Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Camp 2, Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 7

Call received around 8.10am (13.45, Ama Dalam time), 31st October. Ed, Sandy and two Sherpas have reached Camp 2 at 6060m and hope to climb too Camp 3 tomorrow. Ewan and John were suffering from very bad sinus colds and have therefore gone back down the mountain. At this point the phone line went down.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Camp 1, Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 6

Call received today, 30th October. Ewan, John, Edward and three Sherpas have arrived safely at Camp 1 with Sandy. They are now at 5800 m. Conditions on the mountain are good. The plan is to aim for Camp 2 tomorrow and stay there for a day. Kambi, having reached base camp decided that it was time to say goodbye and left for home a couple of days ago. Kathy in the meantime remains at base camp. So, all remains well.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Island Peak and Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 5

I have received a long-ish phone call from Sandy a few minutes ago (13.10 h, 25th October). All is well!

Ewan, Ed, John, Sandy and Kathy all summitted Island Peak (6189 m) at 8.15a.m. on 23rd October. Kamby, who had still got a cold, did really well and reached 6000m. So, congratulations and well done to all!!!

They left Island Peak base camp on the 24th and headed to Pangboche village which is at the lower altitude of 3930 m. Last night they visited the monastery. The Head Lama, Gishe, performed a blessing (chants, silk prayer scarves)to everyone including the three Sherpas accompanying the group. He also told them that 3pm today was a good day for their "Paja". So, today they have arrived at Ama Dablam base camp and performed their "Paja". Thats probably spelt wrongly and being niaive on the culture of these parts here is an explaination as decribed by our well-known guide, Sandy, with a little amplification from me (the young sister!). Basically, after setting-up camp they erected strings of prayer flags (presumably blessed at the monastery) over the tents (these will slowly disintegrate in the wind speading their prayers across the mountain and beyond). A fire was lit and incense burned. The local lama performed a ceremony, asking the mountain for "permission" to climb and making a safe passage.

Incredible though it is, Sandy and Kathy have met some friends at base camp so I imagine the social scene is good! Conditions on the mountain are apparently good. The plan is to rest for 3-4 days. Although everyone is basically well there are a few colds lingering. Then, the climb begins...

So sounds great! Who else wishes they were there?? I will try and keep the site updated as quickly as I receive the messages. Remember, no news is good news!

Monday, 22 October 2007

On Island Peak

Satphone Report 4

Call received at midday Monday 22nd October from Sandy Allan. Everyone is well and recovered from minor ailments. The last 24 hours have been pretty exciting on Island Peak. They had arrived at high camp (approx 5,500 m) on Sunday 21st, pitched their tents and settled for a good nights sleep at this "new" high altitude. Everyone was awakened by extremely high winds and by 2 a.m. the decision was made to go down too base camp. The team left base camp again at 3pm and had just newly arrived at the high camp when the satellite phone call was made. Winds were still high and it is hoped that these will settle down so that a summit attempt can be made tomorrow (Tuesday).

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Update of Island Peak

Everyone is doing fine and all colds are getting better.

Today, the team were at Island Peak base camp at 5110m. While at base camp they've been practicing rope work and doing jumaring. For those who don't know what jumaring is, like me, its when you use a gadget on a rope to help you get up, but it doesn't slip down the rope. This helps with getting up fixed ropes on the mountain.

Later on today, after lunch, they will be moving on to Attack Camp...

Tomorrow they're having a very early morning and setting off at 2am to try and reach the summit of Island Peak then heading back to Base Camp for a well earned rest.

Good Luck Chaps.

Friday, 19 October 2007

"The First Summit"

Satphone Report 2

A phone call was received today (12.43 UK time) from Sandy. He and John were literally on the summit of a "small" peak, Chukingarie (5035m). Kathy had turned back just 50 m below the top. The sun was beginning to set with marvellous views all around. They were keen to leave before dark and planned to stay in the village of Chukum (?spelling) tonight. A happy outing!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Dimboche Thursday 18th October

Satellite Phone Report 1

We have been at Dimboche, 4410m, for two nights. Due to some colds and travellers tummy upsets have decided to stay here at this altitude for another night to help recovery and acclimitisation.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Acclimatisation day around Namche Bazar

Last night most of us slept reasonably well at this new altitude of 3400 meters, although we are beginning to feel the altitude a bit. We all had steaming bowls of Garlic soup and well done Yak steak for dinner last night and then sleep came easy.

This Sunday morning we awoke to slightly better weather and after a light breakfast took a long acclimatising walk above Namche. We visited the sherpa cultural centre where there is a fantastic sample of the inside of a traditional sherpa house. We also visited the National Park Headquarters and then walked a nice circuit taking in the Everest View Hotel at around 3900 meters and had lunch there. Sandy met Pemba Dorjee another four times Everest summiteer and he has climbed with Sandy on Lhotse and Ama Dablam in the past. This year Pemba is working for another company and climbing Labouche Peak.However Sandy hopes to hire his seven Yaks when it comes to clearing our Ama Dabalm base camp loads after our expedition finishes.Pembas Yaks graze around Pangboche the closest village to Ama Dablam and they are wondeful pack animals and an important income stream for the sherpas.

We walked along to Khumjung and visited the Gompa ( Monestary) there where we were shown around and also saw the famous Yeti head which is kept in glass box with strong padlock and then locked in another big steel locker also suitable padlocked. We also visted the famous Khumjung bakery where they make world famous apple pie!

We returned to Namche for around 5.30 pm and after a well deserved hot chocolate, we all went our separate ways to make phone calls and e-mails to folks back home. We will meet up in an hour or so for dinner. This is our last night in Namche and we leave the internet behind. Everyone is doing fine, no sore heads from altitude which is really great, Sandy and John have colds and Kambiz a running nose but hopefully these will get better before we gain to much high altitude. Today the weather was much better and we did get some views of the high mountains, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Middle Lhotse, Shartse, and of course Ama Dablam, our main climbing objective.

Our plans for tomorrow are to load up the Yaks and head on up the valley to Tenagboche Monastery and camp overnight at Deboche ( 3820m) and then on Tuesday go on to Dingboche ( 4410m) and overnight there for two nights to acclimatise. There after we head up to Chhukhung( 4730m) and then on to Island Peak Base camp forThursday night ( 4970m). We will spend few days there attempting Island Peak (6189m). We hope to make some Sat phone reports which hopfully will be transcribed to this blog!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Eventually we got away!

We are in Namche today, the weather is still not great but yesterday we chartered a helicopter sharing the fees with another trekking group. It still took a long wait at Kathmandu but eventually we got out. It was quite a smooth ride up to Lukla although we did not get any views as all the mountains were obscured. The old Russian M19 helicopter was great though, even although it was stuffed to the gunnels with luggage and Kathy, Ed and I had to squeeze into the tiniest space as all the others took the better seats. Lakpah our sirdar sat on a bag of rice on the floor and the whole journey was unlike anything that anyone had experienced before. It took fifty minutes to fly to Lukla and we kind of hoped we would get to Nanche but at Lukla the rain had just stopped pouring down for our arrival and Namche was obscured by thick grey turbulent cloud! So we got out at Lukla, ,sorted out our loads into Yak loads and once the yak drives were ready we commenced our walk towards Namche. Our original plan was to walk to Phakting but as we were late we walked for about one and a half hours to the village of Ghat where we stayed at the "Everest Summiters Lodge" owned by friend of Sandy's. Phanden sherpa summited Everest with Sandy and his American client on the 23rd May 2001. Phandens sister and her husband mange the trekking lodge and we all had wonderful night there, eating garlic soup, and Dhal bhat with vegtables and drinking Shandy. This morning we awoke at around 6.30am and after breakfast of Porridge and cheese omelette we had the yaks loaded up and continued our trek to Namche arriving here by 3.30 pm or so. Hastily drank lemon tea and had showers at the Kwonde Lodge. Ed manging to send texts on his mobile so that's a advanced development from my lass visit two years ago. It's bit strange to see Yak herder with Mobile phones, but it great and cool really. They probably need them as much as we in the west do!

The walk in was ace but bit cool. Everyone is enjoying the fresh air after Lukla and the sherpa culture. Our plans: To spend two nights her as the altitude is around 3400 meters and we need to give our bodies a chance to acclimatise and also it gives us an opportunity to explore this sherpa capital and and check out the local villages of Khunde and Kumjung, the home villages of many famous Sherpa mountaineers. These sherap's like our own sirdar Lakpah ( who has summited Everest 3 times and Ama Dablam once) are the back bone of all our Team Ascent expeditions and if it were not for them we would never ever be able to guide these wonderful peaks. Consequently Sandy has very many freinds here and its great just to walk around the tiny streets with many market stalls selling everything from bars of dettol soap to Yak Bells and modern high altitude climbing equipment and meeting friendly smiling sherpa faces. We have internet here too so we can update the blog for a day or two yet, then it will be sat. phone reports without so many photos! For friends and family back home, everyone is doing well, zooming up the steep hill to Namche and no one is reporting any sore heads from the rarefied air!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Second attempt at flying to Lukla

Today we went to the airport hoping to fly to the mountain airstrip of Lukla but once again the flight was cancelled due to poor visibility. We had chartered a helecopter but even that could not fly up far enough to be of any good to us. So here we are back in Kathmandu. Apparently the weather is set to improve tomorrow and we have the option of flying by fixed wing or chartering a helecopter. We have reservations for both and hope to be able to fly tomorrow.

Interesting news from Kathmandu...Maoist: There is a speciol session of interim parlement on going with the Maoist's demanding elections based on all-out proportional representation and an early republic. The local press suggest that this motion will be defeated. The UN is involved and is commited in assisting to establish durable peace in Nepal.

Boudhanath Stupa Facelift: The 43 metre high imposing spherical-shaped structure (photographed above) is to get a face lift by replacing the 100 year old gilding of the Harmika (square structure at the top of the dome painted with a pair of eyes symbolising heaven and the 13 spiral steps symbolising phases to reach Nirvana) are being re-gilded with 14 kg of gold. The project is being sponsered by the Tibetan Nyingma Medetation Centre, Calafornia and the work will be completed by the best local craftsmen from Patang.

Also the Dasain festival commences any day now and celebrates new rice harvests and is the biggest Hindi festival and many people will have new Hindi Tikka's (red spots on forehead).

The other photo shows all the team taking part in some serious training by the pool in preperation for a hearty meal this evening! As you can see everybody is dealing well with the delays and staying positive.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Flight delays

we are still in Kathmandu even although we got up really early and got all our luggage to the domestic airport for 7am. Unfortunatly due to lots of fog on the high passes no flights went to Lukla today. We enjoyed a break from the airport ques by having lunch at Mikes Breakfast and by the time we ate we learned that our flight was cancelled.
We have a 9.15am check in for tomorrow so fingers crossed for that.
All the group are doing fine and enjoyed a late afternoon swim and a wounderful dinner at Kilroys in Thamel. Here is hoping everything will go ok for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Latest from Kathmandu 9th Oct

Well, I have been updating the blog daily with news and photographs, but it seems from here in Kathmandu that the updates are not showing on the blog, so hopefully this one will work!
All is Ok, and we all arrived safely in Kathmnadu, Kathy was at the airport with our sherpas to meet us and we transfered to the Hotel Shanker, which is an old palace and a really wonderful calm place to stay. Ed had lost his luggage thanks to Thai airways, but it arrived a day later and really that was the only problem we have had. Sandy had his meeting with the Ministry of Tourisim yesterday and our permits for Island Peak and Ama Dablam have been issued so we are all set to go. Ewan, Ed, John and Kambiz have been on a city tour and enjoyed being guided round some of the local sights. Sandy and Kathy have been busy organising loads and equipment and doing all the necessary admin required to get the final stages of the expedition organised. The plan is to fly to Lukla tomorrow where we load up our yaks and porters and then walk to Namce Bazzar the sherpa capital. There we will get internet again and can up date the blog agin, but that may not be until the weekend..After that we leave the internert and phone lines behind, however Sandy will be making Sat phone calls to Hannah and Eunice back in the west to deliver phone reports which will be put on the blog. I do apologise for the fact that over the last few days no blogs seem to be appearing on the site, but we have been posting them with photos so I assume they are lost somewhere in cyber space.

Anyway, we have an early start tomorrow and hopefully the flights will get in to Lukla, today all flights were cancelled due to fog in Lukla, but today has been really nice in Kathmnadu so hopefully the fog will be gone, and the mountain passes clear and it will be good to fly.

All the expedition group are well and in good spirits, so please remeber that no news is good news, and we will post an update again by the weekend!

Final day in Kathmndu for a while

Its another nice day in Kathmandu, Kathy and Sandy were up early for a pre-breakfast swim at the Shanker Hotel around 7.30am this morning. We have been packing the last of our bags and getting ready for our flights to Lukla tomorrow where we start our approach walk to Namche and then on up to our base camps. Sandy met with Ministry of Tourisim yesterday and ater an intersting interview obtianed the Climbing Permit for Ama Dablam... We also have permit for Island Peak, so we are set to go. Sandy, Ed, John and Kambi are photographed here having a chat and nice lunc at Kilroy's. Ed's missing luggage( thanks to Thai Airways) has been re-located and Ed was at the airport yesterday and it delighted to be reunited with his vital climbig kit! So, we are kind of ready to leave Kathmnadu, and this blogspt will not be updated again until we reach Namche this weekend where we hopfully have access to the internet again...
So, all is fine this end, everyone in good spirits and importantly there as been no travellers tummy reported to date, so all is ace and fine. For family and friends reading this please remeber that out here in Nepal communications can break down quite easily so please do not worry if there is no news for a while, it will simply mean that we cannot get access to the internet for some simple reason! So its good bye from us all, and we should get another update by the weekend!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Ama Dablam Group arrives at Kathmandu

Kathy and the Sherpha's met us last night at Kathmandu airport from our excellent Gulf air flight. We transfered to the Shanker Hotel which is a 100 year old ex Palace. Everyone is doing fine. Ewan, Ed, John and Kambiz are taking in the sights of Kathmandu this morning while Sandy and Kathy are making final arrangements for the expedition. We have a meeting with the minestry this afternoon to finalise our climbing permits for Island Peak and Ama Dablam.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Ama Dablam Expedition

Today is the beginning of the Ama Dablam Expedition, as everyone is flying in from the UK today. After some sightseeing and last minuit shopping we will all leave for Lukla and the Kumbu on Wednesday the 10th. The

plan is to acclimatise by doing Island Peak first which is just under 6200m, and then to go back down to Penboche then up to the Ama Dablam Base Camp which is around 4,800m. This photo of Ama Dablam was taken about two weeks ago on my last trip with our Evereest Base Camp trekkers. There was quite a lot fof fresh snow just over a week ago but the weather has stabilised a lot since then. More news later, Kathy

Friday, 5 October 2007

Fond farewells

And so the troops have been sent on their way back to Sunny Lakeland, they will fly at 7.50 this evening and arrive at manchester sometime in the early hours of Saturday. Nelson mentioned something about going straight to Booths to buy some bacon and Cumberland Sausage, What's wrong with Dhal anyway? Joking they have had a mixed and varied diet but bacon is the one thing that seems a little scarce out here, mind you we have seen lots of monkeys, goats, Yaks, dogs, chickens and cows(they especially like to hang out in the middle of the busy roads) but we havent seen a single pig but one of the group did wounder if pigs were unable to survive out here as they have no hair and might get sun stroke! Moving swiftly on, here in Kathmandu Team Ascent and Sherpha Tinkerbell (my new nick name it seems) wish them all a safe and smooth journey home.

Life in Kathmandu

Well the trekking gang are all fine and well, after shopping shopping and more shopping in the famous Thamel, buying a range of goods from Yak cheese, yeti books pashmina shawls and tea! They also had a couple of days lounging by the Crown Plaza pool to recoop and did some sight seeing around various temples and ancient villages. I think they all need another holiday after all this activity in Kathmandu!
Lots of resteraunts have been visited like Pilgrims, Funky Buddha and the famous Rum Doodle, they even got to fill in a big foot and put in on the wall. Rum Doodle also offers a free meal if you have climbed Everest! Get your hiking boots on.
I think they have all just about saturated Thamel now and its time to fly home. Oops better go I'm taking them to the airport in 10 mins
by for now! Kathy

Sophie the Wizard

As I wandered through the steeply wooded slopes of Chamonix yesterday afternoon I stumbled into a lovely wooded opening which contained a chalet among the colourful trees. I knocked on the door and a little wizard lady came and let me in. She was dressed in unusual but very colourful clothing including a witches hat! She offered me tea whichI glady accepted and then taking my cup she read the tea-leaves and said, "Ah, you are mountain guide? "
"Yes, I said, "It's been a difficult season for us guides this year, the weather has been all over the place and I have spent a lot of the season breaking trail through deep snow!"
She agreed and told me that the weather should be better today and tomorrow but it may cloud in again, but today should be good.
She swore me to secrecy and thatI should never ever tell anyone about the secret location of her charming little chalet in the magical woods above Chamonix and I said, " Oh, I would like to mention this interesting encounter on my blog"
"Oh, well, thats OK I suppose" she said and shrugging her shoulders in a very French attitude! With that, she tossed a fine powder which was made of some ground up mices tails and other ingredients and stirred it into a steaming bubbling pot of greenish soup, which was boiling away on her wood burning stove. A mist appeared and she waved her wand and suddenly I found myself transported away from the magical autum woods and sitting in a tiny internet booth in the Chamonix Tourist Office!
So, I am assuming that she wanted me to publish this blog page, but I ask any reader to please keep it a bit secrect!
This morning now I am away with my client to Italy. We will stay at the Refuge Torino tonight. Perhaps if we wake early tomorrow and are very lucky we may get a climb or scramble done before the weather closes in again.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Chamonix Climber

Here we are guiding in Chamonix again.. the weather has been very good but just yesterday it has changed for the worse. Here are somo photos of us up on the Vallee Blanche. We went up to the Refuge des Cosmiques last night to push on the acclimatisation a bit and hoped to climb today, but it snowed all night with about 28 cms of fresh snow this morning so after a walk around the vallee blanche we climbed up the exposed arete back to the Aig du Midi and took the cable car back to Chamonix. The leaves on the trees are turning and its quite mild in the valley! The photos show Greg making easy work of the fresh snow!