The journey upto Camp 1 eventually took us 3 days. The original plan was to try and reach Basecamp directly from Namche but our Porter team really needed a break in Mende and with a ominous sky we choose to remain a night in Mende rather than pushing on another 4-5 hours up into a snowy cold hidden hanging valley.
This actually gave Heather and I the chance to visit Lowea Ghompa, relax in the sun and prepare for the steep climb the next day
From Mende to what’s known as Basecamp it’s a steep 650 m climb followed by an interesting contouring traverse into the hanging valley. We’d suspected the valley would be full of snow and it was – utterly rammed with it and as we entered, the typical afternoon snowstorm enveloped us as well!
Our porter team was a bit disconcerted as they had no idea where or how long they would be moving for – it’s about 2 km up the valley to the site for BC and by the time we arrived the snow was being driven by a stiff wind as well – quickly setting up our tents / sorting water and food and climbing into our sleeping bags was the order of the day – and was to quickly become the established routine Heather and I would fall into over the next 8 days.
ONTO CAMP 1
An amazing morning – although cold allowed us to prep our bags / leave behind the clothing and boots we wouldn’t need and set on off towards C1. This involves climbing up a steep steep gulley and the morning temperatures had firmly frozen the snow. In many places kicking good steps for our team allowed them to make good headway while wearing basic crampons whilst in others where the snow hadn’t been sun effected We were plugging steps almost past our knees in deep loose unconsolidated snow. This route again climbs to another hanging valley – but by the time we were 1/2 way up the cloud had rolled in and visibility was radically reduced.
We’d estimated a 6 hour journey to C1 which would have been faster if we could actually have seen – however navigating by Braille and the memory of having here before finally found us pearched on a location where we could set up our tent again, let the lads descend with the expectation of seeing them in around 8 days tine again, get more snow to melt water and essentially relax into our tent
As it turns out we were only 50m lower and 200m horizontally from where our ideal C1 site would eventually be – but at the time neither Heather or I were worried or concerned….. Sleeping bags, books, hot tea, food and sleep beckoned with tge promise of a clear morning and the opportunity to see our main objective ……