Everest / Alpine Expeditions

Keith Cowing Everest Update: Climbing Up To Namche

By Keith Cowing
Keith Cowing
April 17, 2009
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Keith Cowing Everest Update: Climbing Up To Namche
My first view of Mt. Everest
Keith Cowing

My early bedtime resulted in a long, much needed sleep. I was up early and we were able to get started an hour earlier than had been the plan.

I had and early lunch at Monjo – with a tea lodge eating area all to myself. The trek to Monjo had been arduous, but it was the easiest part of the day. We had only climbed a net altitude of 200 meters up from Phadking and were at 2,800 meters. We needed to get to 3,400 meters to reach Namche Bazar. Two hours of climbing a huge staircase – one that had been in use for thousands of years – lay ahead.

Tashi does one thing that is more valuable than anything else – he senses the best pace for me. After a while I found a way to focus on my breathing and my steps – and the backs of Tashi’s sneakers. Since I am focusing on endurance, not sight seeing, I tried to focus on slow, constant effort. I took breaks every couple of hundred meters but only for a few minutes so as to not break the pace. With one exception.

A tea Lodge along the way to Namche where I had an early lunch

I had stopped for a 3 minute break when Tashi suggested we go up another 20 meters or so for a “better view”. It was indeed “better”: my first view of Mt. Everest. Due to our viewing angle and distance the objects around Everest were foreshortened. But I could clearly see the south face of Everest, Lhotse, the Western Cwm, and other things that I would see much closer up in a week or so.

The mountains overlooking Namche at sunset

That inspiration in my head, we plodded on for another hour. I was pretty much spent when we saw Namche across the valley. As we came into town we found our two porters hanging out with friends. They had left Phakding only a few minutes before us but had been at Namche for more than an hour.

Stone masons below my room. They start at 6 am.

I told Tashi that I hoped that I had achieved a karmic balance by virtue of my training regimen back home – carrying a 25 kilo backpack full for rocks 3-5 miles a day, 4-5 days a week for 4 months. I had carried the same weight of my two duffels albeit at sea level on much flatter terrain already. He thought this was funny.

Watching Tashi’s feet

A few minutes later I was at the Khumbu Lodge being shown my room. Barely 6 feet wide, when filled with my 2 duffels, back pack, and myself it was a tight fit – but the bed was bigger than I needed, so I was just fine. I got some Internet updates in and then crashed early (again) with a lot of aching muscles.




Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻