October 31st 2017 –
This morning we left Panboche for the trek to the Ama Dablam Basecamp. You have to cross the Imja River and then head up a pretty steep climb before things level off a bit and then climb again. Altogether you gain about 600 meters from Pangboche. The terrain is well above the tree line now so you walk on rocks, low growing shrubs, and sand (the rocks crushed by the movement of glaciers.)
I took this photo outside our lodge in Pangboche, the last lodge I will see for a couple of weeks. When I got to Basecamp I was pretty pleased to have left the lodges behind me. The setup they prepared for me feels like ‘glamping’ (glamor-camping for the uninitiated.) Binoy and his team set up my own private tent with carpeting, a writing desk and chair, flowers, a trash bin, a welcome mat, and a very comfortable bed. Quite amazing. But there’s more… I have my own private toilet tent, and a separate shower tent with a hot water bag and pump. I feel very spoiled, which I suspect was the idea.
Communicating has become a little problematic as the local cell coverage doesn’t reach us in Basecamp. There is a local wifi provider called Everest Internet, but their service can be like playing the lottery. Sometime you win, but most of the time you lose. I’ve never felt so frustrated waiting for a web page to load since 1998.
There is a sea of tents at Basecamp; the grey landscape is dotted is with orange and yellow spots, each one someone’s home for a few weeks. Someone said that the tents are supporting about 30 different expeditions trying to summit Ama Dablam. All of the western climbers keep to themselves, but the sherpas, porters, cooks, and climbing sherpas have their own well established friendships from having done this together for years.
Many of the climbers try to summit by leaving Camp 2 at about midnight. When I woke up in the middle night to an almost full moon and looked up toward the peak I could see the headlamps of some of the climbers that had already started their final push to the top. They will probably summit around 8:00am and then start the descent to Camp 1. My turn will be coming soon