May 12, 2006 - Team Reaches Summit of Kala Patar
It’s May 12th at about noon and I’m just calling to give you a quick update because we’ve already reached Gorak Shep at 16,900ft (5150m), the last outpost before Everest Base Camp. The entire team walked in here at about 11:00am today and it’s been a glorious day, we had beautiful clear skies the clearest day yet as we walked up underneath Nupste and of course along the edge of the famous Khumbu Glacier looking down on to the masses of ice and glacial rubble below us. Now I’m looking up at the Lo La, the pass that leads over to Tibet above Everest Base Camp. We have already seen the tents at Everest Base Camp and I’m looking up right now at Everest itself.
The team is really pleased to be here and I can report that everybody is doing very well. Jim Haskins made an interesting observation today about the group, he noticed as we left our comfortable lodge in Lobuche that he saw the team racing to be in the slow group. That pretty much defines the spirit of this team, Doc Martin sets our pace which is quite slow and he likes to leave early, so every morning you see people racing or moving quickly to get in that slow group. The only pace we have is a slow pace and we’ve been doing fine with it.
When we left Dingboche we moved slowly up the valley towards Lobuche with Doc’s pace. Lobuche I should say has been one of our very favorite lodges, the most comfortable beds on the trek at 16,100ft (4907m). Everybody observed last night that the top rated shower certainly above Namche if not of the entire trek has been at our lodge in Lobuche.
Now here at Gorak Shep it’s been interesting. We put up the entire array of Berg Adventures, North Face VE25 expedition tents to give people the opportunity to sleep in them. But I have to say there are very few takers. Jim Barr, Jackie and myself moved into 1 of the 7 North Face tents that went up for the team and everyone else elected to move into the private rooms here at our lodge in Gorak Shep. So we got it all for our comfort and believe me we have all we need for excitement and motivation as we get ready now to climb Kala Patar at 18,210ft (5550m). With some luck and blessings of the mountain gods I can give you a report from the team at the top of Kala Patar later today.
[later that day]
I told you I’d give you another update today May 12th and what an update it is. At about 3:15pm this afternoon the team reached the top of Kala Patar, a beautiful peak at 18,210ft (5550m) across from Mount Everest. It was a slow pace going up and a remarkably beautiful day. Everest was in view for some time as we trekked up towards Gorak Shep, our outpost camp below Everest Base Camp and as we climbed higher John and Doug wanted to get the banner photo for Big Brothers Big Sisters back in Ontario in a photo and they were able to do that because when you start up Kala Patar the higher you go the more you see of Everest unless the clouds move in.
Soon after that Doug, Erin and one of the Sherpas at about 17,300ft (5272m) descended to Gorak Shep to save energy for tomorrow’s trek to Base Camp. Then some time later Doc, Opus, Jim Barr, John Stewart, Jim Haskins, Tim, Jackie, myself and a bunch of the Sherpas stood on the very top of Kala Patar.
The most amazing thing then happened, the clouds that had come in parted and we had a glorious view of Mount Everest as well as the icefall and even Base Camp. We could look and see all the brightly colored tents far up the glacier where we will be going tomorrow.
We left Opus on the top because he wanted to wait up there for the sunset and I think also contemplate whether he wanted to come back some day and try to climb to the top Everest. The rest of us have descended, we’re back at Gorak Shep. There is a lot of tea being poured in the dining room now, soon we will have a nice meal and then go to bed dreaming of Everest Base Camp and with some luck we’ll be there tomorrow.
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