|Moving up the Lhotse Face
to Camp IV
April 11, 2008
I think I have fought off the virus and I am now dealing with the
after-effects--some congestion, a cough, fatigue and loss of appetite. But,
every day I feel better. This must be the year of the bug in the Khumbu
region. My personal sherpa and a porter are sick, so I gave them some of my
medicine. One of the other Asian Trekking climbers is also sick and is laid up
in Pangboche. Glad it is all happening here and not at Base Camp.
Lori and Amy are fine and are acting as the official expedition nurses. Lori
follows me around everywhere I go handing me baby wipes to keep my hands
We trekked from Namche (11,000) to Tengboche (12,500) yesterday, an elevation
gain of about 1,500 feet. The scenery is stunning in its beauty. We all got
our first view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. That was so special. The
experience of being in the Himalayan mountain range can only be described as
mystical. Lori and Amy really enjoyed the trek yesterday, their favorite part
of the trek so far. I enjoyed it too, of course, but I had to labor on the
steep sections because of my lack of energy. Even so, I enjoyed it so much,
and it is so special to be here with my daughters.
Lori and Amy are taking lots of photos, which is great because it frees me up
to use my high definition video camera.
Tengboche is a beautiful village at the top of the mountain. There is a
Buddhist Monastery here and a few shops and stores to pick up souvenirs. Our
accommodations last night were pretty nasty, and Lori and Amy will have a few
funny stories to share when they get home. Unfortunately, I can't repeat them
in this report.
Today, we head to Pheriche where we will catch up with the rest of the team.
Pheriche is one of my favorite villages. We may even take a rest day at
April 9, 2008 Namche Bazaar
Wow, these past two days have been memorable.
We trekked from Phakding (8,000 feet) to Namche Bazaar (11,000 feet) on April
7, a huge push involving an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Lori and Amy did
absolutely GREAT. They were right behind me the whole way. It took us about
6-1/2 hours. Namche is such a fun village tucked into the side of the
mountain. (If you want to see pictures of some of the places I will mention,
check out my photos on my website from my Everest trip last year). There are
lots of markets, hotels, restaurants and even an internet cafe, which is where
I am as I type this report. We had a nice dinner at my favorite pizza house
and then retired to our "hotel." That's where the trouble started.
Staying healthy is a cardinal rule of high altitude mountaineering. I broke
that rule big time in Namche. I started feeling the onset of a cold during my
last night in Kathmandu. Then we flew to Lukla and started our trek to
Phakding in the rain. When I woke up the following morning (April 7) in
Phakding, my throat felt scratchy. We trekked to Namche and slept at our hotel
on April 7. When I woke up in the morning on April 8, I was as sick as I have
ever been, and I rarely get sick. I had a fever, sore throat, achy joints,
heavy upper respiratory infection and congestion and total loss of appetite. I
saw 2 doctors that day-one from Nepal and one from northern California. The
doctor from Nepal prescribed herbal medicine that was a combination of a dusty
substance and little round pills that look like coco-puffs. I also wanted to
see a doctor that practices western medicine so my nurses (Lori and Amy)
located a wonderful doctor from northern California (Christina) who was
staying on our floor of the hotel. She gave me some pills (I presume
anti-antibiotics) and advice (e.g., drink liquids and take Vitamin C "Airborn").
I was in my bed all day April 8. It was difficult for me to even sit up in
bed. April 9 (today), I woke up feeling a little better, but, even so, I only
left my room twice--once to take a shower and once to type this message at the
internet cafe. Tonight, I feel quite a bit better, but who knows what tomorrow
will bring. One of my big concerns is that I have not been eating well and my
energy level is way down. Tomorrow, we trek to Tengboche or Pangboche
depending on how I feel.
I know I will recover just fine, and it is good that I contracted this early
in the trek and at a relatively low elevation. I think I picked up the bug on
the flight to Bangkok since the seat next to me was blocked because it was
"dirty." I bet the person sitting there on the previous flight was sick and
Lori and Amy have been so great to me through this ordeal. They are also doing
really well, with no signs of excess fatigue or altitude sickness. I love them
Mingma and Puchhanga have been wonderful companions and helpers. Amy said that
traveling with Mingma is like having a personal nanny since he hovers over
Lori and Amy all the way. If they reach for something in their backpack,
Mingma is right there pulling it out for them. If they travel too close to the
edge of the trail on steep sections, Mingma gets between them and the edge of
the trail. I appreciate that so much. Puchhanga caught up with us on the trek
to Namche Bazaar. What a total blessing he has been to our trip. Lori and Amy
say that they feel like they have a personal bodyguard with them at all times.
He goes with them on all their shopping trips and basically waits in the
dining area for them to come out of our hotel. This was such a comfort to me
as I lay helpless in my sick bed for two days.
I will close this report with a humorous incident so that the report does not
sound too much like "gloom and doom" On the trek from Lukla to Phakding, we
stopped in a little tea house to get out of the rain. Amy had to go to the
bathroom and asked where it was located. I pointed to the bathroom door and
she went in. She came right out saying there is no toilet in the room, just a
hole in the floor. I said the hole in the floor is the toilet. She said how do
you go? I said you squat and go. She was appalled. She made me stand at the
door holding the door open and looking the other way while she went because
she did not want be alone in a dark room. Lori went in after Amy, and we could
hear her laughing from the other room.
God bless all of you, Bill
April 5, 2008 Kathmandu, Nepal
Namaste from Kathmandu.
There has been much talk and worry about the economy in Kathmandu because of
the recent political turmoil in the region. All that was erased when our plane
touched down at the Kathmandu Airport. The emergence of Lori and Amy on the
scene was a shot in the arm for the local merchants in Thamel that will
undoubtedly carry them through the season.
Kathmandu has not changed a bit from from last year. The traffic of machines
and people on the streets of Thamel can only be described as chaotic. How
motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, rickshaw drivers, pedestrians and
animals survive is truly a Wonder of the World. When the narrow streets get
too crowded, the motorcyclists just drive on the sidewalks, honking at
pedestrians that get in their way. Everyone, I mean everyone, drives with
I love walking around and taking it all in. It was especially fun showing my
daughters around. They love the shopping. Watching them ply their trade and
negotiate with the merchants is a real treat as well as a study in contrasts.
Lori takes the hard-nosed approach. Her favorite line is "No, that's way too
much." (Shouting across the room at Amy) "Amy, are you done? I am ready to
go." The tactic almost always works. Amy's approach is more soft and subtle.
Her system works because she keeps the merchants constantly off balance,
always thinking that, if they lower the price just another 100 rupees, they
can cinch the deal. She is also a sophisticated negotiator. For example, all
the merchants walk around with an electronic calculator in their hand,
constantly running figures to show you how much you are saving. The first
thing Amy did was to purchase her own calculator so as to level the playing
field. It is so much fun watching Amy and the merchants duel with each other,
using their calculators as weapons of choice.
A funny thing happened at one of the clothing stores. Lori couldn't reach a
deal with the merchant and she noticed a store across the street that sells
the same product. She told the merchant that she would just walk across the
street and buy the product from a mercant that would meet her price. He
replied, "okay, I'll be right over. I own that store too." When another
merchant was asked the price of a particular product, he said "whatever you
want to pay. No matter what price I quote, you will say it is too high."
We met with the owner of Asian Trekking and their staff and they seem like
really nice people. I also met my personal sherpa, Mingma Sherpa, and I really
like him. He reminds me of the famous Yankee relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera.
Steely-eyed, young, strong, competent and somewhat shy. He has summitted Mt.
Everest 5 times. In an amazing coincidence, David Liano knows Mingma. When
David summitted Everest in 2005 with Alpine Ascents, Mingma was one of the
sherpas hired by Alpine Ascents. David says he is super strong and I am lucky
to have him as my personal sherpa.
We had breakfast this morning with the personal sherpa that will accompany us
on the trek. His name is Pachhang. We really like him. He is a Christian and
speaks very good English. Lanny Anderson, who is trekking to Base Camp this
year, joined us because he too is a Christian. Yesterday, poor Lanny was
bending over to tie his shoe and a dog that was laying on the sidewalk bit him
on the finger. He went to the hospital and now has to have the painful series
of rabbies shots. He still plans to trek to Base Camp and will get some of his
shots along the way. I am so happy and comforted to know that Pachhange will
be traveling with Lori and Amy when I am not with them.
After breakfast, Pachhange, Lori, Amy, Lanny and I visited some of the famous
sites of Kathmandu. We went to the Swambhu Nath Temple (the "Monkey Temple"),
site of the largest sitting Buddha in Nepal, the Boudhanath Temple, site of
the largest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal, and the Pashupati Hindu Temple, where
cremations take place. Lori was not particularly fond of the smoke and ash
from the cremations. When we returned to the hotel, she immediately took a
shower. She said that she has never felt so dirty. We had such a great time
together, and it was nice to have Pachhange as our wonderful, informative and
accommodating tour guide.
Our last event of the day was a trip to the Lhomi Kids Care Home, which is an
orphanage. Pachhange organized the visit. Lori and Amy brought several duffle
bags full of gifts for the children. Many of the gifts were donated by
friends, neighbors and churches in Newport Beach. The visit can only be
described as once-in-a-lifetime and sacred in nature. I will let Lori and Amy
fill in the details in a later post. I am so proud of them.
At 6 am tomorrow morning, we fly to Lukla to begin our 35-mile trek to Base
Camp. That's when the work and adventure really begins. I told Lori and Amy to
enjoy their last good meal and shower for a long time.
God bless all of you. Bill Burke
We just arrived at the Yak & Yeti hotel in Kathmandu. This appears to be a
very nice hotel. More on that in a later post. So far, our trip has been
The flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand was easy and uneventful. Thai
Air upgraded us to business class, which helped a lot. We arrived on April 1
at 9:30 am and were in the Arnoma Hotel by 11 am. After getting settled, we
went shopping--surprise, surprise. Actually Lori & Amy went shopping, and I
tagged along. They had a great time and picked up a lot of good stuff (so they
say). We first shopped at a large mall near the hotel and then ventured out of
town to a popular indoor and outdoor shopping mall. I decided to help Lori and
Amy by making a financial contribution to their shopping spree. Lori refused
to accept the donation, saying I had already done enough. Amy took the money
out of my hand almost before I had a chance to open my mouth. The next day, as
Lori’s finances dwindled, she was more accepting of my offer.
We slept well and started the day on April 2 around 11 am. That’s when I had
my first panic attack. We agreed to meet at the Starbucks café next to the
hotel at 11:15 am as Lori & Amy needed to pick up a “couple of things” at the
mall near the hotel. I was there on time. No Lori or Amy. At 11:30 am, they
were still not there, so I went back to the hotel. No Lori or Amy. I went back
to Starbucks and waited until 11:45. Still no Lori or Amy. I repeat the
process--back to the hotel--back to Starbucks--and no sign of the girls. Now
it’s noon, and I am starting to get really concerned. I hurry 4 blocks to
another Starbucks, thinking we had a mix-up in signals as to where to meet.
They are not there. Now it’s 12:15, I am in full scale panic mode, imagining
all sorts of things. I decide to search for them in the shopping mall. Sure
enough, there they are, walking up and down the aisles trying things on.
Arrgggh. That’s when it dawned on me that, when they are safely home, climbing
Mt. Everest will probably seem like a leisurely, stress-free stroll in the
park on a Sunday afternoon.
We spent the afternoon sightseeing, and it was so fun and interesting. We
visited the Grand Palace which houses the royal residence and throne halls and
is the site of several government office buildings. It is also the location of
the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We then visited another temple which houses
the famous Reclining Buddha. In the evening, we went on a dinner cruise on the
Chaophraya River. The buffet dinner was great, and the music and entertainment
were really enjoyable. We saw many famous temples that are located along the
banks of the river. All the while, we were serenaded by karaoke singers. Lori,
Amy and I danced to “You Aint’ Nothin But a Hound Dog”--Thai style of course.
After we finished the cruise, we went to the Suam Lum Night Bazaar. When we
arrived, Amy said “we hit the jackpot.” Lori & Amy shopped from 9:00 pm until
midnight, when the bazaar closed. I slept in a chair on the street.
Bangkok is a busy metropolitan city. The air is pretty polluted from all the
cars, and the traffic in the downtown area hardly moves. In fact, on the way
back from our sightseeing trip, we sat in traffic that did not move one inch
for over 15 minutes. Since we were on a tight schedule to get to our river
cruise, we finally hopped out of the car and walked the remaining kilomteter
to the hotel.
This morning, we were up at 6:30 am to pack for our trip to the airport so we
could catch our 10:30 am flight to Kathmandu. We had to catch two cabs because
of all our gear. Lori and Amy’s cab ride was a wild one, and we had an
incident at the airport while checking in at Thai Air. I will let Amy describe
these events in her post, which is coming soon.
Tonight, we are going in to Thamel to have dinner. I can’t wait to show my
daughters around. It seems like just yesterday that I was here.
Go Bruins! Bill
Background: Bill Burke, who attempted Everest from the
South as part of Dan Mazur team in 2007, will be back in 2008! His first
report is below...
As most of you know, in 2008, I will return
to Nepal for a reprise of my trip earlier this year. I hope to complete the
last 100 meters of the mountain of my dreams...the magnificent Mt. Everest.
--I will be posting reports of my 2008 trip. What is new for 2008 is
that, on summit day, I plan to file 6 reports: (i) upon departure from Camp IV
at the South Col (26,000 feet), (ii) upon arrival at the Balcony (27,600
feet), (iii) upon arrival at the South Summit (28,750 feet), (iv) upon arrival
at the Hillary Step (28,900 feet), (v) upon arrival at the Summit (29,035
feet) and (vi) upon return to the South Col.
--In October, Sharon and I took my training partner, Oliver, on a round-trip
train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle. We had a great time.
I have regained the 30 pounds I lost on Mt. Everest, and Ollie and I are now
back into our normal training regimen.
Your prayers and support meant so much to me during the 2007 expedition. I
hope I can count on that same support in 2008.
As my plans for 2008 firm up, I will let you know. Bill Burke
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