Sorry not to have Blogged earlier but we've been pretty busy trekking and it's been easier to Tweet (timmosedale) and update FaceBook (tim.mosedale) - whereas this morning I've been up and about for a while and have managed to create a bit of spare time.
I know it's cheating a bit, but for the time being I'm copying across a few updates that I posted on FaceBook so if you have been following progress there I wouldn't bother reading much further.
But if you haven't then I hope you enjoy this post. In afraid that the bandwidth at Dingboche isn't coping with photos so I'll have to post those at another time.
So pull up a pew and I hope you enjoy the read.
Update from 3rd April:
Sadly, having typed an update for about 30 minutes, it hasn't made it to the ether (Dear FaceBook - if posts don't send from the iPhone App can you please put them in a drafts folder?).
Unfortunately I haven't got the time & inclination to do the whole thing again so here's a précis:
Flew to Lukla (a bit bumpy with crosswinds),
Breakfast at Paradise Lodge with Dawa Putti & Ang Pasang,
Bags all accounted for,
Had a drink,
Had lunch (at Everest Summiteer Lodge run by my friends Phendan and Sonam Sherpa),
Trekked and had a drink at Phak Ding,
Continued on to Monjo to stay at Top Hill Lodge run by Pasang Dawa Sherpa,
Had afternoon tea,
Went to bed.
Up the next morning,
Packed bags so the porters could hit the trail,
Went through National Park Entrance formalities,
Crossed the main river a few times on suspension bridges,
Up the zig zags to Namche.
Coffee & doughnuts, WiFi, lunch, more coffee, more WiFi, then hit the trail again.
Arrived at Ama Dablam View Lodge (no view) to stay with Tashi & Lakpa who visited my B&B in January,
Looked at their photos from their visit to the UK including the private audience we all had with HRH Prince Charles,
Went to bed.
Up this morning,
Enjoyed the view,
Visited Tashi's amazing prayer room,
Trekked to Mong La up the hidden staircase,
Had a drink,
Had a chat about altitude, acclimatisation and altitude related issues,
Departed Mong La with snow in the air,
Arrived Tashi's with snow on the ground,
Had a drink,
And a cheese & onion toastie,
Wrote an update,
Lost the update when signal dropped out,
About to copy and save (just in case),
And then read The Saturday Times that Ellis delivered a couple of days ago when he arrived in Kathmandu.
Then we'll have dinner.
Tomorrow we're trekking to Thame (via Khumjung (photos), Syangboche (tea) and Thamo (lunch)) where we'll stay for a couple of nights before heading up the Thame Valley and over the Renjo La to Gokyo.
Probably out of reception for a few days so that's all for now.
Update from 9th April:
We've been on the trail for just over a week now and, well, all is good. There was a small dumpette of snow when we came down from Mong La to Tashi's where we had our second night and then we had blue skies over to Thame where we stayed for another 2 nights.
After visiting the monastery and having our very own private puja we moved up the Thame valley to Marylung and stayed at River View Lodge (you had to walk 75 metres or so to actually see the river but we won't hold that against them). I've stayed here a few times and it's a great little spot. Rustic and basic, especially compared to Kyanjuma and Thame, but welcoming and comfortable (enough).
The lodge is run by Ang Chutin Sherpa and her mother and considering just how remote it is and how few people come this way I am continually flabbergasted by Ang Chutin's command of English. We got chatting and I assumed she had studied English at school (no) or learnt in Kathmandu (no) and she told me that she has learnt English from trekkers! I could understand this to be the case if she had a basic way of communicating about the menu, the rooms etc but she has full on conversational English. Amazing! And here am I with 15 years of coming to Nepal and a bunch of expeditions under my belt and all I can do is count to 10, tell the time (by the hour and half hour) and say that a meal was tasty! How pathetic.
It gets better - it turns out that Ang Chutin recently climbed Lobuche East and did some ice climbing at Phortse, back in 2004 she and her sister won the Everest Sky Race and she carries loads for overladen trekkers from Marylung to the top of the Renjo La in under 4 hours.
Anyway enough of my amazement and bewilderment. We left Marylung and had a short trek to Lungde which is the final settlement below the Renjo La where we stayed the night and crossed the pass and are now ensconced in Gokyo. Despite crossing the pass at 5,350m it's one of the gentlest acclimatisation treks going and we are all fit, healthy and raring to go.
The views from the pass we're absolutely spectacular and we were blessed with a trouble free crossing. In fact they were the best views I've had crossing the pass and, slow WiFi connection permitting, I'll try and post some photos later.
More to follow.
Update from this morning:
It's 06:30 and the first helicopter of the day has just flown past going up the valley. In truth it's very quiet on the trail (notwithstanding the fact that we have trekked a little off the beaten track) and there hasn't been much helicopter action. A lot of the lodge owners have commented how few folk there have been visiting and passing through. Perhaps it's related to the dates for Easter and there's a wave of people en route as we speak? Perhaps the Lukla closures have made trekkers divert to another area. I'm really not sure.
After we arrived yesterday and fitted our bags and rooms we popped up to the bakery and chilled for the afternoon drinking coffee, eating cake and playing cards. All in all quite an easy day and certainly a relaxing one.
I'm up and about and sharing a cup of sweet milk tea in Sheeta's kitchen. I always like to be in the kitchen first thing. Partly, first thing, it's the slightly warmer room in the building but it's also where the activity is starting for the day ahead with water being heated and flasks filled in readiness for breakfast and the visitors who will stop for tea throughout the morning whilst trekking.
At Base Camp I like to be in the kitchen every morning before breakfast and having a chat over a cup of tea because I'm not in to the 'client and staff' mentality. Obviously we mustn't get in their way but no two ways about it the kitchen crew are an integral part of the team and we couldn't be here without them. People associate with the Climbing Sherpas, but often neglect to build a relationship with the kitchen crew (or the porters), which is a bit if a shame.
In the teahouse breakfast is being prepared for folk coming down in half an hour or so as well as general tidying up, sweeping, arranging furniture in the dining room etc etc. It's a veritable hive of activity.
Sheeta has very kindly given me a knotted red cord that has been blessed by the lama for me to wear (a 'Sunndy') and some stuff that I need to eat every so often called Chellup. It looks like a tiny seed but I'm not quite sure what it is - answers on a postcard to:
What exactly is Chellup (and what is the proper spelling),
c/o Tim Mosedale
43rd tent on the left
Everest Base Camp
Perhaps your card will be delivered by helicopter at 06:30 one morning.
Today it's a blue sky day and we're trekking to Dingboche - a beautiful village nestled at the start of the Imja (Island Peak) valley with a mixture of old and new tea houses overlooking a network of fields that will be planted with potatoes very soon.
Yesterday was very hazy and whilst the trekking was brilliant, and we saw no one, we also had no views. And after we arrived at Pangboche it started snowing.
This morning, by contrast, is a blue sky day and I can see Ama Dablam in all its glory overlooking Pangboche and further down there's Kangtega and Thamesurku with Kongde Ri filling the bottom of the valley.
I'm pretty sure we will be stopping at the bakery (7 minutes' trekking from here) where they not only have coffee, chocolate cake and WiFi but also the last proper view we will have of Everest until we get in to The Western Cwm (unless we decide on a side trip to Kala Pattar or Pumori Camp 1).
I'm often asked about the difficulty of trekking in Nepal and my stock answer is that if you can walk in The Lakes you can walk in Nepal. The trails are as good, and often better, than our best paths and the main difference is that there's the rarified atmosphere to deal with. There's obviously the cultural shock of arriving in Kathmandu which is pretty crazy. Then there's the amazing sightseeing venues of Boudhanath (Massive Stupa) and Pashupatinath (Hindu temple and burning Ghats) you can go to. And then there's the Lukla flight (small plane whizzing towards a small runway on a hillside) followed by the comparative quiet of being on the trail accompanied by the sound of Yak bells. There's the mani stones (carved rocks) and mani walls (carved 'tiles' of stone that are arranged along the line of the trail to make a wall that you pass to the left), the amazing people, the teahouses, the massive loads that the porters carry, the views, the prayer flags, the huge suspension bridges over deep gorges, the breathtakingly amazing mountain vista, the, sometimes, more basic toilets to contend with, the cold evenings, the wafer thin walls in the teahouses, the smell of juniper or incense in the mornings and the noise of first helicopter of the day flying past at 06:30.
But apart from that it's just like hill walking in The Lakes.
Until we arrive at Everest Base Camp, that is, and start preparing for our time on the big mountain. Then the emphasis changes quite dramatically, but I'll save that for another day.