Valerio Massimo Everest Expedition 2009

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

Dingboche – my last nights in a solid edifice until June…

April 6th, 2009 by Valerio

Yesterday morning we left Tengboche, at 3,950 meters, to move up to Dingboche, at 4,400 meters.  Tengboche is famous for its monastery, where all expeditions to Everest are blessed for good luck by the local Llama.  The Llama performed a simple ceremony and we were each given scarves, which most people tied to their rucksacks.  Every expedition to Everest since the Swiss in 1952 and the British in 1953 have done the same.


After the ceremony we caught our first view of Everest, soaring nearly 5,000 meters above us.  Its tip was just visible above the long ridge of its sister peak, Nuptse.  We’ll have to wait until we get onto the Khumbu glacier proper before we get a fuller view, but it was good to see the mountain again for the first time since 2004.


After final packing and re-loading of yaks for the umpteenth time, we hit the trail, and Everest slowly dipped out of view behind the ridge as walked towards it.  Bypassing the traditional overnight stop at Pangboche, we had a sunny lunch instead at a tea house in Upper Pangboche before continuing the staggeringly beautiful undulating traverse along the mountain-side.  Throughout, one very famous mountain dominated the scenery – Ama Dablam – perhaps alongside the Matterhorn the most beautiful mountain in the world, but still 2,000 meters short of Everest’s height at almost 7,000 meters.  It made me realise as I craned my neck to look up at it just how much higher we have to go.  Very humbling indeed.


I arrived in Dingboche just after 2pm and spent the rest of the day lazing in the sunshine waiting for the yaks to arrive.  As we sat down to dinner last night, I realised how many people on the team have become ill, with either dodgy stomachs or the much more dangerous chest virus that is being passed around, exacerbated by the inevitable ‘Khumbu cough’ which is caused  by exposure to the dust and extremely dry air up here.  So far I am OK but since we all eat together in warm and squashed dining rooms people are beginning to wear face masks or bandanas – if you catch it is hard to shake at this altitude and can easily develop into pneumonia – and that means the end of your expedition.  The irony is that the team doctor brought the virus into Kathmandu and now at least ten people have caught it – she certainly now has her work cut out.  I’m doing my best to avoid it but up here hygiene is not a priority…


Speaking of hygiene, today is laundry day as we are not trekking but acclimatising to the big jump in altitude.  I also had my first shower in a week and feel like a different person, although I have kept the beard despite the attempts at vote rigging by one of my friends, who oddly, has a beard himself – perhaps he is worried I am stealing his look.  No worries there, for that, I’d have to wear a YSL ‘foulard’ in the Caribbean sun in 35 degree heat (now that’s dedication to pointless accessorising).  Don’t worry my friend, your unique camp look is safe (third and last shout out BTW).  The only camps up here are full of tents…


Tomorrow we move up past Lobuche, which is a notorious hell hole of a place and the filthiest village in the region, to our team’s Lobuche Base Camp at 4,950 meters.  So this is my last night sleeping in a building – however ramshackle – from now until June it will be tents all the way.


This MAY be my last post until Base Camp as Lobuche BC is in a valley and there is no certainty of connection, but Alix will post in my absence if that happens as she did while I was in Khumjung with the same problem.  Fingers crossed, once we arrive at Everest Base Camp proper on the 9th April and set everything up it should be fine, but you never know with technology…


So we are getting closer to the actual action.  For the few trekkers accompanying us Base Camp is the end of their journey, but for us, it just the beginning.  Beautiful as it has been, we have just been moving up to the starting line.

Everest's summit ridge pokes above the Nuptse ridge - our first view

Everest's summit ridge pokes above the Nuptse ridge - our first view


The stunning Ama Dablam from the trail to Dingboche

The stunning Ama Dablam from the trail to Dingboche

The famous Tengboche monastery

The famous Tengboche monastery

Me in front of the Tengboche bakery with Everest behind

Me in front of the Tengboche bakery with Everest behind

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3 responses so far ↓

  • Great photos and good luck on th way to Base Camp. By the way, put a blog post here and we’re linking to it in our Weekly News which goes out to some 30,000 odd lawyers by email. Might help with the charity donations. Cheers, Tim

  • You’ve got another two months of blogging, so don’t pretend that’s the last shout out. You’ll be praying for me to contact you in about a week.

    Major news from NY. The Beatrice Inn was closed down last Friday night. Apparently it was known as a den of iniquity, but I never noticed anything untoward. What shall I do? Write your suggestion on a yak and send it this way.

    Are you sharing a tent with someone?

    As for the YSL foulard, it was medicinal – I had severe sunburn. I told you that at the time. And you probably tried to steal that too, you gypsy.



  • It has been a really warm and sunny spring day, the beds here are really comfortable and we’re watching a great movie. Are you SURE you’re doing the right thing?