Day 13 – A welcome into the Mountain and final arrival into Lukla

Today was an exciting day for us at Base Camp. Mike and Dorjee ,our lead guides, will be leading us into the Khumbu ice fall for a real practice on all the skills that we’ve learned the day before. This was extremely significant as it would be the first time we’d be directly setting foot at Mt. Everest.

An early wake up call at 5:50am. Not enough sleep as the strong trembling sounds of the evening Avalanches kept me wondering if it’d be time to run for shelter. Typical fear of newbies on the mountain. I must trust that our experienced guides would let us know in case of anything big was about to happen. 6:50am with breakfast completed and everyone ready for the experience.

Right before our departure, Dorjee lead a ceremonial walk through our Puja Altar, he kept chanting as we started the walk into the Mountain. I’ve always treated this area as extremely spiritual and commands such great respect, hence it was very pleasing to see one of our leads continuing that tradition.

A long walk into the start of the mountain and time for us to put the crampons. The weather was fair, cold and the sun slowly making its way. Walking through the start of the Khumbu icefall, made it seem as we were walking among a forest full of frozen large ice sculptures. Slowly, and gradual, these very large mammoth structures of frozen ice, lead the incline way into more n structures.

IMG_2826 (768x1024) IMG_2828 (768x1024)

Our goal was to walk for about 3hrs in this environment, getting used to the terrain. Everyone did great, and within the 2hr mark our first biggest challenge, crossing our first vertical and horizontal ladder. This small test was harder than the practice and clearly the 2 crevasses had a big dark whole underneath. Breathing and slowly trusting each step, every one of us did great.

IMG_2833 (768x1024)

Next challenge, climb vertical ladder – that was semi-easier as the ropes attached at the top gave me a “security” once I connected my ascender.

Beautiful walk afterwards, leveraging the power of our crampons and ice ax to stay connected on tricky situations.

IMG_2831 (1024x768)

In no time, we hit our goal. The team feeling great and time for a descend into Base Camp. As tricky as the efforts were, we had completed 25% of the Khumbu Glacier and only crossed 2 of the 20 ladders that’d be awaiting us on our real move to Camp 1 on the 20th.

IMG_2842 (768x1024)

Happy to survive the first test!
Happy to survive the first test!

Turning around was just as difficult as climbing upwards, especially the crossing of the vertical ladder; somehow I got a whiff of a complete abyss underneath me, and as I got scared for a second, keeping my balance and breathing helped me through. Not looking forward to the vertical “Five-ladder-crossing” as word was that it was extremely wobbly in the middle.

Real move to Camp 1, April 20th!
Real move to Camp 1, April 20th!

By 12noon, we were back on camp, exhausted and tired but feeling pleased on this first taste of what’ll likely be 3 visits for the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Around 2pm, I managed to hear from the group; they were having lunch at Phakding and had an intense climb up Lukla to complete the trek. Everyone in great spirits, though really exhausted, just the way I felt.

At dinner we were told that tomorrow’s rest day would include a hike up advance Camp of Mt. Pumori, gain an elevation of approximated 2100ft for acclimatization. An early start would mean going to bed early as well. One last conversation with the team as they had reached Lukla in the middle of a rainy welcoming. Everyone sounded great and were looking forward in returning to Kathmandu. To me, the thought of the their safety in Lukla made it easy to fall asleep!

Treat of the Day: Setting foot for the first time to the Khumbu Ice Fall and Mt. Everest!

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