Whop. Whop. Whop. Whop.
The concussive sound of a helicopter warming up surrounded us. It was go time. The rotors increased in speed and with a subtle bump in power the B3 lifted off the tarmac in Kathmandu. We pitched forward, increased the throttle and rocketed off towards the mountains. Below us Kathmandu was fading in and out as we were flying in and above the smog. After thirty minutes the clouds and smoke began to clear, and we caught our first glimpse of the mountains. At first, it was hard to tell what we were looking at as we were all staring out to the side of the helicopter. Only after craning our neck and looking straight up did the shadows that we were seeing reveal themselves to be high mountain peaks thousands of feet above us. We had only been staring at the bases of these behemoths. From this point on it has been hard to keep my jaw from hitting the floor on a consistent basis.
After a quick landing in Lukla for fuel, we took off once again. This time a 10-minute flight brought us to Namche. As we were buzzing up valley the pilot suddenly pointed up and right. We caught our first glimpse of Everest. She was poking her head above the clouds and wind was blowing a solid streamer of snow off the summit ridge. The village of Namche is perched in a seemingly precarious location, high on a little ridge overlooking the Dudh Koshi river a few thousand feet below. As we flew towards Namche the best way to describe the feeling we experienced, is one that Todd Rutledge (Co-Owner of Mountain Trip) described to me long ago before I first flew into the Alaska Range. He told me, “You will get off the plane and you will be unable to move. You will feel so overwhelmed by the beautiful setting. Let that happen for a minute, and then get moving because I’m paying you to work!” After a quick laugh he continued, “I call it postcard syndrome. You feel like you are a small speck on a postcard. It’s a special feeling!” Needless to say, sharing that feeling is what keeps bringing all of us pack to these places.
Our flight from Kathmandu had us arriving in Namche just in time for a late breakfast and a cup of lemon ginger tea. As we had just flown from 4,000’ up to 11,000’, taking it slow was the name of the game yesterday. Drinking water became a full-time job that we will have for the next 6 weeks.
Everyone is in great spirits and acclimatizing well. We plan to do a short day hike to the village of Sanasa during which we will hope to get some views of Ama Dablam and the surrounding peaks. News from Base Camp is that our team has camp setup and ready to go! We are hearing from some friends that the icefall is in great shape, with only one ladder! Two members of our Sherpa team headed up to Camp 2 today to get a lay of the land and begin staking out our camp site higher up on the mountain.
Thanks for following along!