Drop Back

Today marked another milestone in the expedition: the drop back.

In prior posts I have written about the process of returning to lower altitudes as an acclimatization tactic that triggers rest, recovery and rebuilding for a return to even higher altitudes.  In keeping with this protocol I “dropped back” to Namche Baazar today at an altitude of 11,286’.  Many of the responses to this process are well known and to be expected: a return of appetite, a capacity for deeper and more restorative sleep, production of red blood cells, and healing.  However, today offered an additional and unexpected experience: reflection and a sense of progress.

The reflections started simple enough.  My first observation was that the helicopter pilot was breathing bottled oxygen upon arrival to Base Camp.  I guess it was to be expected, but I have grown to consider the air at 17,500’ to be quite sustaining.  Next was the process of transferring the climbing team from Everest Base Camp to Namche Baazar.  Only three team members could be transported at a time from Base Camp due to the limited atmosphere for the helicopter to gain purchase and lift.  So the transfer process happened in stages: first three climbers at a time were transported from Base Camp to Dingboche (14,470’), then four at a time with packs could be moved to Namche Baazar.

Transitioning in Dingboche

Transitioning in Dingboche

As I awaited transfer in Dingboche I reflected that just weeks before at the very same place each step was labored in the thin air.  Then upon arrival to Namche Baazar another reflection point: I could keep pace on the steep terraced trails with the locals.


Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar

All of this made me realize that for the past month every day has been focused on the hard work of going higher, all culminating in a tremendous effort to reach 23,000’ on the Lhotse Face just days ago.  Today I am 12,000’ lower and encouraged by the progress as I prepare for the final push of the expedition.

All of this provides an important reminder of the importance of stopping once in awhile to reflect and take stock and to recognize progress.

I am happy to be in Namche Baazar and to be at a welcoming place that offers the luxuries of ordering meals from a menu, heated blankets, and a clean and well lit place to take stock and reflect.


  7 comments for “Drop Back

  1. Anders Ferguson
    May 7, 2016 at 5:26 am

    Hello Jim.

    Thanks for taking the time to continue your reporting and reflections for all of us. Journeys like this have so many aspects right? Actually the list is quite long. The balance between the physical/mental and the spiritual you describe today (my words) is always with us. But in this thin Everest air it seems so much clearer, doesn’t it. It least that is how it feels in your reporting. Plus even though you are with a team of people, and you have wireless, you are on a journey which is removed from the day to day material realities which we all are driven by. You have the time to reflect from a much more spacious place connecting your mind and your heart.

    It’s a good reminder to me and likely many of us that our daily lives are incredibly full and busy and seem so important. But given the opportunity to step away what is really important in our precious human lives…….usually the list gets a lot more refined.

    Take rest. I look forward to the next stages of you trek. It feels like you are likely to get to the peak.

    Warmly, Anders

  2. Rodolph Dandan
    May 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    I just keep waiting for more and more updates from you,I like the positive approach as well as the appreciation, and the takeaways. I often draw parralells to my daily life. Keep it up and stay safe.

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      May 7, 2016 at 2:07 am

      Thank you, Rodolph.

  3. Staci Colovos
    May 6, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Crazy to think that 11,000 feet is low and comforting. Sleep well! We can’t wait for the next push.

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      May 7, 2016 at 2:08 am

      Thank you, Staci!

  4. David bialecki
    May 6, 2016 at 11:21 am

    When will you find out what day you will push for the summit

    • james.lumberg@me.com
      May 7, 2016 at 2:11 am

      Hi David. We found out just this morning…looks like May 15th. I plan to provide a full update in today’s post. Thanks for continuing to follow along.

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