GMA's inaugural expedition continues smooth to Dingboche at 14,400', where Mike, Kim, Steve, and I arrived on the 9th. Everyone feels well with altitude, after sleeping at what is the height of Mt. Rainier. Tummy and upper resperatory maladies have affected us all to varying degrees.
This morning was the clearest yet, as the post-monsoon high pressure continues to strengthen. We hoped to meet up with another SLC-based Ama team, Steve Bott and Matt Culberson and team, who are staying in Pheriche but our satellite phone messages failed to connect.
Today we acclimated by ascending to Nang Kharga, 5100 M (16,500'). En route we checked out a tiny Buddhist mountainside "gompa". Kim danced upp to the rocky viewpoint with arms crossed, as the guys huffed and puffed behind. Island Peak and Makalu dominated our view to the east, Ama's imposing north face was immediately south, and to the northwest, we saw Taboche, Cholatse, Cho Oyu, and our next objective, Loboche.
Yesterday we visited the oldest (600 years) monastery in the Khumbu and trekked here to Dingboche by 6 p.m. The relatively benign hike brought us out of the highest forests and into the alpine tundra zone. The day's highlight was meeting with its current chief, Lama Geshe, and receiving a blessing for our climb. The Lama welcomed us into his living room where Tshering, our lead Sherpa guide, interpreted his Buddhist teachings to us. He began by gently touching heads with each of us after placing a holy scarf around our necks. A long chant followed. He blessed and gave each of us a postcard to carry to the summit , prayer flags for base camp, and a little bag of holy rice to scatter at base camp.
Tomorrow we move up to Loboche where we spend the night in Loboche village at 4900 M.