Lhotse (8,516m) 2014 CLOSED

MT EVEREST / LHOTSE SEASON OVER – LEAVING BASE CAMP
April 25, 2014 · by editanichols 
It is confirmed. The Altitude Junkies are leaving the base camp tomorrow morning. They will hike down to Periche (Spel?) which is a 4 or 5 hour trek from base camp. From there they will take a helicopter back to Katmandu. This will be my last post as Edita will be back at the Courtyard Hotel tomorrow and will likely update you from there. She plans on going for a trek over the next week or so while they wait for their bags to come down via the Yak Express…  Until next time…

MT EVEREST –MOUNTAIN IS CLOSED FOR 2014 OR NOT?

April 24, 2014 · by editanichols 
As you may or not have heard, the Climbing season at Mt Everest (south side) is “officially” closed for this season. As you will see in the attached news article, even that is not absolutely certain. Seems one person from the government says it is closed and another says “Some teams may withdraw while some may climb….” Regardless of the Nepalese confusing messages, many are leaving because of safety concerns. Edita called this morning. She was very upset because of the closure, they were still hopeful until this morning. She also seemed quite disturbed after witnessing the politics and mob mentality at the base camp. The Minister of Tourism could not get to the base camp today but a spokesperson made it in a helicopter. After the elevation jump, he had to breath from an oxygen mask during his interventions.. The Altitude Junkies were ready to get going but that will not happen unless some miracle happens. They will stay at the base camp for a few days and then begin their downhill trek on their way back to Katmandu. Apparently, the permits already paid for will be honoured for the next 5 years. So,…whats else is next… I imagine the planning to go back will begin as soon as they get over the shock of not climbing this season. It is very sad for those that this year would be have been their only chance to climb on Mt Everest and Mt Lhotse. I will update you if I hear more but now join me wishing for all to have a safe trip to Katmandu and to their homes from there.

Below is one of many articles that gives us a mixed message…

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/everest-climbers-scuttle-season-as-sherpa-support-vanishes/article18182824/

MT EVEREST – CLIMBING IN 2014 UNCERTAIN

April 23, 2014 · by editanichols
Edita called today and as I wrote before, there clearly was some serious differences of opinion between the Sherpas at base camp. As you may have read, Phil and Russell Brice flew to Katmandu to support the Sherpas and speak with government officials. I just saw Phil at the meeting on CNN, so that confirms that!

Apparently the Minister of Tourism will be visiting the base camp tomorrow. They will continue to look for a resolution, one that will be acceptable to the Sherpas and the government. At this point, I would venture a guess that there will be a negotiated solution that addresses all of the Sherpas demands. I would also venture to guess that if at all possible, the Altitude Junkies teams will be climbing Everest and Lhotse. They are not packing yet. Even though the damage to this years season seems to be increasing, or at least done, many are still trying to salvage whats left of the climbing season. The only ray of light from the tragedy is that it has initiated the obvious need to meet the Sherpa demands for reasonable economic compensation when tragedy strikes … and it will again…

I am attaching a NY Times piece that quotes Phil. It also has a good map of where the avalanche happened as well as a good perspective of Everest in relation to Mt Lhotse.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/23/world/asia/sherpas-delay-everest-climbs-in-labor-fight.html?hp&_r=1

Edita said she would call when she knew what the outcome is of tomorrows meeting at base camp… stay tuned

CLIMBING FINISHED FOR SEASON ON EVEREST AFTER DEADLY AVALANCHE?

April 21, 2014 · by editanichols
Only time will tell. There is a lot of unknowns right now. Edita wrote tonight before curling up in her cold sleeping bag that “nothing is going on…we are waiting.” They will need their Sherpas. The unknown climbing situation status could go on for days. The Sherpa are meeting with the government this week. Nothing will likely move up until after this meeting in Katmandu. Even then, there would need to be another Puja before climbing begins and that is if the Sherpas willing support the climbers.

MT EVEREST KHUMBA FALLS AVALANCHE

April 19, 2014 · by editanichols
Edita wrote early this morning from Gorak Shep.

“I was really devastated to find out my good friend sherpa Dorje Khatri died in the avalanche. I cried a lot and couldn’t sleep thinking of him and things he said just the day before he died. I wrote a tribute for him but I do not want this posted in the next few days – he is still on the mountain, deep in the snow. 13 Sherpas were recovered yesterday dead. There were many severely injured, do not have exact number. Today the helicopter is back and up lifted 10 climbers – rescuers – who will be looking for the remaining missing 4 Sherpas.

Last night after dinner Phil arranged all Sherpas and us climbers to get together for beers. We sat there together for a few hours, cried as we remembered our friends who died, told stories, laughed… It was very healing. We don’t know what will happen next but nobody is climbing g right now. Sherpas will rest for few days and will decide what will be the next step. It is the biggest disaster in a single day in the mountaineering history…”

Here is a photo I found of Edita and Dorji Kahtri on the summit of Cho Oyu.

Summit1

I have posted this picture Edita sent this morning. The avalanche occurred approximately in the top left area of this photo.

Ice Falls (32)

EVEREST AVALANCHE UPDATE INFO

April 18, 2014 · by editanichols 
Edita’s friend Margaret spoke to the Australian Press today about the terrible ordeal this morning… I am sure Edita and Margaret were close together at the time of the accident. These two really enjoy motivating each other.

Margaret said,

“We were at the base of the ice fall, we saw the avalanche. It was huge from left to right and we knew the sherpas were there. It was total disaster,” she told ABC News 24.

“If we left camp say an hour, two hours earlier we wouldn’t be at the a launch site, we’d be at the bottom of the avalanche.

“The avalanche happened at the top of the ice. The rock collapsed. At this point of the ice fall is usually considered as a safe point.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-18/twelve-dead-in-mt-everest-avalanche/5399272

Video of the avalanche. I do not know if this is authentic but looks like the real thing to me.

Also Alan Arnete does a great job of being on top of all the particulars of Everest climbs.

http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2014/04/17/everest-2014-avalanche-near-camp-1-sherpa-deaths/

MT EVEREST KHUMBA FALL AVALANCHE UPDATE

April 18, 2014 · by editanichols
Edita just sent a text. There are 13 reported dead. Right now, the recovered bodies are being brought down the mountain by helicopter in a sling, one by one.

It is not clear what the total number of people that are still missing. There are 5 persons are being treated, one being flown to Katmandu.

Altitude Junkies are back at the Base Camp now, safe. Edita wrote ” really, really sad day…Biggest disaster ever…” Edita tells me again, she has lost a close friend. She is very sad.

Bless the souls of those that are gone and our deepest sympathy to family and friends of those who died today.

MT EVEREST KHUMBA FALLS AVALANCHE

April 18, 2014 · by editanichols
All of the Altitude Junkies are ok. This morning a massive serek fell off of the west side of the mountain creating a huge avalanche that covered Khumba Falls. Edita just called on her sat phone. The Junkies were at the foot of the Falls as they watched the avalanche come down above them. Edita sounded a little shaken. There were many Sherpas on the Falls taking loads up to the camps above at the time. This is not good. I will not provide other details on the missing that she spoke of until certain significant others are informed. Phil and other AJs are helping with the rescues at this moment. Helicopters have arrived….

MT LHOTSE – SMALL UPDATE

April 17, 2014 · by editanichols
Today Edita and some of the other Altitude Junkies went down to the village of Gorak Shep. She was able to call on her Nepal sim card. There are cafes Gorak Shep and it is a good hike for them too. Again, sorry, no pictures yet. The comms is just not working well so far. There is a lot of snow this year at the Mt Everest/Lohtse base camp and its been generally cloudy, which is unusual. Apparently, this is impacting solar cell towers.

Edita sounded great over the crackly connection. Although we sometimes had a hard time hearing each other . . I did hear that Edita, Margaret and the others are having a great time doing warm up hikes/climbs and enjoying the amazing scenes. Lhotse is not a cakewalk either. It is the 4th highest mountain in the world! So they must keep fit and healthy.

She told me they plan on doing some practice on Khumbu Falls tomorrow. They will climb and manoeuvre over a few of the flimsy but strong, aluminum ladders. Check it out.

MT EVEREST / LHOTSE BASE CAMP

April 15, 2014 · by editanichols 
Edita called today on her Satellite phone. They have still not resolved the communication problems up there, so sorry, no photos. They are all staying busy doing climatization hikes. They reached a 6000 meter peak as part of their warm up. She seemed very optimistic in saying that they were targeting May 10-15 for the Lhotse summit…

Other news from Edita…apparently a group of Lithuanians “stopped by” to say hello to Edita. All I understood was they brought some delightful sausage and likely wanted photos…

ON THE WAY TO EVEREST AND LHOTSE BASE CAMP

April 7, 2014 · by editanichols
Edita and the Altitude Junkies have trekked as far as Deboche. As usual, they are taking their time on the trek, ensuring that they are acclimatizing to the higher elevations. She sent along this fantastic photo today with Lhotse in the background and is already jumping with joy

Edita in Dingboche

DAY THREE – LHOTSE 2014: CHILLING OUT IN NAMCHE BAZAR

April 5, 2014 · by editanichols 

It’s been only two days since we left Kathmandu but it feels like a week or more… We took a helicopter ride from Kathmandu to Lukla on Thursday. It is always a thrill to take a heli ride in the Himalayas – beautiful views of the mountains as well as few scary shakes due to turbulence makes the experience unforegetful… Landing in Lukla is also quite an experience, especially if you are landing on a plane. The run away is very short and on the top of the hill… It is known as the most dangerous airport in the world. Helicopter is usually a safer choice.

I was here in Lukla few years ago during my four weeks trek and climb of Mera peak. I have great memories from here. It is a busy little town with many shops. There is even a Starbucks coffee shop with free wifi! We stayed in Lukla for couple of hours until all our teammates arrived on different heli rotations. Our group consists of five Lhotse climbers, seven Everest climbers, couple of guest trekkers, our group leader Phil Crampton, and our head sherpa-Sirdar Dorje. We also have 30 other Sherpas supporting the two expeditions (Everest and Lhotse) who are already at the base camp setting up our camp.

As soon as everyone arrived in Lukla, we trekked to Phakting where we stayed overnight at the lodge that is owned by our head sherpa Dorje. Friday morning we got up early, had our breakfast and headed out for Namche Bazaar. It took about four hours walking slowly and enjoying beautiful views. I did this trek once before, it was nice to see how little things have changed here. Namche Bazaar is a very vibrant town on top of the hill with many shops and cafés. Many western tourist come through here on the way to Everest base camp (EBC). This is a good place to do your final shopping in case you forgot something in Kathmandu. You can find here even brand shops such as mountain hardware, sherpa gear, etc… As you can imagine, when you have free time, it is very tempting to go shopping even if you don’t need anything… I did not bring my credit card or extra cash, so I am being a ‘good girl’… However, my teammate Margaret broke some unspoken rules and came with some extra ‘resources’… I will write later on some cool new stuff we acquired in Namche as well as before we left in Kathmandu..

Today, Saturday, we are having a day off in Namche Bazar. There is no better place than Namche Bakery to chill out and relax with a cup (or many cups) of cappuccino and fresh baked goods and free wifi! Our Sirdar Dorje co-owns this place.

It is very important to take time for acclimatization on the way to the base camp. This is why we are staying in Namche for two nights before we head up higher towards the EBC. Tomorrow we’ll be getting up early and trekking to Tingboche where we will stay at a lodge overnight and next day will continue of trek forwards the EBC.

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STAY TUNED for updates along the way.

ARRIVED IN KATHMANDU, TOMORROW LEAVING FOR LUKLA
April 2, 2014 · by editanichols 
I arrived to Kathmandu yesterday morning but it feels like I’ve been here for a week, so much has been accomplished… It all went so smoothly when I arrived at the airport – I received my visa and bags without problem or delay. The driver spotted me first as soon as I walked out of the arrivals. This is my third expedition with Altitude Junkies (fifth expedition in Nepal) so I feel I am becoming a regular in town and at the Courtyard Hotel. As we drove along the streets of Kathmandu – traffic, rush, dust, noise, colors, smells – it all felt so familiar… I couldn’t contain my joy – I have so many incredible memories from here!

I soon as I got out of the car, my dear friend and my climbing mate Margaret come running towards me! What a reunion! It’s been one year since we came here last year to climb Mt Everest! This year we are climbing together again – Mt Lhotse. I got really emotional seeing Margaret , Phil and Trish, other Junkies I climbed with on Manaslu and Everest! What can I say about wonderful host at the Courtyard – Michelle and Pujan! They always make me feel so welcomed and at home! I couldn’t believe they would remember and give me the same room I stayed in last year (my favorite one!)…

Courtyard Hotel in Thamel (Kathmandu)

Courtyard Hotel in Thamel (Kathmandu)

As soon as I dropped my bags, the we had various things planned for the day – first, Phil held his first briefing with all the Junkies – both Everest and Lhotse teams. Our Lhotse team consists of five climbers, all of us climbed Everest and some other 8,000ers before. We are also all former Junkies. Phil (our expedition leader) is probably joking by calling us the “dream team”:

Louis (South Africa)
Ian (UK)
Mark (UK)
Edita (Lithuania)
Margaret (Australia)

I think no mater how many mountains you climb, it never gets easier when you climb at high altitude… I am really looking forward to this new challenge and adventure!

Margaret and I having lunch at one of the best somosa place in Kathmandu!

Margaret and I having lunch at one of the best somosa place in Kathmandu!

I am super thrilled I will be climbing with my incredible teammate and friend Margaret again! Last year we both climbed and summited Mt Everest from the North Side.

So, after the briefing with Phil, some of us went to get local sim cards to prepare for our expedition. Apparently, Nepalese sim cards are working at the Everest base camp. This is great, it will save up us lots of money that we would normally pay for SAT phone communications.

We also had an appointment at the Ministry of Tourism. This year the Nepalese government is implementing some new rules for the Everest/Lhotse climbers. One of the requirements is a pre-expedition orientation at the Ministry where all climbers are required to attend. So, we all went there and sat through the orientation. It was hard to understand what these guys from the Ministry were saying as they had very thick accents. But we got the essential – lots of do not do… if you do this or that (like contacting media… without a permission from the ministry, etc), they will take you off the permit to climb…

At the orientation at the Ministry of Turism

At the orientation at the Ministry of Turism

So, we have new rules on the South side this year. There will be a Nepalese police station at the base camp in case some conflict arises (this is because of the fight that broke out on the South side last year between Sherpas and Simone More/Uli Steck)… We were also asked to collect and bring 8kg of trash after the expeditions – as part of Everest clean up campaign by the Nepalese government.

We also had our teams dinner last night. It was great to see so many former Junkies as well as new members. We had good laughs and memories as beer was consumed:-)

Junkies Everest/Lhotse 2014 Teams dinner

Junkies Everest/Lhotse 2014 Teams dinner

Today I spent all day shopping and getting ready for tomorrow’s departure to Lukla. Although our duffle bags left for Lukla early this morning (to be carried by porters to the Everest base camp), we are allowed 10 kg to carry tomorrow on our helicopter lift to Lukla. Once in Lukla, we will start our trek to EBC. We are planning to reach the base camp on the 11th of April. I will post pictures and updates as our trek to the base camp progresses. Stay tuned!

Read more: Everest/Lhotse 2014 expedition dispatches on Altitude Junkies blog:http://altitudejunkies.com/dispatchlhotse14.html

31 March 2014

Heading out tomorrow to Nepal to join the Altitude Junkie to climb another 8000er. We will be attempting to climb Mt Lhotse (8516m). Mt. Lhotse is the 4th highest mountain in the world. It is one of the mountains beside Mt. Everest (on the south side). We will be sharing the same base and higher camps with the Everest expedition teams. After camp 3 (7200m) we go our separate ways. Everest climbers go to the left towards the south col and we will go right towards the summit of Lhotse, a knife edge summit ridge. I will keep you posted after I get to Nepal. I was told yesterday (confirmed by Elizabeth Hawley) that no other Lithuanian person has ever reached the peak of Lhotse. Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates.

 Photo source  Mountainzone magazine.

Photo source Mountainzone magazine.

Follow my Lhotse Blog here…

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