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Communication is the KEY!


I just got the most heart warming email from Katie (Mani’s English tutor for a time last year).

I just wanted you to know that I got a text message from mane and it brought tears to my eyes. It was entirely in English, thanking you for the lessons and me for getting him started before I left. He is doing well- still at Dawa’s house (which, if you ask me, is a wonderful place to be). Anyway, you should know that you did a wonderful thing, setting him up for English lessons, that will go a very long way for him, particularly as a trekking guide. I’m sure you already knew that. Hope all is well with you. I am just dreaming of Nepal as always and hoping I get to go back! All the best,

Katie

Sent from my iPhone

So it is satisfying to know, that all of you have contributed to his enrichment so much!

Base Camp BABY!


So, as I marshal on with less communication…..and fewer showers, I increasingly get fatigued. That is OK, though, cuz it is what I signed up for. I am far slower than the group. Three went up Kala Pathar on their own  and got great views. I got rest and tried to eat. But it was cold in the tea house so I went to bed right after dinner. No liar’s dice! So we got up and headed out to Base Camp. Nothing is a slight uphill to the finish. This hike was up and down and up and down again. Across the wonderful glacial push of the Kuhmbu.  It is so quiet and I cannot even hear the foot steps of my daily Sherpa, Mani. He smiles all the time and speaks only little English. His goal with his money from trekking season is to buy lumber to cut for a house and to study more English. People here want so badly to speak English because it means better trekking jobs etc. I have met many people on the trail that I have previously met at the tea houses. They pass me and sometimes lap me going back from Base Camp.

One of the big up hills today culminated in a high flat area filled with monuments to fallen climbers. The first at the top of the pass was Babu Chiri Sherpa. He was the first Sherpa to get outside of Nepal sponsorship. he is the hero of the Sherpa people. I remember the very day he died. It was the same day as Dale Earnhardt. I had been following Babu Sherpa and then he stepped back to take a photo and fell into a crevasse. It was mesmerizing when I saw the plaque.

Full shot of Babu Sherpa Memorial

Full shot of Babu Sherpa Memorial

Just down from there was the large monument to Scott Fischer. He is the founder of Mountain Madness and was one of the victims of the 1996 storm from which books like INTO THIN AIR and THE CLIMB originate. It was an emotional moment and part of the dream of being here for me.

But this day was the day that would never end.  I keep pushing and try not to stop too much but Mani tells me stop and I do. I drink and eat a snack and move on. A snack is a Shock Block or a bite of protein bar. Just no appetite. I got some views of Everest and Mani and others took pictures for me. Onward. I could see base camp. A long sprawling thing that seemed to never end….and we would be camped in North Face tents at the far end.

Everest Base Camp Monument

Everest Base Camp Monument

I was just getting beat. Dragging myself one foot in front of the other. I finally got to the spot. The clearing where everyone gets the Money Shot. EVEREST BASE CAMP. I was there. I had made it. All the years of wondering what it was like and dreaming and reading all at once…I was there. The jagged ice falls behind me. Russell Brice‘s huge set up complete with Dome Disco tent! I was there.

After a few minutes of relishing the moment, we moved on. Spent as I was, I had a long way to go to get to my groups camp. We passed camp after camp of busy porters and Sherpas working away for their particular teams. Jagged Planet,  RMI, Mountain Hardwear….then there was this place all these Sherpas kept passing me to get to with pick axes and shovels. They were gathered at one mesa looking place and were swinging away setting up this year’s Heli-Pad. They have to do a new one each year because of the movement of the glacier. Onward. Then it hit. Just like day 2 when I was sick and retching.  I was not doing well and we still had a way to go. Pretty soon, here came Kadji. Another of the Mountain Madness Sherpas that is on our team. He and Mani walked with me and helped me where the ice or slush made climbing difficult. I was absolutely out of gas. No fumes. Nothing. But tonight  would sleep on the glacier, hear the three big avalanches, listen to the pop and crack of the ice underneath me.

I literally fell into a heap in the dining tent. Blood Ox low, heart rate high for me. But I was there. I Had seen every bit of what I have come to see and I was soon to be huddled in a tent with my excellent room mate for a night on the glacier.

During the middle of the night I had to get up for a call of nature. I walked out into the cold air of 3 degrees Fahrenheit and looked all around at the wonderful mountains. Huge above us they shot into a night sky filled with stars. What wonder. But back to the tent quickly at that temperature! A few hours and our stay at Base Camp would end. As Sonya put on my logo: “I dreamt that I was standing at the foot of Mt. Everest…..and then I woke up and I was there! Cannot wait to share some pictures!

Mane and ME at EBC

Mane and ME at EBC

What is the Base Camp Trek, and Why?


This will be me March 2012!

I grew up in Seattle. Mountain climbers there are like surfers in California. So plentiful that they sort of fade into the green, white and blue that is Washington State. I hiked as a kid with the Girl Scouts and as a counselor at Camp Waskowitz. In college I began to back pack. I loved the feeling of accomplishment when I hiked up something…anything. 

I also enjoyed reading. Books like INTO THIN AIR, SEVEN SUMMITS and ADDICTED TO DANGER are seared into my memory. People who were at the top of their games were household names. Jim Wickwire was one of my favorites along with Dick Bass. To me they were no less important than Hilary or the many many unnamed Sherpas that have made mountains like Mount Everest seem like they are in everyone’s back yard.

I grew more and more fond of Mount Everest and lived the mountain through every book I could get my hands on as well as every documentary, movie, picture and article that came down the pike. Strangely, I never ever wanted to summit the mother of all mountains myself. But I yearned to see it. It always seemed like a pipe dream to me. In 2010, however, that changed.

In spring of 2010 I was watching a documentary, not about my mountain, but about a 76 year old guy at Machu Picchu climbing to the top of its nearly 8k feet. IT was then I decided now. Now or never. I found Mountain Madness, having learned of them through the years of avid Everest worship. I have given myself until March of 2012 to get to the base of Mount Everest and realize that dream. To drink it in and enjoy the pain it will take to get there and know that within each and every one of us is the power to make a dream reality. Come along the way with me here at WhelanTrek!

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