Our Sherpa friends are preparing to head up to the upper camps! The depth and breadth of the logistics necessary for orchestrating an Everest ascent are pretty huge. It’s like a symphony with many instruments that all need to be in concert if you’re going to actually make a memorable tune. Our Sherpa team are maestros and today they packed up some food and supplies to make a run up to Camps 3 and 4 in the coming days.
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Expedition Dispatches From Around The Globe!
Posts for every team can be found under the drop-down menus at the right of this page. We have organized our expeditions into Denali, International and Mount Everest categories, with further organization by their Team Meeting Date. We try to post from each team on each day, but this is not always possible, due to communication challenges in mountainous regions, so keep in mind that “No News Is Good News!”
Click on the audio dispatch icons to hear phone calls from our climbers and guides, so that you can better enjoy the experience through their words, not ours. Click on a post’s title to open it in its own window to leave a comment for your favorite climber. Above all, have fun and dream big!
Hello from 17,600 feet!
Scott and I arrived at the Mountain Trip Mount Everest Base Camp on the 14th of April after hiking up the Khumbu for nine days. We stayed in Namche Bazaar, Dingboche and Lukla for two nights each, taking advantage of doing some fun “casual” day hikes. This not only helps with acclimatizing, but they enabled us to get amazing views of some of the Himalaya giants including Everest, Makalu and Cho Oyu, as well as many other beautiful rugged peaks and hanging glaciers.
We had great weather until we reached Lobuche, where we woke up to a foot of new snow on a few inches of old rotten crud that is always fun to walk on..! Since then, we’ve had light snow showers and a bit of wind in the afternoons. When the sun comes out in the morning, the snow quickly melts only to be replaced by fresh snow in the evening.
The snow has slowed the progress of rope and ladder fixing in the icefall and above Camp One.
Today the 18th of April is the one year anniversary of the tragic avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall that took 16 Sherpa lives, something about which we are all very conscious and respectful. Trying to avoid a similar accident, the Khumbu Ice Doctors (the Sherpas that maintain the fixed lines and ladders through the icefall) made a route on the right side of the icefall trying to avoid the seracs on the lower slopes of Everest, the side opposite of the one on which the avalanche hit last year.
Out of respect for the fallen Sherpas who worked hard to make it possible for many of us to achieve our dream of climbing Everest, no one is climbing above Base Camp today.
Tomorrow, only the Ice Doctors will climb up, as they affix ropes and replace ladders that might have broken due to the ever shifting ice in the icefall. On the 20th, the plan is for our Sherpas to climb up, carrying loads to establish Camps One and Two. On the 21st or 22nd, Scott and I will head up to spend three to four nights above 21,000 feet to acclimatize. After that first rotation at Camp 1 and 2, we will rest at base camp for a few days before going up to Camp 2 once again before making a day trip to Camp 3 at 23,800 feet.
When not on the mountain, Scott and I spend the days walking around Base Camp socializing and meeting other climbers from around the world. It’s truly an international crowd, with 300+ climbers from around the world. Some days we will climb up to Camp 1 on neighboring Pumori or work on our climbing skills in the lower icefall to prepare for the climb up to Camp 1.
Please check back as we will try to up date the blog as often as possible.
Jacob Schmitz, Everest Base Camp
The Island Peak climbers, David and Alisha, left base camp yesterday with Dawa Sherpa on their way to Dingboche, and after a night at our favorite lodge, the Snow Lion, they’ll head up to the Island Peak base camp.
Scott and Jacob have been spending their time settling in to base camp and acclimating to their 17,000 ft home before heading higher up the mountain. They’ve practiced climbing ladders and are moving through the ice with their crampons on, so they should be pretty efficient by the time they are ready to move up to Camp 1 in a couple of days.
Our Sherpa team is carrying loads up to Camp 1 and Camp 2 today to establish those camps for the climbers. Tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the avalanche that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa guides last season, so it will be a day to remember and our team will not be climbing tomorrow.
The route is established through the icefall and has been getting plenty of traffic by the early teams already. There are more ladders and the terrain is slightly more technical this season as the route has moved out to the middle of the icefall a bit in an effort to avoid the more avalanche prone areas on the climbers left under the W. Shoulder of Everest.
Here’s a great image of the route and a comparison between where it has been in previous years.
They spent the day at Everest Base Camp enjoying the comforts of tent living and going over some climbing/mountaineering skills in the ice nearby camp. Tomorrow David and Alisha will start back down the valley and towards Island Peak for their climb, while Scott and Jacob acclimatize to the high altitude tent city they will base out of for the next month and a half. They were welcomed into base camp by our amazing team of Sherpa who have been establishing the camp on the rocky moraines of the lower Khumbu glacier. We have a big comfortable dome tent for dining and hanging out with carpeted floors, heat, solar powered lights and a coffee grinder for a fresh cup in the morning. It’s been a bit snowy the last few days, and that is expected to continue for another day or so before the clear skies come back over the Himalaya.
Here’s Jacob from Base Camp!
They arrived at Everest Base Camp today! They have moved into their tents at Base Camp and are settling into the big dome tent for dinner tonight. We should get a call with a dispatch from base camp later tonight, but spoke with Jacob earlier and they are doing great!
Jacob’s call today is pretty garbled due to the spotty phone service up there, but they are in the village of Lobuche and excited to be heading up to Everest Base Camp tomorrow! They are all doing great and enjoying the journey through the beautiful Khumbu Valley. We should get much better phone service tomorrow when they continue up the valley past the final village of Gorak Shep, and on to Everest Base Camp.
Here’s the garbled call from Jacob.
Jacob called in from the team’s second day at Dingboche, a village located near the confluence of the Imja and Khumbu rivers, the latter originating from the Khumbu Glacier on the south flank of Mount Everest. Everyone is doing great and they took a planned rest and acclimatization day to help their bodies acclimatize to the thinning air. They hiked up to over 17,000′ to assist in the transition.
It sounds like French pastries and lattes are part of their acclimatization program???
The connection was a bit spotty and there is a bit of wind noise, so Jacob called in a second post, largely reiterating the same news. I’ll leave both posted, as they are slightly different.
They left the village of Namche this morning after a couple of nights there, and continued their trek up the Khumbu valley past the Tengboche Monastery, and on to the village of Deboche where they will spend the night. It’s been beautiful weather for the team so far, and they are enjoying the journey.
Here’s Jacob checking in from Deboche:
They had a nice leisurely trek this morning up to Namche Bazaar, the hub of activity in the Khumbu region. This is the biggest village they will pass through on their journey, and it is a beautiful spot to take an extra day to acclimatize and enjoy the bakeries that Namche is famous for. They’ll spend the night tonight in a nice lodge overlooking Namche, and spend tomorrow hiking around and getting their first views of Mount Everest!
Here’s Jacob with the first of what will be many audio dispatches left by the team,
The team flew to Lukla this morning from Kathmandu and have begun the trek up to Everest Base Camp. It’s a beautiful flight from the Kathmandu valley up to the little village of Lukla on a hillside in the foothills of the Himalaya. They will begin trekking for just a few hours after they arrive and will spend the night in a lodge in the village of Phakding tonight. Jacob called from Lukla, and they had a bag missing for a while after the flight, but they tracked it down and they are on their way. Everyone is excited to be heading into the mountains and breathing some fresh mountain air!
Hello from Nepal!
The team is here and the bags have arrived! We are excited to get going, but are trying to enjoy Kathmandu before flying up to the mountains and beginning the trek.
The team here is:
Scott Holder from California, Everest Expedition
Alisha and David Germer from Alaska, Everest Base Camp and Island Peak Climb.
Jacob Schmitz vagabond guide but most recently storing equipment in Bend, Oregon. Expedition Leader.
We have been in Kathmandu for a few days sight seeing and enjoying the busy and culturally beautiful capital of Nepal. After gear checks and an supplemental oxygen clinic from our mask supplier, Ted Atkins from TopOut. We are ready and excited to fly to Lukla tomorrow and start our trek to Everest!
Its going to take us around nine to ten days to acclimatize and arrive to EBC (Everest Base Camp) well rested. It’s an amazing hike up the Khumbu with incredible views of the Himalaya. One of my favorite hikes in the world.
We will be checking in often and updating the Dispatches to let all of our friends and loved ones back at home know of our progress.
Mountain Trip is excited to be returning to Mount Everest again in 2015 for a private expedition with one of our favorite climbers, Scott Holder! Our Mount Everest Expedition 2015 will be led by Jacob Schmitz who is returning to the Himalaya for his 6th 8000 meter expedition and his second time on Mount Everest.
We are really proud of the Everest Program that we’ve developed and look forward to returning to the highest peak on the planet!
Our climbing Sherpa team will be a veteran crew who have all been working with Mountain Trip for years and have several summits of Mount Everest.
Our lead climbing Sherpa once again this season will be DaOngchhu Sherpa. DaOngchhu has been on the last 5 Mountain Trip Everest teams, and joined us on a Denali expedition in Alaska this last summer. Samden and Da Nuru have both climbed with us several times and provide a huge amount of experience and really power the expedition.
It was a difficult year on Everest last season, and we were fortunate to not have any of our team involved in the avalanche last year. There are going to be some significant, and other more subtle changes to the approach of climbing through the Khumbu Icefall this season that we all hope can prevent another such tragedy.
The team will be meeting in Kathmandu on the 4th of April, and we will have regular updates to our expedition dispatches as the trip gets underway including audio posts from the team, and pictures and video when we are able!
Mountain Trip seeks the best guides in the business. Our guides are well traveled, highly knowledgeable, professional and awesome people. But, don’t take it from us, get to know our guides for yourself!
Jacob Schmitz chose to become a mountain guide in the late 90s while working in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park. He loved playing and working outside, and his passion was climbing so it naturally made sense. Jacob spends 250+ days each year on expeditions; that’s a lot of time! So much in fact, that he hasn’t been home for Christmas in over 15 years. Mountain Trip Director Todd Rutledge caught up with Jacob to get all the dirt on life, guiding expeditions and his love of the outdoors when he passed through Ophir, CO last week.
Todd: What relevant experience did you have when you started guiding?
Jacob: Since I was a little kid, I would go on camping trips with my family. When I was 12 I started climbing and quickly became very passionate about the sport. In my 20’s, I worked so I could climb and travel, so I learned a lot of lessons the hard way. Then, I worked as an assistant for years under some great guides and tried to absorb as much knowledge as possible from every expedition. I owe so much to all my mentors.
Todd: What sort of courses, education or certifications have you taken along the way?
Jacob: From the time I began guiding, I have always held the WMI Wilderness First Responder. I have an ARIE Level 2 Avalanche Certification, and hope to take the Level 3 in the near future. I have also taken AMGA courses along the way to help with more technical rock and alpine guiding.
Todd: For how long and where have you guided?
Jacob: I have been guiding for 15 years all around the world. Some of the more notable places I have been are: Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan and Antarctica. In 2013 I completed the “7 Summits” while guiding, that was a great way to see the world. I mostly work on high altitude peaks. I’ve done 60+ 6,000 meter peaks, and this year will be my 5th trip to an 8,000 meter peak.
Todd: What is the most rewarding part of the job?
Jacob: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing a team member’s face when they summit. It feels great to see someone succeed, after they put so much hard work and energy into a goal that is not always guaranteed.
Todd: How do you return to the same venue over and over, yet still keep it fresh for your clients?
Jacob:: Returning to a mountain is a good thing! You get to know the area, where to shop, eat, take the team for day trips and explore. When you become comfortable on a big mountain and get to know the weather patterns and terrain, you are able to make good decisions about moving to a higher camp or summiting.
Also, each team is unique, and no two trips are alike. Being with like-minded people in the mountains is always fresh and exciting.
Todd: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are considering climbing a big, cold mountain?
Jacob: I always try to stay as organized as possible. When I’m in my tent I know where my boots are and that they won’t fill up with snow. If I need to go out to work on the tents or put up snow walls I know exactly where my warm gloves and goggles are. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best but most importantly enjoy all of it, the good and the bad. It’s all part of being in the mountains. Sometimes you have to have a sense of humor when the wind won’t stop, for days…
Todd: What was your first concert?
Jacob: I’m not sure… My parents took me to a few while they went on Harley rides. I remember a Reggae Sun Splash at the Greek Theater in Los Angles was a lot of fun! I was pretty young, around seventeen.
Todd: What do you do for fun in your spare time?
Jacob: More and more, I’ve been able to travel to a lot of amazing places. I’m a history buff so I really enjoy seeing amazing historic cities in Europe or ruins in Asia and South America. It’s a small world filled with wonderful people, and spectacular places!
Todd: Any parting thoughts?
Jacob: There are still so many places I would like guide and go to travel. New Zealand is in my future and I would like to return to Peru and Bolivia. I love each and every moment in the mountains. Guiding has allowed me to follow my dreams and explore the world, I’m forever grateful for that.
Todd: Who is you favorite boss?
Jacob: You are Bill! Oh wait – this is Todd Talks…. Of course you are Todd! Come on – I meant Laura!
Stay tuned to meet more of our guides!
Well, another successful Everest season is over!
This morning Manoj flew to India to visit friends and recover from a touch of frostbite. We are taking care of all the end of season details, then I am off to Thailand for some R and R on the beach!
Enjoy and we’ll see you next year for the Mountain Trip Everest Expedition 2014!
-Scott Woolums, Kathmandu, Nepal
This is just a quick report to let everyone know were back in Kathmandu! Manoj, myself and DaWang Chu all flew out from Base Camp yesterday direct (well, almost, see below) to Kathmandu.
This is proving to be a bit of a journey as things can be here in Nepal. We showed up at 6am at the helipad in Base Camp, and finally at 9.30am, we caught a short ride to the village of Pheriche, spent another couple of hours waiting, and then caught another heli company and off to Lukla. After a short refuel we were finally off to Kathmandu! Only 8 hrs to get out!
There are lots of friends to say “hi” to, and a ,lot of packing, changing tickets and all, before we’ll finally be headed home. Manoj will be leaving tomorrow, I plan a few more days to sort equipment and pack everything away for next season.
Namaste from Scott Woolums in Kathmandu
Scott and Manoj are going to fly from Base Camp to Kathmandu via helicopter, as Manoj had some frostbite develop on his feet and we are trying to expedite his descent. The weather below them has been very, very rainy, which is complicating things with air travel, but we hope that they can fly as soon as possible.
All of our Sherpas are off the mountain and Base Camp has been bustling with our team cleaning and packing. There are still a few climbers on the upper mountain, and we wish them well. We will probably post one more update from Kathmandu, and will try to include a number of pictures.
And more from Manoj:
A very excited Manoj called in a report today, describing the team’s incredible summit day. It sounds like the team had very little/almost no wind, clear skies, and unlimited visibility as they stood on the summit. A perfect summit day! The plan is to leave Camp 2 and head back to Base Camp one last time tomorrow morning, early.