Valerio Massimo Everest Expedition 2009

Me on the summit of Cho Oyu with Everest in the background

Khumjung and Tengboche

April 4th, 2009 by Valerio

After some last minute shopping in Namche on Thursday, including browsing alongside a horse (see picture below), we trekked over the brow of the hill to to Khumjung, the second largest village in the Khumbu, at just under 3,800 meters.

Horse browsing in Namche

Horse browsing in Namche

Me on my way out of Namche as the clouds roll-in

Me on my way out of Namche as the clouds roll-in


Me on the steps of the Everest View Hotel in the mist

Me on the steps of the Everest View Hotel in the mist

Everest legend Phurba Tashi and his son in the lodge kitchen

Everest legend Phurba Tashi and his son in the lodge kitchen

Khumjung is where a lot of the original work done by the charity I am supporting – The Himalayan Trust – was started by Edmund Hillary. Here he built the first school and the first hospital in the entire region, and the continuing works are wonderful to see. Infrastructure and most importantly education are what the Sherpa people want, so that their children won’t have to either till the fields or perform dangerous work on high altitude expeditions such as mine. It really is a worthy cause as they are such generous, charming and hard working people.

We spent two days in Khumjung acclimatising to the increased altitude, staying at the ‘Tashi Friendship lodge ‘, owned by our Sirdar Phurba Tashi. Phurba is a legend in the Himalaya and one of the strongest althetes I’ve ever seen. He has climbed Everest a staggering 14 times and is a national hero, but also, as I witnessed over two days, an adoring father of four children. A rather effete friend of mine whined when I said he was as famous a David Beckham in Nepal, only difference being that he is actually talented. To be fair Phurba doesn’t care much for Alexander McQueen’s latest skinny jeans or Balenciaga new leather jacket, so perhaps that is the reason for the gripe (my friend works in fashion, hawking expensive clothes to rich old bags in NY – second shout out BTW).

Our stay was very cosy, with very much a family atmosphere as the entire extended sherpa family knew many of the guides and we all squeezed into a very ‘cosy’ dining room for long chats, reading books by the fire and lots of games of ‘arsehole’, not the most cerebral of card games, but simple and fun when there are ten of you playing.

On Friday I spent some time playing football with the local children and then trekked up to the ‘Everest View Hotel’. This is a very weird place, built by the Japanese in the 1960s and with a very depressing feel about it – like a mini version of the hotel in ‘The Shining’. It was built for time-pressed and typically older Japanese tourists to come and see Everest without any effort (it is the lowest point from which you can glimpse the tip of Everest, thumnail-sized as it pokes over the Nuptse ridge). At 3,700 meters many early customers would get off the helicopter at the specially built landing strip at Syanboche and exclaim ‘Ahh, Evverest’ before promtly keeling over from the altitude. Many went straight from heli to oxygen chamber and at least four died, so it was closed down. In 1997 I visited the abandoned building for a picnic. Now it has re-opened but to be honest it doesn’t look very different. I asked the waiter (once I found one) how many guests they had and he said ‘none’. I asked if there were hot showers, given this place charges $160 per night and our cosy lodge $3, and he said ‘no, just hot water bucket’. I wonder why it isn’t more popular…

This morning we left Khumjung to trek to Tengboche, the site of the local monastery. My year in the gym seems to be paying off and I made the five hour journey, including the 700 vertical meter climb, in an hour and a half. So far soo good – touch wood it stays this way. My main aim is to get to Base Camp without getting ill. Fingers crossed.

Arriving early and with time to kill, I began playing with my equipment and disaster struck. I lost all the photos I have taken since arriving in Nepal, bar the four attached to this post. Long boring story, involving my PDA re-formatting my memory card, apparently for fun. Bastard. And I was just about to back it all up…

So I am begging some of the shots I’ve lost off others to try and re-create something of the trip so far. That’ll teach me to have too much technology…

Tomorrow we are off to Dingboche, and another rise to well over four thousand meters. Getter closer…only 5 days to Base Camp.

Tags: 15 Comments

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15 responses so far ↓

  • Catching up on you progress, we are lost in innuendo. Last minute shopping then playing with your equipment? 5 hour climbs in 90 minutes then playing arsehole with the local children? Is it only us that are this immature?
    If the question of the day is: International explorer prince or high altitude sex tourist? The answer surely is …. SHAVE.

  • Shout out number 2! Fnar fnar.

    One of my posts is “awaiting moderation”…wtf?

    Well done on the climb…I bet you were the fastest, no? I do hope that you asked each of your expedition individually how long it took them, and then pointed out that you were the fastest.
    It can only make the bonds of friendship stronger. Trust me.

    Can I call you on the Sat phone??

    Shame about photos. I can send you mine from my trip, and photoshop a couple of pretty kiwi men for you.

  • Horse ‘browsing’ – is that what they call it over there? And I suppose you promised the horse a shout out as well. Though I see that it was too ashamed to show it’s face on your blog.

    As for Paul’s comments about Valerio being the fastest (can’t think where he got that idea), I’ve just imagined what it’ll be like on the summit:

    ‘Yes, we all arrived together and promised not to say who got there first (but I have to admit it was me). Then whilst everyone else was standing around taking photos I built a metre high pile of snow and then stood on it. They all thought this was so that I could take photos over their heads but in fact it was so that I could be the first person ever to climb to 8,851 metres. Oh yes, higher than Hillary. Straight in the Guinness Book of Records thank you very much.’

    Though on reflection…

  • It is permanently awaiting moderation mate – don’t forget this site is not just read by my close friends who get all the ‘in jokes’… Anyway loving your posts you mincer.

  • Tim that is hilarious. xxxx

    PS because it’s true….

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    сэнкс за инфу!…

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    tnx for info….

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    tnx for info!…