Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Welcome Home… Again

Everest 2016  •  April 7

Big day today, as we moved from LBC to EBC.  I remember this day well from last year: Long, stunningly beautiful, painful, exhausting.

Pretty much a repeat of that experience… except there is NO SNOW on the route, temperatures are a bit warmer, and I am not nearly as ill as I was last time.  (I did develop a small cough after the return from Zhongla yesterday, but no big deal.)

Again, as last year, a beautiful bluebird day out of the gate.  Views up and down the Khumbu were amazing.

Cholatse bids us adieu.
Cholatse bids us adieu.
We leave our camp in tip-top shape for the next wave of climbers, arriving a few hours later.
We leave our camp in tip-top shape for the next wave of climbers, arriving a few hours later.
Our Sherpa team confers.
Our Sherpa team conferring.
Lopsang, sirdar extraordinaire.
Lopsang, sirdar extraordinaire.
Yiorgos strikes a pose.
Yiorgos strikes a pose.
Tania is used to Rafa's early morning cheering sessions.  We love them.
Tania is used to Rafa’s early morning cheering sessions. We love them.
Moving up the basin from LBC.
Moving up the basin from LBC.
Tunang, Mingma, Justin, and Eddy leaving LBC.
Tunang, Mingma, Justin, and Eddie leaving LBC.
Rounding the corner from LBC, Ama Dablam comes into view.
Rounding the corner from LBC, Ama Dablam comes into view.
Pumori comes into view.
Pumori comes into view.
Lhotse towers in the distance.
Lhotse towers in the distance.
The chortens of Thokla, seen from across the valley.  We will visit them up close on the way home.
The chortens of Thokla, seen from across the valley. We will visit them up close on the way home.
Yaks make progress towards Thokla.  Last year, the same shot framed the yaks in snow.
Yaks make progress towards Thokla. Last year, the same shot framed the yaks in snow.
Panorama of the view leaving LBC.
Panorama of the view leaving LBC.

Things looked surprisingly good at Lobuche town, where the tea houses had been rebuilt nicely.  The fecal stream running through the middle of town had no icebergs floating in it… warmer than last year for sure.

A rare moment of compact snow ice on the trail, just before Lobuche Town.  (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
A rare moment of compact snow ice on the trail, just before Lobuche Town. (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
Pulling in to Lobuche Town for a short break.
Pulling in to Lobuche Town for a short break.
This inn at Lobuche town looks amazing after facade reconstruction.
This inn at Lobuche town looks amazing after facade reconstruction.
... The same structure one year ago on our evacuation march.
… The same structure one year ago on our evacuation march.

One feature I recall well from last year was a short rise, which we dubbed Cougher’s Hill, because we all hacked up a lung when we reached the top… this time, we are mostly in much better health, and this was no big thing to get over.

Looking down the valley from the base of Coffer's Hill.
Looking down the valley from the base of Cougher’s Hill.
Our guides confer before we tackle Coffer's Hill.
Our guides confer before we tackle Cougher’s Hill.
Bob refuels at the base of Coffer's Hill.
Bob refuels at the base of Cougher’s Hill.
Kazi and Kim at the base of Coffer's Hil.
Kazi and Kim at the base of Cougher’s Hill.
Tunang and Nima get psyched for Coffer's Hill.
Tunang and Nima get psyched for Cougher’s Hill.
Teresa and Chris refuel at the base of Coffer's Hill.
Teresa and Chris refuel at the base of Cougher’s Hill.
Susan and Yiorgos ponder life on Coffer's Hill.
Susan and Yiorgos ponder life on Cougher’s Hill.
Nuptse.  Fearsome, stunning, amazing.
Nuptse. Fearsome, stunning, amazing.
Closeup of Nuptse... the hanging glaciers seem to defy gravity.
Closeup of Nuptse… the hanging glaciers seem to defy gravity.
Nuptse grows larger, as does the west shoulder of Everest, icefall in between.
Nuptse grows larger, as does the west shoulder of Everest, icefall in between.
Roger approaching Gorak Shep, Lobuche Peak behind him.
Roger approaching Gorak Shep, Lobuche Peak behind him.
Traffic jam in the Khumbu.
Traffic jam in the Khumbu.
The Khumbu Glacier... much, much drier than last year!  EBC is just visible on the left side of the screen, on the left side of the white snow tongue.
The Khumbu Glacier… much, much drier than last year! EBC is just visible on the left side of the screen, on the left side of the white snow tongue.
We approach Gorak Shep, with Kala Patar the dark bump directly under Pumori.
We approach Gorak Shep, with Kala Patar the dark bump directly under Pumori.
Closer view of EBC from above Gorak Shep.
Closer view of EBC from above Gorak Shep.
From left to right: Changtse, Everest West Shoulder, Everest Summit (with cloud cap), Nuptse.
From left to right: Changtse, Everest West Shoulder, Everest Summit (with cloud cap), Nuptse.
Gorak Shep (Sherpa language for Dead Raven) circa 17,000 feet AMSL.
Gorak Shep (Sherpa language for Dead Raven) circa 17,000 feet AMSL.
Panorama from above Gorak Shep.
Panorama from above Gorak Shep.

A short break at Gorak Shep was welcome… and was stunning in terms of the difference vs last year, when the streets ran thick with mud and half-frozen yak dung, necessitating a delicate dance from stone to stone in order to avoid getting a boot full of brown liquid.  This year, the path was beautiful, clean, wide, white sand as far as the eye can see.

As usual, things clouded over and cooled off in the evening.  I felt chilled as we gained a view of EBC: It looked smaller and less populated than last year, but this is only my first impression and not a scientifically validated study!

Looking down the Khumbu Glacier.  It is always covered in stones,but this is so different from last year, when everything was blanketed in white snow.
Looking down the Khumbu Glacier. It is always covered in stones,but this is so different from last year, when everything was blanketed in white snow.
A final view of EBC before we drop down from the ridge onto the lower moraine.
A final view of EBC before we drop down from the ridge onto the lower moraine.
Clouds move in... even Changtse is obscured, just over the border with Tibet.
Clouds move in… even Changtse is obscured, just over the border with Tibet.
Kim and Justin at the bottom of the lateral moraine debris heap.  Just a few more minutes to EBC now!
Kim and Justin at the bottom of the lateral moraine debris heap. Just a few more minutes to EBC now!
IMG EBC.  Same location, even better layout.  Our tents are in a neat line blow the coms tent... partially obscured in this view.
IMG EBC. Same location, even better layout. Our tents are in a neat line blow the coms tent… partially obscured in this view.
Rounding the final ice lake before IMG EBC.
Rounding the final ice lake before IMG EBC.
The Hybrid tents lined up, Everest West Shoulder and Nuptse looming above.  (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
The Hybrid tents lined up, Everest West Shoulder and Nuptse looming above. (Photo: Chris Hagerty)

Hard day.  But a good one.  It felt like coming home.  IMG EBC is in the exact same place as last year, a very auspicious site that is safe and well-sited.  This time, things are largely reorganized to accommodate new rivers and streams that have formed.  The Hybrid team tent site is sheltered from much of the prevailing wind, and off the main trail, so it feels downright cozy.

A posh dinner in a well-appointed tent was very welcome, as was unpacking my climbing kit was a bit like Christmas day… and Santa knew exactly what to get me!

Rest in a warm tent.  Not much better than that… Tomorrow, more organization and moving in.

Word of the day: Homestead

6 thoughts on “Welcome Home… Again

  1. So happy to see that you are safely ensconced at EBC — a big milestone — and feeling healthy. Thanks for keeping us updated. Love you!

  2. The pictures and comments are fantastic. I share each one … and stories of your climbs … with Diana. Can’t wait for each episode. Love, Uncle Paul

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