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Friday, 28 November 2014

Trip report for Ama Dablam BC led by Jill Lawson in October 2014

Photo: Yeti foot by Ama Dablam group in Rumdoodles restaurant
Photo: Ama Dablam BC 2014 team photo in Lukla
Jill Lawson, one of our regular leaders, also runs walking holidays for Secret Hills in the Lake District where she lives. These trips are for solo folk who wish to join a group to enjoy a weekend of sociable walking. Jill wanted to offer her Secret Hills clients the opportunity to trek in Nepal so we helped design a bespoke itinerary to Ama Dablam Base Camp in the Everest region. The Mountain Company worked in partnership with Secret Hills to organise and promote this trek led by Jill and one of our Nepalese guides, Buddhi Rai.

This trek is sixteen days in duration from arrival to Kathmandu and consists of eleven days trekking in the Himalayas. On the second day of the trip we included sightseeing in the Kathmandu valley with one of our guides where they visited Swyambunath (also known as Monkey Temple), Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashputinath (holy Hindu temple and cremation site) and Boudhanath (Buddhist stupa). The feedback from the group was this day was useful orientation to Nepal providing useful information on the culture of Nepal.

Photo: some of Ama Dablam 2014 team on trek
A few of the group arrived to Kathmandu a day or two early and had the opportunity to be joined at dinner by Jill's friend, Kenton Cool, who was very happy to answer lots of questions about trekking in Nepal.  Kenton is a well-known British climbing guide having summited Everest eleven times for moreinformation please see his personal page on Wikipedia

Overall our Ama Dablam Base Camp trek was a huge success, the group were blessed with nine days of sun and blue skies which gave the group tremendous views of the Khumbu region. When Cyclone Hudhud hit the Annapurna region Jill’s group only had an afternoon of rain so they were not really affected by this storm that wreaked much havoc in Central Nepal.

The group stayed in comfortable lodges know in Nepal as teahouse lodges, I gather everyone enjoyed the tasty food that was served to them each day. All of the group stayed healthy throughout the trip and no one suffered any signs of altitude sickness as they followed our well devised itinerary which included sufficient days to acclimatise.

Photo: walking to Khumjung on high trail
On each day of the trek Jill taught the group a 'nepali word or phrase of the day', this was a huge success as everyone thoroughly embraced these lessons and were able to actively engage with our Sherpa guides, lodge owners and porters. Learning a few words and phrases in Nepalese is always really appreciated by the local people and helps the group make the most from this cultural experience.

Our itinerary follows the main trail to Everest Base Camp up to the village of Pangboche at 3,875m and then from there our goal is to reach the less frequented Ama Dablam Base Camp at an altitude of 4,576m. On the way down from Pangboche this group followed the wonderfully quiet, high level traverse along the hillside path to via Phortse to Khumjung village. This day the group had fantastic views of the whole area and over to the otherside of the valley to the trail they had walked a few days earlier. The group then visited the quiet valley of Thame and its famous monastery before returning to Namche and Lukla.

Photo: Mount Thamserku
Photo: walking near Khumjung with holy mountain Khumbila behind
On their return to Kathmandu the group choose to visit an orphanage supported by Tulsi the owner of our partner travel agency in Nepal. Jill’s group spent an afternoon meeting the children and I gather everyone found this very insightful and a humbling experience to see the opportunities available to them. The overall feedback received from this group was they felt their holiday to Nepal was more than a trek, it was a holistic holiday which also gave them a good initial insight into Nepal and its people and its cultures.

We have received very positive feedback from most of the group and Jane has described her experience as follows:

“The Ama Dablam Base Camp trek was an excellent 'taster' of what Nepal has to offer - a wonderfully heady mix, from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, then following the famous route of past and present mountaineers heading for their conquest of Everest, or its Base Camp, before taking to the quieter, arguably more beautiful surroundings of Ama Dablam Base Camp and on from there to even more secluded Sherpa villages and Buddhist monasteries that are still unspoilt by tourism.

A real insight into such a fascinating culture, wonderful mountain scenery, on a route that was sufficiently challenging to provide a great sense of satisfaction at the end, with lodge accommodation run by local families that gave a glimpse of traditional Sherpa lifestyle that continues in the region, and provided us with excellent food throughout.” Jane Binyon (UK)

I would like to thank Jill and Buddhi for their hard work leading this group and thanks also to the Sherpa guides Utta and Susman. Well done and congratulations to this group who trekked to Ama Dablam Base Camp!

The Mountain Company will organise Ama Dablam Base Camp trek again in conjunction with Secret Hills in October 2015, and we are very lucky to have Jill leading this group again. If you are interested in joining this trek please get in touch soon as this will no doubt be very popular following our successful Ama Dablam Base Camp trek in October 2014.

Roland Hunter

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