Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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All’s Fair in Pheriche

Everest 2015  •  April 4

Nice rest day in Pheriche today.  Spanish omelette for breakfast, then an acclimatization hike up a small hill behind the hotel. We went up 1,100 feet in about an hour, revealing wonderful views of the surrounding peaks.  Ama Dablam from the south side looks very different, still quite austere.  Baruntse, Island Peak, Makalu, and Lhotse are here… as well as a good look at Lobuche, including our climbing route.  It looks beautiful! Eager to get an even closer look from Lobuche base camp tomorrow.

Nak cow and calf in the paddock behind our tea house.
Nak cow and calf in the paddock behind our tea house.
The tea house from the beginning of the scree slope.  Blake has set out our solar panels below the window on the far left.
The tea house from the beginning of the scree slope. Blake has set out our solar panels below the window on the far left.
Headed up the scree slope behind Pheriche.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Headed up the scree slope behind Pheriche. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Heading towards the first rest stop.
Heading towards the first rest stop.
Phono shows Lopsang (our trekking sirdar) the sights.
Phinjo shows Lopsang (our trekking sirdar) the sights.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Justin points out some geological feature to Siva at a rest stop.
Justin points out some geological feature to Siva at a rest stop.
Savage mountain lines above Pheriche.
Savage mountain lines above Pheriche.
The views of the mountains surrounding our valley were amazing.
Closer view.  The views of the mountains surrounding our valley were amazing.  I think the wall on the left puts the Eiger North Face to shame… and is unclimbed to my knowledge.
Island Peak, a lone sentinal in the middle of the upper valley, conquered by my friend Dave Fredricks some years ago.
Island Peak, a lone sentinal in the middle of the upper valley, conquered by my friend Dave Fredricks some years ago.  Chortens in memory of the fallen can be seen in the foreground.
Cho Oyu is the broad corniced snow peak in the background, one of the world's fourteen peaks above 8,000 meters.
Cho Oyu is the broad corniced snow peak in the background, one of the world’s fourteen peaks above 8,000 meters.
A stupa stands watch over the valley below.
A stupa stands watch over the valley below.
Ama Dablam, seen from an unusual angle here, behind the stupa.
Ama Dablam, seen from an unusual angle here, behind the stupa.
Dengboche town from the crest of the scree slope.
Pheriche town from the crest of the scree slope.
Dingboche town lies on the other side of the scree slope.  Island peak looms above.
Dingboche town lies on the other side of the scree slope. Island peak looms above.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Looking up valley, with our next objective over my left shoulder: Lobuche Peak.
Looking up valley, with our next objective over my left shoulder: Lobuche Peak.
Closeup of the summit of Lobuche East... our objective will be the snow bulge on the far right of the  image, just above the granite triangle, circa 20,000 feet.
Closeup of the summit of Lobuche East… our objective will be the snow bulge on the far right of the image, just above the granite triangle, circa 20,000 feet.
Wayne, a great trekker in our group, arrives at the break in style.
Wayne, a great trekker in our group, arrives at the break in style.
Dalton, another great trekker, is always grabbing a perfect photo.
Dalton, another great trekker, is always grabbing a perfect photo.
Kim is irrepressible.
Kim is irrepressible.

I slipped for a step walking down from our high point (circa 15,300 feet), and bent the arm on my go pro steadicam. It still seems to work! Definitely not built for the outdoors….

We made a sobering visit to the Everest memorial immediately behind our hotel, engraved with the names of everyone lost on the mountain, going right back to Mallory’s Indian porters on the North side in 1922. People have died in the pursuit of this summit… as they have on virtually all other peaks the world around. And, although I will be perfectly safe on this expedition, as on all others, it is humbling to be a part of an expedition to a place that has claimed lives. This is true of Rainier, Denali, Hood, MSH, Mt Blanc, Aconcagua, you name it. I think Everest garners more attention not only because it is the tallest mountain, but also because it is one where help from the Sherpa people is so essential, and thus puts them at risk as well as the western climbers. All of us do everything possible to reduce risk for everyone here, regardless of ethnicity or origin.

The Everest Memorial, engraved with the names of everyone lost on the mountain.
The Everest Memorial, engraved with the names of everyone lost on the mountain.

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This was taped to the side of the memorial… wish it were properly engraved somehow.

 

Next we vsited the Himalayan Rescue Association, A nice canned talk was given by an ER physician from SLC. Aimed at the gaggle of teen trekkers, but also acknowledged us climbers. I did not realize that HRA was founded in 1973 when several Japanese trekkers died of complications of AMS. Good, sound advice was given, especially regarding the importance of a slow, gradual ascent, which is precisely what IMG does up here. As if to underscore the importance of this, a young bloke was flown by helicopter back to KTM right before our eyes due to high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). We are only at about 14,000 feet, so this is humbling to see.

Sitting through a rather nice briefing by a US physician at HRA... As if to drive the point home, a young British bloke got flown down valley due to acute mountain sickness.
Sitting through a rather nice briefing by a US physician at HRA… As if to drive the point home, a young British bloke got flown down valley due to acute mountain sickness.

I met a person called Ruben who is married to a doctor here at HRA. He interviewed me as part of a project he is trying to get off the ground re: climbing Everest. We’ll see whether this takes off.

WiFi started working again in the evening, albeit very slowly, and I labored for some hours to get a blog post up from several days ago. Very aggravating! But, worth it of course.

WiFi... The struggle continues....
WiFi… The struggle continues….

There was a lunar eclipse tonight, and for a time we toyed with climbing the hill behind Pheriche again, to get a look at this “blood moon.” However, cloud cover did not look favorable, and at the last moment Blake found a website that claimed poor visibility in Nepal anyhow, so we were spared the effort of a nocturnal hike, which was nice given that I had just suffered through a bracing shower, and was working on getting warmed up again.

Tonight a snow storm is predicted to move in, and this may make for a tough trek tomorrow. But, of course, we are all prepared and raring to go.

The tea houses are smoky and not particularly conducive to a hygienic lifestyle… plus, the bedrooms are truly freezing cold (unheated, and the buildings are made of stone). Looking forward to getting up to Lobuche base camp tomorrow, where we are more in control of our environment.

12 thoughts on “All’s Fair in Pheriche

  1. Thanks for the posts, Paul We’re glad you persevere through difficult uploads. May it be the slowest part of your journey!

  2. Glad you included photos of the memorial. It’s both moving and humbling. Be safe up there! I hope you can feel the positive thoughts I’m sending your way. xox

  3. Thanks for taking us along on this incredible journey !
    You look bad-ass with those glasses. If the look counts for anything, I think you’re ready !!

  4. Paul, I’m so happy to read your latest update and follow along. Your photos are amazing and make it very real that you are there!

  5. Impressive stuff. I met your wife last night at a charity event and she told me about your climb. Great to see another UW physician who has a passion for climbing. Safe travels.

  6. Paul, thanks for sharing the photos of Island Peak, which bring back some fond memories. Best wishes for good climbing weather and a grand adventure on the top of the world! Take care. Dave

  7. Paul – We are are holding our collective breaths with the tragic news in Nepal. Hope you and your team are safe.

  8. Paul,

    Many of us on “Team Propi” have been concerned but have heard indirectly that you are OK. Not much other information. Heard you were possibly in camp 1 or 2 above the icefall. We’re all hoping for a safe return from wherever you happen to be at present.

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