Dispatches - Ama Dablam 2003

November 06, 2003

In 2003, the Adventure Consultants Ama Dablam Expedition ran in the post-monsoon months of October and November. Our AC Guides led our intrepid group of climbers on this iconic Himalayan Peak.

Adventure Consultants Ama Dablam Expedition 2003 Dispatches

The Team
Expedition Leader: Luis Benitez - USA
Assistant Guide: Steve Moffat - New Zealand
Expedition Sirdar: Ang Tshering Sherpa (Khumjung) - Nepal
Base Camp Cook: Dawa Sherpa (Kumjung) - Nepal
Base Camp Cook Boy: Nawang Chongba Sherpa (Kumjung) - Nepal
Climbing Sherpas: Passang Tenzing Sherpa (Phortse), Phu Tashi Sherpa (Pangboche), Lhakpa Dorje Sherpa (Gudel) - all Nepal

Climbers:
Ab van Poortvliet - The Netherlands
Joe Coughlin - USA
Lawrence Draper - USA
Matt Kitchin - Australia
Silvan Colani - Hong Kong / Switzerland
Lindsay Peak - New Zealand
Hamish Emerson - New Zealand

October 14 - Preparing for arrival
Greetings everyone from Kathmandu! This is Luis and along with Steve we are the guides for the about to start Adventure Consultants Ama Dablam 2003 expedition.

Most of the team will be arriving this afternoon and for the past few days Steve and I have been busy packing and sorting gear, not to mention getting our ever important permit from the ministry.

We are about to set off for some coffee graciously provided by our friends in North Carolina at Summit coffee, then off for some last minute food shopping as we head to the airport to gather the team.

So for now this is Luis and Steve, signing off.....

October 15 - Team's final night in town
Here we go! Everyone has arrived safe and sound here in Nepal with all baggage in tow! Today was mostly spent organizing and checking gear, talking about goals and generally getting to know each other better. We have quite the international crew for this trip.The Netherlands, USA, NZ, Switzerland, Australia (though Mark swears he is a Kiwi!).

Everyone is packed, excited, and ready to go. We have a wake up call set for quarter to 4 tommorrow, hopefully everyone will be just as excited then as they are now! The reason we get going so early is that we want to be through the airport check and on the 1st flight.

This will give us time to have a good breakfast in Lukla, the gateway to the valley we will be hiking up to reach Ama Dablam.

Short walk tommorrow to get our bodies used to the work, about 3 hours up the valley, porters will be carrying most of our heavy mountain equipment, giving us the help we need to save our strength for higher up.

Our Sherpa staff will also be joining us in the morning as well. Ang Tshering, our "big boss" sidar, and Phu Tashi, Pasang and Lhakpa Dorje, our climbing Sherpas. Last but not least no expedition would be complete without a Sherpa cook staff, Dawa, the iron chef, and Chhongba, his do-all cookboy.

This is the cast of characters that as of tommorrow, will begin climbing towards the sky......

So till tommorrow.

October 16 - On the road again...
What a day.. Up at 5 or so, off to the airport for the quickest run through baggage I have ever experienced, straight out onto the waiting plane! Another 45 minutes saw us touching down in Lukla amid cheers from all. Once here everyone seemed to settle into "trail time", and enjoyed the nice casual walk to Phakding that took us about 3 hours, photo stops, prayer wheel turns and all!

The team is now attempting to teach Joe how to play cards and not teach him how to cheat. A tough combo with this crew! They all send their love back home, as do I, and say they are working really hard! Don't worry everyone, they will tomorrow, during the 5 hour or so walk uphill to Namche! So till tomorrow night, this is the Ama Dablam Wonderboys... signing off.

October 17 - Namche Bazaar, the hub of the Khumbu
Hello from Namche Bazaar! Today's hike was a hot one! The crew got here in a little over 5 hours, rest breaks and all. Everyone took lots of photos and took great pleasure in jumping up and down scaring each other whilst crossing the high suspension bridges. 

Upon arrival into the village, the team promptly dispersed to buy gear they had forgotten, and to go sample the chocolate doughnuts at the German bakery. Everyone's spirits are high as tomorrow we rest here for the day, slowly letting our bodies get used to the new altitudes. We will however be getting a little exercise tomorrow, hiking up the big hill behind town after breakfast to get our 1st view of our goal, Ama Dablam, not to mention also being able to see Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, and numerous other peaks in the valley. We all have our fingers crossed for blue skies for the morning. More on our ongoing adventure tomorrow.

October 18 - Rest day in Namche
Aaaah, rest days...nothing quite like them. This one however was special as after breakfast, amid growing clouds, we walked up the hill to catch our 1st glimpse of our objective, Ama Dablam.

After much hooting and cheering, the realities of what we were on our way to do began to sink in. We started talking of camps and routes, fixed lines and freeze-dried food. Thus displaying a starting shift from trekker to climbing team. 

After some tea at the Everest View Hotel (yes the view is great!), we hustled back down to Namche for some momos (fried dumplings) and yet more tea.

Tomorrow's journey will take us past the famous Tengoboche monastery, where we hope to listen to afternoon prayers from the monks. All in all yet another glorious day in the Khumbu....

October 20 - Greetings from Pangboche
Hello everyone from even further up the Khumbu. Our apologies for not broadcasting yesterday as for some reason where we were in the valley was not getting a signal to transmit.

But what a difference a day makes! Right now we are staying in Pangboche, the last village we will stay in before turning off the beaten track and heading up to Base Camp. Yesterday's trek took us past Tengboche monastery, a very special monastery in the Buddhist culture as it is one of the highest still-functioning monasteries in the world. With a few of the team suffering from stomach rumbles, we decided to continue down to Deboche where we rested up from a long day's walk.

This morning everyone felt much better and after a photo session back up at the monastery, we made it to Pangboche in time for a second breakfast!

So for the rest of today and tomorrow we will be here getting used to the ever increasing altitude, and allow our Sherpas to finish setting up Base Camp. We have radio contact with Ama Dablam Base Camp and Ang Tshering tells us he has found a great site as 4 teams have finished their trips and are leaving tomorrow, good news for us!

Tonight will also be a special treat. The advance team for friends trying to go for the summit on Everest right now are staying here as well, so via radio we will get a chance to speak with them too! Everyone is getting more and more excited to be getting to Base Camp! No much longer now!

So more from Pangboche tommorrow.

October 21 - Final rest day before Base Camp!
Aaah, rest days. Not much to report except lots of eating, card playing, reading and visiting the Pangboche monastery where we had an excellent talk about open communication on the mountain, teamwork, goals and what it is going to take to get the job done safely and with style. Tomorrow we will finally arrive at Base Camp! Everyone is in great spirits and ready to go. So more tomorrow from Base Camp!

October 22 - Base Camp reached!

October 23 - Puja ceremony held in Base Camp
What a day in the sun here at basecamp! Today we had our puja ceremony, where a monk from Pangboche camp up to Base Vamp to bless us, our equipment and our Sherpas. Quite the celebration!

It was back to business after that however, fixing harnesses and ice axes and readying loads for the yaks to take to ABC (or Advanced Base Camp) tomorrow.

Looks like we may get a bit of nasty weather tonight, but all is set for tomorrow's carry. We will have one final rest day here before starting to work higher on the mountain. Why so much time here? As Ab put it, when you sleep at the height of Mont Blanc, it takes time to adjust!

So till tomorrow. 

October 24 - Carry up to 5,500m
A carry was made to 5,500m today. Bad and snowy weather. Everybody back in Base Camp. Rest day tomorrow.

October 26 - Digging out
Greetings yet again from Base Camp! As you can tell, expedition life is anything but predictable! Apparently the solar flare has died down enough to send dispatches again. We've gotten a little under one metre of  here at Base Camp, and there are reports of twice as much further up the mountain. As I sit and write this in my tent, the snow has begun to pound us yet again. You all may think with this weather the lads spirits are quite low...Not a chance! From snowball fights, (um, mainly the team chasing ME around base trying to get a shot off), to card games (poker, where the loser gets a dunce cap made of a cereal box and is forced to get the winner's tea). Never a dull moment here at the boys club!

Fun aside, we have been discussing schedules and options, ideas and opnions. Right now we are all in agreement that if the snow does not stop today, one more day in base to let snow on the mountain settle, then up we go! We are also all in agreement that safety comes first, so all of you back home rest easy that the lads will be making smart choices in the days to come.

If tomorrow ends up being another rest day we will skip a report as I am sure hearing about another snowball fight would bore everyone to tears. If however there is upward movement, we will be sure to let you all know.

Till then.

October 27 - Starting for the summit tomorrow morning

October 28 - Moving up the mountain

October 29 - Camp 1

October 30 - Getting ready for the summit push

October 31 - The push is on!

November 1- Camp 2

November 2 - Camp 3
The team is doing great at Camp 3. Summit Push tomorrow (November 3), at 8.00 a.m. Local time (9.30 p.m. Nov 2 EST).

November 3 - The final push is on
Hey everybody back home, not sure why this isn't going out but we are planning to kick off here form Camp 3 for the summit at 9am. Spirits are high but the winds were also high for most of the evening, however they are dying down now as the sun is coming up. So we are slowly melting snow and getting ready to leave for what will hopefully be a successful summit push, so hopefully until the summit call, this is Luis and Steve and the Ama Dablam gang, hoping for everybody's prayers? Quick expedition? Hi there, boy this thing keeps on cutting on out on me, well everybody that's about it we will hopefully talk to you from the summit; one last expedition report, Joe and Hamish are resting comfortably down at Base Camp due to stomach bugs and other ailments but they are with us in spirit, we talked to them this morning and everybody's rooting for us down there so hopefully again until the summit call this is the Ama Dablam team wishing everybody back home a pleasant day.

Summit!!
Hello everybody back home this is Ama Dablam 2003 Adventure Consultants calling you from the summit, that's right the summit, we all topped out at about 2.30pm Nepal time, spirits are high, everybody's feeling really, really good, we're taking pictures, eating chocolate, slapping each other on the back! We've got a great view of Everest and just enjoying each other's company before it's time to go down. So we did it, thanks for all the love, prayers and support from back home. We felt it all the way. So we'll be calling you when we return back safe and sound to Camp 3 and then further on the down the mountain to Base Camp but till then, this is the summit team calling from the summit of Ama Dablam, wishing everyone back home a pleasant evening.

Back safely in C3
Hey gang just a quick final update for summit day. The Ama Dablam 2003 Expedition is back safe and sound in Camp 3, so bid everyone back home good morning and hopefully talking to you tomorrow from Camp 1.

November 4 - All well and back in Camp 1
Hello everybody it's Octo... no it's November 4th, phew, boy how time flies, November the 4th, the day after summit day and we are all safely back down at Camp 1.

Everybody is tired but satisfied after a long hard day getting down from Camp 3, and we're just tucking into some food and melting some snow as usual and tomorrow Base Camp! So we have the majority of the hard work behind us and we just need to move some loads to Base Camp and we will be getting to party, as Ab put it, like it's 1999! So, till Base Camp, this is Luis and the Ama Dablam gang from Adventure Consultants wishing everyone back home a very pleasant day.

November 6 - The day after the big party
Good morning everybody, this is the Adventure Consultants Ama Dablam team, it's the 6th of November, sorry about the lost dispatch last night. We got back down to Base Camp amidst much revelry and celebration, the champagne and beer were flowing, friends from other teams were coming over wishing us all the best and congratulations, and as the night wore on we forgot to make the call! So apologies for that but everybody is in fact safe and sound back down at Base Camp resting up and drinking coffee in the sunshine this morning, packing gear and looking forward to a relaxing and fun trek out. This is the Ama Dablam Adventure Consultants team wishing everyone at home a pleasant day.

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