2004 Ama Dablam Cybercast

December 6, 2004.  Kathmandu.
Hello from Kathmandu. It has been a fast paced four days since I sent the last cybercast from Namche. We flew out of Lukla late afternoon on Saturday with beautiful blue sky. That afternoon we piled into the Yak & Yeti hotel for the much needed shower and good rest. Sherry and Chuck ran around town doing their last minute shopping and arranging the new flight schedules. Saturday night we had our farewell dinner at the Everest Steak House. Both of them are now on flights heading back home to their families Now the crazy world wind of Expedition is slowing down.

I would like to take a moment and Thank everyone for the great success of this years Ama Dablam expedition. Both Gopal and Mingma did a excellent job at base camp and on the mountain. Without these guys a Nepal expedition wouldn't be possible. Thanks to Jiban for all the Kathmandu support and help with the Ministry of Tourism. Well this has been a fast four weeks but we did it. Thanks for following Alpine Ascents 2004 Ama Dablam expedition. Until next time, Eric Larson  

December 2, 2004.  Namche.
Hey everybody, this is Eric Larson giving you a call from Namche.  It's Thursday, 8:30 on the 2nd of December and I just wanted to say that we've been hiking all day from Pangboche, roughly 5 hours and made it to Namche, early afternoon for some shopping and some chocolate donuts.  But I wanted to hand over the phone to Chuck and he's going to give you some insight on what he's been thinking the past couple of days, here he is:

I begin this rather long -winded guest cybercast with a plea: wait, slow down, this Himalayan adventure is coming too quickly to an end.  Two days ago we woke up to howling winds at Camp III on Ama Dablam, an uncertainty of fixed lines buried somewhere under the snow.  But that night we were safe and sound in Base Camp, enjoying Gopal's last banquet, a 7-course meal featuring pizza, cannelloni, rice, dhal, two kinds of vegetables and oh yes, topped off with a cake with white frosting.  Yesterday we watched as the tents were dismantled and the yaks were loaded.  In the afternoon we headed southwest to Pangboche.  Today we reached Namche Bazaar.  Tomorrow night we will say goodbye to our Sherpa Climber, Mingma. 

I want to end this cybercast with a tribute to him.  Mingma does not look imposing, he is short by Western standards, he is shy, thin and slightly stooped.  But with every meter gained in altitude, he seems to grow in stature and in size.  And it's not just the extra layers he is wearing.  His strength up high is enormous. I will never forget his firm strong grip on my arm at the end of a hard day's climb, nor will I forget the cups of tea and the meals he produced at just the right time, often under difficult conditions.  Lastly I will always remember hearing his evening and morning prayers, through my tent walls up high on Ama Dablam.  Dear Mingma, live long and prosper, Namaste, Chuck McGibbon.

Eric:  We'll give you an update in a couple of days.  We're heading to Lukla tomorrow, so we'll give you a call tomorrow or Kathmandu when we can, this is Eric Larson and the Ama Dablam expedition, signing off.

December 1, 2004.  Base Camp.
Hey everybody this is Eric Larson calling you from Base Camp on Ama Dablam.  It's December 1st.  Chuck and I arrived at Base Camp last night around 5:30 and everybody came up the ridge to help us break camp down and get all of our equipment to Base Camp.  Today was a lazy morning, we just sat around eating a lot of food and drinking a lot of water because we were dehydrated, but we're slowly packing up camp now and we should be heading out from Base Camp at around 3:00 and walking down to Tengboche.  We'll give you a  report when we get to Tengboche or Namche tomorrow and we can get a little more insight from Chuck and Sherry on how the climb went for them.  But until them, I just wanted to drop a message saying that we are all safe down at Base Camp and slowly working our way out of the Khumbu. We'll talk to you again a little later, this is Eric Larson signing off.

November 29, 2004.  Camp III.
Hey everybody it's Eric again, giving you a call from Camp III.  We had a late departure today for the summit.  We had high winds all night and they lasted until about 10:00pm, then they started to calm down, so we got dressed and went for it.  We did about a three-and a half hour push up to the summit and between photos and lunch up at the top and coming down about two more hours, so it was about a five and half hour round trip and we just made it back into Camp when the winds picked up again.  Mingma, myself and Chuck are doing fine, Chuck did great today, he really did well on the fixed lines and kept a really strong pace.  Right now it's about 5:30 at night, temperature is about 10 degrees, and the wind picked up again, so we're going to make this short.  We'll give you a call when we get to Camp I tomorrow and when we're safely off the mountain. Until then this is Eric Larson with the Ama Dablam expedition 2004, signing off.

November 28, 2004.  Camp III.
Hey everybody, it's Eric Larson again, giving you a call from Ama Dablam.  We made it to Camp III this afternoon at around 2:30 and we're just sipping some black tea and getting warm right now.  The weather has been off and on today, we started off with some sunshine, but the clouds did roll in for some afternoon showers and snow accumulated to about 2-3 inches.  But we are above the clouds right now and the sun is shining on us, so hopefully this will hold through the night and it will give us a chance to get on the upper Dablam and up to the summit.

Chuck is with me and he did really well today, we had a good pace going, we had a couple of times when we got stuck behind some traffic, some British climbers, but everything turned out just fine.  I just showed Chuck how to properly use his sleeping bag, it turns out he was using it completely inside out, so we had a good chuckle about that, which turned into a good coughing.

We should be getting ready to go to the summit tomorrow if the weather cooperates.  Hopefully we'll get out of camp at around 8:00, it will be a cold start in the shade but it will give us a head start on the climb to get us up to the summit by afternoon, about 1:00 and back down.  Our goal is to make it to Camp II, but if we're feeling tired, we will just stay here at Camp III again.  That's about it, we'll give you a call from the summit tomorrow, weather-dependent.  This is Eric Larson with the 2004 Ama Dablam climb signing off.

November 27, 2004.  Camp II.
Hey everybody this is Eric Larson giving you a shout out from Camp II on the SW Ridge of Ama Dablam.  We're tuckered out and tucked in our sleeping bags right now at Camp II, roughly 20,000 feet.  It was a hard go today, clouds came in and it started snowing a little bit.  It took us about 5 and a half hours to get to camp.  Unfortunately, Sherry had to turn around, she didn't feel well, so she decided her climb was finished.  Chuck is sitting right next to me though, he keeps constantly looking at his watch telling him what his pulse is, but he is doing fine, he is acclimatized well, he's in good shape, so I think he'll have no problem getting to Camp III and going for the summit.

We're actually using some Korean tents,, the Korean expedition had about 12-14 members over a month-long climb and they have allowed us to use their tents, so we don't have to carry as much equipment, so we want to say thanks to those guys.  And we'll give you some more reports from Camp III and the summit when we get finished.  Until then, this is Eric Larson signing off.

November 23, 2004.  Camp I.
Hey everybody this is Eric Larson again giving you a call from Camp I on Ama Dablam.  It's roughly 4:30 at night, Tuesday on the 23rd.  We had a relaxing, mellow day today. It snowed a couple of inches last night and today so we decided to stay in Camp and just breathe the thin air and get acclimatized.  The nature of Camp I, on a ridge going to Camp II, is all down sloping slab rock, so with a couple inches of snow, it makes it pretty tricky.  So we decided to play it safe and hang out with some of the climbing Sherpa here and relax.

Chuck and Sherry are doing really well. Last night was a tough night like any new sleeping altitude is, but they made it through it no headaches, no nausea, nothing, but tonight should be a lot better for us.  We're preparing our potatoes and curry dish right now, hopefully the spice doesn't get to them, sometimes it does, but I think they should have a good night's rest and tomorrow morning we will be kicking out of Camp I pretty early to get back down to Base Camp for two days of R&R before a summit attempt.  So we'll give you a call in a couple of days and let you know how we're doing.  Until then this is Alpine Ascents' Ama Dablam 2004 expedition signing off.

November 22, 2004.  Camp I.
Tashi Delek, this is Eric giving you a call at about 4:30, we're at Camp I on the 22nd of November.  We left Base Camp at around 9:00 this morning and pulled into Camp I at roughly 2:45, so it was 4,000 feet and they did really well acclimatizing.  So the next two days we'll be camped up here, breathing the thin air, getting ready to go for the summit in about a week.  Chuck and Sherry are both doing really well, we hiked strong today.  We tried to take our time coming up so we wouldn't feel too bad tonight when we got here.  It is a big jump, 4,000 feet, it's a hard point in acclimatizing, but these guys are troopers and they did really well.  They both say hi to family and friends and they both send their love to everybody back home and I also want to send my love to my wife Kathleen, I'll see you soon. 

We'll give you another report tomorrow night, our plans are to go toward the Yellow Tower near Camp II to get some fixed line practice in.  The weather has been pretty stable, we're above the clouds right now, we're looking over at Cho-Oyu and it's peering out over on the Tibetan plateau through the clouds.  Looks like maybe some higher winds might be coming in in the next couple of days, so hopefully we'll get our acclimatization in and be down in Base Camp resting while that passes through.  I think tomorrow should be sort of clear for us, it's a short, mellow day, we're just breathing the air and hoping everybody feels good tonight.  We'll give you a report tomorrow and tell you how it went.  This is Eric Larson signing off for Alpine Ascents' 2004 Ama Dablam Expedition.

November 21, 2004.  Base Camp.
Namaste, this Eric Larson calling you from Base Camp on Ama Dablam.  It's Sunday the 21st about 7:45 at night.  We just Got finished with a huge meal in our tent.  Gopal made an excellent dal bhat surprise, I would call it.  It was good.  Everyone here is doing really well.  They are acclimatizing great.  Tomorrow our plans are to head up to Camp I for two night's sleep and then we'll do some practicing on the fixed lines and go towards Camp II, possibly on Tuesday, then we'll head down, all weather-dependent, we'll be ready to summit by the 29th, so we'll give you a report from Camp I tomorrow and let you know how everyone is doing.  This is Eric Larson signing off.

November 19, 2004.  Base Camp.
Hello everyone and Tashi Delek, this is Eric Larson calling you from Base Camp.  It's Friday November 19th.  This is our second full day in Base Camp and everyone is doing well.  Yesterday the clouds came in and it was trying to snow a little bit, the temperature was around 35 degrees, we were all bundled up pretty well.  Thursday, we took a short hike up the ridge about 16,200 feet, both Sherry and Chuck are acclimatizing really well.  Chuck does have a slightly congested nose, but he is doing fine. 

We're all sleeping well through the night, about 12 hours in bed since it's so cold.  Temperatures drop quickly, so we turn in around 8pm right after dinner.  Today we woke up to clear warm sunny skies, we had our ceremonial Puja, with the local Lama coming up from Tengboche.  The Lama,, started the Puja with some prayers and blessings, offerings were made with rice, tsampa, cokes, beers, chang, biscuits, fruit and other foods were placed at the stupa in front of the prayer flags and the Lama. Multicolored prayer flags were hung and strung out from the center all the way around our camp in different directions, covering our Base Camp, sending out prayers as the wind blew across the flags.  We received blessings from the Lama, and with that blessing a small micro-written prayer along with Lama Geshe's blessed rice, was tied around our necks and will be worn throughout the whole climb and it will offer protection.  I think Chuck explained a little bit about that blessed rice.

This afternoon the clouds rolled in around 2pm, and everybody ran into the tents for warmth.  Before that the clouds were pretty dispersed which gave us pretty good views of the summit, which two parties were going for along the ridge of Ama Dablam.  And also a few days ago, a few British climbers actually did make it to the summit and came down yesterday.

Our plan for tomorrow is to hike up towards Yak Camp or beyond to acclimatize.  The 22nd we will be climbing up to Camp I for our first night above Base Camp.  We're all thinking of our families and friends at home and we'll be there soon enough, so let's hope for some good weather for the next two weeks and a safe summit.  Until then this is Eric Larson with Alpine Ascents' Ama Dablam 2004 climb signing off, thanks.

November 17, 2004.  Ama Dablam Base Camp.
Hello everybody this is Eric Larson giving you a call from Ama Dablam's Base Camp and I'm going to pass the phone off to Chuck and he is going to give us a really excellent description of what we've been up to, here he is...

This morning we left the tea house in Tengboche where we had spent the last two nights and this morning we climbed to an elevation of 15,200 feet.  Before leaving town we went to the local Buddhist Temple, and received a blessing for or upcoming adventure from the head lama from the temple.  He is even older than me.  He was dressed in traditional maroon robes and sat cross-legged on a bench throughout most of the ceremony.  We brought with us silks scarves to be blessed by him along with small gifts of money.  When I bent down with my hands in prayer to receive the scarf he had blessed, he touched his forehead to mine and playfully rubbed my bald head and laughed.  He said many prayers, on our behalf (or at least I think he did) in Tibetan and then tossed some rice on us.  We in turn took some of the rice he gave us and went outside and tossed it towards Ama Dablam.  He gave us more rice to use should we encounter a dangerous situation in our climb.  We are told he has a very good record, to date, no climber who has received his blessing has ever been injured on Ama Dablam. 

On this morning's trek to Base Camp, we finally veered off the caravan route which is also the main trail to Mount Everest. In doing so we said goodbye to the sounds and the dust of the numerous yak teams.  Each yak has his our her own bell, the drivers yell and whistle continually at them.  We also said goodbye to the constant parade of small porters carrying their enormous loads, usually secured by a band around their foreheads.  We said goodbye as well to the trekking teams coming and going as well, Americans, Australians, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish, to name just a few that we have seen. 

It seems almost serene here in Base Camp.  There is no snow, but patches of ice along the nearby river.  There is a big team of Korean climbers near us and there are almost 25 tents in camp now.  During the busy season in October, Eric says there could be as many as 100.  We each have our own tent and a large mess tent.  Gopal had a wonderful meal prepared for us when we arrived.  Ah, this is the life with love and best wishes to all, Chuck.

November 16, 2004.  Tengboche.
Hello everyone, this is Eric Larson giving you a call from Tengboche.  We arrived here yesterday and had a nice relaxing rest day of sorts, sitting around in the sun and drinking a lot of tea.  This is our second night in Tengboche and tomorrow we will be heading up to Base Camp.  Chuck and Sherry are doing well and we're falling right into the normal tea house evenings, lazy pair of games, quite an experience playing GO.  Chuck really took one for that one, I think I'll have to practice a bit more before I can give him some competition.  Today we hiked up to the village of Pheriche and visited the high altitude clinic there that was built for trekkers.  We participated in an AMS survey and checked our acclimatization and pulse ox.  Good news we were all acclimatizing and doping well.  Everybody is feeling really strong , so we're definitely going to head up tomorrow and start our climb of Ama Dablam.

After Pheriche we went over a small ridge and had lunch in Dingboche before we returned back to our tea house.  Tomorrow it looks like we will wake up early and go to the monastery and Lama Gese for a blessing.  He'll be performing our Puja the next day at Base Camp, Lama Gese is a high lama here at the monastery and he has been really busy performing Pujas for the past seven days, so I'm sure he is ready for a break also. 

We'll be hiking up for about four hours to Base Camp, it's at approximately 15,300 feet and where Gopal and Mingma have been working for the past few days setting up camp and preparing our kitchen tent and dining tent, so by the time we get there we should have everything well organized and though out.  We'll spend a couple of days there and we'll definitely keep you informed of what's going on there. Until then this is Eric Larson signing off.

November 14, 2004.  Deboche.
Namaste and Tashi Delek, this is Eric Larson giving you a call from the small village of Deboche. It is Sunday evening and we got up early this morning in Namche and made our way up the hill up to the Monastery of Tengboche We had our afternoon in the town, we went to the visitor's center and learned more about the Rinpoche here and what he has done for the local Sherpa people in the valley.  Unfortunately the Rinpoche and some of the other monks were visiting Kathmandu at the time so we didn't get a chance to hear their prayers but it was still a good opportunity and spiritual place to spend time for the evening. 

We dropped down the hill, about a 10 minute walk, to the small town of Deboche and we're tucked into a nice tea house tonight.  And we'll have a lazy morning tomorrow and a 2-hour stroll up into the town of Tengboche.  We'll spend two nights there and then work our way up to Base Camp.  Everybody here, Chuck and Sherry are doing really well, they are acclimatizing well and they are having a lot of fun and are learning a lot about the local culture. They say hi to everybody and they miss everyone at home.  I'd like to say hi to my brothers and we'll give you another report in a day or two when we get to Tengboche.  Until then this is Eric Larson for the 2004 Ama Dablam Expedition, good night.

November 12, 2004.  Namche.
Hello everybody this is Eric Larson calling you from Namche in the Khumbu Valley.  It is the 12th of November and it's roughly 7:30 at night.  Sherry Chuck and I just had a great dinner, lots of yak meat, potatoes and fresh vegetables at the beautiful Panorama View Lodge.  Our host and hostess were great tonight.  We actually got to Namche at about 2:00 this afternoon.  We spent 5 hours slowly working our way up the hill into Namche.  We did some paperwork with the Sagarmatha National Park Entrance office, and gave our trash deposit and sort of took our time and got to know Namche a little bit.  We are right in the middle of the Tihar celebration, so lots of the women of Namche were decked out in beautiful costumes and there was lots of dancing and music.

Tomorrow we're going to relax and hang out in Namche to acclimatize.  We'll give you a call then.  Bye.

November 12, 2004.  Phakding
Hello everybody this is Eric Larson giving you a call from Kathmandu for the Alpine Ascents 2004 Ama Dablam Expedition.  It has been a hectic couple of days with preparations and logistics in Kathmandu.  Everybody flew into Kathmandu safely on the 10th. We did a big city tour and saw the three temples which lasted about 6 hours, so along with the jet lag and the tour, everyone was pretty tuckered out.  We had a welcome dinner, that night, a quick one, everybody wanted to get to bed for the early start the next morning the 11th.  It was an early morning, 5am wake-up call at the Yak & Yeti and we ended up getting to the airport at around 6 to fly.

I'd like to take this time to welcome Sherry and Chuck to Nepal.  Sherry is coming from NY City and she is a technical consultant and she has done done a variety of climbing from the Alps, Aconcagua and Denali and climbs a lot of rocks in the Gunks area of NY.  Chuck comes from St. Louis, he is a retired Math Professor and a stay at home professional Dad.  He's been climbing all around the States and he has also been on Denali and Aconcagua.  It's a strong team this year and I'm really looking forward to climbing with them.  With a team this size I think we'll be able to move quickly and hopefully with good weather, we'll be blessed with the summit.  We got roughly three weeks ahead of us, we'll have a lot of time to get to know each other.

Also I'd like to recognize Gopal and Mingma, they're back in action, the dynamic duo.  Gopal is our cook and he is going to be acting as our Sirdar.  Mingma Tsering, he is going to be climbing with us and he's been climbing with us in the past on Cho-Oyu, Ama Dablam and Everest. 

Yesterday's flight into the Khumbu was pretty exciting, with were flying with other from the Yak & Yeti, but to our surprise we showed up and they had a Russian M18 Helicopter parked there and they were loading our duffle bags and everybody was scratching their heads, saying we're not going on that old helicopter are we?  But we did, it was loaded down with a lot of expedition equipment from other teams, ourselves and 20 other trekkers and probably 2 tons of rice.  So it was an exciting slow flight up the valley.  Really  low altitude, close to the ground, so we could really get a good look at what was going on, see a lot of different villages and pretty much trace where the original trek in for Everest Base Camp goes, coming in from Jiri, it was a really nice flight.

Clouds started coming in right when we landed and the breeze picked up a bit, but the landing was perfect.  We got our loads and Gopal and Mingma greeted us with about 9 yaks.  We loaded those up and three hours later we walked up and stayed the night in Phakding.  Phakding is at roughly 8,500 feet and definitely chilly here right now.  you've got to wear a puffball jacket and keep a hat on your head, so hopefully it won't get too much colder.

Today is a beautiful day, we woke up this morning at 6am with the sunlight and we are going to have a lazy breakfast and stroll farther up towards Namche, it should take us roughly 4 hours.  It's a pretty steep trail, we gain 3,000 feet and we actually enter Everest National Park from there.  We'll spend a couple of days there in Namche and we'll give you a call there and tell you what's going on and tell you about the market.  Namche Bazaar is the 'big city' of the Khumbu, but it's where all the Tibetan traders come and trade goods an d get supplies for the tea houses and homes.  So Saturday is market day, so we're looking forward to walking around and checking out that scene and see what it looks like.

Until then, this is Eric Larson and I'd like to welcome everybody to the 2004 cybercast of Ama Dablam.  We'll call you soon and let you know what's going on, bye.

November 11, 2004.  Lukla
Namaste!

All is well in Kathmandu. Eric and the climbers flew into Lukla quite early this morning.  Eric will call in a dispatch when they have settled in.


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