Dispatches - Ama Dablam 2005

November 05, 2005

Adventure Consultants operated an Ama Dablam Expedition in October and November 2005. Our AC Guide led our intrepid group of climbers on this iconic Himalayan Peak.

Adventure Consultants Ama Dablam Expedition 2005 Dispatches

The Adventure Consultants 2005 Ama Dablam Expedition will be underway from October 15!

This year a small team of three will be joining AC expedition leader, Luis Benitez, to climb what is renowned as one of the Himalaya's most aesthetic peaks! The team will be climbing Ama Dablam, 'the jewel of the Khumbu', via the coveted southwest ridge, a challenging and exposed route!

Tune in from October 15 to follow Luis and his team as they make their way from Kathmandu, through the heart of the Khumbu and onto Ama Dablam. Luis will be posting regular updates and spectacular photos as their journey progresses!


16 October 2005 - Kathmandu!
Greetings one and all!

Welcome to the Ama Dablam 2005 Adventure Consultants expedition. This year is shaping up to be as busy and exciting as always. The team is all here, gathered in Kathmandu for final preparations for our flight up the valley to Lukla tomorrow. Jan, Rowan, AJ and myself are all packed and ready to go!

This year our smaller, faster team will hopefully be able to weave our way through the massive crowds expected on the hill this year. Stay tuned to our dispatches for all updates... 

The weather here is fine and everyone is set to enjoy our last night in this magical city. Stay tuned for all the fun and adventure to come!

Luis and crew

17 October 2005 - Phakding
03 Ama05 SherpaTeam02 Ama05 PhakdingOn the road again! Today's flight and walk was one of the smoothest I have ever had into the Khumbu valley!

After an early 5am wake up call to get to the airport for our 45 minute flight, we landed as gently as can be expected on the mountain runway and began the walk to Base Camp. This first day is pretty straightforward as it's only a 3 hour walk and mostly downhill! The weather was wonderful, if not a bit hot even! So after a brief lunch, and the porters and naks (female yaks) arriving with our bags, we are settled in here in the village of Phakding for our first night on the trail. Everyone in our little crew sends their love back home to those following along.

So tomorrow's walk should be a bit more challenging, as we will be heading uphill to the "capital" of the Khumbu, Namche Bazaar. 

Stay tuned!

Luis and crew

18 October 2005 - Namche Baazar
04 Ama05 BridgeNamche
Up we go! Today's walk from Phakding to Namche was like the Moscow subway; hot, long and crowded!

Fourtunately, everyone on the trail was friendly and the hours passed quickly, filled with chit chat and plenty of drink breaks! We also crossed our first few suspension bridges today, spanning huge drops to the river below. We arrived in Namche mid afternoon to everyone's delight and straight to the German bakery we went! We spent the afternoon eating chocolate doughnuts and watching the hustle and bustle of town. Namche is the capital of the valley, so everything can be found here, from Chinese Nikes brought over from Tibet, to a yak fur hat, it's all here!

The crew is looking forward to a day's rest tomorrow, but it will still be an exciting day as we plan on hiking up a hill behind town to get our first glimpse of Ama Dablam!

Stay tuned!

Luis and gang

19 October 2005 - Namche rest
06 Ama05 Crushingama05 Ama05 AfternoonteaToday's rest day was just what everyone was after; a little morning stroll for tea and views of Ama Dablam, followed by a relaxing afternoon in town.

During our "high tea", we discussed what it means to be part of an effective team, and how we are going to each contribute to the greater good! We followed this up with a little altitude physio class, then back to town for lunch! Tomorrow's walk will take us past the historic Tengboche Monastery, so stay tuned!

Best to everyone back home.

Luis and crew

PS. Sorry for having everyone thinking its March and not October! I must have Everest on the brain!

20 October 2005 - Soggy walk to Deboche
07 Ama05 TeaHouseToday was the kind of day some wish for, and others dread. The low clouds brought rain for most of the day, making the walk a misty wonderland! Some of us enjoy this weather, but for trekking groups that usually stay in tents, most run to the teahouses for a dry room, hence, the full house we are in tonight! Dinnertime should be interesting, as everyone rushes for the tablespace!

Tomorrow's walk to Pangboche is much shorter and hopefully drier, as that will be our last village before turning off trail towards Base Camp. So for tonight, I am off to wring out my socks and get some tea for the group.

Till tomorrow,
Luis and the gang

21 October 2005 - Pangboche
09 Ama05 PrayerFlags08 Ama05 GermanlessonsWhat a difference a day makes! After last night's drenching and crowded tea house, we were all eager to hit the trail early and get to Pangboche. Upon arrival the sun came out, tea and cinnamon rolls all around, followed by showers! Luxury! Then it was on to what most people do on rest days, listening to music, reading, or in my case, studying German!

Ang Tshering and our Sherpas are all at Base Camp this evening and AT reports by radio that the tents are up and all is well. Nice to have their help, as always! We will spend one more day here adjusting to the altitude and visiting the monastery here, then make our way to Base Camp.

So till then from Luis and a very happy, dry and clean crew!

22 October 2005 - Pangboche
12 Ama05 RowanRest day, seems like a lot of Himalayan climbing is patience. Very true, but with the amount of toys one can bring on any given climbing trip, it makes the resting and acclimating that much nicer. Today was spent relaxing with a little walk above town to get some exercise in.

Tomorrow bright and early we head off to Base Camp. We have been in radio contact with Ang Tshering up there who reports all is set up awaiting our arrival! Everyone is excited to be ending the trekking phase and getting started with the climbing.

Upon arrival tomorrow we will have 1 or 2 days in Base Camp of sorting gear, rigging our technical climbing equipment and the ever important Buddhist blessing ceremony, the puja.

Stay tuned!

Luis and very relaxed crew

23 October 2005 - Basecamp
14 Ama05 BCFoodSort13 Ama05 BCFor all of us, today was a mixture of anticipation and excitement. Cresting the final hill after a 4 hour walk up from Pangboche, we saw Base Camp in all its glory! Bright tents, teams resting, packing, even playing cricket! We found our little niche that Ang Tshering and the boys had picked out. Nestled between an Australian group and a Spanish group, we rolled into camp to a wonderful lunch and tea.

Afterwards, it was time for the work to begin! Everyone jumped into their personal Base Camp tents, eager to sort personal gear and settle in. Then, it was time for the big food and gear sort for the mountain camps. Facing a small mountain of food, we waded in to sort food, fuel and gear for all 3 camps. Three hours later we emerged with the loads packed and all of the chocolate sampled! (I want to extend a personal thank you to Mike and Mark for the cover they sent from Tibet, minus the magazine!).

The clouds are rolling up valley so we are all diving into the dining tent for some cheese and crackers. All in all a very productive start to the expedition!

Till tomorrow,

Luis and crew

24 October 2005 - Puja day
16 Ama05 Puja215 Ama05 PujaHi folks. Rowan here from Ama Dablam Base Camp writing today's dispatch. Today was both important and special with the local Lama coming up from Pangboche to conduct our puja. The ceremony asks permission from the Gods to climb the mountain. Ang Tsering, Lakpa & Pasang arranged a fantastic alter and managed the whole thing. It was my first puja and was something I'll never forget.

Later we organised the loads that will be taken up the mountain soon and also rigged our climbing gear. We're all in great spirits and really looking forward to getting started, but for now, a few more rest days to go... life is tough! Our thoughts are with you all at home - hope you're having as much fun as we are!

The AC gang - Rowan, AJ, Jan & Luis

25 October 2005 - The climbing begins
17 Ama05 Jan18 Ama05 RowanJumarsRopes, carabiners and rocks...heck of a fun way to spend the day! So today we rigged all of our climbing gear, found the biggest boulder in camp, threw some ropes on it and proceeded to climb up and rappell down for most of the day! Good training and review for everyone.

Then it was back to camp to pack for our first journey up the mountain tomorrow to what is known as yak camp. This is the camp half way between Base Camp and Camp 1. Our plan is to go up, drop a load of gear, breathe the thinner air and be back in Base Camp for dinner. This helps our bodies get ready for moving up to the higher elevations.

So stay tuned for stories from higher up the hill!

Luis and crew

26 October 2005 - Basecamp to Yak Camp
20 Ama05 JanSherpas19 Ama05 RowanYakCampUp we go! Today's walk is probably the longest on the whole trip, Base Camp to Yak Camp. We started off after yet another wonderful breakfast and everyone arrived at Yak Camp in time for lunch! As the clouds scuttled in we shuffled down to Base Camp in time for mid afternoon soup!

The Sherpas (Lhakpa, Pasang, Tenzing, Ang Tshering and Dawa) have been doing an amazing job at Base Camp and on the mountain! Everyone is tired but happy and looking forward to tomorrow's rest day and hoping for sunny weather to take showers (AJ stinks!).

Till tomorrow,

Luis and crew

27 October 2005 - Base Camp
21 Ama05 DiningTentRest days are the best! Good food, great shower (now AJ smells like a rose) and plenty of time for reading and relaxing. Tomorrow bright and early we head up the hill to begin our continued acclimating and then hopefully our summit push, so stay tuned for all the fun sure to follow!

Luis and the crew

P.S. Best wishes to Kelly McLaren from our office for giving birth to a girl on October 25!

28 October 2005 - Movin' on up
23 Ama05 RowanLuis22 Ama05 DawaLeaving mother earth behind! Today's walk was a bit different as we left Base Camp for about 1 week, hopefully not coming back down till after we summit! We went only to Yak Camp, moving slowly and drinking lots. Everyone is in high spirits and eager to be moving on the mountain. High clouds are indicating a possible change in the weather the next few days, but if we can make it to Camp 1 tomorrow before anything hits, we will be in great shape to move higher.

So from Yak Camp, this is Luis and crew, saying goodnight from 5,400m!

29 October 2005 - Camp 1
24 Ama05 FixedRopes25 Ama05 Camp1
Finally up the ropes! That was the general opinion of the crew today, as we began the "real" climbing to make it here to Camp 1. Everyone is feeling great and eager to checkout the route to Camp 2 tomorrow. We will be basing out of Camp 1 for the next few days to adjust to this altitude. Stay tuned as above here the climbing gets really fun!

Luis and crew

30 October 2005 - A walking we will go
27 Ama05 GroupClimb26 Ama05 Luis
Today we went for a little walk. Let me rephrase that, we went for a LITTLE walk….get my drift? All in all it was a great day, little chilly, but moving over rock, fixed lines and snow and ice.

The crew is pleased with their performance and very much looking forward to the rest day tomorrow! Right now we are back at Camp 1 after walking close to a point below Camp 2 where we had lunch and stored some gear for the climb back to Camp 2 in a few days.

Stay tuned as:
1. Rowan learns how to melt snow!
2. Jan takes a double somersault tumble and walks away unscathed!
3. Aj tries in vain to find a suitable ledge to go to the bathroom on!

All this and more to follow!

Luis

31 October 2005 - Happy Halloween!
28 Ama05 Happyhalloween
Rowan, AJ, Jan and I want to wish everyone back home a spoooky night! As for us, you can see a few days on the mountain makes us scary looking enough so we don’t even NEED costumes!

Today is a rest day here at Camp 1. Eating, drinking and thinking about loved ones and.... salads (don't ask)! Everyone is in good spirits and enjoying the hang out day watching other teams come and go. Tomorrow we will be moving up to Camp 2 if weather and health allow. Wish us luck!

Luis and crew

2 November 2005 - Camp 3 on Ama Dablam
30 Ama05 Camp3Sunset29 Ama05 GreyTower
Greetings from above the clouds! This needs to be quick as it is waay below zero, the sun has set and we are all set to go for the summit tomorrow! Everyone here sends their love back home! There is a large crowd here ready to go tomorrow, hopefully the weather will hold for all of our sakes!

Till then,

Luis and crew

3 November 2005 - Ama Dablam summits for all
32 Ama05 SummitTeam31 Ama05 SummitApproach
Summit! At 1.25pm Nepal time, AJ, Rowan, Jan, Pasang, Lhakpa and Luis summitted Ama Dablam!

Sorry this has taken so long to send, but we are all safe back at Camp 3! Had to get everyone fed and watered before I could get this out. It was a long hard day, but everyone rose to the challenge and made it! Tomorrow we face a looong journey to Camp 1, then finally the next day, Base Camp!

Everyone sends their love back home....

Luis and a very tired crew (me included!)

4 November 2005 - Return to Camp 1
What a day....that turned into what a night! You know how sometimes climbing up a ladder seems OK, but then trying to climb down? Yikes. 

Today was a lot like that. We went all the way from Camp 3 to Camp 1. Difficult conditions over wild terrain. As the sun went down and the moon came up, we realized we were in for - as the great mountaineers put it - an epic night. I want you to try and imagine having not been fed much the past few days, combine that with also a profound lack of sleep. Then, to top it off, put yourself in a walk in freezer and attempt to climb down the walls.... get the picture?

So tonight there are no photos, only ramblings of one guide... the crew is happy to be this close to terra firma and is ready to hop, skip, jump (there might even be a sashay) into Base Camp tomorrow, for the terrain from here is Sunday strolling with a few rocks thrown in for good measure! Stay tuned for the debauchery sure to come!

Luis and crew

5 November 2005 - Adios from Base Camp
33 Ama05 AmaJewel
Always at the end of these trips I find myself at a loss for words to summarize all we have been through together. So I will firstly say thanks for following along on our journey up here and secondly tomorrow we are on our way out and should be in Kathmandu on the 9th. In closing, I will share with you a story that I think sums up our time together.

While walking in on our approach trek this trip, I met a Swedish boy and his father also heading up valley. Stephan was the boy's name and one night around the wood burning stove, we started to talk.

"HI"
"WHO ARE YOU?" He said.
"Stephan!" the boys father scolded. "Be polite".

So I went on explaining who I was and what our group was doing. Ama Dablam, mother's jewel box 

"REALLY? WOW!" was the reply I got.

As the night wore on, I found Stephan edging closer to where I was sitting, then, to my surprise, reaching out and touching me. I asked what he wanted.

"NOTHING, I JUST WANTED TO SEE IF YOU WERE REAL".

Wow. Leave it to a kid... so I shared with him that no matter what mountains you climb, you still have times when you are scared, tired or homesick. That climbers ARE real people too. He scrunched up his face in thought, then toddled off to bed.

The next morning, he approached me with a very serious look on his face.

"LEWEES"?
"Luis" his father corrected.
"UM,YEAH, LUIS? HERE, I WANT YOU TO HAVE THIS FOR YOUR TRIP".

I looked down to his little hand and there was a peppermint candy of the kind you can find in just about any store around the world.

"IT'S MAGIC, SO IF YOU GET TIRED OR SCARED, YOU HAVE SOME MAGIC CANDY TO HELP"!

I thanked him and then watched he and his father depart... then I thought about how unreal everything we do up here must seem to people back home. In reality what we are all searching for up here, with all the good times and bad, is a little magic candy of our own...

Till next time, Luis Benitez