We are just back from Lobuche Peak. Last year was the first time we began our acclimatization on Lobuche. I got the idea to do this from expert New Zealand mountaineer Russell Brice, who said he always spends a few nights with his Everest clients on Lobuche Peak to get acclimatized. The popularity of the concept has spread, and it was pretty busy on the mountain this year. That’s the end of any solitary mountain adventures, it seems.

The Khumbu Valley is the most accessible valley in all of Nepal, which brings with it advantages and disadvantages. Personally I can make this work for me. I still like it a lot in the Khumbu Valley. There are lots of other places where you can be totally alone. This popularity brings of course also other advantages. We are now cozily settled into our Mountain Guides Lodge in Pheriche. The oven warms us up – with the yak dung fuel, of course. We have wifi, and our telephones even work … as long as you’re standing in the right corner of the building. For a good coffee, though, we have to go next door. Here we can only get instant.

I was in the Khumbu Valley in Nepal for the first time more than 10 years ago. A lot has changed since then. Then everything was totally new to me. Now I feel right at home since I know my way around so well and so many people know me. A lot of things here are just understood for me. Dendi Sherpa has organized my expeditions for years and he’s become a friend. Dendi is here in the Khumbu and he is planning to climb Everest with his daughter. This time we are both just alpinists.

We have set up our base camp in Pheriche at about 4,200 meters (approximately 13,700 feet). It’s the ideal locale to access Cholatse Amadablam and Tawoche. We’re staying with a cousin of Dendi’s here. Our room is totally jam-packed with equipment. I brought lots of things not only for the technical walls we want to climb but also the 8,000er gear for Everest. Right now we really don’t know what we will be able to do. The weather is still unstable. It’s snowing a lot. The faces of Cholatse, Amadablam and Tawoche are covered in deep snow.

The view from Lobuche Peak was extraordinary, but we could also make out that a number of avalanches had swept over the north face of Cholatse. Every day we are getting 5-10 centimeters (2-4 inches) of new snow. On a north face that can be a bit unpleasant—or should I say pretty hazardous! That means the conditions have to change a lot for us first because right now we can’t start a climb. We are pretty well acclimatized right now and could get going. As soon as we receive a good weather report from Meteotest, we’ll get started. It just doesn’t look very good this week so in the meantime we’ll keep busy with other things.

That’s what’s so great about Khumbu; there is so much to do. You just have to adapt to the weather conditions. Today our gear for High Camp should arrive. That means we’ll need to get busy drying out our tents, sorting our gear, etc. Depending on the weather, we may go to Everest Base Camp and get a look at the Khumbu Icefall. That way I can use my time well and already start preparing myself for the second part of my expedition, Mount Everest.
–Ueli Steck

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