Nobby’s View – about 5,500m. Unfortunately there wasn’t a view to be had so we’re asking for a partial refund.

Since then we have been over the Cho La pass and are now based at Dingboche for a couple of rest days. It’s changed a little bit here – there are 3 internet cafes and a bakery. Needless to say that our first stop was the bakery. Having a rest day tomorrow so it’s going to be showers and washing water all round – as well as a bit of time filling up on chocolate doughnuts and coffee.

Not a great deal to update re the team except to say, yet again, that everyone is very well and the acclimatisation schedule seems to be working wonders. Slept the night before last at 5,050m and not a headache in sight – which is exactly what we were hoping for. After Dingboche we are taking in a couple of high camps at the Renjo La (circa 5,200m) and we’re going to have a pootle up Pokalde (just a tad over 5,800m). After that we’re heading for Base Camp. After a couple of days sorting gear and getting acquainted with our new surroundings things will then take on a slightly different perspective when we start getting to know the route through the Khumbu Icefall and start spending nights at Camp 1 (6,000m) and Camp 2 (6,400m).

Hopefully our 3 week trek will see us fit enough and well enough acclimatised to be moving quickly (in Himalayan terms) and efficiently up and down the lower slopes of The Big E.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with last night’s anecdote. It was almost a full moon and we were out taking night time shots from Dzongla of Ama Dablam. Bruce just couldn’t seem to get his camera to cooperate. 15 second exposure – nothing. 15 second exposure with a wider aperture – nothing. Manual override for all settings including the focus – longer exposure and wider aperture. Still nothing. Then there was the realisation that he still had the lens cap on! Doh!

Latest updates

After a 20Km trek up and down a 5,500m peak yesterday we are now based in Tagnag just below the Cho La pass and will be moving to our high camp (around 5,000m) tomorrow, before dropping down to Dzongla the following day.

The team are all connecting really well together and suffice to say we are having an absolutely brilliant time. Given the enormity of what lies ahead for pretty much the whole of May it’s great that we are having a light hearted start to the trip (as well as a great acclimatisaion schedule). Everyone is in fine spirits and are already looking out for each other and concerned for everyone else’s welfare. This was one of the underpinning objectives that I had for our acclimatisation trek, and has got to make us a stronger team when we are on the hill, rather than a group of disparate clients who are more concerned for themselves than their tent partners.

As with many funny episodes and anecdotes it is sometimes difficult for the humour to come across and often ‘you had to be there.’ So you may, or may not, be able to comprehend the funny side of following:

Giles has a bum bag full of games. Originally named the ‘bum bag of fun’ it is now the ‘bag of bum fun’ (titter titter). It makes us laugh every time.

Jen was telling us about her AA powered electric gloves (for providing warmth on the hill) and we wondered if Ann Summers may have a similar item but with different connotations? And what would be the implications of taking the wrong gloves to the South Col?

When asked ‘whose is this battery?’ Susan answered that it belonged in her bra! So electric gloves AND electric bras – hence the enigmatic smile.

Susan later managed to recreate a scene from Green Wing (when one of the characters is so moved by having her jubblies wobbled that she starts to sing an opera by Puchini) – and not only that, but it was full frontal (clothed) to the video camera that she didn’t realise was recording. Youtube here we come!

We have also managed to come up with the theory for a solar powered head torch which is powered at night by a mechanism that is connected to the boots that generates light that shines from the helmet on to a photo cell which powers the torch. A Wallace and Gromitt style contraption – we have yet to make a working model.

Lastly Giles recounted a story of when he was younger and in some Scottish hills. Unaware that it would get dark at 3.30 in the afternoon his friend had left his headtorch in the car and Giles’ torch had run out of juice – and they needed to read the map to be able to get down off the hill. ‘No problem’ said Giles and came up with the cunning plan of shooting the flash on his camera (pre digital) for them to instantaneously catch a glimpse of the map. The result? A purple rectangle imprinted on their retinas for the next 40 minutes. South Col with a flat battery? ‘Don’t worry Lakpa, I have a cunning plan …’

But like I said – you had to be there at the time.

Just about to get the iPad and speakers set up and take in a movie so gotta dash.

That’s all for now folks – but please keep the e mails coming in for the team – it’s a tremendous boost. Or you can text your support to my mobile on 00977 98131 65232 and I’ll pass on messages accordingly.

Ciao for now – Tim and Co

latest updates

Well so far so good. The usual exciting flight to Lukla and, being on the first flight, we were landed at around 7 and were having breakfast in Paradise Lodge by 07.15. Hit the trail around 9 and trekked to Monjo, stopping at The Everest Summiter Lodge along the way – which is run by Phendan Sherpa who I summited Everest with in 2005.

On to Namche the next morning for lunch and then on to Kyanjuma to stay with Tashi and Lakpa at the Ama Dablam View Lodge. Great friends and they looked after us a treat with fresh coffee and cheese toasties as well as a visit to their private chapel. Up to the Everest View Hotel for the usual spectacular view of The Khumbu. After lunch in Khumjung a few trekked bask to Tashi’s whilst the rest of us went up and through the hidden staircase that leads up to the Mong La. Back down for tea and biscuits.

The following day was a reasonable trek up through Khumjung, over a pass to Thamo, and then on to Thame. Khumjung boasts the longest Mani Wall in The Khumbu and, strangely, two lampposts – one of which is in the middle of nowhere. We’re now at 3,800m and so far we’re all feeling tickedy boo.

Popped up to the monastery above Thame and had the most amazing puja this morning. The trek over to Thame and the trail up to the monastery are along spectacular paths amongst beautiful wooded hillsides. This morning we had the added bonus of walking along another spectacular Mani wall with some of the stones painted – a sight that you don’t tend to see that much around other areas of The Khumbu.

We trekked on down to see a chap called Pasang Nuru who lost all his fingers and toes crossing the Nangpa La a while back and who now paints. And I tell you what they were absolutely amazing. A few of us bought various depictions of The Khumbu from the family and now we’re back at Thame.

Probably going to take in a movie this evening on the iPad and then tomorrow we’re trekking up the Thame valley and starting to gain more altitude. After a few days we’ll be crossing the Renjo La in to the Gokyo valley and looking forward to some of the best panoramic views in The Khumbu from the top of the pass.

Brief updates

Everyone getting along & all acclimatising very well. It’s a tad chilly but considering what we’re here for we shouldn’t complain.