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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Preliminary Itinerary - just so you know where I will be and when

As promised, I am posting my itinerary.  Two posts in one day!  A new personal best.  As the days draw near and as the climbers arrive in KTM, there are more events to report.  I intend to keep you all posted via my blog until I no longer have the energy or the internet access.  So here goes...a rough itinerary.  NOTE:  The days are rough estimates because there are many factors that affect the itinerary - mostly the TIN factor (TIN = "This Is Nepal").

Day 1:  DC to KTM (Day 1 in Kathmandu)

Flight to KTM:
Washington Reagan --> Dubai
Dubai --> KTM
Hopefully this is an uneventful trip with two long naps

LATEST UPDATE on 3/31/15:  Alan Arnette is stuck in Turkey.  As the saying goes..."the early bird may catches the worm" but few recognize that the early worm gets eaten OR stuck in Turkey.  Sorry Alan.  Hope you get out of there soon...and no, I am not calling him a worm.  He is too nice a guy to call him anything other than a great person.

Day 2:  KTM to Lukla (Day 2 in Kathmandu/Lukla)

Flight from KTM to Lukla is always an event.  The weather interferes with the flights so if all goes well, I will get out of KTM right away and start my trek on day 2.  Wishful thinking...TIN.  

LATEST UPDATE on 3/31/15:  Jim Davidson is waiting to get out of KTM.  The flights to Lukla were canceled yesterday (3/30/15) and it doesn't look promising today.  Stay tuned to his updates for flight information.

Day 2 continued.... (Option 1):  Lukla to Namche (based upon how I feel and if I arrive early enough into Lukla) - estimated time*:  10 hours

The trek from Lukla to Namche takes about 10 hours (give or take an hour due to rest and food breaks).  What makes the trek between these two points somewhat challenging is not the altitude gain but rather the length (10 miles).  Most people take 3-5 days to complete this section of the trek.  Since I am acclimatized now to 20,000 feet (6100 m), I see no reason to dawdle up the valley.  On the other hand, I do intend to take a leisurely stroll up the valley and capture as much as possible on camera.  I have a ton of pictures from last year but I want some better ones this year with my new Sony alpha 6000 (sounds like some futuristic device, eh?). 

*NB:  These time estimates are rough.  I have no real recollection of the times and did not look them up in my climbing log.  Instead, I used various websites to get an average estimate.  My suspicion is that these are fairly conservative time estimates.  It doesn't matter; I intend to take my time.  There are no awards for a fast trek...only a huge headache and slow acclimatization.

The Trek from Lukla to EBC with altitudes in meters

Days 2 and 3 (Option 2):  Lukla to Phakding (sleep) and then off to Namche - estimated time:  2 hours 1st leg and 8 hours 2nd leg

Last year, we did the trek to Namche using this method.  It was really casual and I felt we could easily go further but we got such a late start from Lukla, the short trek was almost mandatory.  So, if I get into Lukla late, I will stop in Phakding for the night and then head off to Namche right away the next morning.

Days 2 and 3 (Option 1) or Days 3 and 4 (Option 2):  Arrive in Namche and rest the next day

I'm in no rush.  I like Namche.  It is really the last bit of civilization we have along the Khumbu valley so I intend to soak it up.  They have great WiFi, bakeries, and places to just hang out and chat with other climbers.  After Namche, the accommodations get a bit more rustic (euphemism for whatever you can imagine) and less comfortable unless we sleep in a tent (my preference).  At this point, I will be at 11,300 feet (3440m) and probably feeling darn good.  The days so far would not be terribly stressful and I can take my time to get to Everest base camp (EBC) even though our entire SummitClimb expedition will have been there for almost 2 weeks.  I'm patient.  Also, I am acclimatized.  No need to stress.

Day 4 (Option 1) or Day 5 (Option 2):  Trek from Namche to Pangboche - estimated time:  7 hours

Trekking out of Namche is a treat.  You climb...and climb...and climb to all destinations up the valley.  I find this part to be refreshing because up until this point, most of the trek is pretty flat with a few uphill sections.  This section got my blood going and I felt alive.  There are tons of photo opportunities and different landscapes as we head out of Namche and into the higher elevations of Pangboche and other small villages.  Pangboche doesn't have much to offer but it is a relatively cozy village with nice tea houses.  I like the bakery there and found their peat fireplace to be a nice respite from the cold confines of our unheated (at the time) tea house.  My stay here will be brief - just overnight.  Gotta get up early for the next leg...

Day 5 (Option 1) or Day 6 (Option 2):  Trek from Pangboche to Lobuche - estimated time:  8.5 hours

I have no reason to rush to Lobuche.  That village is a mudfest in the streets but has nice accommodations and friendly hosts.  Many trekkers stop here and I intend to do the same.  What makes Lobuche ideal is that it is located just far enough away from Pangboche to make it a good stopping point and yet far away still from Gorak Shep and EBC to warrant the stop here.  I will spend the night here, rest up well, and get ready for my final push to EBC from Lobuche.

Day 6 (Option 1) or Day 7 (Option 2):  Trek from Lobuche to EBC - estimated time:  5.5 hours

I really enjoyed this part of the trek last year.  The Khumbu valley opens up and you finally get to see EBC and the icefall from pretty far away.  Also, the anticipation of getting to EBC is a bit overwhelming.  We moved fast last year but this year, I want to take my time, snap a bunch of pictures of Lobuche (the peak I climbed last year before the closed down Everest) and Pumori (the peak I climbed up to Advanced Base Camp or ABC last year to acclimatize).  These are pretty peaks and warrant a few nice pictures.  

So, I expect to be in EBC in about a week.  You see from the rough itinerary above that there are many contingencies.  I didn't include inclement weather delays because I have the gear to trek through snow and rain.  A little precipitation makes the day go faster and makes it a bit more interesting.  Thus, I have a week to get to EBC and I intend to take my time.  

Once I get to EBC, I will probably start with the rounds up through the icefall with the other climbers provided I feel fine.  Those rounds are just acclimatization stages where we climb high, sleep low.  The first round is a quick trip up the icefall followed by either a night at camp 1 or an immediate return - depending upon the time required to ascend the icefall.  I will know more about the rounds and the rounds schedule when I get to EBC.  For now, I focus on what I control - the trek into EBC.  

Hope you found this illuminating.  You will all get SPOT updates on my whereabouts so you will know where I am and how I progressed up through the Khumbu valley AND how accurate my guesstimates were for this itinerary.  Don't expect these numbers to even come close to reality.