Everest Base Camp & Other Stories

Interesting Jacks

Up early this morning to avoid the rush for the communal jacks.

An Indian gentleman just left as I went in. Wherever in India he’s from is the part I don’t want to visit. There is no water so the flush doesn’t work but there is a barrel of water beside the toilet. The drill is – dip the tin can into the frigid water in the barrel and throw it down the jacks to drive the disposal out.

My Indian friend obviously hadn’t got the memo.

In the frigid gaseous air and between wretches and gags, I furiously threw liters of liquid ice down the jacks. I managed to get rid of most of the gang but one floater refused to go. He stared me in the eye and said….”Nope”.

I left…….Floaty could have his victory.

We start off on a hillside trail that is reminiscent of home – inhabited by densely packed trees and bushes. The floor of the woodland is covered in brush and rocks covered with green mosses and white lichens.

Dylan has purchased a Bluetooth speaker and this mornings trek is accompanied by the entire collection from U2.

He is the embodiment of a 19 year old Texan youth. At every stop, he produces an industrial sized bag of m&ms or other brightly colored candy – that screams diabetes.

At every turn he races up the mountain, laughing at altitude and exertion.

He’s a really great kid but needs to call home more often………..his father is having a meltdown & we now have no cell coverage !!

We think that the US military will be mobilizing a search party soon!

Call home Dylan FFS!!

All day we are accompanied by the Milky river.

During the woodland trek it is out of sight but it’s sound fills the air. Later, its beauty runs alongside & below us.

It’s funny but, the higher we climb the closer we get to the river below us. At 2000 feet it was 50+m below us, at 3000 meters 25+ meters below and at 4000 meters I finally got to meet her in person.

Today, I could have dipped my toes in it …. If I was finished with my toes that is – it is icy cold.

A monster mountain appears in front of us around lunchtime. This is Ama Dablam.

Ama Dablam at 6856 Meters resembles a majestic eagle perched with his broad wings spread. The chest is a straight up rock face with the most ridiculous ledges and overhangs. The neck area is a pillow of snow that overhangs everything and appears to defy the law of gravity. Above it is a narrow wall of sheer ice. It is stunning and frightening in equal measure.

And people climb this. Holy crap.

It took the lives of 8 people 2 years ago when a serac of snow roared through camp 3……..

This beautiful place had an abundance of hidden hostility – if you challenge it.

After lunch in Pangboche – strangely – the landscape changed completely and the trail ran through country that resembled heathland with sandy soil, burnt yellow grass and a scattering of gorse like bushes.

Today we passed the 4000 meter mark for the first time. Thankfully, we are all still going great guns. We’ve had a couple of headaches along the way but I think they were due to dehydration because a couple of liters of water sorted them out.

Tonight we are at Dingboche at 4350m / 14,500ft. It sits on the banks of the Milky river and is a low rise settlement of some 30 buildings with green or blue galvanize roofs.

Our accommodation is at the Summit hotel and there is no water as it’s frozen. In the public loo on the ground floor there is a sheet of ice. A first for me.

The rooms are a step up on last night. A better class of bed bug. Only kidding, the beds and bedding look clean tonight. And tonight we have toilets and sinks in our rooms – waterless.

Like last night, the power will probably be turned off at 10pm and we’ll search for sleep while snuggled up in the sleeping bag, dressed, and with a bottle full of boiling water.

Sherpa and I usually fire up the kindles and read but last night at the other side of a paper thin plywood wall Brendan used his head torch to teach Dylan how to make animal shapes. Brendan found it very entertaining while Dylan was wishing he’d brought his fathers Colt 45!

From Sherpa (Padraig)

“So I’ve been chief editor for the past few blogs so I’m gonna try poorly to give my version. It isn’t easy keeping up with Pat King (first cousin of Stephens).

It really is the basic things that we are learning to appreciate. Tonight we have a toilet in the room…..however u got to hold your breath while exercising a bowel movement. But as far as in room facilities this really is a luxury. The room has no insulation & its -5 outside & -10 inside but we’re happy chappies & very privileged to be here, to have our health & the opportunity to visit such an incredible place.

No cars, no roads, the electricity cuts in & out, frozen water & holes in the ground for the jacks with a smell that would burn the nose hair out of you but it’s still fabulous.

When you jump out of bed tomorrow & flick on the hot shower while you brush your teeth with safe water & pull a double ply huggies bog roll from the holder, spare a thought for Sherpa & Yak. Not to mention the posh ones with your underfloor heating !!!!!! I’ve just realized we blog a lot about the jacks…… we love to talk shit!

We glimpsed Island peak just as we arrived into this village. It sits 600 meters below Ama Dablam & was climbing into the clouds. Not being able to see it in its full glory was probably just as well. However after we checked into our Penthouse we could see through the dirt in the window Island peak clear of cloud. It’s a monster …. there truly are no other words for it. It’s not near as threatening or as dangerous as it’s 3 sisters, Ama dablam, Lhotse & Everest. It will be challenging, technical & 16 hours of staying focused & we are hoping all our training pays off. We will start our summit attempt at approx 9pm Irish time 2am Nepalese time on the 31st or 1st depending on weather…. no it won’t be an April fools joke !!!

There’s no 2 ways about it but I couldn’t have 2 finer guys to climb Island Peak with in Ami Kami & Chawkey. Ami has climbed island peak many many times, Ama Dablam 7 times & Everest 5 times of which he successfully summited twice. He didn’t fail the other 3 times he just was part of the support team going to camp 2 & 3. We’re in great hands.

However we have 4 more days to Everest Base Camp before we double back through here again & up another valley to island peak. We will be saying goodbye to our wonderful group whom we have thought every Irish phrase in the book. Our 19 year old Texan is our best student. He strung a line together today & had us falling off our chairs. He’s confident he’s gonna pull more with his Irish phraseology! A gas man as are all the group. He’s keeping us all young.

Now we are about to get yet another helping of rice or perhaps noodles tonight …….. either way it really will taste like a 5 star meal after the trekking today. As Cathal in Ballygarry always says …….”bye for now”

I’ll hand you back to Yak”.


2 thoughts on “Interesting Jacks

  1. Niall H - March 22, 2018

    Good luck and Keep safe lads . The blog is now part of my daily routine . It’s a fantastic read . Can only imagine how exciting this trip must be for you all.

  2. Pearl - March 22, 2018

    Well I look forward each day to this amazing description of your exploits better than any book
    We are all living the dream with you two sleep well

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