Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Everest Panorama Trek ~ Day 7. Sunrise shot of Everest, and bye bye Namche Bazaar.


Day 7: Insanely Early Morning Rise to shoot Star Trail, Milky Way and Sunrise with Mount Everest as Background...

Sometimes I really could not understand photographers.
We trekked all the way up here to 3400m the whole of the day, by the time we finished dinner it was about 9pm, and we all still got to go up and unpack and repack our luggage for the descend the next day... and yet, these hardcore shooters were still enthusiastic enough to wake up at 2:30am to gather at the lobby of the lodge at 3am so that we may brave the freezing cold of the unearthly hours of Namche Bazaar to walk 40 minutes up to a vantage point to see Mount Everest, shoot star trails, shoot milky way and wait for sunrise to shoot again...

But what to do? You came all the way here just so as to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity meh? Cannot mah, right? So bo bian lor.... every one go, you also got to go lor...
Here are my pure record shots. All done hand-held in high ISO with lousy shutter speed and movement blur and all that thrown in for free. Just so that we may all re-live that few moments of insanity...

Here is a Google Eye view of where we would be walking to at A which was 3549m high... about close to 150m above where our lodge was. And that climb taken in the pitch black of the night... it was sheer craziness!

To lead us to the craziness, was Melvin and our good Nepali guide Binot. But it was the ingenuity of our Goose Goi in bringing his sleeping bag high up there so that he may sleep under the stars while we all shoot and suffer in the deep cold, that was the highlight of the dawn... Mevlin, Goose Goi and JohnnyLCP must have had a little too much to drink that night before... and this trio seemed to have some difficulty finding their footings in the dark. We all stopped in our track, turned back and stared into the dark, waiting for them.. hehehe...

Haha... can see wkcheah smiling happily. Almost everyone else was masked tightly to keep their warm breaths in.

But what I forgot to say was, we were all sort of surprised by the effort needed to take that small morning walk up to the plateau. It was REALLY rather breathless even with a few steps of walk up the steps and the slope. And Melvin was fumbling with his walkie talkie:

"Hello Limwhow, come in... come in..." croaked Melvin over the walkie talkie.
"Yah, Melvin. Send." Yours truly doing the job of a record photographer as well as signaller.
"Eh... where are you all huh? I cannot see you all. You all turned right or turned left after our Lodge huh?" Wah lau, Melvin really seh liao...
"We turned left and walked up. Nah.. I shine my torch light far far for you to see and you follow the light up here."
"Ah... it's ok Limwhow. You all can leave markings for us so that we can follow the markings up." suggested Melvin over the cold air of the morning.

My goodness.. I looked around all the members standing there looking at me and could not imagine each of us volunteering to take off our colourful underwear and leave them dangling on the wall of the buildings and the poles of the steps for Melvin to find and to follow.

"Ah... Melvin ah. I think we will wait for you all lah..." I finally managed something.

So the troupe continued our ascent slowly in the dark. Aside from some very dim street lamp lower down in the town, the rest of the walk up was in pitch darkness. A few times, the front and the back of the convoy lost contact. Luckily the walkie talkies did their job well. Once again, many thanks to Wai Kit for his extra walkie talkie.

Wai Kit said: "Hahaha... this is classic! When Melvin asked for a marker.. all I thought of was how to distinguish a "unique" marker from all the cow and donkey dungs on the ground. Without a torch light, they will all look the same. So, unless one of us take off a jacket or 'underwear' (as Wee How suggested), or tie a bandana on a pole or something, there isn't much of a good way to leave a marker... very funny situation indeed."

I didn't think any one of us also expected to climb up to such a high level, and so early in the morning. But again, we were all at the mercy of Binot. He walked, we walked. Along narrow tracks we placed footsteps after footsteps. And we could sense that the buildings of the small town had generally been left far behind and below us. What we could see was only the torchlight of the man in front and the playful light painting by the torchlight of the man behind...

I think it wasn't Babu. It was Binot.

Then suddenly, we arrived at the open field. The plateau! And we saw the moon, and more impressively, the peaks of the mountains illuminated just sufficiently to be seen, by the pale light of the round moon.

And with unfailing determination, every one immediately set off to find a spot for himself and deployed his tripod, wired remote, checked settings and gotten ready for some action...


Kai Sing did a milky way!
And  Kai Sing was all out there with his milky way shot.
[Click below on the photo to go to Kai Sing's original post in the ClubSNAP thread.]
Milky way at Everest. Photo: Ng Kai Sing.
Star Trail Just above Mount Everest and Mount Lhotse

Ladies and Gentlemen...
Please don't laugh at me. I am newbie to Star trail. That morning then I last minute learned how to shoot from vngks, and thanks to Melvin who kept giving me instruction while I shot...
I am using Mac, so don't have Deep Sky Stacker software. So I no choice had to use Photoshop to stack manually.
Sigh... cannot make it. Some more didn't have enough number of hours nor enough darkness to shoot... At 5:15am already started having light contamination from the rising sun already...

To use Kai Sing's words: I gotta go again!

Alex Kaan said on the thread: "limwhow, limwhow, so modest. Stack or no stack. Your star trail photo is beautifully done. Nice job. "
Kai Sing said: "Very good effort actually!! Better if you had shot it in Landscape and included more of Polaris, the North Star. You just clipped the central axis of rotation.  Next time, we gotta start shooting stars maybe around 10PM right on till sunrise hahahaha! Star trails will also be longer and nicer."

Alex, Kai Sing, here I still wanna say a big thank you to both of you for your praises.

One of the forummers Zichar on ClubSNAP gave me this link to the software for photo-stacking for Star-trail:

At 5:30am, our other just-woken-up half of the team gathered in the hotel lobby and took their walk with Adrian and Mahesh up to the view point where the initial few crazy fellows had been frozen to death for the past two and a half hours and joined every one for sunrise shoot of Mount Everest.
Every body shoot Mount Everest, I shoot the Mount Everest's neighbour living across the road.
Again, any how shoot and any how hum tum one, this one. Please don't kok kok my head...

Here was a shot by KC Tng up there at the ViewPoint. Beautiful!!
Mt Everest and Mt Lhotse. Photo: Kc Tng

Infrared shots at Everest Viewpoint

I only used my treasured 535nm Infrared camera a few times. One of the most important times was to have it to shoot sunrise at Mount Everest view point. This was most importantly because I wanted to bring back some memories for myself of Mount Chomolangma and her neighbours in IR at sunrise.
So here are a couple of my IR shots, humbly.

And while we were walking down from the viewpoint, I asked SereneXMM to turn around and did a 535nm IR on her and the surrounding. Noticed the alto-cumulus clouds at the peaks...

Aiyah... I think this picture really siao liao lah... I am sure David Hilos, our Chief IR Engineer, would call me after seeing this picture to reprimand me and ask me to throw away my 535nm... What lousy PP, he would probably say... Waste my precious camera, he would add... LOL....!

535nm Infrared of Sunrise at Chomolangma & Lhotse

And this was the entrance to the view point that we all walked up.

And Namche Bazaar in IR.

Day 7: Continuing... at Namche Everest View Point...

I believed by the time the group that gathered in the lodge lobby at 5:30am walked panting up to the view point, it was sometime around 6:15am. Because the several frozen meat sticks left still standing on the plateau finally peered, through their icicled balaclavas, their warmer counterparts making their ways to a magnificent sunrise at Everest View Point.

"Here on the left side, the peak is Mount Everest, and on its right side is Mount Lhotse," described the freshly-awoken Mahesh. "... and on the far left is Mount $#&* and on the far right is Mount %$#^ and Mount @)(#."
Sorry... my ears were frozen shut and I couldn't catch what Mahesh was saying right after 'Everest' and 'Lhotse'.

"Hey guys! The view is simply lovely!" exclaimed Adrian. "Quickly, let's grab this opportunity to take a beautiful group photo! All move to Everest's side and face... face here!"
And we all did an impromptu Fashion parade for Mount Chomolangma's entertainment.

Of all our group photo on this trip, this one surprisingly was the most slowly-taken. Don't know why... the Bhaktapur back street group photo, the Holi Festival Group photo and the Mani stone at Monjo group photo, everyone was very fast to react, very spontaneous and our poses were much more stylo mylo. I think because all didn't get enough sleep the night before and it was too darn cold that morning at the View Point. Hahaha... But still, I am eagerly awaiting to see the group photo at Mount Everest.

Oh yah.. actually the main purpose of showing this photo was to draw every one's attention to that small stone shed on the extreme left of the photo in which our Acrux and Melvin hid for a good half an hour. Didn't even see a ghost of their shadow while they were inside. Hehehe...

Here was that Group photo taken by Adrian Loh of SgTrekker:

Photo: Adrian Loh of SgTrekker

Here was Adrian Loh of SgTrekker's shot of Namche Bazaar as we walked down that morning after sunrise.
Namche Bazaar: Photo: Adrian Loh SgTrekker


Walking back to The Nest from The Everest View Point

Here is my record shot of Ah Tan, Wong Chin Leong, Mahesh and Adrian walking down from the top... back to The Nest for our breakfast.

"One last shot," Our ever-ready Ah Tan was so ever-ready...
Keeping one eye on Ah Tan and one eye on Wong Chin Leong, Mahesh took a glance at his watch to make sure that we weren't back into the dining hall of the Lodge earlier than the mandatory 2 hours necessary for the wait to have breakfast prepared...

Dkoron & Amelia's Syangboche Trek

Before we move further, I think what deserved mentioning was the fact that Dkoron and Amelia, the two young and super-fit members of our team actually did an extra 2 hour trek from Namche Bazaar to Syangboche, a higher ground to an even better Everest View Point, AFTER we finished our Namche Bazaar Everest View Point.  As the photos showed in the previous post.
Their photos have been displayed in the previous posts and I must say they have our admiration for accomplishing that feat!

Day 7: Cutting our Distance by trekking from Namche Bazaar to Monjo...

Rewinding back to the night before...
As we had been delayed so many days prior to finally making the flight up to Lukla, we had to, painfully, abandon our original plan of trekking to Tengboche at 3800m to view the famous Tengboche Monastery and stay a night there.
Adrian and Melvins' plan was initially to stay one more night at Namche Bazaar, then trek down all the way to Lukla on Day 8.
But I think it was a very good decision they have made on the ground, to cut short that distance by doing a 3 hour trek from Namche Bazaar to Monjo on Day 7.

So here it was, our GPS data for the 3 hour trek to Monjo.
Please take note that the 9.02km distance included that morning walk from The Nest to the Everest View Point. The 12:51 hour was also not right. I have yet to learn to accurately indicate the timing. But our trek for this day was only a short 3 hours. Wow... I could not believe myself saying this... after the long 8.5 hour trek, a 3-hour trek now had become a 'short' trek! Hahaha...!


Day 7: A Relatively Relaxed Trek to Monjo.

We all had breakfast after Everest sunrise. And very soon after that, at 11:30am we had lunch. Unbelievable. Two meals within a short span of time. But then again, high up here, whenever you had the opportunity to replenish your energy, you'd better do so, because you'd never know when you were going to go hungry again. But in our case, it was a pure pampering by SgTrekker.

And at 12:30pm, we were all gathered outside The Nest for that nice, post-lunch stroll downhill. What was Kc Tng talking about so animatedly, that had Wong Chin Leong, Adrian, Steve Wong, Kai Sing, Ah Leong, and Mario so amused?

Soon, we all strapped on our back-packs, ThinkTank SBO's, tightened the grips on our Trekking poles and we were all raring to cheong.

Yupe. A nice, cool noon for a lovely trek. At 12:40pm, we looked back, said a silent Good Bye to Namche Bazaar, and started our downhill walk.


On this trek, we had seen many occasions of courage, bravery and pure grit and determination. And very well-demonstrated was the perseverance of Papin in pushing himself further despite a sprained ankle.

Here, wkcheah, vngks and Adrian giving our good Papin their hands in a friendly help. While Ah Wind sounded out the alarm to the rest of the team:

"Wei, Saim ah! Got mules coming! Siam ah, siam ah...!" Wind was forever like the scout of the team. Always on the look out for danger for us. Always on his 70-200mm to make sure he had enough reach on his lens to detect any dangerous situations.

Braveheart 2

And when the back men (namely, me and Serene lor... who else..?) made our way to this part of the track, Adrian, Mahesh and a couple of our Nepali guides and Sherpa porters were already deep in the steep sloping side of the mountain searching for a camera that had jumped ship earlier. Unfortunately, the only remains found was the battery pack of the ill-fated Canon...

Well, just in case years later another expedition team decides to take the same route to somewhere further along the same trek, here was the GPS coordinates for Quek Zong Ye's Canon camera... in the event they decide to conduct another search party...

... but the last I heard (as of 9th April 2011), our good Zong Ye has acquired himself another brand new love... Can't confirm this news... it was from the web site Canon Rumors... so you guys will have to go and ask Zong Ye himself... hahaha..
Again, along the same trek we walked. Where we suffered walking uphill on our way to Namche the day before, we now breezed through walking downhill on our way back. The last part before we hit Monjo and the Guard House to Sagarmatha National Park was that steep steep downhill fall, depending how we looked at it, now at this moment it became the steep steep uphill struggle.
Finally, at the top of the flight of steps, we came to the entrance.

Right from the word Go, I was personally hoping to keep pace with Kai Sing, Steve Wong, Kc Tng, Francis Chia , Wong Chin Leong and Wai Kit. But alas, it was not meant to be. These magnificent specimens of the homo sapien species were way too good for me. Ah Leong, Ah Tan, Patrick Papin, Mario, Goh Su Pin were all very nice in that they took their own sweet time walking so that those couple of us way behind wouldn't feel too demoralised.

And we finally came right to the Mount Kailash Lodge right by the side of the main track, where we would spend the night. It was only about 3:40pm and we had loads of time for the rest of the day to rest and relax.

Day 7: Dinner at Mount Kailash Lodge, Monjo

This day 7 was actually quite a relaxed day, apart from the fact that those insane fellows tortured themselves silly waking up at 2:30am. But it was for a wonderful cause and I was very sure not a single one in the 3am party would forget that morning.
Arriving at Monjo's Mount Kailash Lodge at around 3pm was also kind of a bonus to us, for this downhill walk certainly was a nice stroll as compared with the tougher climb the day before. Those of us who had thigh and shin pain, back pain and what-nots would definitely welcome this restful day to recuperate.
This was another day that I decided not to shower but to powder bath. Hey, this was Adrian and Melvin's specific advice and I was a guai trekker who followed their instructions to the dot. Adrian and Melvin said powder bath, then I powder bath lor... hehehe...
By the time I finished my powder bathing and walked down to the dining hall, boy was I not surprised to find almost all these fellows sitting relaxly around the dining table. In fact, they were all so relaxed that they literally sat there TCSS and TCSS and TCSS for a long time! My, what a way to spend an evening. And you ask yourself - when would you EVER have the luxury of time and the cohesiveness of the company to while away an evening in such a fashion?
For me, hardly ever.
So there we have it - 101% relaxed members of the team.

... eating what for dinner? Well, you guessed it... the usual lor. But just for record purpose, I had a shot of my Chow Mein here.

And the evening came early.. and sleep came fast.

Day 8 ~ From Monjo back to Lukla.. and to Kathmandu.