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September 8th, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Arctic explorer making way to top of Mt. Everest

Editor’s note: Arctic explorer Eric Larsen is trying to make it to the North and South Poles and the summit of Mount Everest in 365 days as part of an effort to raise awareness about climate change. Larsen joined us on American Morning before he set out on his Save the Poles expedition – and just launched the final leg of his journey to Mount Everest. Below is an excerpt from his online journal.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The last suspension bridge before Namche Bazar, on the way to Everest base camp."]

By Eric Larsen, From

I'm not sure how to actually start my updates as I am nearly speechless. None of my previous expeditions have prepared me for my hike to Everest base camp. I have long since run out of adjectives to describe the grandeur and beauty of this place.

I'm trying not to gush, but it's difficult. In only a few days, I'm positive that Tshering has already tired of the unending string of wow's and amazing's that keep coming out of my mouth. This is such a far cry from the landscape of ice and snow of the poles.

We left Lukla two days ago on a winding trail through a steep valley. I am surprised at the lushness of the terrain. Nearly vertical mountain slopes are covered with thick green vegetation. Waterfalls spill downward hundreds of feet starting from such great heights that their source, I can only imagine, must be the clouds themselves.

It is apparent now more than ever that I have chosen the right person to coordinate all the logistics of my climb. While it is more than a little awkward to sit back and let some one else arrange the many details of an expedition, so much of Nepal is unknown to me. Tshering, on the other hand, was born and raised in Lukla and has been an Everest base camp manager for over 10 years.

Pointing to to an old monastery carved high into the mountainside, Tshering commented, 'my great grandfather built that.' In two days, we have stopped at a surprising amount of great aunt's tea houses and cousin's guest houses. I finally got a laugh out of Oujjwal (One of the partners in Himalayan Trailblazers) today when I asked Tshering how many of his relatives lived in Namche.

The contrast between Kathmandu and Namche Bazar is stark. In Kathmandu, human civilization seems like a burden on landscape. Here is the opposite. Generation after generation has found a way to live with the land, water, sky and rocks.

Emphasizing the point Tshering pointed out a large rock outcrop to me yesterday afternoon. 'This is a very holy Sherpa rock.'

I have not made it a point to talk about the effects of climate change here, but it is a subject that comes up often. Tshering mentioned how Lukla has only seen snow once in the last five year, or that there is no longer ice at base camp and more. He said it is hard to see these changes and is nervous about how a warming climate will affect this area.

A sherpa named Dawa has joined our small party, so we are now four in total for now. (Tshering and Nima are still stranded in Kathmandu due to bad weather in Lukla.) In the spring and fall Dawa is a climbing sherpa, already summiting Everest twice. In the summer, he is a monk working on many different types and styles of paintings. We hiked together for a while yesterday both marveling at huge waterfalls along the way. 'When it is hot,' he said. 'This is a good swimming hole.'

It is unfortunate, I feel, that our shared language is English. There is so much that I am missing in the many small greetings and interactions along the way. I'm sure I have made more than my share of cultural foibles and mistakes. Tshering has more patience than anyone I have ever met. Trying to get a picture of some yaks walking by us, Tshering simply guided me to the side of the trail. We always stand on the right and let them pass.'

Filed under: Environment • Eric Larsen
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