Last week, we spent a couple of days acclimatizing at the base of Lobuche Peak (~16,500'). During that stay, our team shot a music video to Marvin Gaye's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." One of our team members was a former ballerina, and another had a good eye for videography. With me helping to organize and direct the production, we made a pretty hilarious video—complete with Pulp Fiction dance moves and a Sherpa re-enactment of a scene from the movie Titanic. The video should be viewable on the IMG Everest blog, if you look for posts about Team 3. https://www.mountainguides.com/everest-south17.shtml It is also viewable on YouTube.
From Lobuche base camp, we traversed a ridge over to Lobuche town, before climbing onto the lateral moraine of the Khumbu Glacier to continue up to the teahouses at Gorak Shep.
Returning to EBC was surreal. We had great views of Everest from the lateral moraine above basecamp, and as I surveyed the landscape, I couldn't help but look at the ice cliffs thousands of feet above us on Pumo-Ri and try to spot the break in the lateral moraine that had funneled earthquake-loosened ice and rock onto us from above two years ago. I had a few flashbacks as we re-entered base camp and I was reminded of some of the tragedy. I am at peace with the idea that I will eventually die (and that I ought to make the most of my short time on this planet), and I do appreciate (and seek to minimize) the risks of avalanche, falls, cerebral edema, exposure, and heart attack presented by high-altitude mountaineering. But coming back to base camp has piqued my appreciation for life and my respect for those who assist in humanitarian crises. For me, the earthquake was an isolated opportunity to help out in a traumatic environment. But doctors, soldiers, firefighters, police officers, and so many others spend their entire lives in critical situations. I am proud of the advice my BCG colleagues and I give to businesses, governments, and NGOs around the world, and I am grateful to be able to promote intercultural exchange and education through Youth For Understanding and Lighthouse Academies. But there is always more I can do to serve. This is my take away from my return to Everest Base Camp.
During our first day at EBC, we toured the mile-long ridge that makes up base camp and attended a puja blessing ceremony for our climb. We offered and shared food and drink while the monks recited a variety of chants, including a key mantra of Tibetan Buddhism "Om Mani Padme Hum", which my dad pointed out means (essentially) "by practicing a path that unites method and wisdom, we can transform our impure body, speech and mind into the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha." I like the idea that Buddhist philosophies can be (and have been) combined with Christian beliefs, and I like the Buddhist notions that our actions have consequences, that we ought to be conscious of what we are doing at all times, and that we ought to move on a path toward peace and away from cruelty.
During our second day at EBC, we practiced our ice climbing and ladder-crossing skills on the ice spires east of camp. Then, our EBC trekkers started their journey home while five of us headed back down the valley to Lobuche Peak—this time, to attempt its summit.
Returning to Lobuche meant more meals from our fantastic Lobuche cook, who takes great pride in his work and manages to create everything from pizza and baked rolls to fresh curry and cake on his stove. Energized from his cooking, we began climbing Lobuche at 3am on Monday, April 24th. The first ~1,500' were snow and ice-covered rocks, and dawn was just beginning to break as we stepped onto the glacier ~18,000'. The summit greeted us with beautiful views of Ama Dablam, Nuptse, and Lhotse, with Everest hiding in the clouds behind them. We got back to Lobuche base camp around noon and had an early dinner, so that we could get a good night's rest before hiking back up the valley to EBC.
We returned to EBC on April 25th—the two year anniversary of the earthquake—and got to meet Teams 1 and 2, who were back at base camp from their acclimatization rotations up Mount Everest. My good friend and Wharton Mountaineering Club Cofounder Jason was also waiting for us—he had arrived at base camp while we were climbing Lobuche. Our team avoids writing things about one another (so that nobody's family hears second- or third-hand updates about a loved one), and so I won't mention anything more about Jason, but suffice it to say that I'm pretty stoked to be climbing Mt Everest with a graduate school friend with whom I've climbed in Ecuador, Peru, Wyoming, and Colorado.
In my free time, I have enjoyed reading What I Talk About When I Talk about Running and have almost finished the 44 episodes of the Presidential podcast. The movies Atonement, The Life of Pi, Ocean's 12, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Whiplash, and the TV show The Wire have made for great evening entertainment. Next up: dry run into the Khumbu Icefall followed by our first rotation up the slopes of Mt Everest!!!
Thank you again for helping give our youth the opportunity to see the world through others' eyes.