Day one: the youngest climber, Mike, turns 33. We leave at 5 AM and he calls the team doc at midnight sick. He struggles through the next 10 days quarantine by night and walking by day gradually getting better joining the team at Basecamp.
We catch the first flight out of Kathmandu and everyone’s bags arrive in Lukla. We walk 2 hours to Pakding to settle into our tea house. We have sent one big bag to Base camp and will not see it for 12 days. It is a balance as we get to carry a backpack and a porter carries our second bag with our layers, sleeping bag and snacks that we hope we will last us until we arrive in BC.
Day 2 Pakhding to Namche bazaar
One of the most beautiful parts of the walk in is where we climb through the Khumba valley crossing the river several times on suspension bridges, dodging yaks, mules and porters caring unbelievable loads. We cross the river the third time and climb Namche hill to the largest town in the valley Namche Bazaar. At 11,286 ft it is almost a mile elevation change from where we started in Lukla.
Rest day kind of. In Namche we walk up 1200 ft to the Everest View Hotel, but with the clouds there is no view of Everest. We then traverse and climb into Khumjung where we toured the school Edmond Hilliary built and my climbing sherpa Namgel walked 3.5 hours Sunday and friday to attend when he was younger.
I am climbing with a bunch of New Zealanders that like to refer to them self’s as Kiwis. AC founder Rob Hall and current owner Guy Coter and most of his staff are Kiwi. Phil Keoghean from the race was the only Kiwi I recall meeting. Hillary and the exploration of high peaks are part of their country’s history. They are some of the best mountaineers I have ever climbed with.
I purchased a toy Yak, and Sherpa hat in Namche and plan to carry it with me on the top. My first two grandchild gifts.
Lesson 2: Climb a mountain… Literally or not, just challenge yourself. Look to be the best person you can be. Strive for excellence in everything you do. Complacency and mediocrity will keep you from reaching the summit.