29 April: Apologies for having been incommunicado the last couple of days. We have not had any internet service to post news.
This will be the final blog post of our trip. For those that have been following the blog, you will know that our Everest endeavour will not be going ahead. The recent tragedy and continuing instability of the ice fall preclude safe passage. Also, the Sherpa guides are not prepared to cross the icefall as a sign of respect to their fallen comrades. We whole-heartedly support their decision (In fact, we heard that yesterday morning there was another avalanche on the icefall that was bigger then the recent one). As the Lama said when he blessed us for the climb “the important thing is to return home safely. The mountain will always be there….”.
We have just landed back in Kathmandu pending our departure for home in two days time. For the past two days we have trekked down from Base Camp back to Pheriche. Enroute we took the opportunity to climb Lobuche Peak (6200 metres/20,460 feet). We pre–postioned ourselves at an advanced base camp on the afternoon of the 27th (Sunday). As soon as we had established camp, a thunderstorm hit dumping a couple of inches of snow. The plan was to attempt the summit of Lobuche with an early start at 3.30 am. When we woke at 3.00 we were blessed with a perfectly still and starry night. The conditions stayed that way for the next 7 hours.
Lobuche is a technical climb with ropes needed to safely summit. For the first hour and a half of the ascent we had to negotiate a large rocky outcrop freshly encrusted with snow. We picked our way up through the rock face before hitting the permanent snow line where we changed into our climbing boots, crampons and climbing harnesses. It then took us another two hours, the majority using ascenders on fixed lines to get to the top. The slope was quite precipitous with the majority at 45-50 degrees. There was not much margin for error with very steep drop-offs, particularly on the eastern face. It was certainly well below zero through until the sun came up. A perfect dawn with commanding views over Everest and its smaller brothers and sisters. Once the sun hit the snow face, it warmed considerably.
We passed a party of Russians on our way up. It is quite cumbersome to pass on fixed lines as, to do it safely, you have to wait until you hit an anchor point to do so. The views from the top were absolutely magnificent. Sweeping nearly 360 degrees views of the Himalayas in all their magnitude and grace. I can only imagine what a similar dawning on Everest would offer. I hope the photos do some justice to the scene.
As this is our last blog entry, we would like to thank you all very much for your support throughout. Whilst it is disappointing that we didn’t get a shot, it has nonetheless been a spectacular trip. The scenery and the hospitality of the local people has been tremendous. To Panuru, Tashi and all of the team who guided our endeavours, we thank them wholeheartedly and look forward to reconnecting when we return.
I have always been a bit sceptical of base camp treks. I always envisaged the trek into Base Camp to be mass tourism. How wrong I could be. Yes there was some volume on the trail, but the positives far than outweighed the negative. The scenery was unworldly and the trekking, whilst challenging when you add in the altitude component, was very rewarding. To that end, we have decided to offer a Nepalese trekking experience as part of our adventure portfolio. Watch this space….
All the best to you all,
Brad and Kevin
Lobuche, Advanced Base Camp, 27 April
Lobuche, Brad heading down, 27 April
Lobuche, Brad Holcroft heading down, 27 April
Lobuche, Brad on the summit, 27 April
Lobuche, Dwarfed by the landscape, 27 April
Lobuche, Kev & Brad- Sunglass Brothers, 27 April
Lobuche, on the fixed line heading up, 27 April
Ready to climb Lobuche! 27 April
The boys on the summit, 27 April
View from Lobuche summit, 27 April
Team shot on the Lobuche summit, 27 April
Nearing Lobuche summit, 27 April
Nearly down! 27 April