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Thupten's Eleven

REI Adventures brought together 11 strangers and 24 support staff into a great group. Pictures of the team. Three musketeers from Switzerland, a lady from San Francisco, two couples, a father and son, and myself. By the end of the trip strangers were asking how long we had all known each other. "Two weeks" was not the answer they expected.

Raise your glass to good people.

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Kathmandu Tour
First jaunt as an entire group. Saw the sights around Kathmandu, the capital and largest city of Nepal. Temples, dances, etc.

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Trail Day 1: Training

Kathmandu--> Lukla--> Phakding

Fly from KTM to Lukla on a puddle jumper through the clouds. Ours was one of only two flights that got through that day. And so begins the seemingly magical power of Thupten. Pics along the trail, no mountains to see since it was so cloudy.

Camp Elev: 8,600'

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Trail Day 2: Initiation

Phakding to Namche Bazar -via Heartbreak Hill-

Heartbreak hill consists of approximately 1300' of vertical climb via endless switchbacks up the side of a mountain. It is the first true test for trekkers to higher elevations. Note that there were few, if any web worthy pictures taken during the ascent. Namche Bazar is famous as a trading ground between folks from higher and lower elevations. All goods up and down the mountain pass through here.

Camp Elev: 11,350' (2 days for acclimatization)

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Trail Day 3: Everest View

Rest day in Namche. Day hike to Everest View Hotel.

To minimize altitude issues, we stop for two nights every time we go up around 3,000' in elevation. Mantra is 'hike high, sleep low.' We tramped to the Everest View Hotel for our first view of the top of the world. Several of us considered (briefly) calling it mission accomplished and staying here.

Camp Elev: 11,350' (2 days for acclimatization)

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Trail Day 4: Yak Attack !!

Namche Bazar-->Phortse Tenga

We veered off the main drag today to start the scenic route up the mountains. The lead group got charged by some yaks - they had to run. Let the awesome views begin. Beautiful campsite by a river.

Camp Elev: 12,100'

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Trail Day 5: Mountain Views

Phortse Tenga --> Pangboche

Continued the scenic route today. Tom's quote concerning the campsite, "I'm pissed, I look all around and all I see is mountains."

Camp Elev: 12,100'

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Trail Day 6: Higher than Colorado

Pangboche --> Dingboche

For perspective, we camped at an elevation higher than any peak in Colorado and gazed up at mountains all around.

Camp Elev: 14,550' (2 days for acclimatization)

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Trail Day 7: Dingboche Sports Day

Day hike up the side of Nangkar Tshang

Day hike to 15,450'. Visible are Lhotse and Makalu, #4 & #5 in the world. Lhotse was ever-present, but Makalu was a special treat. In the village: Internet at $0.50 per minute. Billiards. Poker. Blackjack.

Camp Elev: 14,550'

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Trail Day 8: "Where's my Johnny Freakin' Ho"

Dingboche to Lobuche

You had to be there for the quote above. That said, we're getting serious now. Colder. Constant uphill. Tomorrow is 'D-Day'.

Camp Elev: 16,200'

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Trail Day 9: D-Day

Lobuche to Kala Patar

What's the big deal you say? 6 miles of hiking. Around 2500' of vertical ascent. Max out at 18,350' Thats 50% of sea level oxygen. Over half the altitude of your last plane flight.

Why you say? Kala Patar is the best viewing spot for Mt. Everest. We had to push hard to get there before the afternoon cloud cover rolled in. And we did it.

Camp at Gorak Shep, elev. 16,900' {Hereafter rounded to 17,000'}

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Trail Day 10: Death March

Gorak Shep--> Everest Base Camp--> Lobuche

9.5 mile hike up and down rocks and a glacier to Everest Base Camp(EBC). Throw in a gentle snow changing to a wind blown blizzard. 1500' of cumulative ascent to go up a mere 700'. Cold. Damn cold. Only 5 of 11 were brave (crazy) enough to make this leg. EBC is an unimpressive collection of tents on top of a glacier. Last time I was this physically beat down was 1998.

Camp Elev: 16,200' (EBC @ 17,600')

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Trail Day 11: Downhill Dash

Lobuche--> Deboche

Net drop of 3,700'. Last half of it in the rain. Oxygen and lodges are good.

Camp Elev: 12,500'

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Trail Day 12: Shower & Shave

Deboche-->Namche Bazar

Back to familiar territory. We were like hermits rolling into the big city.

Camp Elev: 11,350'

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Trail Day 13 & 14: Goodbye to the Mountains


Oxygen and lodges are good. Several of us pulled a 9 hour party in Lukla. We ran the pool table at the 'Irish Pub' for 5 hours or so. We skipped tea time. It made for an early evening the next day in Kathmandu.........

Lukla- 9,300'