MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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April 23, 2010

Everest Base Camp Dispatch: Meet the Team!

Here's the latest from Deana Zabaldo, who is leading our second Everest Base Camp Trek of the season. Deana is joined by Pemba Gyalje Sherpa, who will be taking four members of our team up to Camp 2 on Mount Everest for our Khumbu Icefall Extension. We welcome you to follow Deana, who will be leading our fall Bhutan trip as well, and enjoy her reports from high in the Himalayas!

 Deana Zabaldo photo

It doesn't take anyone very long to realize that without our support team, we wouldn't get very far. After the first day watching porters carry their loads up hours of stone staircases, we are all in appreciative awe of their strength and endurance. 


Deana Zabaldo photo

Regulations for fair treatment of porters means that porters with our trek groups carry 75-100lbs each, which includes kitchen and food supplies as well as emergency support like oxygen and a gammow bag. We also ensure they have warm clothes, good shoes, and are covered by emergency insurance. Local porters who serve EBC, the teahouses, and local villages along the way don't have these benefits. They will also choose to carry more weight to earn more money. The strongest will carry up to 220 lbs. each--for hours uphill at high altitude!

This can also present a problem when expedition porters are given sufficient time for acclimatization to carry heavy loads to base camp, but they disregard the rules in order to save their money. Every year, some porter fall sick because they carry extremely heavy loads too far, too fast. Fortunately, porters with our group travel at our pace–and we take good care of them.

Heading up our porters and staff are two key individuals:

Deana Zabaldo photo

Six-time Everest summitter Pemba Gyalje Sherpa is an expert international climber. He was named National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s 2008 Adventurer of the Year for a courageous rescue during the summer disaster on K2 in Pakistan that year. In addition to co-guiding the first half of the trek, Pemba will guide climbing clients on extensions to the Khumbu Icefall, Everest Camp 2, and/or nearby trekking peaks like Island Peak. Accomplished yet down-to-earth, Pemba is heavily involved in the professionalization of Nepal’s climbing industry and is helping to train Nepal’s first batch of IFMGA-certified mountain guides.

Deana Zabaldo photo

Dawa Nuru Sherpa has 10 years experience in the trekking industry. He has been Mountain Madness’ sirdar for the last six, which means that he oversees anywhere from 15 to 80 support staff including client escorts, porters, yak drivers, and the camp kitchen. Dawa quietly watches EVERYTHING, patiently hikes with struggling trekkers, and and easily breaks into a grin as we laugh and joke on the trail.

~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo


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