Ben – forced rest days

Forced rest days

In my last update I said that on rest days Mal would be looking at weather forecasts, scratching his head and trying to find the missing 1/2 metre of snow we were promised. I am pleased to report that he has found it, on our tents this morning. We have been forced to abandon plans to leave Khare today due to a dump of snow the likes of which would have opponents of Global Warming Studies rubbing their little coal mine owning hands with glee.

The snow is so deep and persistent that we have abandoned plans to tackle Mera Peak- anyway, who wants to trudge through waist deep snow for eight hours for a 360 degree view of whiteout? Our plans to continue up the Hinku Valley and over the pass may also need revising as this could prove too dangerous for our porters. We may need to backtrack to Lukla (where we started 10 days ago), then continue up the Khumbu valley (past Ama Dablam) to Island peak, then retrace our steps to tackle Ama Dablam. The main concern with this plan is that a few of our team (I won’t say who) have said they got nervous upon seeing a picture of this mountain. Upon seeing the beast in person they might well scuttle off down to Namche Bazaar with a little yelp to spend the rest of their time here at the “End of the World Bar”, drinking Khukeri Rum….at least they would have warm hands and feet, and possibly even a crackling yak dung fire to warm themselves near. What am I doing here again?

Blue toes and happy (cold) feet!

Ben

Ben – Meet the Team

So day ten on the trail I have realised that I have yet to properly introduce you all to our team … how rude of me, but considering I am the kind of host who always assumes because I know everyone at a BBQ that everyone else should be allright, this is no surprise. So, introducing our intrepid little team:

Mal Haskins

Our illustrious leader, Mal is a professional mountain guide based in Wanaka, NZ. He is the guy guilty of introducing me to mountaineering in 2009 and the chap whose humour and gentle (sometimes not so gentle) encouragement got me up and back down Manaslu in 2011.

Bish

Andrew Bishop or Bish. Prior to this expedition, I last saw Bish at Univeristy in Hobart, Tasmania where wine cask roulette on a rotary clothes line and nicking roadworks signs was the height of entertainment. Despite his 194cm frame and size 50 boots, Bish is proving to be a most agreeable bloke to share a tent with: he appreciates the need for organisation, loves a joke and does not snore.

Dave (or the Hobbit)

Our shortest and possibly most witty member \. Dave is a British doctor who has been based in NZ for the last two years. He joined this expedition on his way home to marry his long term partner in crime Rach. I have thoroughly enjoyed trekking with Dave as we both love a good nerdy medical chat and are both keen explorers. Everyone is working hard on convincing Dave that his current scraggly beard would look smashing in wedding photos (sorry Rach). Dave is still trying to figure out what to do when he grows up…my kind of guy!

Harry

Fresh out of Uni, Harry is a talented rockclimber who is trying to decide where to direct his energies. Mal and I (and the rest of the crew for that matter) are probably the last people you want in your son’s ear during this time, “Be a climbing bum…” “Don’t worry too much about collecting stuff…” Enjoy life bro…do whatever makes you happy.” Harry is a proper Brit, he loves tea and speaks in an awesome grumbly Cambridge accent.

Shaun

A fellow Tasmanian living in Legana, Shaun is a quarrantine officer with a brilliantly droll Aussie humour about him. Despite his slender frame Shaun eats for two people. Every night we check our oxygen sats with a fingertip monitor, and everynight, between shovelling impossible amounts of carbohydrates into his face, Shaun beats our readings with a ridiculously low pulse rate and an oxygen saturation which suggest he is a sea level, not at 5000 meters above.

Brendan

A Canberran who works for Heward Packer, Brendan helps to manage the Australian Taxation Department’s Interweb space thingy – despite enthusiastic questioning, he cannot give me access to adjust my tax rates! Being an IT dude, Shaun loves his tech. He has a monitor set up at his work linked to his SPOT tracker (like mine on Redrucksack.com) that tracks his progress. When I said he should have changed the “Checkin- Okay” message to read, “How’s work going Bitches” he was gutted he didn’t think of this first.

Rest days

Rest Days

If you have been following my blogs (and why wouldn’t you?!) to date you would probably have realised that there is more to climbing big hills than booking a ticket to Kathmandu and strapping some gear (and tins of spam) to a yak, then staring down big, steep slopes with icy blue eyes while making ridiculous understatements into your Go-Pro, “It’s a bit cold…a bit steep here…”

No – getting to the start of a climb in a fit and jolly state can be half the challenge. Rest days are crucial to success. As I write this I am in Khare (5000 meters up so be gentle with my speeling. and Grammer!). It is sunny and all the boys are sitting in a circle fiddling with gear, or reading a book and making new red blood cells by the thousand. Being a rest day we got to sleep in today, 6:30am – oh the luxury – after lunch we are going to stroll up to the glacier to test our crampons and rope skills before retiring to spend the rest of the day relaxing:

-I will be feeding my Suduko addiction

-Bish will continue to read his cinder-block sized Sci-Fi book while stroking his increasingly biblical beard.

-Mal will look at weather forecasts and try to figure out why we are not getting the 1/2 meter of snow we were promised.

-The Brist will drink tea as I tease them about their cameras lacking a panorama function (losers!)

-Shaun will eat any carb in sight and Brendan will chill out, fiddle with his techy things and try not to dwell on all our eccentricities.

Following our rest day we will be moving to base, then high camp at Mera Peak before attempting a summit. After the climb we have an epic climb/trek down to Decaca (spelling?) so likely this will be my last update for a while. Even if I did post a bloglikely all I could manage would be, “Cold, miss Jette, hungry, tired…call me a WAAAAMbulance!” so I will save up for a more lucid post when we are all back and intact after our first challenge of this three mountain expedition.

Meanwhile you can watch my SPOT map on www.redrucksack.com/ama-dablam to track our progress.

Blue skies and happy feet

*Note: These being sat phone update I cannot share photos, but the mountains around us are truly amazing, something like this

^^^^

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Ben – Another update from the hills

Hi guys, back again. Pleased to report that no leeches were found in any untoward places.

I have been a bit quiet these last few days because of a minor technical issue. A few days back we thought there was power in the next town so we watched Star Trek on my laptop, turns out there was no power until Khote.

Anyway, here I am, fully charged and ready to roll. We have had a few good days of trekking, up and down big time. One day we lost, then gained over 1300 meters, which does not sound like heaps when we are trying to climb a 6800 meter high mountain, but believe me, when your body is flat out trying to make enough red blood cells to keep you firing at height, this is a challenge.To give you an idea of our routine on the approach trek, we wake at 6am, drink a cup of tea while packing up our gear, then have brekkie (normally porridge with some cashew nuts). We hit the trail normally at around 8am and walk, crawl, and gasp our way through this amazing countryside until around 11:30. We stop for lunch (around an hour) then keep walking until around 4pm, depending on the terrain and how quickly we are rocking along. Set up tents and organize sleeping gear then read, play suduko or gawp at mountains until dinner which is served at around 6pm.

We have an amazing support crew consisting of a cook, two kitchen boys and a bunch of crazy strong porters that carry all the heavy gear. On our trekking we usually carry our wet weather gear, some warm clothes and a jacket and lunch, unless we are going past a town or teahouse around lunchtime. Khote, where we are, is a cute little rock town surrounded by big high slabby mountains that are covered in waterfalls. We descended today and are now at 3400 meters, last night we slept at around 4200. This means that we only have 3 kilometers to go up to reach the top of our first objective, Mera peak. Before this happens, however, there will be a whole lot of trekking to be done over around another 7 days.

Now that I have power for now I will be updating more often so I’ll save some of the news for later.

Blues skies and happy feet

Ben grey Ben   Another update from the hills

Ben – update from the trail

This is going to be a short update guys as we have had a massive day today. We kicked off proceedings with a short sharp uphill stretch to 3200, followed by descending 1200 meters to the bottom of a big, wide valley. Occasionally the clouds would open up and give us glimpses of terraced farms and small rock buildings perched on the edge of impossible drops. Everyone took a slip on the mossy rocks, everyone that is, apart from our porters who carry three times more than us! They are true ninjas.Every time I return to Nepal my respect for these guys increases. Without them, us poorly acclimatized low land people would have no hope of any success here.

Once at the bottom of the valley we took a short lunch break then headed off up the other side of the valley. Soon after leaving the rain came in along with the leeches, so far I have counted 6 that I have removed myself, along with a few mystery itchy bits where they likely had their fill and dropped off. The rain just increased and we arrived at Nashing Dingma (?Spelling) completely soaked through, and tired, but in high spirits because just over the next ‘hill’ is where the proper-big mountains start.

Despite the hard work, I am really enjoying walking along these beautiful valleys. Every time we go past a farmhouse small children run out and yell ‘Namaste’ and adults watch us curiously through the windows. Tomorrow is still in doubt, if this rain continues we will stay here and dry clothes but if it clears we will push on up to the next village. The team continues to work really well together, encouraging each other and keeping spirits high with random jokes and fun teasing.

I apologise for any spelling or grammatical errors in this post! It has been very much written on the run, it is now my turn to take a bucket shower, meaning time to check my man bits for leeches!! Wish me luck…

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