Aconcagua 2017 • The Adventures Global team head off on another Aconcagua adventure!

Sunday 8 January

Ac2017D?_02The Adventures Global Aconcagua team met up in Mendoza on Friday. Yesterday they drove down to Penitentes and spent the night. This morning they will drive to Puente del Inca, before setting eyes on Aconcagua for the first time. Tomorrow morning, they will start their trek into Base Camp.

Monday 9 January

The team left Penitentes this morning and set off on their three-day trek into Plaza Argentina (Base Camp). Tonight they will camp at Pampa de Lenas (2950 metres), where the muleteers will prepare dinner for them. Their exciting journey is unfolding!

Tuesday 10 January

Today the Adventures Global team trekked from Pampa de Lenas to Casa de Piedra (3240 metres).The journey took about six hours. Tomorrow they will trek to Base Camp where we will get more information on how everyone is doing.

Thursday 12 January

Ac2017D?_11Yesterday the Adventures Global team left Casa de Piedra for Base Camp. They crossed the Vacas River early in the morning on the back of mules, and then made their way up the steep Relicho Slope before crossing another river. They could see Aconcagua in the distance, always looming. They arrived after about six hours of trekking. Today they will take time to settle into Plaza Argentina (4200 metres) and rest. If the weather plays along, they will do a load carry to Camp One tomorrow.

Sunday 15 January

Ac2017D?_15The Adventures Global Aconcagua team settled into Base Camp and, after some rest, did a load carry to Camp One, at 5000 metres. Right now we are not sure whether they have already moved to Camp One, but we will confirm this as soon as we hear from our local logistics. The attached pics depict some of the terrain they would have endured. We will report back soon.

Everest Base Camp: an unforgettable experience

Never in a million years did I think that I would find myself trekking to Everest Base Camp in 2016. I mean, ‘roughing it’ in my experience means not having my nails done every two weeks. I didn’t even have hiking boots. Or a sleeping bag. Or an idea of where Everest actually is

You can therefore understand my surprise (and the complete and utter disbelief of my family and friends) when I accepted an invitation to join my adventurous cousin on her second trip to Everest Base Camp. And to be honest, no one was more surprised than me. But you see, I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to say no. Every excuse I came up with was just that – an excuse. And at the very core of all my reasons not to go, was a deep knowing that it was time. Time to step outside the routine of day-to-day life, the labels of wife, mother, and friend, and see what I was made of.

So I said yes. And immediately sat down to google ‘Where is Everest?’ while having a mild panic attack! My mantra over the next few months became ‘I can do hard things!’ – during the long training walks, steep stair climbs and while shopping for my gear. This was something so completely out of character (and out of my comfort zone), that I needed to toughen up mentally before I even set foot on the plane. It wasn’t just about the physical training – I had to redefine my idea of who I was, to make space for the idea that I could be so much more.

And then we were off for what would later turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime. There were moments that my brain just couldn’t comprehend where I was and what I was doing. The flight into Lukla airport, crossing a suspension bridge with yaks coming in the opposite direction, the sheer majesty of the Himalayas, my first glimpse of Everest, reaching Namche Bazaar and not quite believing that I had managed (and loved) the steep climb, the breathtaking views around each corner, the quaint beauty of the teahouses, the Nepalese children running up and hugging us when we trekked through each village, the comaraderie with other trekkers, the altitude headaches, the many hours of being alone with my thoughts, the time and space to think – or not think, the simple pleasures of a hot shower and cup of tea.

Having just received a blessing from a Lama in Kathmandu for safe travels on the mountain.

Having just received a blessing from a Lama in Kathmandu for safe travels on the mountain.

The first of many cups of tea at beautiful tea houses along the trail.

The first of many cups of tea at beautiful tea houses along the trail.

We learnt to take these suspension bridges in our stride!

We learnt to take these suspension bridges in our stride!

Give way to the yaks at all times!

Give way to the yaks at all times!

It was like walking in a postcard. Every day.

It was like walking in a postcard. Every day.

See that village? That’s Namche Bazaar and we'd left there that morning!

See that village? That’s Namche Bazaar and we’d left there that morning!

There’s nothing like the sight of a porter carrying 45kgs of weight up the mountian to make you feel less tired!

There’s nothing like the sight of a porter carrying 45 kg up the mountain to make you feel less tired!

At times, it was like walking in a movie – and I had to remind myself that this was me. I was actually doing this. And loving it. The preconceived labels I had of ‘not being sporty’ and ‘not being outdoorsy’ and ‘being a bit of a princess’ no longer applied. I was a trekker!

The path seems to be a bit ... rocky.

The path seems to be a bit … rocky.

Just when you think it couldn’t get more beautiful. Sunset takes place.

Just when you think it couldn’t get more beautiful. Sunset takes place.

Breathtaking scenery around every corner.

Breathtaking scenery around every corner.

We never tired of the prayer flags and prayer wheels. The spirituality in Nepal is both humbling and inspiring.

We never tired of the prayer flags and prayer wheels. The spirituality in Nepal is both humbling and inspiring.

One of the many Stupas along the trail.

One of the many Stupas along the trail.

Highlights of the trip are too many to mention. Top of the list would be the spectacular views – words and photos can not to do justice to what we were privileged enough to witness. It’s astounding to think of nine days up to Everest Base Camp and four days down – all filled with jaw-dropping views.

Soaking up the beauty surrounding us!

Soaking up the beauty surrounding us!

The stark beauty of the landscape as we got closer to Base Camp.

The stark beauty of the landscape as we got closer to Base Camp.

And then there was Hupendra – our phenomenal guide. His wisdom and gentle guidance were invaluable, as was the attentiveness to our health, mental well-being, and making sure that we enjoyed each day to the full. Words cannot express the respect and appreciation I have for this man, how much we enjoyed his amazing sense of humour, and endless knowledge, and how integral he was to our experience on the mountain.

Hupendra finally gets defeated at UNO!

Hupendra finally gets defeated at UNO!

And then there’s that indescribable feeling of achievement – the tears on reaching Base Camp, that feeling of I did it, and that knowledge that life’s challenges would never seem quite as big as before. There’s a clarity that comes with this type of adventure that is hard to describe. Just a deep knowing that something has shifted and that something has changed – and that many more adventures await!

We did it – we made it to Base Camp!

We did it – we made it to Base Camp!

My enormous thanks to Ronnie Muhl, Lisa, Hupendra and the rest of the Adventures Global team for their attention to detail, on-tap advice and encouragement, incredible expertise and care. I cannot recommend this organisation – or trip – enough!

Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne
November 2016

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The 2016 Bishops School EBC Trek

A Trek into the Base Camp of Everest with the Bishops School from Cape Town

By Mark Mitchell

Everest, a word that needs no explanation, a word that is associated with happiness, success, hardship, loneliness, defeat, trust, support, companionship, heroism, loss, failure, cold, fear, awe. A word that has dominated many people’s lives with an almost unquenchable thirst, a thirst for something that is different for every person who falls under the spell of Chomolungma.There are many things we do in our lives that numb us both to ourselves and to our surroundings, but Everest is not one of those things; it is its spirit that, without discrimination, challenges everyone (both physically and spiritually) who dares to walk in its foothills; physically because its enormity stands in a space foreign to our comfortable environment, and spiritually because of its overwhelming timeless presence in the Himalayas.

The Journey Begins

ev2016d1kathmandu_the-teamSo when we all arrived at Cape Town International airport on a sunny afternoon in March, I do not think that many of the travellers really knew what course-work, what life-degree, we all were embarking on and how we all, both internally and externally, were about to have our GPS coordinates altered for good.
Arriving in Kathmandu (at 1420 m), was like stepping into another world, a world of chaos, but paradoxically with sense of self-created order, of new shades and colours, smells and sights, but all with an intense sense of richness through longevity. Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), with its commanding views of Kathmandu, was our first stop after we had settled into the wonderful Yak and Yeti Hotel, home to most of the Everest summiteers each year. We went from there to the Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. We spent a wonderful two days getting to know Thamel and then early on Day Four we headed to the Kathmandu airport to catch our flight to Lukla (which is regarded as one of the most dangerous airports in the world in part because of the edgy landing on the shortest runway imaginable). From there it was on our way to our first stop on the trek, Phakding (2600 m). This gentle downhill walk of about four hours was not a good indicator of what was about to come! The next morning, we set off early for Namche Bazaar (3440 m) along a route that took us along the banks of the Dudh Kosi River,
crossing many of the famous prayer flag laden bridges. Yaks and humans jostled for bridge space – the yaks always won the ‘negotiation’! The day was physically challenging with many extremely steep, seemingly endless, uphill pushes, but the surprise and awe-inspiring sight of a town securely perched on a side of a mountain made the painful and self-doubting memories of the day melt. We spent two wonderful days in Namche Bazaar with an acclimatisation walk on the second day. This walk took us past the Everest View Hotel where, while reclining on their patio in the sun having the homely lemon tea and biscuits, we were afforded our first and most spectacular views of Everest.

A Lesson on Hillary

ebc2016d6_the-team-at-the-memorial-inside-the-first-school-established-by-sir-edmund-hillaryWe trekked from the hotel to Khumjung – a town very close to Hillary’s heart, where he built one of his first schools. It is a gentle town, safely nestled between the mountains, but with Ama Dablam watching powerfully over it! The return journey offered the most spectacular view of Namche Bazaar. Having arrived back, we headed towards one of the entertainment spaces where we watched an extremely moving documentary about Hillary’s life, with a particular focus on the effect that the loss of his wife and child had on him and his family. There was also moving footage of Norgay and his feeling of disappointment at the end of his life with regard to his regret at ever having summited
Everest.
The following day we started the slow but hectic climb out of Namche Bazaar heading towards Tengboche (3870 m), reaching it after another long push up a seemingly endless steep hill, and reaching the monastery around 4 pm. By then, the weather was coming in and everyone was starting to feel the biting cold – so we spent little time in Tengboche and headed down the other side of the saddle to Debuche – a wonderful spot at a teahouse surrounded by a forest of birches and rhododendrons.
The rest of the day was spent warming up in the cosy teahouse with an amazing view of the mountains; the weather only allowed us intermittent sneak views of what still lay ahead for us. The evening was filled with reliving the past few days, sharing stories, discussing oxygen saturation levels and rather loud and competitive card games!

On to Pheriche

Early the next morning we all gathered outside soaking up every square inch of sunlight and then headed for our next stop at Pheriche (4240 m). After about an hour of walking, we crossed the Imja Khola (one of the large rivers which drains the slopes of Everest) on a makeshift suspension bridge, the original one having been recently washed away. We then made our way up the mountain towards Pangboche. Here we experienced one of the highlights of the trek, and that was an audience with Lama Geshi. He blessed each member of the group with the usual rice, ‘orange rope’ and prayer. It was a moving experience for most of us – despite our extremely contrasting cultures, all of us felt the reverence of the space, a space that was naturally peaceful and somehow lacking in tension. The focus of the ceremony was not on our differences of background, but rather on a desire to bless people and, in particular, to ask for both safety in journeys and understanding for all – something I suddenly realised was not a religious concept, but rather a universal desire and the fundamental philosophy that holds us as human beings together, no matter our backgrounds or creeds.
On our arrival in Pheriche we experienced the first snow of the trek – resulting in the ‘highly charged’ but obligatory snow fight. We spent two days there in order to allow the acclimatisation process to take its course. On our rest day in Pheriche, we climbed the surrounding mountain in the morning and then headed back to the warm dining room and all the associated comforts of the Himalayan Lodge.
In the early evening we visited the Himalayan Rescue Association’s Trekkers’ Aid Post. This centre attracts world-renowned physicians who acquire data to analyse the effects of high altitude on human physiology. While visiting them we were given a comprehensive talk around High Altitude sickness by two doctors from Sweden. This also gave us an opportunity as a group to chat about it – something that is constantly on one’s mind when trekking in the Himalaya!

Memorial Hill

The next morning, after saying goodbye to one of the members of our group who was suffering from altitude sickness symptoms, we packed and headed for Lobuche (4930 m) in the most outrageous wind. The first part of the day was a stroll along a beautiful flat valley for about an hour and then we started the climb to a small village called Duglha (4620 m), stopping for the traditional mid-morning tea and biscuits, and then moving towards one of the most special places along the trip – Memorial Hill. The panoramic view of the Himalayas from this point gives you a true sense of the enormity of the range. Standing there and viewing this is probably one of the most humbling things one can do and certainly makes one rethink ones importance as human beings in the great scheme of things!
ebc2016d7_31-heading-up-to-memorial-hillThis hill is home to many stone memorials for climbers who have perished on nearby summits. The space is simple and quiet, but one which holds a deep sense of tranquillity and peace. Standing there, looking at the view of the Himalayas and the honouring memorials, one is just struck by the deep relationship that still exists between man and nature and of man’s fundamental desire to exist side by side with nature but, at the same time, his strange desire to somehow conquer it.
The following day we started our walk up the western side of the Khumbu Valley heading towards Gorak Shep, crossing rather rough and unforgiving glacier moraine which becomes steeper and steeper as one moves closer to Gorak Shep. By this stage many of us were now really beginning to feel the effects of the altitude making the day seem longer and harder than normal. Arriving at midday in Gorak Shep, a number of the members of the group then packed backpacks to begin their climb of Kala Pattar (meaning ‘black rock’). Kala Pattar sits comfortably at 5545 m at the base of Gorak Shep and provides the brave climber the most spectacular view of Everest on the trek.

And we reach Base Camp

ebc2016d12_base-camp-the-boys2The next morning, after seeing another two members of the group being airlifted from Gorak Shep (with amazing emergency response speed) due to altitude issues, we packed up and started the walk up the Khumbu Glacier into Everest Base Camp, which is situated at the base of the Khumbu Icefall. Base Camp itself is very spread out, and is littered with various coloured tents from all the different expeditions. We were extremely lucky to be able to experience something that the normal trekker is not able to do and that is to spend two nights in Base Camp proper. This was only possible for us due to the fact that Ronnie Muhl allowed us to use the Adventures Global expedition team’s camp, for the time we were there.
ebc2016d12_base-camp-cakeThe two days spent in Base Camp were ones of comparative luxury: just relaxing, eating, sleeping, talking, games, singing (very impressive from the boys side) and a time to take in the enormity of the challenge that climbers face in attempting to summit Everest. It also gave us all a small understanding of the day-to-day life of the teams in Base Camp and the incredible support system that is required to attempt to ensure the safety of all climbers. The food that was prepared for us during this time really could have come from a five-star restaurant and not from the small tent next to our tent – we were even treated to a fully baked iced sponge cake welcoming us to Base Camp – this being given a major thumbs up, even by the ‘foodies’ in our group!

ebc2016d12_base-camp-bishops-flagHeading back

Thank you to Adventures Global and in particular to Ronnie Muhl and Elizabeth Bool and also to both Dawa and Hupendra for the incredible support and organisation around our trek – we are all extremely grateful to you all for the opportunities you afforded us.

Elbrus 2016 • Mount Elbrus Summit Success!

Another Adventures Global success story

Mount Elbrus summit, 2010

Mount Elbrus summit, 2010

Adventures Global are proud to announce that Jannie, Sean, Elizabeth, and Elog summitted Mount Elbrus this morning at 10 am. Gary and David decided to descend from the Sedlowina Saddle and they were accompanied down by Ronnie. The team are all safely back at The Barrels. They will spend their last night on the mountain before descending to Terskol tomorrow. Watch this space for exciting pics.

Elbrus 2016 • Ready to Summit Mt Elbrus!

Time to summit Mt Elbrus!

Acclimatisation hike, 2010

Acclimatisation hike, 2010

The team are well acclimatised and had a good night’s sleep. Today they did some skills training on a steep snow slope just below Base Camp. Everyone did extremely well. They had a good rest this afternoon, and will begin their summit push tomorrow morning at 2 am. We wish them well!

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Elbrus 2016 • Pastuckhov Rocks

Up to Pastuckhov Rocks
El2010D6 Up to Pastukhov RocksThe electric storm of last night presented us with a magnificent display of thunder and lightning and about ten centimetres of snow. Nevertheless, everyone slept well and today the team are moving up to Pastuckhov Rocks as part of another acclimatisation day. They hope to get to about 4,800 metres before they turn and descend. The weather is good and they are making great progress. We will keep you posted.

Update
The Adventures Global team reached the top of the Pastuckhov Rocks at 4,700 metres in good time and descended back to the barrels safely. Everyone did extremely well and we are now resting up in Base Camp.

Elbrus 2016 • At The Barrels

El2010D4_1 Barrels

The Barrels, 2010

A shocking experience!
The Adventures Global team arrived safely at The Barrels. They settled in and after lunch, they did an acclimatisation climb up to 4,500 metres. On the descent, they got caught in an electric storm. They descended rapidly to avoid the lightning strikes, and everyone is now safely back at The Barrels.

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Elbrus 2016 • The Adventures Global Journey Begins

The first few days of Elbrus 2016
Elbrus 2016 MoscowThe Adventures Global Elbrus 2016 team arrived safely in Moscow on Saturday afternoon and on Sunday we had some fun in the grounds of the Kremlin and around Red Square. We even bumped in Mr Putin himself. What an incredible city.
We then flew from Moscow to Mineral Vody and then drove up the Baksan Valley to Terskol. The valley is looking very beautiful. We settled into our hotel and then explored the village. These were our first few views of the area.
On Monday the team did an acclimatisation hike up Mt Cheget. We came across an unusual amount of snow and the views were spectacular. The climb was rounded off with a superb lunch. We rented gear for those who needed, and then spent the rest of the day relaxing.
El2016D3_6 Terskol GlacierTuesday the team trekked up the Terskol Valley to the base of the Terskol Glacier. It was a stunning walk even although we got some rain on the way back. The afternoon was spent chilling.
El2016D4_6 TerskolWe left yesterday morning to visit the slopes of Elbrus for the first time. We took the lifts up to 3800 metres and then moved up the snow slope to the Diesel Hut (4100 metres). We spent some time there before descending back down to Terskol to enjoy our last night in the hotel. A good acclimatisation day.
Today: The team are ready and packed to leave the comfort and luxury of our hotel and move up to the barrels, which will serve as our Base Camp on Elbrus for the next five or six days. The real climbing is about to begin and everyone is very excited.
See more pics from the first few days in our gallery. Due to comms issues, pics posted from now on will be from previous trips.

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Everest 2016 • Celebration at Rum Doodle

Final Celebration

Ev2016D53_13 Rum Doodle celebrationLast night the Adventures Global team had their celebration dinner at the Rum Doodle Restaurant in Kathmandu. This officially brings our expedition to an end.

Once again, congratulations to everyone involved in the expedition. Our lives will be forever entwined. Bon Voyage as you embark on your journeys home.

See the celebration pics here.