5555m (18225 ft.)

When the best thing that’s going to happen all day has already happened at 6:15 in the morning, what’s to be done? And when that thing is a helicopter flying by overhead? I was in Makulu Base Camp in Nepal and the helicopter was almost certainly going to take Paul and Judy to Kathmandu after spending two days and nights waiting in an unheated, drafty, cold, small cabin because Paul broke several ribs in a fall and the weather and communication difficulties prevented an earlier evacuation.
And I was tired from trekking for days and many of the days were rainy. The decision wasn’t that hard because Rich Henke had already told me what he’d one while there about 15 years before. And he supplied maps and photos of the climb to the ridge. He’d climbed to 18,400 ft or so along a ridge coming off of 27,766 ft. Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world . Don and Sharon had already taken off up toward the ridge, but I was still doing chores and getting organized. I started up about 10 am and soon caught up with Don and Sharon, but they were going to do some other sight seeing, so I continued up after telling them I turn around at 2 pm. I continued up slowly. Rich had said he’d gone straight up to the ridge and continued up along the ridge. But the ridge looked too difficult or me, so I took another easier route to a saddle on the ridge. I arrived there at ten minutes to two. I could see Makalu the whole time and views to the west of two hugh peaks. One is supposed to be Everest, but I’ll have to sort out what I saw later. Fantastic views of incredible mountains. To the east it was mostly cloudy, but I could catch glimpses of a hugh glacier. This is the highest I’d ever climbed. Only another 9500 ft. to the top of Makalu: have to wait to finish the climb some other day;) I’ll post some photos when I get back home in a few days.
Four hours up and two hours down. I met our guide, Jalek, because he had become worried although my fellow trekkers understood my plans and knew not to expect me quite yet.
PS: I drafted this the evening of Oct. 22, the day of my climb; but finished it in Kathmandu the day after completing the trek.
Thanks to Rich for suggesting the climb and also to Don Middleton for organizing the fantastic trek, and lastly to Paul and Judy for inviting me.

Makalu and the Barun Valley

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