Website- Peak Freak Expeditions

Monday, 28 April 2014

Debriefing April 18th 2014' Everest Avalanche

Something was just brought to my attention in a phone call from Tim. At the moment, he is frantically following behind his team to make sure their expedition bags arrive in Kathmandu close to the same time as they do for their homeward journey—forever ticking off his responsibilities to his team to get them home safely.

After dealing with understandably disappointed clients and sharing their heartbreak for the past few days,Tim had a chance to look at the big picture while walking out of the valley quietly with Ang Karsung Sherpa's son, Sonam, the promising next generation for tourism in Nepal.

When Tim arrived in Namche Bazaar tonight (Nepal Time), he was caught off guard when lodge owner Tsedam Sherpa told him that the Sherpa community applaud him. We didn't even get into "for what?". Instead Tim told me something that what was upsetting him, the “what could have been”

I don't think this part of the story, the "what could have been", got the attention it should have. In an earlier post, we stated that there were more than 100 Sherpa guides who narrowly missed the avalanche. In one hit, the avalanche could have wiped out one third of the guiding Sherpas' population. Tim told me that had the avalanche been half an hour earlier, they would all be dead. When you consider it, this is a chilling fact. 
Thirty minutes earlier and more than 100 Sherpa guides would have died.

The scenario was that the route had just been completed by the icefall doctors with ladders and ropes through the difficult section, the ice fall. The teams were all gathered at base camp so the rush was on to do their work. All the equipment had arrived at base camp, this was the day for lots of movement on the route. Camp 2 is essentially another base camp, plus oxygen supplements and rope in addition to the normal provisions. This equipment is not moved by yaks, the manual labour at this stage of the climb is significant. The bulk of the loads had just been dropped off. Our Tashi and Palden Sherpa, who were turning to go back down, were very close to the avalanche path, so were more than100 others. 

In 2012, a similar scenario occured where a large avalanche came off Nuptse—the other side of the icefall from this one. As with this recent avalanche, more than 100 Sherpas and western climbers on the other side, at Camp 2, narrowly missed being struck by the avalanche. The impact of the 2012 avalanche blew a Sherpa into a crevasse. Thankfully he survived and was rescued. Tim recalls he was worried when the 2012 avalanche hit because one of our climbers, Travis McPhee from Canmore, was not feeling well and had turned around. Travis was just approaching his tent when the avalanche hit and managed to get inside to retreat from the big cloud that could have suffocated him. 

It is easy to get wrapped up in the hype and politics of a disaster but it is equally if not more important to reflect on what could have been and all that it means. It may not seem respectful to the victims of the avalanche, their families, or even the climbers whose dreams have been brought to such a sudden conclusion, that we were lucky, and yet, knowing what could have been, lucky is what we were. 

I told Tim this story needs told with a bit more bold. 

Becky & Tim Rippel

Friday, 25 April 2014

Everest Unofficial Closure and the Future

The SPCC (Sagamartha Pollution Control Commity) has thankfully given us permission to use helicopters to lift our 32 human loads of equipment from Camp 1 & 2 eliminating putting further life at risk on the glacier.

As a result of the base camp meet the government encouraged people to continue to climb if they want to. If they were to officially close Everest as so many Sherpas requested, they would have been up against demands to give permit fees back. Instead they've offered the current permits a validity of up to five years to be used for a future Everest climb.

There is one private team here that we are aware of that says they're going to make a go at climbing this spring. The ice fall doctors (team of Sherpas who fix the route on the glacier) say ladders they placed will have all been disassembled by force of nature, they'll be bent and broken if not maintained daily. The doctors haven't been back up since April 18 and they aren't planning on going up again this year.

Another chunk of ice broke off today causing another avalanche in the same area as April 18th. Avalanches are frequent and common all over the Himalayas this time of year, but problem areas we have to travel under we take seriously and especially with too many people moving slowly in an area will be conjested. If the Sherpas had to move slow in the area, the clients would be moving even slower once they started.  All western commercial operators are packing up to leave. We're not sure about one of the Nepalese operators. They've not made an announcement yet that we're aware of.

The future of Everest being safe is questionable. Yes there are too many people coming. Some teams have as many as 60 people on them. Everest has become a high altitude tour not a climb as we used to know it. Peak Freaks has often expressed this to the Ministry and aspiring applicants that team sizes and the number of permits they issue would be the death of their gem if not controlled. Seems that the more people are successful, the more the momentum builds compromising safety.  We feel this was irresponsible of the government to just look the other way. We never knew how many people were going to show up till we got here.

Everest is not a walk in the park, dangers are real, mountains kill people. Clients need to accept more responsibility, they should be self-reliant climbers and question what if something were to happen to my Sherpa guide?, would I be able to help him?

Everest does not only have wind issues, the shifting tectonic plates continue to push Everest upward, along with the whole Himalaya mountain range, at 1.6 to 3.9 inches (4 to 10 centimetres) per year. Compounded with the glacier being pulled downward due to global warming, there's a lot of friction between the two. We can't say that Everest will or will not be safe on a particular day. We can only predict with our years of experience working here combined with our tools and skills we've learned as guides who actively work in the mountains, and with our Sherpa guides wisdom and their spiritual insight.

As an operator, we also have work to do. Peak Freaks will continue to train people in safer areas on smaller peaks in the beautiful Himalayas. Sherpa culture is a beautiful thing. There is much we can learn from them.

Everest? The government of Nepal has work to do. 

Om mani padme hum

Tim & Becky Rippel

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Safety first- we pull the pin.

Peak Freaks Everest 2014' is cancelled due to safety concerns, firstly the route in my professional opinion is NOT safe and providing guidance through our expertise in safety is what we are paid for.  We've cancelled expeditions before to save lives, this is not new to us. Nothing in mountaineering is absolute, we have to be flexible and move with the mountains, there are no guarantees.  As I give this dispatch I hear an avalanche. Earlier today I listened to another coming from the same direction off the western shoulder that killed 16 Sherpas on April 17th. 

What I am seeing here is exactly why we no longer climb on adjacent Ama Dablam 6856m and later Mount Pumori at 7145. We no longer climb those mountains due to global warming, the ice is melting, the glue that holds them together.

Secondly there is too much riff to consider safely moving forward as the political environment here is getting more complex and anger is developing. There is talk of retaliation on Sherpas who want to continue and I'm not about to be part of this or put any of my staff or clients in danger. There seems to be two tribes forming and this makes for a dangerous situation in an already unstable mountainous environment. If we care about our Sherpa families as so many say they do, then we must give peace a chance. 

Tomorrow the Nepalese army and police are expected at base camp to try to talk to the Sherpas who do not want to climb into doing it for a few select operators that are putting pressure on them. This is not how we climb mountains!!

The ice-fall doctors who put the ladders and routes in through the ice-fall have made their decision that the glacier is not safe. Why wouldn't we listen to them?  In addition 300+ Sherpas have put their names on an organized protest to not climb in respect of the recent deaths, why wouldn't we listen to them? 

It's gotten too messy, we hung in here to see if we could learn from all of this and be of assistance in anyway through this crisis, but now that we have an army, police and angry Sherpas staging at base camp, it's time to go home. 

What's next?

We have 32 loads of equipment up at Camp 2. We are organizing jointly with Alpine Ascents and Adventure Consultants a helicopter to take up 3 Sherpas, one from each team, to organize the loads to be flown down to base camp avoiding the glacier all together. 

Some of our clients have organized helicopter lifts to Kathmandu while others are walking out effective tomorrow morning. 

We've been in the Sherpa community for 24 years as partners in tourism and have seen so much good come from it to a country that was once the 5th poorest in the world. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been generated here from mountaineering. 

We will continue to climb on smaller mountains in Nepal and do what we can to keep the industry alive in Nepal,  but we will tread softly on future plans with Everest. 

Over and out

Everest 2009 taken from Mount Pumori

Everest this week 2014' 

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Safety First

The Ministry of Nepal has met most of the demands but there are other serious problems at hand.

Since the avalanche many Sherpa guides left camp for a break or quit all together. Even after offering our guides full pay if they wanted to leave, they did not. They are all here with us as we work out the fate of Everest 2014 together. They are brave and wise men and I have an enormous amount of responsibility to them and their families.

 The fate of this climb is not just a political decision, it's Mother Nature who calls the shots and that's why we are having this conversation in the first place.

As a professional member of the Canadian Avalanche Association I have my educated concerns. The mountain has been deteriorating rapidly the past three years due global warming and the breakdown in the Khumbu ice-fall is dramatic, especially at the upper icefall. We need to learn more about what is going on up there. Each day we sit and listen to the groaning and crashing of the glacier. Political grievances aside, we are not here to kill people.

We have more work to do.

Stay tuned!

Tim Rippel

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Tension Growing on Everest

The press releases are starting to filter out now with various versions and perspectives of what's going on here so I felt it's important to make this statement now. 

As we suggested in a previous post the Sherpa guides are heating up, emotions are running wild and demands are being made to the government to share the wealth with the Sherpa people are on the table.

Now that there are more Sherpa operators today on Everest, they've come to learn just how much the government of Nepal makes in revenues from Everest expeditions and they are asking for a share. This is their time and under very unfortunate circumstances. 

There were three meetings yesterday with Sherpa guides and expedition leaders. Their 13 demands of the government are mostly thought to be reasonable and a few we feel may need more thought.  Western leaders including ourselves have been asked to help present the Sherpas demands to the government with and for them. In any case things are getting very complicated and there is a lot of tension here and it's growing. Safety of our members is always our number one priority. 

Peak Freaks is in support of the Sherpa people any which way it goes.  They are our family, our brothers and sisters and the muscle on Everest. We follow their lead, we are guests here.

Tim and Becky Rippel

Friday, 18 April 2014

Avalanche update #3 - Soul Searching - 4 days off

There is a lot of soul searching going on right now at Everest Base Camp in light of the recent avalanche that has so far claimed 12 lives and 4 are still missing. The search for the 4 will continue tomorrow morning.

 I sat and counted 13 helicopter lifts, 12 were dead bodies flying overhead suspended by long-line from a helicopter. Everyone is shaken here at base camp. Some climbers from various teams are packing up and calling it quits, they want nothing to do with this. Reality has set in. We had a meeting with our Sherpa crew and I gave all of them permission to go home and call it a season if they wanted with full pay, they all want to stay and even a couple of them after coming very close to being victims themselves.

We had a couple Sherpa climbers with loads trapped in a conjested area due to slow movement of Sherpas in the popcorn field below Camp 1, it was tough going which caused the delays. Their feet started to get cold so they dropped their loads, tied them off on the rope and retreated to base camp just 5 mintues before the avalanche let loose.

Two other Peak Freak guides, Tashi and Paulden Sherpa were above the avalanche just starting to make their way down from Camp 1 when it happened. They were trapped for a bit and had to remake the route and fix ladders to get down.

The press has been reporting that the Sherpas were fixing the route with rope as released by the Ministry of Tourism Nepal,  the reality is that the route had already been fixed to Camp 1 and Sherpas were just starting to haul the mountainous loads of upper mountain rope, equipment like tents, stoves, oxygen, fuel and so on up to stock camps. This was why they were moving so slowly.

There was a meeting today at base camp with leaders and some out-spoken Sherpas. They are heating up. They are not impressed with the Ministry of Nepal that gains over 100 million a year revenue from Everest and the amount alloted for the familes when something goes wrong does not make sense. The ministry did put some officials at camp this year in light of the conflict last year, but at this meeting they were nowhere to found. Even after Sherpas were yelling out one officials name that they knew well - there was no response.  The Sherpas are covered by insurance that all operators pay as required by the government of Nepal, this amount was increased by 10x for this season. It is possible the Sherpas are just concerned and just want to make sure they get all of it.

A time of healing and re-thinking has been asked for. One Sherpa taking the stance as a spokesperson for the group has asked for 4 days of no climbing. We will whole heartedly respect that. 

Below is a video of the last avalanche in 2009 from the same aspect, the west shoulder of Everest. You can see the ice chunks above and how when they come off with daytime heating it's directly above the route. The route to the east is even worse so this is the safest side.

Time for sleep and try to digest all that has gone on today. Everyone is in agreement that Everest 2014 is shaping up to be the worst season in history for complications and for deaths, it's already surpased previous records in one event.

Over and out

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Avalanche Update - 11:30 NPT

Tim reports complete chaos on Everest right now. 

6 Sherpas are dead and 9 people missing. Helicopters are flying up and down doing rescues of stranded climbers and long line lifts of the dead Sherpas. As many as 100 climbers were stranded above a broken ladder that are being evacuated down to camp. 

Tim instructed all our members and Sherpas to call home and inform family they are ok. This event has sent shivers throughout the Khumbu. Everyone is rattled by this tragic event. 


Everest Avalanche 07:00hrs NPT

Just wanted to let everyone know all Peak Freaks staff and members are okay. No one was involved in the reported avalanche. 

Our Sherpas were all at base camp after a carry yesterday and our members were all at camp and some in Pheriche. 

I was talking to Tim on the phone at 07:00hrs when it happened. All Sherpa radios went off and with no reply so a helicopter was to be summoned. 

There were only a few patches of ice looming on the west shoulder of Everest that typically shed off this time of year causing concern in that area. This is a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So very unfortunate. Very very sad. There may be 6 or more Sherpa climbers missing. Many were part of a major filming groups with various operators on the mountain this year.

I'm expecting another call in an hour from  Tim with an update. 

Current time: 10:45am NPT


Island Peak Summits & Slumber on Kala Pattar

Congratulations out to Tom Ireland and Leslie Paulet (Canadians) for a successful summit with Ngmia Sherpa (Ang Nima Sherpa's son) from Khunde. They endured cold cold temperatures but pulled it off. They summited close to 09:00hrs this morning and are now sleeping in Pangboche.

Kevin, Jeroen, Henning, Christof, Kuntal and Torkel had a slumber party atop Kala Pattar last night and are all now back at base camp.

The Myanmar team with Mingmar Sherpa are in Pheriche where they had a fly in helicopter visit from their sponsors for a couple hours and are expected to be back at camp in the next day or two. 

Tomorrow Kevin and I will be taking the first team mentioned above out to get acquainted on the ladders and be ready to start working up to Camp 1 the next day.  A date has been set for the expeditions leaders meeting tomorrow at 10:00hrs so I'll catch up with the group after that. This is the meeting that we'll hash out who is going to do what in a group effort to make it all happen for everyone in getting on top safely, back down again and cleaning it up. 

The rope that will be fixed on the route by the Sherpa teams arrived today and has been cut into sections and bundled for the Sherpas to haul up by shared staff members. At the meeting it is expected that teams will bid a few Sherpas as carriers. There are some VERY large teams here and huge numbers of staff that many of us will be looking to ask they help pitch in and not leave it all for the usual teams who take care in this regard. There are also some VERY large pieces of film project pieces arriving by yak daily which is a bit concerning to the people that here with the sole purpose to climb.

Over and out

Kevin Farebrother photo: Our base camp location around the lake. The same lake that I filmed Kevin attempting to skate on that MUST be edited before release. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Rippel & Brice story

It's a pretty quiet camp here in terms of climbing. It's cold and windy up high and many teams are just now starting to gather. Many were held back with bad weather in Kathmandu and others were out doing their valley acclimatization climbs in preparation for Camp 1. 

Tim had a visit from Russell Brice (Himex) today so I thought I'd post information on how and when they met and in the pioneering days of Everest operations. 

I've attached a photo of Tim and Russell catching up at the bakery in Namche Bazaar a couple weeks ago. It prompted Tim and I to reminisce about the old days, it's hardships,  and how we endured.

Tim first met Russell in 1994 on Everest on the north side in Tibet. Tim was part of a Canadian expedition. Russell, Henry Todd and Eric Simonson were also here in the early stages of pioneering at that time.  In 1995 Russell hired Tim to guide for him. He couldn't pay Tim as he was pioneering and we know well how that goes- barely scraping together enough to get it to happen- and barely finding enough clients to help contribute in the form of fees. Guides and operators busting out to new ranges rarely made money in the early years, they just come out of it with valuable experience that they paid for. Today I think we are all surprised how big the Everest guiding industry would become. 

Meanwhile back at home Tim had built a log house in the mountains here in Canada for us and our two kids.  We get a lot of snow and that's why today our home in Nelson B.C. is a skiers mecca with Heli and Cat ski operators surrounding us and 2 major downhill ski areas. We live right smack in the middle of it.  We were flat broke and Tim would go off Heli-Ski guiding in the winters for 3+ months while I was left at home to keep the home fires burning and get creative trying to market our own creation " Peak Freaks". That meant chopping wood for heat and melting lots snow on the wood stove for water 6 months of the year all while keeping cougar attacks at bay.  No real phone to speak of and good old dial-up that ran well below the minimum download speeds, and only after the chair-lift stopped at the end of the day because of the feedback on the line that we shared. I did this for three consecutive winters. Did I say it's for sale? Whitewater Chalet  

Tim's last Everest with Russell was in 1997, he told Russell he had to pay him enough to get our water line buried as he feared he'd be a single man when he got home.  Wait for it.....  a whopping $5k arrived in the bank early July, just in time to get a bob cat in to dig the 1800ft. trench on the side of the mountain before the next winter set in.  24 years we are still married .... thank-youuuuuu  Russell  :)

Today the team is laying low and finally the Ncell 3G tower is suppose to operational. We'll see....


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Call to Everest: Meet Kuntal Joisher

Kuntal has been with us on two previous expeditions training for where he is today. He was with us on Mount Pumori 7145m and last autumn on our "Triple Crown" Everest Training Climb. He is a pure joy to have on an expedition with us. We hope that through his climb he can bring awareness of Alzhemiers and demantia through the help of his sponsor- see more here.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Happy Nepali New Year

Nepali New Year – Thursday to Saturday, 10 to 19 April 2014

It's the year 2071 in Nepal right now. 

One of the most important dates on the Bikram Sambat is the Nepali New Year which roughly coincides with the arrival spring, usually in mid-April. The New Year is celebrated for 9 days, with the fifth day from the start of the festivities the actual public holiday. There are several rituals that are carried out in the course of the New Year, and they speak of the Nepali belief in the washing away of the old and in welcoming new beginnings. On the first day of Bikram Sambat, people take a bathing ritual in Hanumantay River to let all misfortunes and diseases of the coming year be carried away by the river. Be forewarned that Nepal is bathed in animal blood in the course of New Year festivities to appease the Hindu gods. A symbolic procession is also held around town, where the chariots of Bhairav and Bhadrakal (manifestations of Shiva and his consort) are purposely collided – in an event known as Bisket Jatra – to signify the union of male and female, and the birth of a new beginning symbolized by spring.

Photo of celebrations in Kathmandu


Totally forgot send out a photo of our Puja and cakes for your viewing. It was a glorious event as usual. Our Sherpas are now officially ready to climb.


Puja offerings and out welcome cake.


The big event!

Meet The Team

It's been busy at both ends of launching an Everest expedition, it's taken a bit of time to organize information for all of our followers combined with other logistics. Please allow me to finally introduce to you our Peak Freaks Everest  2014' climbing team. 

Tim Rippel - Canada - Expedition Leader, Guide, Camera
Mingmar Salaka Sherpa - Nepal-  Guide, Camera
Kevin Farebrother - Australia -Apprentice Guide

Mohan Bikram Shah - Nepal - Camera

Becky Rippel- Communications & Logistics
Sonam Lama- Nepal Headguarters 
Kiran Manandhar - Nepal Outside operations
Roshan Bhattarai - Nepal Outside operations

Ang Karsung Sherpa - Khunde -Base Camp Manager
Desh Kumar Rai -  Sotang- chief cook
Kami Sharki Sherpa- Solu Khumbu- cook
Lhakpa Gyaltsen Sherpa- Khumjung- cook
Sonam Dorje Sherpa - Khunde -cook

Tsultim Dorje Sherpa - Khunde- Head cook
Ang Kami Sherpa-  Okhaldunga -cook

Tashi Tunde Sherpa- Sirdar
Sangye Furi Sherpa - Guide and Camera
Palden Namgyal Sherpa- Phortse- Guide
Pemba Sherpa - Tingla- Guide
Ritar Lome Bote - Sankhuwa Saba - Guide
Zangbu Sherpa - Harashi- Guide
Tsering Namgyal Sherpa- Pangboche- Guide
Da Tsering Sherpa - Khumjung - Guide
Chhowang karma Sherpa - Tingla - Guide
Shere Sherpa - Tingla- Guide
Phurtemba Sherpa- Phortcha - Guide
Temba Sherpa- Khumjung - Guide
Kazi Sherpa - Khotang- Guide
Chomba Sherpa- Okhaldunga - Guide
Nima Norua Sherpa- Khumjung- Guide
Dawa Wangu Sherpa- Pangbucha- Guide
Nawang Nori Sherpa- Tingla- Guide
Phu Tashi Sherpa- Phorcha- Guide
Minma Nuri Sherpa- Khumbjung - Guide
Ang Nima Sherpa- Guide
Nuru Sherpa- Khunde- Guide
Ngima Sherpa- Khunde- Guide

and....not to forget all the herders and porters and pack animals that make this all possible. Also our base camp trekkers and Island Peak climbers who come along to participate on a major expedition with us at the highest hangout in the world. 

Kuntal Joisher - Mumbai, India
Torkel Ristebraten- Norway
Jeroen Roodenburg- Netherlands
Henning Faye Schjoll- Norway -(Camp 2)
Christof Deblauwe- Belgium
Jacques Nel- South Africa -(Camp 2)
Ye Min Thu- Myanmar
Sai Kyaw Wunna Soe- Myanmar
Namar Johnsin- Myanmar
Sai Kyaw Thu Hwe- Myanmar
Kee Yo Dwe- Myanmar-

Sadly Kee Yo, nicknamed Koke, was evacuated to Kathmandu with a serious case of HAPE. High Altitude Pulomnary edema. It was a head shaker as all members of the Myanmar team were on our "Triple Crown" Everest Training last autumn. Physically Koke appeared to be the strongest looking member of the team and summitted all peaks in training over 6000m, higher than at base camp without issue. You never know when something can be off and when. One time you're great, the next you're not. He will be sadly missed by the rest of his team mates. 

Because of this development the other 4 Myanmar members have retreated to Pheriche for a rest at a lower elevation and will take their time coming up and down making sure they are completely adjusted, one step at a time.  This team we would consider to be in excellent shape. They live and climb in the high Himalayas in Myanmar - "yes - there are Himalayan giants in Myanmar" and Peak Freaks has something on the burner coming soon that should be very pleasing to our followers.  One member Namar Johnsin climbs the high Himalayas from Myanmar through to China and Tibet frequently, they are guides in their country, rafting and mountain. If successfull, they will be the first team of climbers from Myanmar to summit Mount Everest. 

PHOTO: Myanmar members and their sponsors/support and Tim - arrival Kathmandu airport. 

More information coming on our dynamic team as the days go by. Stay tuned!

Becky Rippel

Busy doing what we do

April 13, 2014

Since we arrived at EBC a few days back everyone has been busy doing what we do here this time of year.  Entertaining our trekkers, getting them close up to the ice-fall and taking time to instruct and practice skills with our Island Peak members.

Island Peak members Leslie Paulet and Tom Ireland both from Canada are now on their way. They will shoot for the summit on the 16th, it is very cold this week but then again they are Canadian. Ngima sent a text out to our home base saying they are in Dingboche and everyone is doing well.  They will move up to Island Peak camp tomorrow.

Myself and the Everest climbers headed off to Pumori C1- standard route- not the South Ridge route we used to access in our past Pumori expeditions. We had a good day and are back at base camp tonight.

We managed to dispatch a rash of photos today so you'll see those on my Facebook. If you're not yet a follower and want to see what we've been up to and the great food we are being served and more, have a look. Including a look at Kuntal Joshier's vegan plate. Desh Kumar,  our head cook surprises me every season with new ideas. 

Soon we'll be in position to start working in the ice-fall. Until then we are in no real hurry, just getting camp duties and filming underway while everyone gets adjusted to the altitude and life here. We have two filming projects we are working on this year along with a whole bunch of other shoots going on with other expeditions. Myself, Mingmar Salaka Sherpa, Sangye Sherpa and professional Mohan Bikram Shah, will all be packing small GoPros and point and shoot, nothing big like other large filmmakers here this season. 

Base Camp is generally pretty quiet right now. Many climbers are either delayed in the valley with late flights due weather or working on altitude gains on Lobuche and area.

Photos: Pumori C1 today and Kuntal's vegan plate

Thursday, 10 April 2014

We're here! Everest Base camp

It's official! We've all checked into our Everest Base Camp today. Everyone is here and in good shape. Tomorrow I'll be taking our trekkers and Island Peak climbers out to the ice-fall for some photos and training. The Everest climbers will have a day of rest and begin organizing their tents, their home for the next two months. 

I'm in my tent and it's late. Communications are a bit difficult as Ncell, the 3G cell service near Gorak Shep is doing some maintenance so the service is temporarily down. 

Busy day tomorrow. 

Over and out - Tim 

Monday, 7 April 2014

Bone Chilling Cold

April 7, 2012   

Team Peak Freaks is in Pheriche tonight. A few complaints of rain and bone chilling temperatures. Tim called while having tea at Lama Geshi's house to say everyone was doing good and everything is moving along as planned but it's cold. 

This news prompted me to have a look at weather and get setup for dispatching the seasonal reports to the team. I must say I can appreciate their complaints. 

The freezing level is hovering around 3600m to 4400m. They've been getting rain mixed snow the higher they go with temperatures of -4c at night warming to around +1 in the day. 

It's only going to get colder. By the time they reach base camp it will be -20c so they'll be putting those lofty down bags to good use in the days to come. 

I also looked at what is going on on the summit. Try and imagine -60c and 95 kilometres an hour winds this time next week. Yow! 

This is all pretty normal for this time of year. Things will start to warmup in the days and weeks to come but it's certainly a rude awakening for anyone coming here for the first time. 

Becky Rippel

Photo: stupa on the trek to Pangboche

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Elevations & Distances to Base Camp


FLIGHT TIME KATHMANDU TO LUKLA- 30 minutes:  Distance- 136.17 Kilometers (84.61 miles)

DISTANCE LUKLA TO EVEREST BASE CAMP:  38.58 miles or 62 Kilometers 8 to 9 days walk in
and a 3 to 4 day walk out. Walk in is slower due to the extra days needed to allow a persons body to adjust to the new altitudes. Upon descent the air will get richer each day as you retreat.

Village elevations Kathmandu, Lukla to Everest Base Camp


LUKLA (2880m)

MONJO (2804m)


KHUNDE (3840m)


DEBOCHE (3734m)



LOBUJE (4931m)

PUMORI BC (5209m)

EVEREST BC (5360m)

Everest Region Trekking Peak Elevations


Island Peak (6145m)

Climbing Peak elevations Everest Region

Mount Pumori (7145m)

Mount Ama Dablam (6856m)

Lobuche (6119m)

Nuptse (7861m)

Lhotse (8526m)

Everest (8848m)


Lukla to Monjo:  - 4 hours

Monjo to Namche Bazaar  - 5 hours

Namche Bazaar to Khunde - 2 hours

Namche Bazaar to Tengboche - 4.5 hours

Tengboche to Debouche - .5 hours

Debouche to Pangboche - 2 hours

Pangboche to Dingboche - 3.5 hours

Dingboche to Island Peak Base Camp - 6 hours

Dingboche to Lobuje  - 5 hours

Lobuje to Gorak Shep - 3.5 hours

Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp - 2 hours

Return times are much quicker after acclimatization. Example Everest Base Camp to Lukla can be done in 3 days. 


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Lukla - we're in

Thank you everyone for your kind words and thoughts during the difficult time surrounding Mingma Tenzing Sherpas death. They help and know we appreciate it. 

We just landed with all our bags and are sitting down for breakfast while our bags are getting loaded up on the animals and porters.

Here's most of our crew. Team introductions will be coming shortly.  Onward and upward we go! Monjo tonight for what I know will be the best sleep for a very long time for all of us.  

Overwhelmed with Sadness

IToday's blog was to be reporting how excited we are to have passed the formalities for our Everest permit and celebrating our last night in Kathmandu. Very sadly we got a punch in the heart just as were shaking hands saying good by to the Ministry officials.

My phone rings in my pocket. I'm informed Mingma Tenzing, one of our Sherpas passed away at Kathmandu hospital today. 

Mingma was working at Base camp with the rest of the team organizing base camp when he complained of not feeling well. Tashi Tunde Sherpa, our Sirdar, sent him him down to Pheriche to the HRA clinic but he only went to Lobuche. The doctors there determined he had severe HAPE - high altitude pulmonary edema. Now too dark for helicopter rescue, he was kept at the clinic under the care of the medical team. He was lifted by helicopter and flown to Kathmandu. Karsung Sherpa our base manager met him at the airport and took a video of him walking with the oxygen bottle to the ambulance and showed this to me at the Ministry office. My first thought was one of relief, he can walk! He waved at Karsung taking his picture, he'll be okay! 

A few hours went by with the formalities and I get a call that Mingma Tenzing Sherpa from Namche Bazaar had passed away. They could not control the fluid that kept building in his lungs no matter how hard they tried. 

We are in complete disbelief. This reminds us once again just how serious AMS - (acute mountain sickness) is. Even with all the knowledge, medicene, clinics, awareness, conditioning and helicopters, you cannot guarantee no one will die from the affects of altitude. 

I've yet to talk to Tashi or Mingma's family. We fly to Lukla tomorrow morning where we can meet in person. 

Our team is overwhelmed with sadness for his family. Ours prayers go out to them at this extremely difficult time.  Tea lights have been lit, we hang my heads in sorrow. 

This is really difficult as our Sirdar Tashi Sherpa had hired him for the first time. I had not even had the opportunity to meet him. 

Tim & Becky and team

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Date with Ms Hawley

Elizabeth sends her Beetle for Tim. Such a beauty. I love this car. 

Becky (helping the team blog) 
(Christof helping send out photos.) more coming soon. 

Ready To Roll

Namaste everyone from Kathmandu!   

    We are all one big happy family here in Kathmandu. Everyone has arrived, gear sorted and it's time to roll upon completion of a few more chores. One of them being the formalities at the Ministry of Tourism tomorrow, this always proves to be interesting.

 The team is all bonding really well, mostly because we all know each other and have climbed together in Nepal before, this always makes for a great start to an expedition. We welcome to the group our team of base camp trekkers and Island Peak climbers in joining us on this journey. 

My dear friend Elizabeth Hawley called today to summon me for a visit at her home. I feel honoured to be her friend for so many years, she can't get around very well these days. The past few expeditions we've been meeting this way catching up on family and life. Contrary to what people may think we don't even talk about climbing. Our friendship is more than that, and she's dear to me. She celebrated her 90th birthday in November, she's super spry and quicker than a whip. Reminds me of my grandmother who is just a few years older. 

 Power outages are common here and right now we are experiencing 11 hour outages. Kathmandu operates on hydro so this tells us just how dry it is in the mountains this year.  Unfortunately it's generators that keep communications and kitchen gadgets in the restaurants going. 

 Everyone is looking forward to getting out of the city and up in the mountains. Barking dogs are out of control again making it difficult to get a good nights sleep.  We'll be checking back here tomorrow with more information on what we're up to. 

 Over and out! Tim