The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

November 2, 2015
Burke-Khang Base Camp

Namaste Family & Friends:

On October 30, we all arrived at Burke-Khang Base Camp in fine form. We celebrated Halloween in even finer form, as you can see from the photos.

In the afternoon, we had our Puja, which is a prayer ceremony led by a Lama, or Buddhist Priest. The Lama prays for safe passage on the mountain. This ceremony is considered sacred by the Sherpas, who will not sleep on the mountains they climb until the Puja has been completed.

The Sherpa who performed the Puja was a former Lama whom I am guessing is in his mid-50’s. He calls himself “Mickey Mouse.” He is now devoting himself primarily to high altitude mountaineering. He has climbed Everest 15 times and summitted 9 times.

Guess what? My Sherpa is Mickey Mouse. So, I’m climbing Burke-Khang with Mickey Mouse! How cool is that?

Our Base Camp is situated on a large plateau with a stunning view of Mt. Everest. We have single person sleeping tents, a dining tent, a cook tent, a shower tent and a toilet.

Burke-Khang Base Camp is located at the junction of the Ngozumba Glacier and the Guanara Glacier. These massive, powerful glaciers are breathtaking to view. From here, we will split off the Ngozumba and move up the Guanara Glacier to Advanced Base Camp.

On the morning of October 31, we bid a sad farewell to our trekkers Rebecca York, Daniel Powell & Martha Levin. They moved down the mountain to begin their own adventure up to Everest Base Camp and then down the Everest Trekking Trail to Lukla. On November 1, they rested in Dzonglha. Their destination today is Gorak Shep. After Gorak Shep, they will trek up to Everest Base Camp. The trek to EBC and back down to Lukla is fun, easy and beautiful, especially this time of the year.

We will miss our friends greatly, and I know they will miss us too. In a future post, I will line out their itinerary.

I had the saddest of news yesterday morning when my dear friend John Dahlem (“Coach”) informed me that a bulging disc in his back has become inflamed, and he has to end his trip. He was in a lot of pain and flew off the mountain in a helicopter in the afternoon. He will need an epidural when he returns home, but he will be fine. It has happened to him before. Of course, he was devastated to leave us, and we felt the same way.

That leaves 5 of us to finish the climb. Kathy has decided to stay with the team, which is good news for us.

The cooks here are the very best. On October 31, they brought in sizzling plates of pasta, chicken, vegetables and fries. For breakfast yesterday morning, we had blueberry pancakes, ham & fried eggs. Our lunch yesterday was homemade vegetarian pizza. Last night, we had fresh, homemade  tomato soup and dal bhat.

We also had good news last night when we received a report that Sid and the Sherpas have fixed the lines up the East Buttress of Butke- Khang, almost to Camp 1 on the ridgeline. They report that the mountain looks to be in good condition for our climb. Yippee!

We will be staying here at Base Camp for a couple of days doing daily acclimatization hikes to prepare our bodies for the assault on Burke-Khang. I’ll send out a report with our schedule tomorrow or the next day.

The vistas are blowing everyone away. This is Heaven on Earth. The weather is also holding up well.

Did I mention that everyone on the climbing team is doing GREAT?

Bill

Gokyo Ri to Burke-Khang
Gokyo Ri to Burke-Khang
Catch-up photos from Halloween
Catch-up photos from Halloween
Catch-up photos from Halloween
Catch-up photos from Halloween
Catch-up photos from Halloween
Catch-up photos from Halloween
The Puja
The Puja
Bud & Bill
Bud & Bill
The Team at Gokyo
The Team at Gokyo
Burke-Khang Base Camp
Burke-Khang Base Camp
The Trekkers Depart
The Trekkers Depart
Looking up the Guanara Glacier
Looking up the Guanara Glacier
View of Mt. Everest from Base Camp
View of Mt. Everest from Base Camp
Night time at Base Camp
Night time at Base Camp
Looking down the Ngozumba Glacier
Looking down the Ngozumba Glacier
5th Gokyo Lake
5th Gokyo Lake
Mt. Everest from Base Camp
Mt. Everest from Base Camp
Dinner-pasta, chicken, vegetables & fries
Dinner-pasta, chicken, vegetables & fries
Base Camp
Base Camp
Dining Tent
Dining Tent
Gokyo Lake
Gokyo Lake
Coach & Bill
Coach & Bill
Coach's Helicopter
Coach’s Helicopter
Back to KTM
Back to KTM

Comments

9 thoughts on “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

  1. Great news from the team! I’m happy to hear Cathy decided to continue the expedition. When my mother was in hospice and I was afraid to leave her side, they presented me with data that 83% of mothers choose to enter heaven when their children leave the room. Honoring and loving your mother will occur at anytime and anyplace. I’m sending vibes to Cathy; I hope she celebrates her mother in the Himalayas during this time♥️

  2. Dear Bill:

    So glad to hear from you. I think of you each morning as I walk by your home, and worry when I don’t hear each day.

    So glad you are there and ready to ascend. God speed to you and all your great compadres!

    So proud. You are a true inspiration and I am awed and thrilled with your adventurous spirit and your stupendous heart and love of adventure.

    God speed,

    Lori

  3. Bill and team,
    Your undertaking to Burke-Khang is the gold standard for adventure trekking and, like the price of gold, it will have its ups and downs. Sorry to now hear that John has left the mountain, but very happy to hear that Kathy is remaining with the team–she is needed to lead the summit samba/shuffle.

    Continued blessings,

    Rockman Rick

  4. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for updating this blog.

    I’m one of Martha’s friends in Hong Kong and visited Nepal last October, so I’ve been following the progress of your team with interest.

    Your photos are fantastic and especially interesting as I had wanted to go up the Gyoko route but could not arrange it on short notice. Best of luck on the mountain!

    Jeff

  5. Great news about your weather and hope it does hold for the balance of your ascend. You will go from 8 Summits to Nine when you reach the peak. After all Burke-Khang isn’t just any mountain. What an honor to have it named after you.

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