Thursday, 22 April 2010

Lobouche East Peak climb 6119m

Monday 11th April - Approach to Base Camp.

We dropped down to Pheriche having some farewell beers and goodbyes to the Everest Base Camp Team of Mats, Emma, Steve, Om and Nima. A quick update on the excellent, albeit expensive Internet connection near the HRA (Himalayan Rescue Association) and we set off back up the Hill. Lunch at Thukla and we were heading our way to Lobouche Base Camp, a mere 1 hour after drinking chai. Low pressure with snow clouds really started brewing giving us the hebee jebees but things can change quickly in the Himal, and we were ever hopeful. It calmed slightly but the amazing clouds gave an incredible fiery red sunset viewed from a ridge above Lobouche Base Camp with views of Cholatse, Taweche and toward Ama Dablam were epic!

Check out the video:

Back to camp for a great dinner - broccoli soup with mini pompadoms. Main of rice, dal, mutter paneer (peas and nak's cheese), mini sausages, eggs that had been boiled & fried with a super interesting dessert of Aloe Vera cubes which were delicious! Reading the 'book thief' so off to bed to chill and await tomorrow's sunrise and chill out in Base Camp for a nice laid back rest day!

Sunday April 12th - Rest Day at Base Camp.

Awoke 5.30am - it just gets earlier and earlier - age!? or Environment!? Probably both! A superb super clarity bluebird day which had been the norm, disrupted by the low pressure last night and was great news as the snow flurry that signified an oncoming storm had passed or we had thought had past! We may just get the good weather we're hoping for but we'll have to wait and see. I walked up the ridge taking in views of Ama Dablam. Cholatse and Lobouche Peak as the sun started to dance on the high ridge tops. I was joined by a beautiful black Himalayan dog as I climbed higher on the ridge on the perfect morning perched over Lobouche Base Camp! Gotta love those Himal dogs - proper hardy dogs them. Don't build 'em like the use to in the West!

Monday 13th April - Trek to High Camp.

Another bluebird day after a clear starry night. A crazy little mammal running around which was either the yellow-throated marten or a mongoose!? Anyways provided much camp side entertainment as it circled around doing laps at a million miles an hour - but always staying close to the safety of the rocks.
We trekked up, slow & steady taking in views of the crags and spotted a Golden Eagle circling for prey! We arrived as they Sherpa boys were putting up the tents for us but again swirling clouds started coming in! Check out Pics from the Sunstone Face book Page:!/photo.php?pid=4589136&id=125604380964

I awoke to what sounded like slight drizzle about 11.30pm at night, but peered out of the tent and thick snow had started to gather. Again an hour later it wasn't stopping - I really thought our chance at climbing was over - due to avalanche danger, deep unaccessible snow or just a humdinger of a storm (visibility)! But I awoke at 3am to Mingma opening my tent with porridge (hot milk too) to starry, clear skies - wow - I had really given up - but the excitement and adrenaline was back on -we were going to climb - yee haa! However the snow had warmed and then started to freeze again causing the (normally dry straight forward, dry, smooth) slabs to become icy. I started slipping about a minute in and announced the crampons are going on, the Himalayan boys weren't use to this and I was of the thinking - if ya got 'em smoke'em I mean use 'em! From High Camp we made our way in the dark padding our way up the treacherously icy slabs, using the cracks and features for purchase and light started to slowly break. We made our way to crampon point and, as it snowed a foot of snow in the night the valley and surrounding peaks were beautifully blanketed creating an almost sepia or black & white effect giving beautiful contrast!

Check out picture:!/photo.php?pid=4589096&id=125604380964

We made our way up the 650m of fixed ropes (400m vertical) as the day broke into perfect weather and started to warm the bodies. Some good sustained medium steep climbing, really at about 40-55 degrees and some 60-65 degree cruxes in places. Three quarters of the way up the slope, the route kinks towards the summit ridge, I was behind Saran as he pulled around the corner with views of Everest starting to appear. Saran continued cranking it up the lovely sustained steep 55-60 degrees pitch, looking over the exposure you can see the small town of Lobouche right below you...between ya legs. We pressed on reaching the false summit and curved around to the real summit, one small jump over a crevasse (yeah great)which had the heart flutter and we were there - 6119m with epic panoramic views - just sublime! We had summited at 9am after leaving High Camp at 4am in the morning which was great going considering the added precarious smooth slabs and now it was time to parade the Sunstone Adventures banner before getting the hell out of there!

We returned down stopping at High Camp in great weather, as the wind started up throwing spindrift off the top of the peak making our way to Base Camp. We had a lovely greeting by the Sherpa boys whom had done a great job supporting us on our climb. We had chai and I was even made cheese & tuna sandwiches, chilling on the rocks as the sun bathed down on us. We retired to our tents, wallowing in the summit glory having a great siesta! We rose for a good dinner of spaghetti and fried chips. Pretty knackered and we all slept like a baby, knowing we'd bagged a beauty of a 6000m peak!

I awoke to a beautiful blanket of snow as we again had a couple of hours snow. Again bluebird day and time to pack up BC and cruise to Pheriche for lunch and update the world on the Internet. A surprisingly good connection at 4300m but a little pricey at 20 rupees per can pay 20 rupees per hour in Dolohiti, Kathmandu! A good lunch at the lodge and we pressed on to Pangboche, but before we did we stopped in for 'tea' which quickly turned into 2 jugs of the local 'chang', the millet beer from Mingma Sherpa Tshering, our climbing Sherpa and his wife. We cruised on, rather happily tipsy and pulled into Pangboche for cards, dal bhat and a few more glasses of chang! Nice to have a wee celebration in aid of summiting Lobouche Peak!

A few more updates on the Internet and soaking up the congrats emails was great as we made our way further down the valley. We walked to Phangetenge and had a killer chili tomato soup which not only cleared off the 'chang-over' but blew my head off! As we were dropping altitude some swirling clouds arose, creating an atmospheric walk back up the 3 hilly sections to Namche Bazaar. We reunited with team member Steve who had descended to Namche and done a side trip to Thame. Steve went up to a medieval Sherpa village called Taranga, mostly inhabited by Sherpa farmers producing spuds. He had enjoyed some good photography and relaxing after a top effort making it to EBC and up KP!

Made our way down to Lukla and were delighted to see Man U beat City in the local derby in the English Premiership with Scholesy finishing a tight game in the 93rd minute. A few beers to celebrate especially with spurs doing Chelsea suddenly the Red Devils are looking like winning the premiership! Awoke early and had a smooth transfer returning back to Kathmandu! Happy days and a zeeperb trip. Although how many frickin' motorbikes are in this town!? I swear I'll get my toes run over one of these's only a matter of time!

A big thanks to all the Sherpa support from Saran, Mingma, Nima, Om, Dai and Bhopal!

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