Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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A Whole New Lobuche

Everest 2016  •  April 4

We bid farewell to the last built structures until the end of the expedition, and walked away from Pheriche right after breakfast.  The tea houses have been fun in their own way, with amenities like hot showers, flush toilets, a choice of foods, beds with mattresses and blankets, and even alcohol for purchase (although we consume very little of this, as it can hinder our acclimatization).  They also provide a chance to meet people from different expeditions, and make friends from around the world.  On the other hand, they present us with a risk of respiratory and GI infections, which can be inconvenient in the least, or truly problematic if severe.  So, it felt good to finally head into our own territory: Lobuche Base Camp.

Siva Hota. Psyched to go. 'Nuff said. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Siva Hota. Psyched to go. ‘Nuff said. (Photo: Justin Merle)
When we leave Pheriche, the town population drops by half.
When we leave Pheriche, the town population drops by half.

The walk from Pheriche is gorgeous, especially when the weather is perfect like it was today.  The valley gains elevation gradually, climbing past homesteads surrounded by stone fenced yak paddocks. We walked up the drainage of the Khumbu glacier, crossing a stream via a steel bridge, and took a short break in the village of Dukla, where we consumed heroic volumes of hot lemon water.  My lungs feel better this year than last, but the dry cold air still causes a sore throat that threatens to convert into a cough.  Hydration is a good thing up here, for many reasons!

Moving up valley. LBC lies behind the rounded hill at center of this shot.
Moving up valley. LBC lies behind the rounded hill at center of this shot.
Moving up valley, between Yak paddocks.
Moving up valley, between Yak paddocks.
The yak dung fires burn with thick smoke. Indoor cook smoke is a real concern in the Khumbu.
The yak dung fires burn with thick smoke. Indoor cook smoke is a real concern in the Khumbu.
Stone fences... here is how it this fence looked today...
Stone fences… here is how it this fence looked today…
And here is how this spot looked exactly one year ago.
And here is how this spot looked exactly one year ago.
This morning we are trekking with a purpose.
This morning we are trekking with a purpose.
Yiorgos pauses to contemplate Ama Dablam.
Yiorgos pauses to contemplate Ama Dablam.
Sensei Bob at a break.
Sensei Bob at a break.
Moving up the valley. Yak dung smoke and Ama behind us. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Moving up the valley. Yak dung smoke and Ama behind us. (Photo: Justin Merle)
The tiny hamlet of Dukla, our break spot for the morning. (Photo: Justin Merle)
The tiny hamlet of Dukla, our break spot for the morning. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Cristiano and Jerry relish the hot lemon at Dukla. Notice the solar collector boiling a kettle of water. Nice! (Photo: Justin Merle)
Cristiano and Jerry relish the hot lemon at Dukla. Notice the solar collector boiling a kettle of water. Nice! (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ang Jangbu is always in touch. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ang Jangbu is always in touch. (Photo: Justin Merle)

Beyond Dukla the trail gains elevation quickly, and wraps around the lower flanks of Lobuche peak.  The scenery is unmatched, especially the close-up views of Tawoche and Cholatse.  We were amazed to see how much better conditions are along the trail this year than last: no mud slicks, no knee-deep snow, more moderate temperatures.  Thank goodness.

Emily Johnston: Yeti Queen of all she surveys. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Emily Johnston: Yeti Queen of all she surveys. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Nearing the plateau traverse on the march to LBC. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Nearing the plateau traverse on the march to LBC. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ang Jangbu and Emily Johnston. Team Awesome! (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ang Jangbu and Emily Johnston. Team Awesome! (Photo: Justin Merle)
Tunang on the traverse.
Mingma Tenzing on the traverse.
Yep. The women of IMG Everest really are this awesome.
Yep. The women of IMG Everest really are this awesome.
Teresa makes this look easy.
Teresa makes this look easy.
Chris Hagerty: Man of Mystery.
Chris Hagerty: Man of Mystery.

IMG’s Lobuche base camp (LBC) is very secluded, sitting in a small valley surrounded on three sides, with the fourth side affording spectacular views of Cholatse.  No one else is here.  No one treks through here or to here. In effect, it is a totally isolated, private campsite.  Awesome.

LBC appears! Incredible how different it looks without snow.
LBC appears! Incredible how different it looks without snow.
Cristiano is happy to see LBC.
Cristiano is happy to see LBC.

We were treated to an excellent lunch: grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, baked beans (improved with fresh herbs), roasted potatoes, rice, soup… all easy to digest and full of the energy we need up here.  No matter how much I eat, I am always hungry.  Not unusual to wake up at 3 AM famished.  Eating smoked almonds in the night is pathological back in the World, but here it’s pretty normal.

Our tents at LBC. (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
Our tents at LBC. (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
The meal tents at LBC. ((Photo: Chris Hagerty)
The meal tents at LBC. ((Photo: Chris Hagerty)
Hand hygiene matters! We line up to use soap & water before meal time... and then hit the mitts with purel too. (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
Hand hygiene matters! We line up to use soap & water before meal time… and then hit the mitts with purel too. (Photo: Chris Hagerty)
Even so, respiratory infections happen. Here we take a "Sancho Bath" after dinner: Each of us breathes in hot water laced with an aromatic mixture of menthol and eucalyptus oil.
Even so, respiratory infections happen. Here we take a “Sancho Bath” after dinner: Each of us breathes in hot water laced with an aromatic mixture of menthol and eucalyptus oil.

Dinner (featuring fried chicken) was followed by a talent show.  It was so warm (26F) that I was even able to sit out in the field and shoot a variety of night shots.  We are having a great time up here.

A lovely night to capture the stars above camp and Cholatse.
A lovely night to capture the stars above camp and Cholatse.

7 thoughts on “A Whole New Lobuche

  1. Your “A lovely night. . .” photo is just spectacular. It reminds me of Van Gogh’s A Starry Night. Glad you keeping healthy and that Mother Nature is cooperating so far. xox

  2. Every morning, Baby Jack and I read about your progress and your climb. Thank you for the excellent posts!

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