Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ama Dablam: A historic trek....

Hamish and Tina nearing the end of the high cable bridge
A historic trek
18 October 2014 

Greetings from Namche Bazaar! This historic trading post served as a meeting point for Nepali and Tibetan people to trade items back and forth. For us, it served as our goal for the day, and as another spectacular mountain village to acclimatise in.

The hike from Phakding to Namche started off quite flat and mellow, much like the previous day. The path mimics the flanks of the Bhote Koshi Nadi river, which rages vibrant blue and white with glacial silt. Massive waterfalls cascaded on either side, giving yet another reason for us to take pause, photos, and enjoy the thundering sound of falling water. We meandered along the trail for some time before coming to a tea house for brunch.

Enjoying views along the river on the way to Namche Bazaarption

Water in the Khumbu must be purified before drinking, and boiling is one method of accomplishing this. As such, our hydration is coming mostly in the form of fine teas. This has allowed us to sample tea made with fresh mint leaves, real ginger tea, and Nepalese masala tea. It was both relaxing and rejuvenating and gave us respite before the Namche hill.

This steep hill gains roughly 800 meters (2600 feet) in a relatively short distance, and the footing can often be unstable. At sea level, it would serve as an excellent training tool, yet at altitude it is a bit of a litmus test for one's ability to acclimatise. The goal is to travel slow and steady, avoiding the need to sweat or stop and catch your breath. I can report that our team performed quite well! We have some very fit athletes on the team and it can be challenging to hold back from pushing yourself up the hill, however our climbers are wise enough to leave the ego at home and enjoy the journey. 

Matthew stops along the cable bridge

A highlight for me was a cable bridge 200 meters in the air spanning the distance over the river. 100 meters below was another bridge, bringing locals to valuable farming land. The two bridges both had a plethora of prayer flags flying off their side in the afternoon winds, creating colourful contrast to the green forest all around us.

Near the end of the hike into Namche is the first viewpoint you get of Everest, however clouds had rolled in and blocked our view. As we got to our lodge for the evening, those clouds opened up and it rained into the evening, stopping just before the sun had set. As it stopped the clouds gave way, backlit by the sun in perfect pink light, and allowed us to see the fresh dusting of powder snow on the surrounding peaks. The magnificence of these mountains is best observed in these quiet moments.

Tomorrow we go for an acclimatisation hike, returning to our comfortable accommodations here at the Khumbu Lodge for the evening. Until then, we rest.

Cheers from the Ama Dablam team,

Andrew Yasso

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