Berg Adventures International 2003 Everest Expedition

October 11 - Drinking-in the thick air of the Khumbu Valley

Listen to Audio of Wally's Call (.wav)

Everest peeks over the Lhotse-Nuptse ridgeOn the 11th of October I’m calling you from Pangboche, Ang Temba’s Highland Sherpa Resort, Ang Temba’s house in Pangboche at 13,000 feet.

Leila and myself, and Brad and David are here drinking in the thick air, recuperating. Garry made it all the way to Namche and is doing the same down there – reporting via radio tonight that he’s eating all the baked goods in Namche. Those of you that have visited Namche Bazaar know that is an awful lot of baked goods! He sounds fat and happy down in Namche. Maegan and Grant walked down valley as well to Namche to meet him.

Back up on the mountain, I just talked to Nima Tashi at Camp 2, of all people, on the radio! He’s back up there and feeling strong. He was splitting his Sherpa team – 3 and 3 – thinking they’d probably wait tomorrow, the 12th, one more day, for the potential for sliding on the Lhotse Face to settle.

Heavily laden yak heads for base campI should mention we have really classic, favorable autumn weather at this period right now. There’s variable winds and sometimes significant winds at Camp 2 and above. We have clear skies and no precipitation.

It’s an amazing experience, after spending one month at 17,500 feet or 5300 meters and above, as I have just done, to walk down into the thick air. In many ways, acclimatization counts for something once you find yourself “coming back to life” – your appetite gets sharper, you sleep better, everyone experiences this. We believe this is good for us. And the climbing members of this team will spend up to five nights down the valley before we return. Hopefully we won’t loose, I’m sure we will not loose, any of our acclimatization.

The changes in the valley in the month since we’ve been gone are notable. Most notable are the trekkers – the fall tourist season has arrived. And we walk through, past groups of trekkers, yaks supporting trekking groups, constantly as we come down the trail. I’m very pleased to see this – it’s good business for the Sherpas in this valley. This is a hard life here. Tourism adds greatly to it, but it would never diminish the hard work for a decent existence the people in this valley have to go through all the time.

Brad Johnson noted to me today, he was sitting looking out the glass at the Highland Sherpa Resort, Ang Temba and family in their homeAng Temba’s house, and he watched these young children digging potatoes, and washing clothes for their mother. Then she sends them off to bring some yaks back in. Hard work for small children. Ang Temba’s two young children, who are home now for a school holiday, headed up the valley to Dingboche to help their grandmother tend some yaks today.

So life goes on around us down here. And as you can imagine, it’s a refreshing experience to come down and see farming life, trekking life, drink in the dust of the trekking trails of the Khumbu during the peak trekking season, as opposed to being on the glacier.

We’ll be back up there in a few days. And we’re shooting – if all weather stays favourable and there are no set-backs – we’re shooting for October 20 or 21 to stand on the summit of Everest. We’ve got time after that if we have to make some adjustments. Right now, I’m working hard to make that happen, as is this entire team. And I would almost predict that no bad changes in weather, and we will be on the summit of Everest on the 20th or the 21st of October.

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