|Report Name||Xtreme Everest - 12 May to 3 Jun '07|
Members of the Group – with the exception of William and Sylvia – met between 6.00pm and 6.45pm at the Qatar Airways’ check in desk at Terminal 3 London Heathrow. After checking in the group assembled and remained at O’Neil’s Bar owing to a 2 hour delayed departure - eventually boarding at 2215 hrs. The flight to Doha was fine but the 3hrs 45mins further delayed departure was not! Despite the delays the late arrival at Kathmandu (1855hrs) was hassle-free and the group sailed through visa control and baggage collection and eventually arrived at the Summit hotel at 2000hrs where we joined forces with the other two group members and after a pooja and photograph we were given an initial briefing by the Hotel staff and CXE Kathmandu medics.
The first day of medical testing ran very smoothly - everyone was ‘on time” and very positive about the process. During the day most people also managed to escape into Kathmandu.
The 0315hrs “morning call” next day was a rude awakening that was followed by “Diary testing” in the Hotel Bar area and breakfast. At 0630hrs Yeti Airlines flight T to Lukla took off and Group ‘M’ was truly on its way! The group met the sherpa team, Yak team and two porters at the Yeti Lodge in Lukla and started trekking at 0820hrs. This long day ended with the group’s arrival at the Mount Kailash Lodge in Monjo at 1600hrs.
Next morning “Namche hill” proved testing but everyone – with the exception of John and Nuala, owing to her being sick – managed to arrive at the Hotel Sherwi Khangba in time for lunch. In the pm the group ‘chilled out’ and met the Namche medical team in the evening.
The two days of ‘testing’ at Namche were broken up by retail therapy and apple-pies in town, a photographical competition – won by Isabelle, snooker and “Club Namche” partying!
The group seemed to grow like “topsy” resulting in twenty-four of us leaving Namche Bazaar bound for the Ama Dablam Lodge in Deboche. Rain in the night had left cloudy conditions and only occasional glimpses of the high mountains. Rain again next night left us with overcast conditions for the trek on to Pheriche.
The two days of ‘testing’ at The White Yak Lodge in Pheriche passed without incident and the favourite ‘alternative activity’ on the “day-off” was to climb the Pheriche ridge to gain views of Island Peak, Makalu, Cho Oyo and others. That evening, a pub quiz, organised by Anghared was great fun, well received and the clear winners were “The Y-chromosomes” – the younger male members of the group and a few “extras” staying at the Lodge.
Perfect weather accompanied the group for the next three days as progress was made up to Everest Base Camp. The steep climb below Lobuje left a noticeable impression on the group with a number of people feeling nauseous as altitude really ‘kicked-in’. Stocks of Buccastem and Diamox started to dwindle! For some the trek from the lodge at Lobuje to the one at Gorak Shep was a ‘push-over’ whilst others were really suffering – even on Diamox!
From Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp we closed ranks and more-or-less trekked as one unit. At the unstable lateral moraine slope the group broke up into smaller groups of 5 or 6 people with the express instructions to keep walking at all times and not to look up! Progress up to Everest Base Camp over the ice-cored moraine slopes was slow and tedious work since it was hard to get into a rhythm. By 1200 noon all had arrived at EBC and were greetede by Kay Mitchell.
Life in tents proved interesting for some – especially those for whom this was their very first experience of camping! The “Testing days” at Everest Base Camp were hard work but the medics were most supportive of the group members. The group witnessed the unique moment of the return of the CXE Summiteers and Sherpas off the Khumbu icefall which was filmed by the BBC Horizon and IMAX film crews. This was especially poignant for John and Nuala who were re-united with their son Roger on this occasion. Group ‘M’ contributed a significant number of decibels to the CXE Summiteers ‘sing-along’ party. Some group members trekked upto Pumori camp 1 and were rewarded with views into the Western Cwm, the Lhotse face, the Geneva Spur as well as Everest’s summit!
Our time at Everest Base Camp was soon over and the first day of descent was very long and tiring. Five members of the group incorporated Kalar Patthar in their ‘descent’ to Dingboche – resulting in a 19 kms day! The remainder wove their way down the moraine to Gorak Shep, Lobuje and over the ridge to Dingboche – a mere 16 kms! Two of our sherpas suffered badly of the day Purma Giri suffering a sprained ankle and Kumar Rai was diagnosed as having HAPE.
At breakfast in Dingboche we were privileged to witness Tensing-Hillary Everest Marathon runners passing the lodge gate and later in the day whilst making our way to Tenboche more runners overtook us. The afternoon rains – so familiar in the mountains – came in earnest making the last hours of trekking very uncomfortable for those who – againsr instruction! - had packed their GTX clothing in the yak-bags!
Tengboche was voted the least desirable of the Lodges we stayed in and the group was keen to make an early ‘get-away’ next morning to reach the ‘fleshpots’ of Namche Bazaar for a 1230hrs lunch. An afternoon of rest and relaxation was welcomed by all.
The final day of trekking was long and warm, but the air noticeably thicker! The final hill up to Lukla was never-ending but the Paradise Lodge in Lukla proved to be a most comfortable stop-over prior to the exciting flight out of Lukla back to a ‘strike-bound’ Kathmandu.
The final 24-hours in Kathmandu were spent completing the Neuropsych test, visiting Tibetan refugee markets, temples and a final meal at the Shangri-la hotel. A ‘typo’ error on Lizzy’s flight e-ticket nearly resulted in her having a forced extended stay in Kathmandu!