Island Peak Cybercast

11/1/05 Kathmandu
Namaste! Today is November 1st, and this is the final cybercast from team Mixed Nuts!! Today has been a whirlwind immersing ourselves back into Kathmandu culture of dodging traffic, bargaining our last minute shopping deals, and enjoying celebrations of the Laxmi pooja festival (prayers to the god of money).  We are also experiencing a mixture of emotions as we are sad for the trip to end and to depart from the friends we have found, and yet we are very excited to reunite with friends and family back home.  We enjoyed a final dinner together at the Rum Doodle tonight where we participated in the tradition of creating a footprint describing our journey in the Himalayas (see photos!!).  Randy provided us with an eloquent toast of appreciation, and we shared many stories and memories of our trip together.  We were grateful to be able to reunite with Lakpa, Jiban, and Larry for our celebration, but we were certainly missing the trekkers.  We would like to send out a congratulations to them, and we look forward to sharing more stories and pictures when we get home.  I would like to send a special thanks to all of the climbers and trekkers for an amazing 21 days of fun and adventure providing memories to last a lifetime.  We had an amazing group full of endless fun!!  To all of the bosses out there, "We'll see ya in the office, but we can't promise we will be of any worth!!".  We also send our appreciation to everyone who has followed our trip, and offer one final Namaste your way!!

10/31/05 Kathmandu
Namaste! We finally made it safely back to Katmandu after a 3 hour delay in Lukla.  We are feeling fresh and clean after long showers at the Yak and Yeti, and we are looking forward to a celebration dinner tonight! More news tomorrow on this one.

Team Mixed Nuts!!!

10/30/05 Lukla
Namaste, this is Winslow with Team Mixed Nuts. We had a long arduous hike today, to Lukla, for our final evening in the Khumbu. A lot of up and down today, everybody was very tired upon reaching town. But Gopal prepared an awesome meal and we had Dal Baht followed by cake and a celebration along with all of the cook staff and support staff that were still with us. We played a lot of games, sang a lot of songs and now we are looking forward to a good night’s sleep and flying back to Kathmandu tomorrow. Reminiscing on the trip this evening was a lot of fun and everyone seems to be pretty silly and happy. Thanks for checking in we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Final Rock Ridge Ascent Before Reaching the Glacier on Island Peak

Beginning of Glacier

Ascending the fixed lines up the headwall.

Summit of Island Peak!

Happy to be Done! Island Peak Glacier in background.

10/29/05 Namche
Namaste! From team Mixed Nuts, October 29th 2005. We have discovered oxygen here in Namche Bazaar!We left Pangboche early this morning and enjoyed the sunlight sparkling on the rhododendron leaves & Spanish moss. Even though we were trekking out, the hills seemed endless and uphill all the way to Namche Bazaar, testing our cardio endurance. We even finally spotted a Himalayan Tar (similar to a mountain goat) which we had been hoping to see. No yeti yet in sight, although many of the men resemble it closely.

Headlines in the Khumbu Today:

Kerosene spills on Yak and he barrels downhill, sending people diving off of the trail!

Young man on horse rapidly galloping down narrow trail beside cliff, nearly impales Bert & Ernie.

Cecily sinks the 8 ball, on purpose this time, taking the game!

Gopal's chicken brings smiles, and he tops it off with outstanding brownies (again!)

Tomorrow we have our final trek out to Lukla. Our minds are sad, but legs are happy.

10/28/05 Pangboche
Namaste from team Mixed Nuts. Today we enjoyed looking back at Island Peak as it faded into the distance, saying to ourselves how amazing it was that we were just up there. We descended today from the high country, 2400 feet over 12 miles, to Pangboche, where we are seeing trees again for the first time in about 10 days. The afternoon was cold and windy as we watched the fog roll in. Colin is having visions of a bed with springs as every step takes us closer to Kathmandu. Bob and Randy, (nicknamed Bert and Ernie) again found their young friend, a 3-year old girl, in Dingboche where they ended up tossing rocks and sharing family photos with the village. Cecily’s pool game is improving as we squeezed in a few games before lunch in Dingboche. We are all looking forward to heading down to Namche tomorrow for showers, a good night’s rest and some more oxygen, and maybe even a little shopping as well. We’ll keep in touch and let you know how it goes tomorrow, thanks.

10/27/05 Island Peak Base Camp
Namaste, woo hoo! This is October 27, and this is Winslow with team Mixed Nuts Climbers, and I’d like to give a big congratulations to Colin, Randy, Bob and Cecily for successfully summiting Island Peak. We left camp at 2am, summiting at 10am and returning by 3pm. After a 13-hour day members are knackered but otherwise happy and healthy. Everyone sheepishly crawled into their tents upon arrival at camp, and they’ve only just emerged long enough to eat dinner and crawl back to sleep, trying not to think of the long trek back to Pangboche tomorrow. With what energy we have left, we have been exchanging hugs and congratulations.

Comments form the climbers on the team; Tsering, one of our climbing Sherpas: “Everyone was good, good team today.” Cecily: “more challenging than a trekking peak would lead you to believe. I think it must be equivalent to child birth, a lot of heavy breathing and pain for 13 hours.” Colin: “Technical climbing is difficult, but at 20,000 feet it’s a whole new ballgame. I’m going to sleep like a bubba tonight.” Bob: “The view was spectacular from the summit platform, which is about the size of a telephone booth.” Randy: “Most physically difficult thing I’ve done, but it is certainly the most spectacular.” Winslow: “Completely brilliant! I couldn’t have asked for better weather or better company.”

Our most intensive challenge of the day was the 400 foot headwall, of about 37 degrees at almost 20,000 feet. One step, five breaths, “Are we there yet?” Thanks for tuning in, tomorrow we are beginning our journey down, it will take us three days to get back to Lukla and then we’ll be flying to Kathmandu. We’ll talk to you tomorrow.

10/26/05 Island Peak Base Camp
Namaste from the climbers of Team Mixed Nuts. It’s October 26 th, a day of preparation and rest for us as we get ready for the big summit push. We slept in this morning until the sun was graciously shining on our tents. Then we practiced ascending and descending a fixed line with our Jumars, while wearing our bulky but warm mitts. Consensus from the group was that the task, at first, seemed impossible. But after continual practice the impossible became improbably and eventually, perhaps masterful. Tsering in front of us, volunteered to carry Randy and Bob to the top, but they bravely decided to walk on their own, perhaps passing on their crampons instead. It was a cold and windy day today with afternoon clouds threatening snow. We’re hoping for a nice summit day with great views. We’ll let you know how it goes. Namaste.

10/25/05 Island Peak Base Camp
Namaste from the climbing contingent of Team Mixed Nuts. It’s October 25th. The trekkers should be reaching Namche this evening and should have already sent a message by email. (dispatch and photos below) We awoke this morning with a layer of ice on our bags and tents, so we expect a cold night tonight with being 1,000 feet higher. After breakfast we had found that our yaks had gone AWOL. Apparently they had found a nice grassy patch in the far reaches of the hills. We then meandered through the rocky moraines of the Imja Valley to Base Camp, where we are now on a narrow strip between Island Peak and a large glacial lake called Island Lake. At camp a random yak rampaged the cook tent, almost bringing it down, but the support staff held things together and redirected the yak out the door. Tomorrow we will have a rest day with time to review some rope skills and head to bed early for our 1am summit strike.

Colin would like to congratulate the Ski Dubai Team in Mace International for a successful opening. He says, “I look forward to getting back to try it out. As if I’m not cold enough up here.”

We are surrounded by a beautiful starry night and tall 8,000m peaks, looking for a beautiful summit on Island Peak. Thanks for tuning in, we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

10/25/05 Namche Bazaar
Namaste! This is Dave from the trekking group reporting from Namche Bazaar. Yesterday (Monday), after an acrobatic team yoga session, we separated from the climbing team in Dingboche (altitude 4410m). Lakpa, Irene, Sandi, Laura, Larry and I headed down to Tengboche.

Meanwhile, the climbers, Winslow, Colin, Cecily, Bob and Randy headed for Chukhung. We wish them well in their Island Peak summit attempt on Thursday morning, and pray for their safe return to Kathmandu on Monday. Over the last 2 weeks we have built a great camerarderie amongst the team, so we were sorry to be going our separate ways.

Today, the trekking team left Tengboche at 7:30 am and arrived in Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa capital, before noon. Namche Bazaar is at an elevation of 3445m (11,306 ft). It's amazing the difference a drop in altitude makes. On Saturday we were at 5545 m and now we are more than 2000m (6,600 ft) lower; the air seems so much richer with oxygen here and we can run around without getting out of breath. It was a different story on the way up!

We will be doing some last minute shopping today and visiting a local bakery to sample some chocolate cake, apple pie and real coffee.

On the trek today, we passed Ama Dablam, and as we approached Namche Bazaar, we saw Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse in the distance. It was only 2 days ago that we stood at the foot of these three Himalayan giants on the Khumbu icefall. Tomorrow we will trek to Lukla, then fly back to Kathmandu on Thursday morning. Everyone is fit and well and we look forward to being back in the US soon.

The AAI Yak train at Lobuche

Winslow, Colin, Dave & Cecily at the summit of Kala Pattar with Nuptse and the Khumbu Icefall in the background

Bob and Randy at the summit of Kala Pattar

Crashed helicopter at Everest BC

Group photo on the Icefall with the West Ridge of Everest (Lho La) in the background

Summit of Everest between the west ridge and Nuptse

Group photo at the climbers memorial above Doughla

10/24/05 Chukkung
Hello, team Mixed Nuts here with the cybercast for October 24th. We had a lovely morning this morning, Gopal made our favorite lemon poppy seed muffins accompanied with bacon and eggs. Then Sandy led us in some outdoor yoga, surrounded by Himalayan peaks. We had a good time laughing at Lakpa trying to touch his toes and Colin and Bob trying to do the partner stretches. And we finished off the yoga with a little Hokey Pokey. After that the trekkers headed down and the climbers headed up to Chukkkung, a beautiful hike up the valley. In Chukkung, Bob and Randy finally talked us into playing their dice game, Shilts, and after about five rounds Randy finally won his own game. It was a hit. Tomorrow we will be heading up to the Island Peak Base Camp, we’re looking forward to making it a little further up the valley, talk to you then, ciao.

10/23/05 Dingboche
Hi this is Team Mixed Nuts again, it’s October 23 rd, and we are in the town of Dingboche. We descended today in just one day what it took us two days to get up to. It’s a beautiful starry night, a half moon out, we have great views of Island Peak from here, this is our last night together as a full group. We celebrate Colin’s 29 th Birthday tonight, our chef Gopal prepared a beautiful cake along with the staff and we had a great evening of Charades and playing pool here in Dingboche. Tomorrow, the climbers will head up valley to Chukkung and the trekkers will begin their descent. We’ve had a great time together, and hopefully we can send some pictures through the trekkers via the internet in Namche. We will look forward to talking to you tomorrow, thanks, bye.

10/22/05 Everest Base Camp
Hello again from team Mixed Nuts, it is October 22 nd. Today was a big day crossing the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier up to the Everest Base Camp. Half way up we found ourselves walking on rocky terrain with ice underneath and crossing a few impressive crevasses. It’s a sort of moonscape feel, with rock, ice and towering penitentes, leading up to the Khumbu Icefall. It was a tough effort for everyone, with each member overcoming their own challenges. We heard several avalanches coming off of Nupste and saw a rising dust cloud billowing off of the face of the mountain. Very impressive, since we were well out of harm’s way.

Highlight from the group: Randy and Bob had a bonding moment as the clouds swept away leaving spectacular views of Everest on the hike back. Irene, our climbing encyclopedia, enjoyed touching the Khumbu Ice Fall. Laura, enjoyed the rocks perched on top of ice cubes like a modern art museum. Colin had a good time picking Lakpa’s brain on how to summit Everest. Dave’s highlight was yesterday finding out what he was made of, summiting Kala Pattar. Sandy, being Sandy, was just loving every moment of it. Cecily got things going at camp with games, jumping rope and stealing the bacon with the whole support staff here at 17,000 feet. Larry enjoyed reaching Base Camp, which was his ultimate goal.

I’d like to give big congratulations to all members of the group. There have been struggles with the altitude, physical and mental challenges, all of which made reaching Kala Pattar and/or Everest Base Camp, a journey to remember. Tomorrow will be our last night together in Dingboche. I look forward to broadcasting then, take care.

10/21/05 Gorak Shep
Namaste, it’s October 21 st and this is Team Mixed Nuts. We have reached our highest camp at 16,900 feet at the village of Gorak Shep. We enjoyed our trek up here and even had a few high altitude snowball fights with the lovely 3cm of snow that fell last night. After lunch a brutal storm swept up valley, hammering us with wind and blowing snow as we stoically climbed up Kala Pattar. Tents were ripped to shreds and Lakpa went flying 30 feet through the air, okay a bit of an exaggeration I admit, but it did have a true winter mountaineering feel to it. Things had settled down by the time we had reached the Kala Pattar summit at 18,300 feet and although it wasn’t totally clear, we had some spectacular views. Tomorrow we will take a wee jaunt up to Everest Base Camp, look forward to talking to you then, thanks for tuning in.

10/20/05 Pheriche
Namaste this is Winslow calling in for Team Mixed Nuts, it’s October 20 th. I’m calling from Pheriche, where we are lodging at 16,200 feet. Many members of the group are now reaching new heights with every slow step of the way. We had quite a mystical day today. We awoke to the beauty of snow-covered hills with the majestic setting over Taboche Peak. As we ascend through the rocky moraine of the Khumbu Glacier Valley, the fog rolled in, bringing light snow our way. We passed through the climber’s memorial, where many chortens (rock towers) have been erected in honor of those who lost their lives on Everest. We are quite happy with our lodging here, as we are in a brand new building, nice beds and actual toilet seats, which we haven’t seen in a while. If everyone feels good in the morning, we will head up to Gorak Shep and hike up Kala Pattar in the afternoon for views of Everest and the surrounding peaks, and we’ll be in touch tomorrow, thanks for tuning in.

10/19/05 Pheriche
Hello this is Winslow from Team Mixed Nuts, it’s October 19 th, we laid over today in Pheriche, we had a nice day hike up the ridge back behind Pheriche, where we had views of Makalu and Island Peak and Lhotse. We watched a storm move in and saw some pretty cool lenticular cloud formations over Lhotse and it is currently snowing here. We’ve had a great day today though, everyone is feeling good and smelling good, we had showers, did laundry, read some books and played some games. Looking forward to moving up to Lobuche tomorrow. So we’ll talk to you then, thanks, bye.

10/18/05 Pheriche
Namaste from Team Mixed Nuts. It’s October 18 th and we have discovered civilization at 14,000 feet. We’re sitting cozy at the Himalayan Lodge in Pheriche, jamming out to the Beatles, playing games again. Highlights of the day were blueberry muffins for breakfast, bridge crossings with Ama Dablam towering above, first sightings of Island Peak and visiting the Himalayan Rescue Association. We sat in on an informative talk about trekking at high altitude given by volunteer doctors from the US and Australia.

pon seeing Island Peak, the trekkers bravely marched on today as the climbing contingent did an about face, running back to Kathmandu, (They Wish!) It is on its own, an impressive peak. Tomorrow we will lay over here, taking a small acclimatization hike in the morning with the afternoon free to relax. We’d like to send out a big hello to everyone following our trek, Namaste.

10/17/05 Thame
Good evening this is Winslow with Team Mixed Nuts, it’s October 17th. We had another interesting day in the Khumbu. Highlights of the days today included visiting the Khumjung School, the Kunde hospital and the Tengboche Monastery. We had a lovely afternoon sitting at the bakery, drinking coffee, visiting the monastery during the ceremony time and seeing the museum. Quote of the day from Randy, had a complaint, he said he “couldn’t keep his moth closed, because his jaw kept dropping to the ground.” Perhaps we can fix him up with a little duct tape tomorrow. Lovely full moon tonight, we camped in a town called Deboche. Sounds of the river right here close by and views of Ama Dablam and other stunningly beautiful peaks nearby. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.

10/16/05 Kunde

Namaste this in Winslow with team Mixed Nuts, today is October 16th and we are in the village of Kunde. We had another fun-filled day today, we started out visiting the Thame monastery, where we received blessings from the Rinpoche Lama. Next we went to Lakpa’s parent’s house for tea and blessings from them as well. And we got to see pictures of Lakpa when he was a teenager; it was very fun hanging out with his parents. Next we had yak races on the trails; we were attempting to beat the yaks so that we didn’t have to eat their dust. At camp we played Frisbee with all the Sherpas using a couple of lids off of some of the pans from the kitchen staff. We commenced a game of ultimate Frisbee, the girls against the boys dodging the tents in camp. Next we had an evening filled with hours of Charades and laughter. The fun continues out here and we’re looking forward to another good day tomorrow, we’ll talk to you then, thanks for tuning in.

10/15/05 Deboche

Hi this is Winslow calling in for the Mixed Nuts on October 15th. Today our trek took us past the winding river gorge of the Bhote Kosi, in Thame. This valley is the trading route between Nepal and Tibet. Sandy gave yoga lessons at lunch today followed by stupid human tricks, which Cecily taught Lakpa how to shrink his arm. Lakpa will need a bigger ice axe for future climbs. We’re staying at the home of Lakpa’s sister, and we were able to meet his father and other family members today. We spent the afternoon playing jump rope and flying kites with the kids and we had a beautiful sunset and moonrise over Thamserku. I’d like to send out a special hi from Irene to the grade sixers at Stetson Middle School in Westchester PA. Also happy birthday to Brent, that’s my brother. And we’ll be getting in touch with you tomorrow, thanks for tuning in.

10/14/05 Namche
This is team Mixed Nuts coming at you from Namche Bazaar. Early this morning we climbed to the top of the hill to watch the sunrise on Everest. The air was cold and crisp and frost covered the ground scattered with fall colors. We had our first views of the grand Ama Dablam towering into the sky. It was a beautiful morning well worth the early rise. After a warm breakfast we hiked 1300 ft. up to the Everest view hotel for tea on the patio. Next we visited the Sherpa Museum where there are pictures and stories of all the Sherpas who have climbed Everest along with traditional cookware and tools from the Sherpas culture. In the afternoon many members went shopping in town by gifts for loved ones, furry hats, and tasting the local sweets of chocolate cake and apple strudel. Everyone is acclimatizing well and we haven't lost anyone yet despite threats of the Yeti lurking in the snow-capped peaks above. We have perfect timing as the Saturday market is tomorrow, so we can explore the main trading event of the Khumbu before heading to the village of Thame, Lhakpa Rita's hometown.
We hope all is well with you!!

10/13/05 Namche
Namaste, Today is October 13th and we are in Namche Bazaar, the trading center and largest village in the Khumbu.  We have come up with a team name- 'MIXED NUTS!'  which accurately describes our group.

Today we crossed 7 bridges in total, the highest of which was 200 feet above raging waters and was rocking with the yaks and climbers.  Within an hour of todays camp we were lucky enough to sight views of Mother Goddess herself- Everest as a fierce storm crossed its summit.   The sighting certainly gave the team a boost.
The American department of the team were shocked upon arrival at Namche Bazaar at the absence of the 2 man British contingent, only to find they had climbed an hour ahead and were lost in the wilderness.  2 Alpine Ascents Sherpas later found them and directed them back to the camp. A touch of over ambition and British adventure was prevalent here from Colin and David. 
Quotes of the day:
Randy- "Beats the heck out of LA traffic!"
Colin- "If I don't step another metre higher on this mountain, I will still be happy."
Tomorrow morning the team will arrise at 4.30am to hike to a summit behind Namche Bazaar to watch the sunrise over Everest, and then back for an early breakfast at 6am. Tune in tomorrow for more news of the teams progress.

10/12/05 Phakding
Hello friends and family, this is Winslow on October 12th. We are now in a village called Phakding, and camped on the Dudh Kosi River. We had a beautiful flight in today on the Twin Otter plane, great views of Everest, followed by an exciting landing on a short, steep runway. The hike today was leisurely and relaxing, the scenery was amazing. We arrived in time to dip our feet into the gold glacier water and relax by the river. Some of the group made a special trip up to the monastery, in time to experience an evening of mantras and music, a special treat. We have a very playful group, a lot of joking and laughing and everyone seems to begetting along well, we had a very interesting and fun day. Tomorrow we will head up to Namche Bazaar and we'll look forward to talking to you then. Namaste.

10/11/05 Kathmandu
Namaste!!! This is Winslow Passey reporting on the Everest Base Camp and Island Peak trekking group. We will be coming up with a group name sometime in the next few days so we will get back to you on that one. Everyone arrived in safely yesterday, and we had a wonderful celebration dinner of traditional Nepali food. We are fortunate to be here during the Bada Dasain festival, the biggest Hindu celebation in Nepal. Today we visited three important sites in Katmandu. First we went to the Pashupatinath Temple, the most famous Hindu temple in Nepal. We had milk tea from the milk baba, a Saddhu asthetic who has only had milk in the last 25 years. Next we visited the stupa of Bodnath, the center for Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. Then we journeyed to Swayambhunath temple (aka the monkey temple due to all the monkeys running around) situated on a hilltop overlooking the lush Kathmandu valley. It is one of the most important Buddhist stupas in the world. It was a fascinating day getting to know the beliefs and traditions of such a colorful culture. We are looking forward to flying into Lukla tomorrow and being our adventure in the Himalaya mountains through the beautiful sherpa villages. "Namaste" is the common greating here, directly translated it means "I salute the god in you". Namaste!

Winslow awaits the Arrival of the team.

Some of the team arrives in Kathmandu.

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