Everest/Lhotse 2016: Sacred Birds and Kala Patar

Himalayan SnowcockHimalayan Snowcock

Trying climb an 8000 meter mountain is like building a house while living in it and waiting for the roof to be installed. Today, we awoke to another perfect Himalayan morning with clear skies and unseasonably warm temperatures.

While other teams race to get to Camp 1 for their acclimatization rotations, we are comfortable taking a slow and approach before leaving for a 5 day rotation to Camps 1 and 2.  But to be clear, we are not just sitting around. You must work your body at base camp before leaving for a rotation. In that spirit, Kami and I along with teammate, 30 year-old Barbara from Guatemala took a nice hike to the summit of Kala Patar (KP) today. It is 5643 meters or 18,513 feet. Many of my readers have been there on climbs or Khumbu treks.

My first visit was on my 1997 trek to Everest Base Camp (EBC). After trekking for many days in the side valleys like Goyko, we eventually got closer to EBC, but first we wanted to summit Kala Patar for unprecedented views of Everest from Nepal.

It is really a large hill and has nice worn path to the top that today hosts a weather station along with a plethora of prayer flags. Anyone who has made it this far can make it to the top but a nice young man stood near the base, horse in hand, ready to sell rides to the top for a reasonable 350 rupee!

In any event, Kami, Barbara and I took a very different approach leaving our tents at Everest Base Camp for a cross country traverse across the desolate terrain of the upper Khumbu. The land is hard packed, dense with peat, void of grass. Rock and boulders decorate the landscape requiring a random scramble just to remind you that you are not at home.

After a while we intersected the main trail to KP and joined a surprisingly few trekkers.  For many who came here, KP is their “Everest”. We slowly overcame the final few hundred feet to reach the summit. Big smiles, cameras and videos were abundant. One young man from the UK asked Kami to take his picture with his iPhone. Kami obliged, squatting then kneeing and almost lying on his side to get the subject in the frame with Everest in the background.

“Me and Everest.” The trekker declared with a huge smile. We shook his hand and asked him to take our picture.

As we returned to EBC, we passed the memorial for Rob Hall, who died in 1996 Everest. We took a moment to talk a bit about what had happened. Much to my surprise, I learned that Kami, who is is the older brother of Ang Dorge well know as being there in 1996, was also there! He was also working for Adventure Consultants and was with a member at the South Summit before turning around that season. He was at the South Col as the disaster unfolded. I’ve climbed three times with Ang Dorge and four with Kami and that Kami was there had never come up. The Sherpas tend not to talk about these kind of things …

Finally we came across the sacred bird of Nepal, the Himalayan Snowcock, a kind of a big chicken, I first saw these beautiful birds at Ama Dablam Base Camp in 2000. I thought they were cute until their relentless cackling went on non-stop for two weeks!. Sacred or not, I bet they would taste good!!!! kidding, please no letters!!!!

OK, so we will spend another few days at base camp. The weather has returned to more normal with clear morning and snowy afternoons, but the temps are still above normal. We hear avalanches all the time off Nuptse but the West Shoulder of Nuptse and the ridge between Lintgren and Pumori seems stable. We hope this continues and all climbers have safe passage thru the Icefall as well as on the route on the North.

Clim On!


Memories are Everything

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