Monday, October 25, 2010

Namche Bazaar 26 October

Yesterday's run from Kalla Patthar to here in Namche was exhilarating and exhausting. We began with a walk up from our “Hotel” to the top of Kalla Patthar (5,545m) in crisp clear conditions and probably about 10 degrees of frost. As we walked up the hill, Everest became more prominent but it was Pumo Ri (or Pomori) that dominated. There were tents glued to the near vertical snow faces as the Ecuadorians retreated, beaten by the weather, and the Canadians advanced, hopeful that in their third season of attempts they would succeed. We had visited their base camps the day before and been warmly received.

The air at 5,500m is about half the atmospheric pressure of sea level and it feels like each lungful needs to be twice as big. We had walked up the 360m from Gorak Shep in about an hour. Running uphill is just not possible. Running down we took it slowly as in a couple of practice runs we had realised how quickly we could end up panting wrecks. Part way down KP we emerged into the sun from the shadow of Nuptse. It was time to change into shorts, shedding several layers.

The Trail quickly drops 1400m and the difference is huge. The barren alpine landscape gives way to Juniper and other conifers and the air thickens. On the down-hills we look like runners as we pass hundreds of trekkers travelling in both direction. We imagine we are skipping lightly down the boulder strewn trails but in reality we probably appear to be stumbling down. On the up-hills we look more like typical trekkers, out of breath and walking steadily. Over the course of a bit under 6 hours we descend 2800m and climb back over 700m in a bit under 40kms to arrive in Namche in time for lunch. Hazel and I are completely knackered.

Colin Rolfe decided to run from New Everest Base Camp and completed somewhat more than a regulation marathon distance in in 5 hours. A very strong effort and he had considerably more energy than us last night.

Today we are sitting in a coffee shop and bakery in Namche drinking in the incredible mountain views and sipping strong coffee as I write. We seem to have packed a huge amount into the last three weeks and there is still a week to go.

A sobering note was introduced two days ago when our climbing guides cousin was killed in an avalanche. He was the lead climber and a very popular member of staff at Sherpa Shangrila. All our guides are upset and Tshering is visiting his cousins family today. It is a further reminder of the responsibilities we have as visitors to set reasonable goals and take part of the risk management responsibility.

Ross 26 October

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