November 9, 2007 Payoff Day!
It all came together today: the support from our families and friends, the hours we spent back home in training, and the training that we received here in the Khumbu from our Sherpas and the Berg support team. We were up at the regular hour, pulled out of Lobuche a little before 8:00, and resumed our uphill climb to Gorak Shep. The sky was clear, the mountains were spectacular, and we caught our first sight of the Khumbu glacier. We all arrived at our lodge around noon and sat down for lunch.
After lunch we headed up to the trekking mountain, Kala Patar. It is a trekking mountain because no special skills are required to hike to the top. We just walk on up to about 18,700 feet, significantly higher that the Everest Base Camp that we will visit tomorrow. After going almost straight up for about an hour, Ang Tempa, our lead Sherpa, announced that we were almost halfway there. Undaunted, we proceeded to the absolute top of the mountain. Even short legs Terri sat on the very top of the mountain and had her picture taken.
Unfortunately, as we progressed up Kala Patar, the afternoon clouds rolled in, this time containing snow flurries. We were, however, able to see the tents at the Everest Base Camp as well as the famous Khumbu icefall. The temperature at the bottom of the mountain was about 32 degrees when we started and 18 when we were at the top. We were pretty toasty, however, as we brought all our heavy clothing with us.
This evening we had our dinner in one of the lodges here in Gorak Shep. Each night we experience more of the Sherpa culture. It seems like everyone gathers around the stove heated with the yak by-products. There is lots of conversation among the trekkers and among the Nepali support staff. No TV, no internet, no weather reports, no telephones, no radios, etc. Everyone just gathers to eat, talk, and then head out to our cold, cold bedroom around 8:00. One can only wonder how many of us will transition to early to bed when we return home.
After dinner this evening, we celebrated Michelle’s 40th birthday. When the cake was brought in, the entire lodge sang Happy Birthday. She accomplished her goal of being up here on her birthday. She promises to send us all an email with her plans for her 50th as soon as they are available.
Tomorrow we head out to Base Camp, the final destination of this trek. Hopefully, the clouds will clear out as they have the past few days and we will capture some great pictures.
Want to go