September 28, 2006 - Birthday Parties and Blue Skies

Maria and Cami trek through the snow to Gorak Shep

This is Leila Silveira reporting from Gorak Shep. A lot has happened in the past 24 hours.  Yesterday we woke up in Pheriche to a beautiful blue sky, not a single cloud could be seen.  That was actually our first day with such great weather and the team was feeling great. We have seen quite a few people (in other groups) with high altitude sickness at Pheriche and unfortunately some of them still climbed higher even though the doctor at the HRA (Himalayan Rescue Association) clinic suggested otherwise.

Leila and LibbyOur team, on the other hand, is doing great, not a single member is having a problem and I was mentioning yesterday that I have never seen a team that is acclimatizing as well as this group is as a whole.

Yesterday we arrived at Dhukla at around 11:30am and we were welcomed by Sham, our Base Camp cook who came down the valley to cook for us.  We made it to Lobuche in great time, before 3:00pm and no one was feeling under the weather even though we did a big jump yesterday in terms of elevation, over 2000ft (609m).  Wally Berg surprised us as well, meeting the team at Lobuche and it was great to see how happy the members were to finally meet him.

Steve holds up his chocolate birthday cake. Happy Birthday Steve!

Yesterday was a special day for our team; it was Steve’s birthday. Steve has been a very special member of our team. He has actually been helping me quite a lot, so I call him “my assistant” and he helps me with all the technical questions, such as adjusting my satellite phone, keeping us updated with all the GPS locations and all the elevations and distances our team is covering.

I also heard that Cathy, Steve’s wife, helped Steve, Libby and Matt get ready for this trip, making the ping-pong table in their basement as a place where the gear for the trip was to be organized. Steve came to this trip with his son and daughter, Libby and Matt, and it is great to see what a wonderful family they are, so supportive of one another.

Last nKaren on the trail to Gorak Shepight we had a surprise birthday party for him, and Sham, our cook, prepared a chocolate cake which Karen was curious to learn how he manages to bake at this altitude without an oven.  Steve was really surprised and it was fun to watch him read his birthday card which Libby brought from the US and had a note from Cathy. Of course we all wrote something as well but I am sure that reading the note from Cathy here in the middle of the trek was what made the card extra special to him. We sang happy birthday and all went to bed right after and I could see Steve’s face as we left the table; he was really surprised by the party.  Nobody had wished him happy birthday the whole day so he was sure that we had all forgotten. He was proud to say that this has been a trip of a lifetime.

Today we woke up to another great blue sky day and after breakfast we started our hike to Gorak Shep. Some members did have some problems sleeping, such as minor headache and restlessness. I explained to them that it is normal and quite expected at this altitude, nothing that an aspirin or maybe taking a Diamox won’t take care of it.     

Now we are at Gorak Shep and feeling healthy. Wally hiked with us to here and had lunch with us before leaving to base camp to meet the rest of his team.  We are going to relax here today; some members will go to Kala Pattar and then get ready to do one of the highlights of our trip: spend 2 nights at base camp.  

All Text, Images and Audio Files © Berg Adventures International 2006

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