Guest Story: Everest Base camp/ Lobuche peak, Nepal, June, 2016
Guest: Neve Lahy
“It was late June, this particular morning was foggy and rainy, and the air smelled exactly how one would imagine the air of the Himalaya to smell. It was cool out and the bells of the yaks were ringing as the yak herder named Pasang readied them for the trek to the base of Lobuche peak (16,210’). The climb would be long but I had been waiting to climb this peak for months and I couldn’t wait. A picture of Lobuche peak had been my screensaver on my iPhone for weeks before. After everyone had finished their morning tea, we set off on foot to Lobuche… After a few hours had passed we reached a massive scree field, the air was thin, given that we were at almost 17,000’, but the air was so fresh that I didn’t find it hard to breathe, it was invigorating. We finally reached high camp that afternoon, soaking wet due to the rain, and found our tents already set up for us by the Sherpas. I shared my tent with Lilliana Libecki, we played inky pinky and took silly pictures together and as soon as we got cozy in our tents to prepare for the long day of mountaineering that was soon to come, Pasang Sherpa brought us both a mug of hot tea, and not long after that we had dinner brought to us. This really touched me. These Sherpas, our new friends, were out in the rain and cold making every effort they could to make us comfortable and happy, these men were so lighthearted and never once complained, they only ever said encouraging, positive things, and they always made us laugh.
That night was one of the most unique experiences to me because as I listened, I was able to hear the sound of rocks and snow crashing down mountain faces. I wasn’t scared, I knew I was safe, and it sounded like thunder but the sound was made by the mountains. It was something truly amazing to me, I was in sheer awe.
Our plan was to start the summit attempt at about 2 a.m. and reach the summit by the time the sun was rising and watch the most incredible sunrise I thought I would ever see in my life. That night it had rained relentlessly and I finally understood why mountaineering season and monsoon season were completely different times of the year. Dean Cardinale, my guide, and the owner of WWT, made the decision alongside the Sherpas, to hike back down to Lobuche Village, instead of going to the top. He didn’t want to put the group in any kind of danger such as icefall, rockfall, or slippery rock faces due to the rain. I’m glad he made that decision because it showed that Dean was more concerned with our safety and joy, than finishing the peak. While I wished the weather had prevailed and allowed us to push for the summit, I don’t resent the decision because it was a first-time mountaineering trip for me and the experience had already surpassed my wildest expectations. We went back down the mountain and trekked back to our tea house with hand painted walls and ceilings and everything was so beautiful, so detailed.
That night after dinner, the whole group, including the Sherpas: Pasang, PG, Chhongba, Mingma, and Furba, all sat down next to the fire and drank tea. The Sherpas all sang us native songs and chants from Nepal and Tibet, Andy Libecki and PG played the banjo together, we all danced and sang. I will never forget that night. I still know the words to many of the Sherpa songs.
Going on this adventure with WWT was more incredible than words can say. The grandness of the peaks was astounding, inspiring, and breathtaking. I would sit on a rock and just listen to the sounds that the mountains would make, the rumbling and the cracking of the ice, it was unworldly. Unbelievable. The mountains of the Himalayas are unlike anything else in the world. They are so empowering and so humbling at the same time, they’re so vast, so beautiful, and truly just so big…”