Dispatch 9: 4/26/09 Basecamp

Ten days, Twenty two thousand feet of elevation gain and loss, 3 pounds less but no blisters, no porter strikes and now…nowhere to go since leaving the house in Telluride on 4/11. We are perched in the most magnificent basecamp I have ever resided in since first coming to the Himalaya seven years ago. Our view; three peaks over 27,776′ including Makalu,Lhotse and the Mother Goddess of the Earth as they call her in Nepal and Tibet, Everest. This is amazing,it’s supposed to be a rest day to acclimatize but with views like this, ones heart never stops pounding.
Traversing a “U” shaped granite valley as it wound deep into the heart of the southeastern end of the Nepali Himalaya, waterfalls over two thousand feet high moistened the mossy walls and led our eyes toward the snow capped peaks that fed them. At last, we all agreed, there are mountains here after all. Foggy days had drenched our bodies and soaked our boots. Slipping and sliding up and down over rhyolite, formica and muddy white granite our well heeled souls wanted to trek softly on the silty surface that slithers alongside glaciers.
On day 9, we travelled from 13,000′ to just over 16,000′. This day was amazing, as vegetation waned, views of 20,000′ peaks began to fracture the deep blue sky…our spirits gently lifted with the fog. Strangely,when we arrived at our camp that night,we slept on a bed of sand. That sand leads all the way up valley to where we are now camped at 17,000′, our permanent base for the next few weeks. It is here, in this formidable valley of enormous granite and three of the worlds highest peaks that our steep and remote climb on 23,390 Baruntse stands.
Josh, Jon and I are all feeling great. Today we will unload our duffels, separate and organize our gear and food and hydrate. We will stay here for three days before beginning any serious climbing. Our plan is to hike across the valley and make a reconnaissance of the access to the Northeast face as well as to find a route above our cold icy drainage that will lead us to 22,000′ Peak 4. We will climb and ski Peak 4 first to acclimate and scout our ski descent on the southeast ridge of Baruntse. Once we have surveyed these two aspects we will return to our basecamp,rest for a couple of days and then begin pioneering a new route on the NE face that will lead us with full packs over the summit and to ski down the SE ridge and around Peak 4 right back down to base. Pretty sweet huh?
As we solve this puzzle over the next few days we will continue to upload photos to www.skithehimalayas.com There are currently 6 new photos I just posted of the ascent to basecamp and the view from here so check back regularly if you want to see the process as it unfolds. As always, we are thrilled to be here and welcome any correspondence as my goal as always is to share the adventure with everyone!
Live the dream!
Ben Clark

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