Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Today turned out to be a bit of an adventure. We got an early start on the day. In fine, clear weather, we started up to the Kongma la (la = pass). This promised to be a stiff hike from Chhukung's 16,000 ft up to 18,200 ft at the pass. It is part of a "climb high, sleep low" strategy.
We climbed up a grass-covered hillside, mowed low by grazing yaks. As we ascended higher, we moved though rocky fields and later up onto continuous snowfields. Some pitches were very steep over broken rock and scree. For everyone, it was a stiff hike to the pass and took about five hours.
We took a brief stop at the top of the pass to celebrate and eat a little food. Then, we discovered the first of our two surprises. The snow we experienced the day before had accumulated on the west side of the pass. It made the first hour of the descent a slippery experience and had us looking carefully for footholds.
In the distance, we could see Lobouche, our destination for the night. Between us, we had to cross the Khumbu Glacier. Several years before, Steve and Martin had made the crossing with relative ease, following a sandy trail. In this area, the glacier is completely covered in rocks an boulders. To get to it, you climb about 200-ft up a loose gravel trail.
After getting up on the glacier, we got our second surprise. What had, on previous trips, been rolling, easy trail to Lobouche, was now blocked by a series of large glacial lakes and cravasses. Jetha did some reconoitering and worked out a trail to the south. It involved significant rock-hopping and scrambling. Martin and Steve were particularly fond of this section.
Thankfully, we emerged from the rock field onto decent trail and quickly found our way to Lobouche. Once he could see the end, Steve took off like a horse to the barn. It was great to be in a warm tea room. The party took 9.5-10.5 hours to complete a pretty rugged day.
Lauren headed straight to bed. Martin went to his room shortly thereafter.
Tomorrow, we make the final push up to Everest Base Camp.
Lots of love to our family and friends.
Posted by: Scott Williams
Blogs by other members of the expedition
Shane - http://HeartHealthyEverestClimb2014.blogspot.com
Steve - http://Wetumpka2Everest.blogspot.com
Jeff - http://www.highpeakadventures.com/high_peak_adventures/web_log/web_log.html
Lauren with a smile to start the climb up the Kongma la
The final group arrives at the top of the Kongma la