We all just sat there staring at the mountains, running through each of their names and marveling at their beauty. Then the cold and AMS settled in and it was time for the tea house warmth! I walked into the main restaurant, plopped myself down next to the wood burning range and sat there with a daze on my face. I was dizzy, tired, had a headache and wanted to puke. Sweet combo. After several dialogs btw Julio and Lapka Gelu I found it was time to take a diamox, an aspirin, drink a liter of water and go to bed. Next thing I woke up an hour later with Lapka Gelu standing over me telling me to eat the garlic soup. I think I told him, "No way in hell". Then I fell asleep for another hour, woke up and Lapka Gelu was still standing over me like a bad dream. He said, " Eat the garlic soup". I figured since this was a bad dream and I didn't want it to continue to repeat I might as well eat the damn soup. So I did and fell asleep again. Funny thing was, the next time I woke up Lapka Gelu was gone and so was my AMS! We all met up for a hearty breakfast because Lapka Gelu said we have many more ridges to climb today but not to worry "all down hill". Sure. To try and paint you a picture of where we were, imagine standing on the stage of an old Greek theater. The area dropping off from the stage was the river running through the valley. The seats to the high walls that surround the theater were the mountains that seemed to touch the sky. We were at 13,500, the river was at 8,200 and the mountains went up to 29,000. Just an amazing view. The sound of music kind of stuff. So we were off to Thame. To keep this short and only pictures will do this justice when I get home, we crossed several glacial fields where we had to dig out steps in the ice to cross on the billygoat paths. One slip and we would fall into the valley. We hiked for 7 1/2 hours up and down every ridge till we reached the village. It was a quaint little town with about a half dozen tea houses to stay at. At dinner I learned something new. There was something on the menu called a momo. What the heck. Turns out they were pot stickers filled with yak meat and butter. I had them for breakfast the next day too! During dinner a man came in to sell us some paintings he had painted. He had several neat drawings one that was the Tibetan symbols for luck so I bought it. I figured I could use some for this trip. The interesting thing was that the man used to be a Sherpa who climbed Everest and several other mountains. On his last climb he got frostbite and lost all his fingers. He only had nubs of which he used to draw his paintings. You would buy a picture too. The real funny part was when he asked where we came from. We said Kongde. He said "no way, only helicopter from Kongde" We told him we walked. He told us we were crazy. Yup. When we were leaving that next morning the head lady came out and put a prayer scarf around each of our necks and wished us a safe climb. I have a great picture with Julio and me standing there, scarfs in tow, with the mountains towering behind us. A magical moment.
It was now off to Namche Bazar, which is the main trading town btw Tibet and Nepal in the Khumbu Valley with our final destination being Mounju. For some reason Julio and I had a little skip to our step because we cruised to NB an hour before Lapka Gelu planned. Nice! When we got there it was special because as we entered the town we ran into Russel Brice's Hymex team and cameras. Julio said hello, becasue they know each other, and he said hi for Megan Delanhanty who climbed Everest with them and summitted last Spring. It was great to see them in the flesh. Kind of nostalgic. As we moved further into the town we ran into Alpine Accents Everest team. We only knew that because Lapka Gelu is a guide for AC in the states and knows everyone so we said hi to them too. As we headed out of town we ran into another one of Lapka Gelu's friends, Nima at his tea house. Nima has the seconds highest number of summits on Everest at 17. Here we were sitting in this tea house having juice with 2 out of the 3 most acclaimed climbers on Everest. Nima had all his Everest Summit certificates all over the walls. What was special was that nobody knew these guys had 31 summits btw them. Both were moving around serving food and drinks like they were hired help, talking btw each other like old friends do. They don't brag or ask to be treated specially. I think the best way to put it is that they aren't selfish. They just want you to be happy. Incredible. Special people! So after a bunch of pictures we headed out to Mouju. Today's total hike was just 5 hours and felt good. Our legs were just getting used to the pain and soreness which I am sure will come in handy later on. At Mounju it was more momo's and tea! We woke to the head lady chanting her prayer and swinging the incense throughout the entire tea house. Apparently they do this every day for the spirits. As we were leaving to head back to Lukla, Lapka Gelu ran into another Sherpa friend who wanted to join us on our way back. He was guiding a newly married Irish couple who weren't a day over 25 each. They had a big ceremony the night before and dawned the Nepalese wedding clothes. The funny part were the hats they wore. The woman wears this huge furry hat that looks like it is from Russia except it is brown. The man wears a cowboy hat. Who knew? They said part of the ceremony was to drink from their cups from each person. Even these two Irish folks couldn't handle the total consumption. It was great to see their pictures. So 5 hours later we were back in Lukla a little early. Something like 3pm. This was really the first day Julio and I had a little time to spend for ourselves. We walked around town and talked with the locals. The most fun was going over to the airport to watch the planes come in. We had a nice nights rest, more momo's and went to the airport at 6:15am. There was probably 80 people waiting for flights. The main guy would yell something, everyone would rush to door because nobody knew what he said, he'd turn away all but the 14 for the flight. Mayhem. We finally flew out at 8:30. Fortunately for us the skies were clear and the flight was perfect. Something every airline could learn, the flight would land, people were off loaded and then loaded and the plane headed out in 4 minutes. Wow. Oh, I also monitored the flight back. We went from 9,800 feet to 4,200 feet in 60 seconds to land back at Kathmandu. Now imagine the big boy planes coming in like that. More later!