During the post-monsoon season of 2018 Adventure Consultants operated a Three Peaks Nepal Expedition, aiming to climb the iconic peaks of Island Peak (6,189m/20,305ft), Pokalde (5,806m/19,048ft) and Lobuche East (6,119m/20,075ft).
11 November 2018 - Kathmandu
The Adventure Consultants Three Peaks Expedition 2018 is officially underway! Starting in Kathmandu and flying to Lukla, the gateway to the Himalayas, the team will embark on a 26-day journey to climb three of Nepal's iconic trekking peaks:
Island Peak 6,189m/20,305ft
Lobuche East 6,119m/20,075ft
With the expedition running from November 10 to December 5, the team have assembled in Kathmandu ready for the adventure ahead. Led by Da Jangbu Sherpa, a veteran of fifteen Everest expeditions, the team are:
Clint Goethe, USA
Chanutr Sihanatkathakul (Mic), Thailand
Suchote Chanvipava, Thailand
Tim Jenkins, Australia
The expedition kicked off with a welcome dinner in Kathmandu last night, where the team enjoyed good food and got to know each other before getting down to business with gear checks and expedition briefings today. It was also a chance to explore the bustling city whilst knocking off some last minute errands prior to the team's early morning flight to Lukla tomorrow.
We'll keep this page updated with news and photos from the team as they progress, thanks for following!
12 November 2018 - Lukla to Phakding
The team was out of bed at the crack of dawn to wind their way through the early morning city streets to Kathmandu airport. This is where they left the noise, bustle and pollution of the big city behind and the expedition proper began. It all kicked off with a fixed-wing flight to the village of Lukla, the gateway to the Himalayas. At 2,860m/9,383ft, the village is still over a thousand metres higher than Kathmandu and serves as a stunning introduction to the Khumbu Valley.
Fortunately, the team was favoured by clear skies, as flights to the Khumbu are often at the mercy of the weather gods' whims. After touching down in Lukla, there was a chance to regroup after the sharp morning wake up and the organised chaos of Kathmandu airport, before trekking boots were laced up and the team headed off up the valley.
The lower Khumbu is a great place to begin the expedition. The trail winds along the walls of the valley under Himalayan pines, with glimpses up to the big mountains that await. Tonight the team sleeps in the small settlement of Phakding, which is actually slightly lower than Lukla, a gentle start ahead of a big climb to Namche Bazaar tomorrow.
13 November 2018 - Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Today the team have enjoyed trekking from Phakding beside the river, following along beside the Dudh Kosi for the first couple of hours with many bridges to cross back and forth before reaching the 'gate' to Sagarmatha National Park, which contains the whole of the Everest region, just after the village of Monjo. Everything seen in the villages along the way is still green and lush at river height. From here some further hiking along the river and they crossed the last bridge below the Namche hill. A slow walk up the hill, where you can feel the altitude for the first time, and they arrived into Namche, the hub of the Khumbu region and certainly the biggest town. There is plenty to see and do in Namche, especially if shopping is your thing, but it's a great place to stay and acclimatise to the new height of 3,440m. The environment has changed and the trees are a lot smaller and the air certainly colder and thinner!
Today presented a valuable opportunity for the team to pause and let their bodies catch up with the altitude they have gained over the past few days. Rest days are a vital part of the process when trekking at altitude to ensure that proper acclimatisation is achieved and that the team stay happy and healthy. Namche is the perfect place for such a break, being the hub of the lower Khumbu Valley and an interesting and colourful town to explore.
A highlight was the Sagarmatha National Park Headquarters, which are located just above the town and not only offer an interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and information on the park but also spectacular views of the Imja Khola Valley towards Everest.
The team also took the opportunity to give their legs a shake out with a short hike, stopping in to visit the Khumjung School. The school was built in 1961 as the first major project of the Himalayan Trust, which was founded by Sir Edmund Hillary with his wife Louise.
Tomorrow the team will hit the trail again but until then they'll be enjoying the bustle and coffee shops of the last town on the trail!
15 November 2018 - Namche to Phortse
Time to hit the trail again as the team left behind the (relative!) metropolis of Namche Bazaar to work their way higher up the valley. The elevation gain today was around 500m/1,600ft, which at a starting point of 3,440m is not to be sniffed at!
The climb was a steady one as the team crossed over the Mong La Pass (3,970m) on a trail which carves its way alongside the Dudh Kosi River. The effort was rewarded with spectacular views of several Himalayan giants, including Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. This serves as a good distraction as the trail drops and rises again to the small Sherpa village of Phortse (3,985m), which would serve as home for the night. Phortse is a much smaller settlement than Namche, and still retains a primary focus on agriculture. Being slightly set away from the main trekking circuit, it's a peaceful and welcoming place to bed down for the night, enjoying authentic Sherpa hospitality which was gratefully received by the team.
16 November 2018 - Phortse to Pangboche
Today the trail continued on in a similar nature, with continued fantastic views. An easier day than the previous one allowed the acclimatisation process to continue, with only a small overall elevation gain (despite the numerous ups and down off the trail!).
The trail led the team to the village of Pangboche (3,985m), which serves as a pleasant travellers' rest spot. The village is famed for its monastery which purportedly houses a genuine yeti skull!
It's a quick night here for the expedition team before they continue on their merry way in the morning.
17 November 2018 - Pangboche to Pheriche
After a short stay in Pangboche, the team headed further up the valley to Pheriche (4,270m), gaining yet more altitude and crossing the 4,000m threshold. The landscape is really beginning to reflect the elevation, becoming quite barren, but the mountain views more than made up for the lack of greenery.
The team will have the opportunity to settle in slightly as they will a rest day here to enhance their acclimatisation at this crucial altitude of around 4,000m. There was also the opportunity to take part in a puja ceremony, an essential part of any Himalayan climbing. Performed by a local lama, the ceremony is a blessing for safe passage on the mountain for climbers and Sherpas alike.
18 November 2018 - Pangboche Acclimatisation Day
A full day in Pangboche could only mean one thing for our eager team - a chance to explore!
AC veteran Ja Jangbu was the perfect man to lead the team on some of the best local trails as they made their way up to Taboche Base Camp for a day outing. It's perfect for acclimatisation to hike high and then return to sleep low, allowing the body to gradually adapt. With great weather following the team, it was also an enjoyable day hike in itself as excitement builds for the first of their three peaks.
19 November 2018 - Pheriche to Chhukung
The fun must continue! After a day of acclimatising and exploring around Pheriche, it was time to continue along the trail towards the first of the team’s big objectives, Island Peak. And so it was onwards up the valley to the next stop on the approach, the small village of Chhukung.
Originally no more than a yak pasture, Chhukung is now the site of a small smattering of lodges offering hospitality to trekkers on their way to Everest Base Camp and serving as a great jumping off point for those looking to climb Island Peak. The team gained another 500m of elevation today, but despite the expected altitude niggles, they are still doing well and looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Set amidst stunning surrounds, the team will spend two nights here acclimatising and preparing for the first of their ascents, which is now just a stone’s throw away.
20 November 2018 - Training Day
With a full day to play with, it was a great opportunity for the team to stretch their legs and get some refresher training under their belts in the small settlement of Chhukung.
At over 4,700m, Chhukung is already knocking at the door of the 5,000m threshold, an imaginary but not insignificant line that the team crossed today with an ascent of the beautiful Chhukung Ri (5,550m/18,209ft). Chhukung Ri is a rocky peak set above the village, a non-technical but lung-busting effort rewarded with unsurpassed views of Ama Dablam, Makalu, Nuptse and perhaps of most importance to our team, Island Peak. It's the perfect climb to solidify the acclimatisation that our climbers have been working on since they entered the Khumbu Valley and a good test of mettle for the ascents ahead.
Under the watchful eye of Da Jangbu Sherpa there was also time to sharpen rope skills ahead of Island Peak, whose Base Camp they will set out for tomorrow. With their last lodge night to enjoy before they pitch tents at the base of their first peak, let's wish them luck!
21 November 2018 - On to Island Peak Base Camp
Today the team set out from Chhukung in great weather to begin the hike up to Island Peak Base Camp. The route takes roughly 3 hours and passes over easy undulating terrain past gently grazing yaks. It's a picturesque climb through a wide valley showcasing the surrounding Himalayan peaks, but when you're climbing to an altitude of nearly 5,000m you still definitely know about it.
With Base Camp established and the team feeling happy and healthy, the stage is set for their attempt on the mountain tomorrow.
Up until recently, Island Peak was considered a relatively straightforward ascent with few obstacles of undue difficulty. Within the last few years, however, glacial recession has changed the nature of the climb. With wider crevasses opening that require ladder crossings and its steep headwall, Island Peak is now a more technical prospect and has overtaken Lobuche as the most technical of the three peaks the team will face.
It's a challenging but rewarding mountain and we wish them safe passage and good weather!
22 November 2018 - Island Peak!
A big congratulations to Clint, Suchote, Ja Jangbu and Lhakpa Dorjee who all made the summit of Island Peak yesterday! We hope to see some photos as soon as they return to Wi-Fi.
23 November 2018 - Summit Shots!
Here are a couple of shots of Clint and Da Jangbu celebrating on the summit of Island Peak! Well done to them both, as well as Suchote and Lhakpa Dorjee.
It was a great moment to have completed the toughest of the three climbs of the expedition, and the smiles tell the story!
Below is also a stunning shot of Island Peak Base Camp under moonlight, showcasing just what a stunning location the Khumbu Valley is.
26 November 2018 - Pokalde Summits!
We've just heard news from our Three Peaks expedition that we there have been successful Pokalde (5,806m/19,049ft) summits for Chanutr, Clint, Tim, Da Jangbu Sherpa and Rinji Sherpa!
Unfortunately, it wasn't the day for Suchote but we look forward to hearing all about the ascent when the team are back in Wi-Fi.
Well done team!
27 November 2018 - Heading for Lobuche
With two summits in the bag, the team have their sights set on the third and final peak of their expedition, Lobuche East (6,119m/20,075ft).
After their ascent of Pokalde, the team descended down over the Kongma La pass, enjoying incredible views out to Makalu. They have arrived into Lobuche Base Camp and are preparing for their summit.
Suchote has decided he will enjoy the comforts of the lodge for this last peak but the remaining team members will be up for an alpine start on this enjoyable mountain, so we wish them luck!
29 November 2019 - On Top of Lobuche
The AC office has just received a call from Expedition Leader Da Jangbu Sherpa on the summit of Lobuche (6,119m/20,075ft)! Congratulations to Chanutr, Clint, Tim, Da Jangbu and Rinji! They made the summit by 7am locally, which is a good time.
It's very chilly on the summit so they'll make haste back down to reunite with Suchote and grab some warm food and rest!
2 December 2018
With three successful summits under the 2018 Three Peaks Expedition belt, it's a been a successful trip under the watchful leadership of AC legend Da Jangbu Sherpa.
With the hard work done, it's time for the team to begin making their journey back to civilisation. Tim is making the trek out with Da Jangbu, a much easier prospect in reverse, with each downhill step filling the lungs with more and more oxygen. The rest of the team members elected one of the most scenic flights in the world, taking a helicopter through the soaring Khumbu Valley back to Lukla and then onwards to Kathmandu.
We've loved following their journey on some of the Himalaya's classic peaks, if you want to be a part of this experience next year, you can find more information at https://www.adventureconsultants.com/expeditions/himalayan-climbs/three-peaks-nepal/