Heli evacuating climbers from Camps I & II
As of this morning, the ~170 climbers stranded in Camps I and II are being heli evac’ed to the relative safety of base camp via completely private efforts of the expeditions funding these flights flown by Fishtail Air and Simrek.
Avalanches continue to shower down from Lo La Pass, Pumori, and Nuptse, keeping anxiety high. The Kathmandu airport has shut down to commercial flights, only allowing humanitarian and military flights for the time-being, which is understandable given the extensive devastation. That likely means that we’ll remain here for the foreseeable future. The villages down valley have been heavily impacted, so staying put with all of our supplies makes the most sense currently.
Given the widespread destruction, the Sherpas need to return to their villages and families as soon as possible, of course with our blessing, so all expeditions are considering their limited extraction options.
As for how folks back home can help, which I have been asked a lot, please visit http://www.himalayan-foundation.org and donate to the American Himalayan Foundation, where 100% of donations go straight to recovery efforts.
We are safe in Everest base camp. Tragic scene after yesterday’s events. The earthquake and many aftershocks caused many severe avalanches that left 19 dead with another 65+ seriously injured at base camp alone. My team is OK and helped with triage for many of the injured. It was clear enough this AM that all injured were flown down valley, but there is really nowhere to send them. Kathmandu hospitals are so overwhelmed that they are treating people in the street and trying to fly many injured to Delhi.
Our plan, for now, is to hang tight here in base camp where we are relatively safe. We hope to fly via heli as a team directly to Kathmandu and connect to a flight out of the country without having to leave the airport. That could take days or weeks. Highly uncertain at this point.
We have plenty of supplies, are in good health and are in a safe camp. Our thoughts and prayers are with the injured and fallen, and their families, from base camp, the Khumbu, Nepal and the rest of the affected region. More to follow as we know more.
Today, we arrived in Pheriche (14,000′), after moving the previous day from Namche to the Rivendell Lodge in Deboche (just down the hill from the very well known Tengboche Monastery). We stopped in Pangboche this morning for the traditional blessing for safe passage/climbing from Lama Geshe, where he kindly blessed our forthcoming marriage as well. Above is a picture of Carla and me on a bridge crossing the Dudh Kosi on the way to Pangboche with Ama Dablam in the background.
The team is doing great. Everyone is healthy (knock wood), except for young Matt, who is fighting a low-grade stomach virus, but he is doing great regardless (as always – he truly has an indomitable spirit – although your efforts to convert me into a “new country” music fan are absolutely futile, young man). Tomorrow will be a rest day in Pheriche to allow our bodies to acclimatize before heading to Lobuche (~15,500′), which will be our last stop before arriving Everest base camp and getting down to business!
Played a little futbol with the local kids in Khumjung (12,500′) yesterday. A little winded to say the least, but not bad for a retired, 40+ Americano at altitude… the shared smiles were certainly more of a highlight than my scoring prowess.
I am pleased to report that we’re still engaged. So far, so good! Today, we did a nice acclimatization hike up to the Everest View Hotel at 13,000′ above the villages of Khumjung and Khunde. It was an absolutely beautiful day after days of rain and snow in the Khumbu Valley and entire Everest region. Above my head and a bit to the left is the summit of Everest getting pummeled, as usual, by the jet stream, with Lhotse completely enshrouded by the spindrift and cloud those 200mph winds create. Ama Dablam is the beautiful and iconic peak above Carla and to the right. The large hanging serac (ice block) near the summit looks like a necklace – hence the name Ama Dablam (or Mother’s Jewel).
Tomorrow, we will drop back down to the Dudh Kosi river and climb up to the famous Tengboche Monastery before dropping back into the rhododendron forest and the village of Deboche for the night. The following day we will continue on to Pheriche at 14,000′, after a stop in Pangboche for a blessing for a safe journey from Lama Geshe (the most prominent Lama in the Khumbu Valley) just as we did in 2012. More updates to follow as conditions, connectivity and my fiancee allow. 😉
The beautiful bride-to-be and me in Telluride, CO (2012)
She said “yes.” I am indescribably happy to report that Carla and I are engaged. After a brief hike up to the monastery in Namche and with a cloud-enshrouded Thamserku peak as our backdrop, I asked her to continue our incredible journey together as husband and wife. Perhaps, she was hypoxic when answering since we were at nearly 12,000′, but I’ve since been assured that she meant it. Couldn’t be happier.
Very exciting, new chapter to begin when I return in June… celebrations to follow soon thereafter!
Here is a picture of us, with Kusum Kanguru and the Dudh Kosi river in the background, on our way to Namche today after a successful flight yesterday to Lukla (the “world’s most dangerous airport”) and stay-over in Phakding last night. We’ll be here in Namche (~11,500′) for the next couple of days acclimatizing and awaiting the arrival of the rest of the team (Willie & Matt), who are set to arrive tomorrow. Looking forward to having the team together again!
38 hours of travel and Carla and I made it to Kathmandu safely. Hoping for clear skies early tomorrow to fly to Lukla and walk to Phakding, which would get the Everest & Lhotse 2015 expedition officially underway…
Courtesy of Outsideonline.com (click for larger view). It appears that the route through the Khumbu Icefall this year is closer to the middle/orange line in this picture (as opposed to the red line, which was the route for many years).
Above is a view from Outside Magazine (www.outsideonline.com) of this year’s approximate route through the Khumbu Icefall (up to Camp I – there are 4 total camps above base camp), which also helps put the icefall in perspective, with appropriate scale, relative to the rest of the mountain (using Google Earth). Also, please see this article regarding the route itself (the picture in the article itself is worth clicking the link). Some big ice cliffs to overcome this year (4 ladders tied together should make for some good fun).
We depart Monday, so this will be the last post until we’re actually in Nepal and working our way up the Khumbu Valley toward base camp. In the meantime, click this link for a great article penned for National Geographic by my young, but very accomplished, climbing partner, Matt Moniz, recapping our expedition last year.