Journey to Syangboche

Dispatch—Day 6: April 1, 2009

Namche Bazaar, Nepal—11,296 feet (3,443 meters)
N 27º 48.300’ E 086º 42.667’

While the rest of the gang set out in the dark for “production work” up and over the ridge to Khumjung, I followed at a more civilized hour with Erica and Ed Dohring. Father and daughter were both feeling fine after two nights and a rest day living the Namche high life. On this calm and sunny morning, we hiked up to Syangboche, the sometimes-used dirt airstrip 500 feet [150 meters] directly above Namche. The mountains were big and bright and unobscured by any cloud whatsoever. As we came to the forested ridgecrest separating us from the Khumjung Valley, we were granted a big view of Everest and Lhotse, with wind tearing ragged cloud banners from their summits.

We connected up with the early-morning film squad to find the gang over in the Khumjung Bakery. They finished up breakfast and then together we went out for a few more photos, posing amongst the peaks on a fine spring day. Once this was finished, Ed, Erica, and I continued with our acclimatization hike, agreeing to meet one and all back down in Namche in the afternoon.

But first we found our way to the deck of the Everest View hotel to enjoy... what else? The Everest view with a couple of plates of French fries at 12,000-plus feet [3,600-plus meters]. A humongous brown-and-gold eagle flew close over our fries on his/her way through the treetops of the ridge. There were a few other tourists about, but for the most part we’d gotten away from the “crowds” of trekkers and porters on the main trail up-valley.

Our walk was quite leisurely and enjoyable, but it was not without purpose. Rest on a rest day is a great and valuable thing, but light exercise at a slightly higher altitude than one is currently sleeping at is also a great way to prepare for actually moving higher. We’ll do that tomorrow, assuming that everybody has a manageable last night in Namche. But first, folks are back to resting … enjoying last showers and Internet access and shopping in the metropolis of Namche Bazaar.

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