Kathmandu to Lukla
Elizabeth Hawley met karina and Scott at the Yak and Yeti. Pemba, the lead Sherpa, was there too. He is with us every day checking gear and liaising with Peak Promotion, the trekking company hired for Karina’s expedition. Working with Sherpas is completely professional. As Angela Hawse once told me “somehow they manage to be totally professional and your best friends at the same time”
Back to Liz Hawley. The authority on Himalayan mountaineering, she has recorded the majority of ascents over the past 50 years and maintains an extensive database. I met her 10 years ago when I was here for the Mamas Dablam trip and she was quite elderly then. Now she is very frail at 90 but still steadfast in her meticulous recordings. It is unusual for her to visit for an Everest expedition unless it’s a new route. I was in Karina’s room when Ms Hawley called. Karina had literally been in Nepal for one hour. How she knows almost to the minute that an expedition has arrived, is anyone’s guess.
Scott asked me to take some photos of him with Ms Hawley. He has a soft spot for older ladies. He was very close to his Grandma. So overwhelmed was he in her presence, that he could not actually remember the exact day that he climbed Everest in 2010. “How about being correct,” was the terse comment.
We have arrived by twin otter into Lukla. I can’t believe that I am here with Obie. He has gone to shoot the planes landing with Scott, camera in hand. The Lukla runway is so exciting. At 600 meters long, it abruptly stops against the mountainside. A round of applause and the splat of vomit (not us) ended our flight. Prayer flags fluttered amongst the stone buildings with their bright blue window frames. We wandered up the worn stone trail to a tea house to await our bags. Our bags were too heavy and numerous to come on one flight.
Seeing the mountains from the plane I feel that familiar urge to go climbing. A lightweight pair of crampons and an ice axe are hidden in my luggage. It’s unlikely but you never know!
Namche Bazaar, April 7
The hike up valley has been quite leisurely. Obie and I have often gone ahead with our Sherpa-guide-in-training Khunga. He is 16 and just finished his year 10 exams. A little shy about speaking English, he is very attentive to Obie and likes piggy-backing him . Often Obie insists that I carry him. I got a good work out piggy backing him most of the way up the 2000 foot Namche hill.
Namche Bazaar is so surprising. A large colorful village perched on terraces at 3400 meters, there are numerous shops carrying all kinds of goods – all of which have been either carried up by porter, donkey or dokyo (yak/cattle hybrid that does better at lower elevations than the yak).
We’ll stay here for two nights to begin our acclimatization process. So far everyone feels fine. Obie’s tummy is a bit rumbly but his energy remains good. We have been diligent about keeping up with his schoolwork, spending about one hour a day on reading, writing and maths. I’m also carrying flash cards for on-the-fly reading and maths.