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  Ama Dablam Spring 2004: Dispatch Two


4/17 Everyone is healthy, finally, and yet the gross stories and "pooh" jokes continue............ This morning we had a Puja at Pangboche Monastery (the oldest Monastery in the Khumbu) with the Llama who blessed us with Kata scarves and prayed for a safe journey on Ama Dablam. Afterwards, we meandered through town and down the yak trails across a sketchy make shift bridge to the other side of the Imja Khola. Along the dusty trek we encountered some Spaniards or should I say "Basque" who just spent 5 days on Ama and summitted in good style. One of the men (whose name I can't remember) who is quite famous and has climbed all the 8,000 M peaks said Ama was the hardest mountain he has ever climbed!!! It seems how we have heard that before...and thus is why she is the crown jewel of the Khumbu! As we walked up the rolling hills towards base camp Ama was playing elusive behind the clouds with much to be desired for scenery. As Scott mentioned, the occasional yak emerged from the fog looking eerie or as I perceived a scene from Dante's Purgatory. As we all rolled into Base Camp we were greeted by the other people who shared our climbing permit, Adrian (British) and Larry (a 74 yr old American). We heard their triumphs and woes...Larry made it to Camp 2 on the fixed lines; not bad at all considering he said he really doesn't know how to rock climb. Adrian's Sherpa only had plastic boots and didn't fair well on the granite slabs so he took his boots off and climbed in his socks!!! Then upon reaching Camp 2 his Sherpa dropped his tent 4,000 ft onto the abyss-like glacier below! Oh the stories of Base Camp, they are always interesting.

Here's a quick note: our cook crew is comprised of 3 people; the youngest who is a monk and is working to help his family until he will return to his monastery to continue his practice and speaks very little English. Every night he brings us our soup. About a week ago we asked what kind of soup we were having and he said what sounded like Cheese soup and well it wasn't. Now every night when he brings us soup we say in unison "Cheese Soup." He never got it until tonight we he started laughing because he caught on that every night we say "Cheese Soup?"

Joke of the Day: What's Tiger's head doing in the Charpi? He's looking for Pooh.

4/18: First carry to Camp 1 or thereabouts.....Let's just say the distance from BC to Camp 1 is long, at least a few miles, and the elevation gain is from 1 15,200 ft to 19,200 ft all the while sucking the thin air and shouldering a heavy pack up small boulders, scree and large boulders the size of a car or house. The time up for everyone was 6 hrs no matter what elevation they stopped at and then 2 hrs back down to BC. It's Lynell's last day with us and she requested some yummy food for the climbers in her impeccable Nepali. Dinner started with "Cheese Soup," Pasta w/ cheese (Matt's favorite), Marinara sauce, real mashed potatoes, breaded and fried eggplant, sautéed vegetables and.....Chocolate Cake!!!! Our cook crew must have been really bored or they are just kicking into high gear with their high altitude culinary skills!! Everyone was stuffed full and giggling like a bunch of school girls until bed time: 8pm.

We will all miss Lynell's exuberance and cultural expertise!

Joke of the Day: 1) Cheese Soup. 2) What's the difference between a large pizza and a mountain guide?                             A large pizza can feed a family of four.

4/19: Rest Day. Most people stared at Ama when she peeked out of the clouds, read, lounged, did laundry, played cards and Frisbee and packed gear for tomorrows move. Heather finished the DaVinci Code hard back she has been lugging with her since Antarctica (Feb) and Scott is fully enthralled with the storyline as well. He is eagerly reading until he will have to leave the hard back behind once he starts climbing again tomorrow. Dinner was once again started with "Cheese Soup" then the other 4 dishes rolled out....rice with Dahl, pasta with cheese, vegetables and a hint of curry, Russian potato salad complete with a tomato carved as a flower for the garnish, home made bread and fruit cocktail. We love our cook crew and especially our head cook Chuldim Dorje Sherpa!!!

4/20: Everyone left for their move to Camp 1 except for me and the cook crew. The joke is that if the cooks continue feeding me like they have been with the entire team here my butt will be big enough to fit into 3 of our chairs by the time everyone gets off the mountain. Good thing, I too, was sick for a week at the start of the trip because I can fully enjoy all the food. Ellen, I gave Scott a "Sweet Dreams" Luna Bar for him to have from you.

I got report last night at 8pm saying everyone made it to Camp 1 (19,000 ft) without headaches. They enjoyed a beautiful sunset atop the Himalayas while eating freeze dried entrees. They are going to do a back carry tomorrow to retrieve their cached gear and then recon the route to Camp 2. I was able to see Matt's headlamp from their bivy site last night---it's 4,000 feet away!

His light looked like a star blinking in the sky. By the way did I tell you that popcorn is an appetizer in the Khumbu? It arrived with my "cheese soup" last night before my personal yak cheese, roma tomato, and tuna fish pizza; yummy!!! I am getting so spoiled it will be hard to leave Nepal.

4/21: I awoke again today to the smoky smell of sage burning in the stone fire pits and my head cook chanting Tibetan prayers for the climbers on Ama. It is a ritual for the Sherpa to honor, respect, and make offerings to the mountain gods so that the climbers will have a safe journey and return. All around the base camp and surrounding foothills there are prayer flags waiving their prayers towards the climbers on Ama. Nepal, is a magical place.

So far there is one other team of two on the mountain and they started moving from Camp 3 to the summit today around 9am. I have them in my range with binoculars and they are making good progress although the glacier is heating up with the magnificent sun! Lets hope the weather continues to cooperate for the next few days so everyone can summit in good style with beautiful views.

Dispatches

Ama Dablam, Nepal 22,493ft/6,865m

Ama Dablam

This Expedition peak is located in the heart of the Khumbu region; Lhotse, Nuptse, Island Peak and Everest surround it. Ama Dablam is often sited as the most beautiful peak in the world. From far distances, Ama's steep slopes and curving ridges draw ones eyes up toward its spectacular summit. Our route, the South West ridge, requires exposed granite ridge walking, ascending fixed lines on steep buttresses and snow and ice climbing at high altitudes.

The Climb: This trip is combined with our Basecamp Trek.

As one team, we will journey into the Khumbu region. After our acclimatizing trek to Island Peak Base Camp, (and optional summit bid) we climb to the scenic Ama Base Camp near Mingbo. At Base Camp we will enjoy the comfort and reassurance of Satellite and email communication with the outside world, hand-held radios for daily team interaction and a spotting scope to view the route up close. From here, we say goodbye to our Island Peak Team and begin the climbing process. We will have the assistance of an experienced, fully insured High Altitude Climbing Sherpa for moving camps up the mountain. We utilize 3 or 4 camps on the mountain, depending on how everyone acclimates. Our Summit day client to guide ratio will not exceed 2:1. The "A" team will summit first, with "B" to follow the next day. This method guarantees the best opportunity for climber safety, service and success.

 

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