17 April: Keith Cowing Everest Update: Climbing Up To Namche

Keith Cowing Reporting from Nepal and Everest

My first view of Mt. Everest

My early bedtime resulted in a long, much needed sleep. I was up early and we were able to get started an hour earlier than had been the plan. I had and early lunch at Monjo - with a tea lodge eating area all to myself. The trek to Monjo had been arduous, but it was the easiest part of the day. We had only climbed a net altitude of 200 meters up from Phadking and were at 2,800 meters. We needed to get to 3,400 meters to reach Namche Bazar. Two hours of climbing a huge staircase - one that had been in use for thousands of years - lay ahead.

Tashi does one thing that is more valuable than anything else - he senses the best pace for me. After a while I found a way to focus on my breathing and my steps - and the backs of Tashi's sneakers. Since I am focusing on endurance, not sight seeing, I tried to focus on slow, constant effort. I took breaks every couple of hundred meters but only for a few minutes so as to not break the pace. With one exception.

Keith Cowing Reporting from Nepal and Everest

A tea Lodge along the way to Namche where I had an early lunch

I had stopped for a 3 minute break when Tashi suggested we go up another 20 meters or so for a "better view". It was indeed “better”: my first view of Mt. Everest. Due to our viewing angle and distance the objects around Everest were foreshortened. But I could clearly see the south face of Everest, Lhotse, the Western Cwm, and other things that I would see much closer up in a week or so.

Keith Cowing Reporting from Nepal and Everest

The mountains overlooking Namche at sunset

That inspiration in my head, we plodded on for another hour. I was pretty much spent when we saw Namche across the valley. As we came into town we found our two porters hanging out with friends. They had left Phakding only a few minutes before us but had been at Namche for more than an hour.

Keith Cowing Reporting from Nepal and Everest

Stone masons below my room. They start at 6 am.

I told Tashi that I hoped that I had achieved a karmic balance by virtue of my training regimen back home - carrying a 25 kilo backpack full for rocks 3-5 miles a day, 4-5 days a week for 4 months. I had carried the same weight of my two duffels albeit at sea level on much flatter terrain already. He thought this was funny.

Keith Cowing Reporting from Nepal and Everest

Watching Tashi's feet

A few minutes later I was at the Khumbu Lodge being shown my room. Barely 6 feet wide, when filled with my 2 duffels, back pack, and myself it was a tight fit - but the bed was bigger than I needed, so I was just fine. I got some Internet updates in and then crashed early (again) with a lot of aching muscles.

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