2003 Ama Dablam Cybercast
December 7, 2003. Kathmandu, Nepal.
Hello from Kathmandu. It is the morning of Sunday the 7th and we are all safe and happy to be back in Kathmandu. Yesterday afternoon we flew back from Lukla after a day of thinking that we would probably be spending another night there. There had been no flights out of Lukla because of weather for 3 days and yesterday started out looking the same. The airstrip was shut down on and off throughout the day because of bad visibility. Eventually all flights were cancelled in the early afternoon but the airline we were flying on chartered a Russian MI-17 helicopter and came and picked up the remaining passengers. So we made it out and to the Yak n' Yeti just in time to take a shower and run out for some dinner. It turned out to be great timing.
We had dinner last night at Fire and Ice Pizza at Holt's request. He has been driving Greg and I crazy talking about Fire and Ice for weeks. Jiban joined us for our dinner as Kami Rita and Gopal were both still in Lukla hoping to fly out today. The pizza did taste great. We then ventured to the bar and had a few beers with friends we met in the Khumbu. It was a nice evening and end to our trip here. Holt and Greg are hoping to get on standby today from Kathmandu to Bangkok. After a quick breakfast this morning they will be scrambling to accomplish some last minute gift buying and then make it to the airport by noon.
This year's Ama Dablam climb was quite a success. Greg, Holt and Jenna deserve much of the credit for that. They were a joy to be around and strong in the mountains. My Nepali staff was also excellent and Greg, Holt and Jenna had a great time with them. Kami Rita and Mingma Chirring did an excellent job on the mountain helping with our climbing and carrying loads. A special thanks goes to Mingma for his help with Holt on the descent. Gopal and Mila were a pleasure to be around at BC and provided us with tremendous food. Gopal is always a treat to be with on an expedition and Mila did a hell of a job helping carry loads back and forth to Camp I. Ama Dablam is a difficult climb to be sure. I know that Greg and Holt won't forget this one. So thanks to everyone on our expedition. It was safe and successful and we couldn't ask for anything more. That's all from Kathmandu this year. Namaste, Dave
December 4, 2003. Namche, Nepal.
Namaste! Yes, we are in Namche Bazaar and it seems quite modern in contrast to our living conditions the past week. I'm writing this cybercast from a computer rather than calling from a sat phone so it certainly seems different.
We had a very interesting evening last night in Pangboche. It was the end of a 10-day prayer period for two local villagers and on that last day there is a party for the entire village. The Sherpa we were staying with for the evening is the one to take over the duty next year. He and another Pangboche Sherpa will be the two to pray for 10 days with Lama Geshe and then sponsor the festival on the 10th day. So he figured prominently in the festivities last night. After making our way down from base camp and then having some quick dal baht we went to the monastery kitchen and had some chaang (local beer) as we waited for the Lama to finish eating. We then received another blessing from Lama Geshe marking our safe return. The inside of the monastery was filled with local villagers. Many prayers and blessing were made as the 'reigns' were turned over to next year's participants in the ceremony. It was an amazing sight to see so many people packed into Pangboche monastery. It is the oldest in the region and quite small and intimate. Afterwards there was traditional Sherpa dancing in the courtyard that began around 11 pm. Our bodies are so used to being in bed by 5 pm these days that we hardly made any of the dancing portion of the festivities. Chimmi, our host, returned around 3 am doused in chaang.
Anyway it was quite an end to our time at Ama Dablam base camp. We had a nice walk today to Namche in the clouds. It was a nice change. There are very few tourists now in the Khumbu so the trail was rather quiet. Greg's eye is returning to near 100% and he feels as though it is steadily improving. Tonight we'll have a great time celebrating with Mingma Chirring, Kami Rita, Gopal, and Mila. Mingma and Mila will leave us tomorrow so we'll show our appreciation for them tonight. Kami and Gopal will then go to Lukla with us tomorrow and on the 6th, with luck, we'll fly to Kathmandu. There were no flights out of Lukla today but hopefully by Saturday the clouds will have lifted enough for us to fly. I know Holt can hardly hold himself together thinking about Fire and Ice Pizza.
We wanted to give a huge hello to Jenna and we all hope that you had a safe and enjoyable trip back home. We certainly missed you on the upper mountain and were thinking about you on the summit. You are surely enjoying being home and our thoughts are with you. We'll be in touch for the last time tomorrow night or right when we arrive in Kathmandu. I know that Greg and Holt have been in touch with family and I know they'll inform you about their travel plans soon. All the best from the Khumbu, Dave
December 3, 2003. Base Camp, Nepal.
Hello and Namaste everyone out there this is Dave Morton from Ama Dablam Base Camp and we are all back here safely today. We're actually just packing up and we're going to be heading down to Pangboche this afternoon. I think the last detailed message that I gave was from Camp III, we had just settled in for the night and were hoping to go to the summit the next morning and it was nice and windless. Well, later it changed it changed. We had quite a windy night and in the morning we were not able to get up and leave at our planned departure time. But we waited it out a couple of hours and ended up leaving at about 10:00 in the morning for the summit and had considerable winds, although we though we could get up.
So we left at about ten, we got to the summit at about 2:30 or 3:00. At the actual summit the winds died a bit, but on the way up it was quite windy. Too windy to make any calls, so unfortunately it sounded like everybody was left in a little suspense. We had beautiful beautiful views from the summit of course. There was lots of wind blowing of Lhotse, off Everest, off Nuptse, but it was clear enough that we could see all the way out to Kangchenjunga in the east, we could see Makalu, we could see Gyachungkang, Cho-Oyu, and innumerable other 6,000 and 7,000m peaks. So it was a beautiful morning in terms of the clarity of our views.
We returned to Camp III and actually found that as we arrived at Camp III, that the camp was unusable. The tents were unable to stay up, so we left and dropped down to Camp II. Greg was having a little bit of a sight problem, today he says his vision is probably back up to about 70%, but for some reason he was having really bad vision problems, not snow-blind, but it will be interesting to find out exactly what that was.
Holt and Mingma and Kami took off in the dark, down to Camp II, getting in about 8:30 and Greg and myself, headed down to Camp II from Camp III in the dark as well, took an exceptionally long time but made it down and then yesterday, we descended with really high winds as well down from Camp II to Base Camp. And everybody is extremely happy and safe and sound here. We're having a little bit of a arty today, some beers out, some champagne and just doing some packing and then we're going to be heading down to Pangboche. Both Holt and Greg are really looking forward I know to civilization, in Namche and even more in Kathmandu, and finally the States. Anyway we've had a great time, I was very impressed with Holt and Greg, it's a difficult climb and they did great and they're very excited today. It was Kami and Mingma's first climb to the summit of Ama Dablam so that was exciting as well. Mingma made it to the summit even though that wasn't originally part of his job description, he was excited to do that, so we all had a great time and a very pleased with a great climb. We will talk to you soon, probably when we're back in Namche and then a final repot from Kathmandu. This is Dave Morton from Ama Dablam Base Camp, we'll talk to you soon, bye bye.
December 2, 2003. Camp II, Nepal. Team Summits.
Hey everybody, it is 9:30am in the morning and we are at camp II on Tuesday and we summited yesterday, December 1st, Monday. Everyone made it up, Greg, Holt, Mingma and Kami were with us and myself. We are all safe down at camp II and are planning on heading to base camp tonight. We will give you all the details when we get down there. Take care, we will talk to you soon. Bye-bye. Dave
November 30, 2003. Camp III, Nepal.
Namaste from the Khumbu, it is Sunday, late afternoon and the sun is just going behind the ridge and it's starting to get cold. It's about 5:20 and this is the last day in November. We all just filed in, finished dinner up at camp III. We spent the majority of the day getting up here. It was an incredible route, these guys were amazed by the difficulty of this route and also exhilarated by the difficulty of it. We had really long steep, really exposed sections of snow, ice and rock climbing and it was quite a treat. So tomorrow we are planning to go up to the summit. We are hoping to leave around 8-8:30am and if we have enough juice on this phone we will try to make a call from the summit. So Holt had some more messages he would like to thank his advisors, Yanni and John Tesh. Greg says hi to all his family. He is doing well and is looking forward to the summit tomorrow and love to all. So we will try to call you from the summit. Everyone is having a good time. Mingma and Kami just finished our dinner and all is ready for a cold night though we have been lucky up to this point because there hasn't been any wind this afternoon. If it continues through the night we are going to be pretty excited to go up to the summit without any wind as the cold is already enough to handle. We will hopefully talk to you tomorrow from the summit. Take care from Nepal, this is Greg, Holt, Dave, Mingma and Kami.
November 30, 2003. Camp II, Nepal.
Hello, it's Sunday morning at 9:00 in Nepal and we just spent the last couple hours rolling out of bed at camp II on Ama Dablam. We are just turning off the stoves right now and getting ready to head up to camp III. Everyone did pretty well last night, we all got some sleep and expecting the sleep to be a little more difficult tomorrow night but not too bad. The wind died down this morning around 4:00am but before that we had some pretty strong winds so it seems to be the pattern of the last week or so. We are expecting to have some high winds up at camp III. Holt, Greg and I are heading out right now and Mingma and Kami will follow us and surely pass us on their way up to camp III and get our tents all set up and ready for the high winds that we expect tonight. But maybe we will get lucky and won't have much of them. Anyway we will leave camp II here and head up a long gulley that has some rock and ice and then venture up what they call the great tower, which is the last rock portion before we get up to camp III. So we will skirt around the west side, or left side of the great tower and then we will be on a spectacular snow arete, a snow ridge up to camp III. So we are expecting to be at camp III in about 5-6 hours from now or shorter and hopefully we will have an uneventful night with the winds. So we will call you from there. We hope that everyone is doing well and we are all doing well here so we will talk to you soon. Bye-bye, Dave.
November 29, 2003. Camp II, Nepal.
Good morning from the Khumbu, it's about 8:15 in the morning. We are getting ready to pack up and move up to camp II today. At camp I it's a beautiful day, we are blocked from the wind and we are just waking up to a little morning milk tea. Today we are going up to camp II and yesterday we ventured up that way as well. We got just below camp II, just below the yellow tower. So most of the climbing between camp I and camp II is a lot of rock scrambling, some rock climbing. We drop below a formation called the cat's ear and then we arrive at the base of the yellow tower. The yellow tower is a near vertical rock pitch which puts us onto a little outcropping that camp II is perched on top of, that is our route. Tomorrow we will be moving up to camp III and hopefully we will have some calmer winds then some of the other teams have had at camp III but between camp II and camp III we will go up a long, loose gulley and then come up to the head that they call the great tower. And then we will pass to the left of that and up around to a hanging glacier which comprises camp III. Everybody is doing great here and Kami and Mingma are coming up to camp II with us today as well. Holt wants to thank his psychic Ms. Cleo and Greg says hi to his precious family and he is looking forward to seeing you soon, it's a magnificent mountain, he says. Both Holt and Greg were impressed with the climbing yesterday. The rock is great, it's really exposed and it's just a beautiful setting. We will keep calling in as long as the battery lasts so hopefully that will be from the summit, but if not don't worry it just means we are out of battery. So we will keep calling in and we say hi to everyone out there. All the best from the Ama Dablam team. Dave
November 27, 2003. Camp I, Nepal.
Hello and Namaste, Happy Thanksgiving. It is Thanksgiving day and we are tucked in at camp I. It's about 5:45pm in the evening and it is just getting dark. We are having pretty good winds up here tonight but our camp is protected a little bit from the winds blowing from the base camp side or the west. So we are actually quite protected and tucked in. Everyone is happy and healthy. Greg and Holt want to wish all their family a happy thanksgiving and myself as well. So happy thanksgiving to family in Florida and Utah. So we made it up here in good time and we are all feeling good. Kami and Mingma are just closing up the kitchen and tomorrow we are going to head up to camp II, Greg, Holt and I. Kami and Mingma will be dropping a load to camp III and we will talk to you tomorrow. So happy turkey day and we will call you later from Ama Dablam. Dave.
November 26, 2003. Ama Dablam Base Camp, Nepal.
Hello and Namaste once again everyone, it's Dave calling in from Ama Dablam base camp on Wednesday, November 26th. It's the day before turkey day in the states and we are having a relaxing afternoon dreaming about that big stuffed bird we are going to have tomorrow at camp I. we've had a bit of a change in our schedule since we last called. On Monday, we went to camp I and spent the night there. Jenna ended up staying in base camp as she was having some difficulties with the altitude. Jenna and I then spoke by radio phone yesterday morning and Holt, Greg and I decided to come back down to base camp. Jenna felt she would be happier getting to a lower altitude and that the climb would have to wait for another time. So yesterday afternoon we descended down to Pangboche and stayed the night. This morning she headed down with one of our staff and I returned to base camp. She wants everyone to know she is doing great and should be back in Kathmandu on the 28th. We will miss you Jenna. We are sure she is enjoying the relative luxuries of Namche Baazar. So tomorrow morning Greg, Holt, Kami, Mingma and I will head back to camp I. Our plans are to spend 2 nights there at camp I and then move up to camp II on Saturday, camp III on Sunday and summit on Monday, the first of December. We just watched the British team descend from the summit and it looks like all 4 that went up made it. It looked like a spectacular summit day with very little winds. Right now we are blasting some Clash and Oasis and having some afternoon tea in their honor. The CD's in base camp are in heavy rotation since no one brought music except me. It was a major lapse in expedition judgement and probably won't happen again after having to listen to my music for the duration of this trip. We will enjoy Gopal's cooking tonight since it will be our last for the next 5 days. We will be in touch again from camp I and we will be thinking about everyone on Thanksgiving tomorrow. All the best and we'll talk to you soon. Dave
November 24, 2003. Ama Dablam Base Camp, Nepal.
Hey everybody, it is Monday morning in Nepal and we are about ready to head up to camp I so we wanted to get a quick message out letting everybody out there know that Holt, Jenna, Greg and I are all doing very well and we've awoken to our first cloudy morning but pretty low winds. So we will be at camp I tonight and tomorrow night and then be back the following day, Wednesday morning sometime we will be back to our home at base camp. And we will give give a call and let you know how it went. For now everyone is well and says hi to friends and family out there and we will talk soon. All the best, Dave
November 21, 2003. Ama Dablam Base Camp, Nepal.
Hello everyone, I am sending a quick message out this Friday evening, at 8:00pm Nepal time. We had a relaxing dinner with Aretha Franklin as our evening soundtrack and it sounded great. Jenna, Greg and Holt all retired to their tents to get through some of their books about an hour ago. Gopal, Kami, Mingma and I are listening to Radio Nepal and eating dal bhat and they are doing their best to translate for me. Today we packed up loads to take up a couple thousand feet to our yak camp. We also reviewed technical skills and talked about how the fixed lines are set and used on this peak. The exposed nature of this route means we will be ascending fixed lines from camp I all the way to the summit. After dropping our loads tomorrow at yak camp we will come back to base camp for another night. We had another nice day today as the weather goes. It was clear with very little wind. Greg, Jenna and Holt are all feeling great with high spirits. So we will call tomorrow or so and try to get in some personal messages out. We send our best wishes to everyone and we will talk to you soon. Namaste, Dave.
November 20, 2003. Ama Dablam Base Camp, Nepal.
Tashi Delek everyone. This is Dave Morton calling in from Ama Dablam base camp on Thursday, November 20th. We arrived yesterday afternoon to a beautifully laid out camp that Gopal, Mingma and Kami had set up. We left Pangboche yesterday morning after a visit with Lama Geshse at his home. It was quite a treat for the group with Lama Gehshe giving all of us a personalized card to take to the summit. The card was full of good wishes for safety and success. We then made our way up to base camp arriving during a vicious sun storm forcing us to pull out our mats and take a nap in the windless afternoon warmth. Gopal provided us quite a spread as we arrived so our full bellies kept us immobile the rest of the afternoon. We pulled out the world radio last night and tuned into "Voice of America" to find that the news seemed pretty similar to the news when we left. This morning after breakfast, we had our Puja, our blessing at base camp. Another Lama from Pangboche came up to perform the Puja and an Italian team next door joined in. We erected the prayer flags and had an obligatory glass of chang. We had a couple visitors for lunch also from the Himalayan Rescue Association, a high altitude clinic in Pheriche. A guy named Andy and his friend Lisa, two Americans stationed there joined us for some excellent nachos of Gopal's. Tomorrow we will be in base camp again practicing some technical skills and getting loads packed to carry up to the spot we call yak camp. We will call tomorrow and get out some personal messages. For now best wishes to all and we will speak to you tomorrow. Bye-bye.
November 18, 2003. Pangboche, Nepal
Namaste everyone, it's 3:00pm in Nepal on Tuesday and the team is back in Pangboche after a good hike this morning. Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Pangboche from Namche Bazaar. En route we stopped at Tengboche Monastery for lunch and had some time to explore.
Tengboche sits on top of the ridgeline and cuts across the Khumbu Valley. There are spectacular views of Ama Dablam and Lhotse, Nuptse and the top portion of Everest. We got a brief view of Ama Dablam before the afternoon clouds settled in. The walk from Tengboche to Pangboche was our first in thicker clouds and it seemed to make the trip relaxing and quiet. Jenna and I were speaking about how still everything seems. We then arrived into Pangboche around 4:00pm in time to see a lone climber descending from the summit through our binoculars. The view of our route from the teahouse we are staying at is tremendous. Greg, Holt and Jenna have had fun picking out the route exactly with the binoculars. The report from a couple people coming down is that there are 4 teams in basecamp with 2 about ready to depart. Our hike today took us to Pheriche and Dingboche were we had lunch. We were able to see Cholatse, Tawachee, Cho Oyu, Makalu and Island Peak extremely well. It's been cloudless all day with some high winds scouring the top of Lhotse and the top of Everest. Tomorrow we will get up early and visit the Pangboche Monastery, the oldest in the Khumbu. We will receive a blessing from Lama Geshse and then head up to Ama Dablam base camp. We will get settled in and have our first dinner from Gopal, which we are looking forward to. The following 2 days we will spend around basecamp. We will be in touch from there soon. Good bye for now from all of us in the Khumbu Valley.
November 16, 2003. Namche Baazar, Nepal
Hello from Namche Bazaar. We've just returned from a nice long day trip to the village of Thame. We left Namche this morning just after breakfast and had a beautiful 3 hour hike. It was again a spectacular day with clear skies until the afternoon. If you've received our two previous cybercasts you'll know it has been perfect weather since we left Kathmandu. This afternoon we had typical late afternoon clouds that should clear by morning.
It made for a pleasant hike back with occasional views of the high peaks and fog moving quickly across our path. The trail from Namche to Thame follows the western most valley of the Khumbu region. The hike reminded Greg of the area of the Sierras where he spends a lot of time and often reminds people of the northwest as well. The trail goes to Namche and then goes through the small village of Phurte, then Thamo and finally Thame. We were lucky enough to get a close view of a Danfe, the national bird of Nepal, with its bright blue and orange and red coloring. We also saw a group of musk deer very near the trail which Jenna really loved. The other somewhat rare occurrence was to see and talk briefly with a large group of Tibetan refugees on the trail from Thame to Namche. The Thame Valley eventually makes it's way up to the Nangpa La pass which is the border with Tibet. It is a glaciated pass at almost 20,000 feet and is the common route for refugees to leave Tibet and make their way through Nepal eventually settling in India. There were many children and they all seemed very happy to be safely over the pass and in Nepal. Thame is the village where our sirdar Kami Rita and brother Lhakpa Rita were raised. It is a beautiful spot sitting right at the base of two peaks: Teng Kangpoche and Kwande Ri. From Thame we also had spectacular views back down valley of the peaks Thamserku and Kangtega. We had a great lunch with Kami and Lhakpa's sister and then returned back here to Namche. Jenna and Holt have been great sports dealing with their minor "tummy problems" and have certainly been entertaining in their descriptions. It certainly qualifies for what Holt has termed "oversharing". We are all in good spirits despite the body's recognition that things aren't too familiar.
November 15, 2003. Namche Bazaar, Nepal
Namaste and Tashi Delek everyone. It is 9:30 am Nepal time and we are here in Namche Bazaar on Saturday, market day. Yesterday afternoon we arrived around 1:30 after leaving Phakding at 8 am. We had crystal clear skies all day. I have never seen such a clear view up the valley at the Sagarmatha National Park entrance. We could see Khumbila the sacred Khumbu peak perfectly from the entrance gate. It was a relatively rare treat to see such a view. Khumbila is a tall jagged rock peak that stands as a sentinel above the villages of Khumjung, Khunde and Namche Bazaar. One of the Tibetan Buddhist protector gods is said to reside there and looks over the Khumbu valley. It is a important peak of this Sherpa region. So today the Tibetan traders are out in droves. The have their Chinese made clothing and Tibetan carpets laid out to sell in the center of town. The Tibetan traders come over the pass between Nepal and Tibet called the Nangpa La that has been an important trade route for centuries. 500 or so years ago the Sherpa came over from Tibet and settled here creating a distinct ethnic group. The Sherpa originally came here from the eastern part of Tibet. Because of their ancestry and their contact with Tibetans many of the Sherpa speak Tibetan well. As well as the Tibetan market the Saturday Namche market is also going on. Our cook Gopal and sirdar Kami Rita are out at the market buying the last food and provisions for our base camp. Tomorrow the staff will leave Namche and head to Pangboche with all of our supplies and equipment. The following day they will head up to our basecamp and get things established. When we arrive things will be all set.
This afternoon Holt, Jenna, Greg and I are going to walk up to Khumjung and Khunde for a bit of acclimatization. We'll visit the Hillary School in Khumjung that Sir Edmund Hillary established as his first of many projects in this region. We had a great evening last night sitting and talking with Sherap Jangbu and Lhakpa Doma at the Panorama Lodge. Everyone slept well also which is a great sign. Holt certainly gets the award for best sleeper up to this point. Not only has he slept the whole night through each night but he's had 2 or 3 hour naps in the afternoon. He claims he's still catching up on sleep from his Cho Oyu expedition but Jenna and Greg think he has narcolepsy. We walked up to the top of the town this morning and caught our first glimpse of Ama Dablam. It sticks up like a thumb from the valley floor and is very impressive, especially upon first sight. I think the team is looking forward to getting a closer view when we arrive in basecamp.
We'll talk to you tomorrow and give an update.
All the best, Dave
November 13, 2003. Phakding, Nepal.
Namaste and welcome everyone to Alpine Ascents 2003 Ama Dablam Expedition. It's currenly 4:00pm Nepal time on November 13th. We arrived here in Phakding a couple of hours ago after a spectacularly clear flight into Lukla this morning. There was a bit of fog in the Kathmandu Valley but Lukla was perfectly clear as we landed at the famously inclined airstrip. We ended up with our crew who ended up flying in with our equipment and food. Our main staff for this expedition includes Kami Rita, our Sirdar and Head Sherpa and Gopal Magar, our Cook and Mingma Shering will be helping in many capacities and will be climbing a bit. I have a great Nepali staff this season along with these 3 there will be plenty porters, yaks and yak drivers. It has been a pleasure to get to know our team, Greg, Jenna and Holt over these last three days in Kathmandu. Greg Jacobus and Jenna Zinck are both from California, the north and south respectively and Holt Hunter comes here from Grand Caymen. We spent the last last three days seeing the important Buddist and Hindu temples of the city. Again, our friend Kristhna, gave us a fascinating tour and the small group made it easy to answer all our questions. We've also had some great meals in Kathmandu together and look forward to eating Gopal's great meals. I have a great group of 3 here who will be enjoyable company over the course of our expedition. Tonight we will be staying in Phakding at approximately 8500' and tomorrow our trek takes us along the Dudhkosi or Milk River that begins from the Khumbu glacier. After the final crossing over the Dudhkosi on a spectacular suspension bridge we will tackle the Namche Hill, getting us into Namche Bazaar, approximately at 11,500 ft. Namche is the Khumbu commercial hub in the Khumbu region and we will spend at least two nights there. From just above Namche we will get our first glimpse of Ama Dablam and the southwest ridge, our route. We will also have a first view of Everest poking up over the Nuptse ridge line. Tonight we will entertaining evening I'm sure listening to our friend, Tsering Mingma's great laugh coming from the Namaste Lodge kitchen. The sleeping is always great here as well with the warmest of the altitude. We'll send in another message from Namche from the Panorama Lodge. See you soon - Dave
November 12, 2003. Kathmandu, Nepal
The team has safely arrived in Kathmandu, and all enjoyed a welcome dinner and tour of the city. Dave will call in soon with a more detailed account of events.