Monday, December 1, 2014

Base 1-Ama Dablam Uncensored

While the Tinkoff-Saxo team was thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro my wife and I were already in Kathmandu preparing for our own 16000ft+ adventure. The journey was 23 days long and the terrain was difficult but the experience was life changing. We learned so much about ourselves in those days and cold nights. We learned new limits and that what was thought to be our personal breaking points were in reality not close to what we could actually endure. We learned about a culture of beautiful people that no amount of writing could ever describe. We learned, most importantly in my eyes, to live in the moment again and appreciate what you have in front of you. 

Our journey covered many parts of Nepal which were vastly different. Each area taught us new lessons and brought together unique people from all over the globe. Some of these people will be friends forever! Lets take a little journey from Kathmandu through Lukla to Ama Dablam high in the Himalayan region of Khumjung...

It all began in Bhaktapur World Heritage Village on the outskirts of Kathmandu. We chose this area to begin so that the craziness of Kathmandu would allow for a more calm preparation period before flying to Lukla. 
Enter the limits of Bhaktapur

Not shown here is the blood stained streets. This is a culture of many Gods. The week before we arrived animal sacrifices were performed all over the city. They were offered to the gods and all parts of the animals were used but the blood remained. It sounds so barbaric but even my vegetarian wife felt that it seemed "normal" for the time and place. I'm not sure we  could have been able to stand seeing it first hand but it truly is a cultural phenomenon westerners only read about.

Streets of Bhaktapur

Streets of Bhaktapur

The local story says that the youth were often married and had children by the age of 12. Since they did not know the actions which lead to conception this temple was "Erected" to teach them. All the pillars are hand carved Wood...

After a day of planning our route we headed out to Lukla. Meet the trekking crew.

Devin Corboy, USA

Caito Amorose, USA

Dan Clements, UK-lives in Singapore-I'm still convinced he is Australian!

Ram Shakya, Nepal

The flight into Lukla is awesome! The mountain views are spectacular but the landing strip is the topper. 100 yards of an obscene grade so the planes can stop before crashing into the rock face. On departure the planes get good speed before dropping off the cliff before getting lift. It's terrifying and awesome at the same time!
Loading up in Kathmandu before going to Lukla

Yes they actually have to fly these planes. Our pilot had on a bomber jacket and aviators! 

Now that's a short runway...

There were many prayer sites in route. You would always keep these on your right when passing. It made it pretty hard when they were positioned on a cliff. That's when Ram would say a prayer for us!
Keep it to your right and spin the wheel. I always prayed for the Gods to allow Caito to make the full trip. She had plantar fasciitis pretty bad from the start. 

"Please make my foot stop hurting." I think that's what she must have been saying. I tried not to bring it up.

Dan and Ram in route to Phakding

After 4 hours of Nepal Flat Terrain we made it to the first village. Time to relax and acclimate.

Phakding-Stop 1 on the Glacier river. It ain't warm...

Glacier River

The views were began to get more incredible as we made our way into the high mountains. These next photos are from the route between Phakding and Nomche Bazaar.

"I can do it-I'm wearing Swiftwick Socks"

The high mountains begin to show themselves

One of the many suspension bridges-This was not a reassuring site as the bottom bridge was broken. We opted for the high road...

Welcome to Nomche Bazaar

View as we climbed out of Nomche

The trail was getting more difficult to climb but the views were getting even better. This is where we got our first views of Mt. Everest.

Our first good view of Mt. Everest! Its the small snow peak on the far left-The peak in the center of the photo is Ama Dablam

Have Mercy

I was able to zoom in on Mt. Everest for the first time!

Ama Dablam (the first ever 8000m summit)-The ice ridge in the middle is really a mouth saying, "Devin-You can't climb me punk." Yeah-we will just see about that...

 We climbed for days into the high mountains. After 14,000ft I think your pretty high. Walking uphill is challenging but Dan and I made it a point to take some of the steep sections full gas just to see what it would feel like. Well-it hurt and I will guarantee I was hypoxic since I was seeing stars.

Ama Dablam

Views to left of the Ama Dablam Summit Ridge

Over 15,000ft and every ridge you cross is challenging. This is where Caito started talking about Greg Brady. That's when we knew she was sicker than she led us to believe.

Caito pushed on. Here she is praying that she doesn't get cerebral edema. Well-if she wasn't she should have been...

We made base camp that day and my wife was alive. It's the first time she ever asked for a Snickers Bar. She was struggling big time...

Me taking some time to converse with the mountain. She asks, "do you really want to come up here?" I reply, "I'm not totally sure, but I'm pretty damn sure!"

What goes up must come down! Unfortunately this is were we realized the true meaning of Nepal Flat! 

Up and Down no matter where you are. Never an easy trail

Caito and Ram heading back down the mountain, So we ask why we are always going up hill. It's Nepal Flat

Looking back on what we had accomplished

Caito says goodbye to Everest and Ama

I'll be back

Days later we finish up our time in the Everest region. It is marked by this threshold and Caito's much needed glacier water foot soak.

I made it back to Lukla!


Thank you Nepal

Things are always seen clear in hindsight. When I look back now I am still overhhelmed by beauity of this place. I'm in awe of the teamwork necessary to make expeditions happen. It reminds me that without support many of the things we love would either not happen or would not be nearly as enjoyable. 
None of this would happen without the support of my wife. She is the glue that makes all the crazyness stick together. I'm happy to have had her on this adventure and am so impressed she could make it in spite of her injuries. If you have someone who glues your craziness together, don't forget to let them know. 

Take time to enjoy the scenery! I do...