Today was our seventh day at Imja and was set in the schedule as a rest day. Plus, our 12V battery charger has decided to stop working, so we needed the day to charge the batteries from a solar panel – thankfully I was a nice sunny day! Working a altitude obviously takes a lot of energy, but the cold conditions also make one susceptible to getting the “Khumbu cough”. After many days up here, the cold dry air that one breathes throughout the day and also at night dries out your throat and along comes an annoying cough. The easiest way to avoid this is by keeping your throat and mouth covered with a buff. The only problem with his is it can be annoying to get used to as it feels like it restricts your breathing and constantly fogs your glasses. Anyways, it’s important to stay healthy and avoid this cough, so a lot of warm liquids and a scheduled day of rest was in order.
Sometimes I wish I could heed my own advice and rest, but I woke up this morning and re-did the schedule of the remaining work and felt a little bit behind. Therefore, I set off with Khamal this morning initially intending to just set up a time-lapse camera. The camera is a low-cost hunting camera (that we have the proper permits for) that will be used to photograph the calving front of Imja Lake. After a year, not only should it provide a stunning series of the calving, but will also provide us with a lot of useful information regarding the size and rate of calving events (when the lake undercuts the glacier ice and the ice falls into the lake). Once we installed the camera, I realized that it was a perfectly sunny day that shouldn’t go to waste, so I went to our automatic weather station and took a lot of photographs (475 to be exact) of the terrain in front of the wind tower. A technique called Structure from Motion will be used to take these photos and generate a model of the terrain in front of the weather station. I can then use this digital elevation model (DEM) to develop methods of how the surface roughness relates to the aerodynamic roughness, which is currently being measured by our wind tower.
I returned to our camp by 11:00 a.m., so still had plenty of time to rest such that I stay healthy and don’t burn out. Back at camp I was in for a pleasant surprise as Alton Byers was waiting in the dining tent talking with Greta, Jonathan, and Alina. His wife Elizabeth and many Nepali students who were joining them came and joined us shortly thereafter as they had been out walking along the lateral moraine to check out the glacier and the glacial lake. I have spent a good deal of time with both Alton and Elizabeth in the field and it’s always a treat to see them. Alton and Elizabeth lived in Nepal for many years and have a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge to impart on anyone who is willing to listen. One of my favorite memories with them was when we were trekking from Deboche to Dingboche on our way up to Imja and the entire way up they pointed out the various flora and fauna in addition to some snow leopard scat. Along the way, we stopped at one of Alton’s repeat photograph points and they described how the landscape has changed over the years. They have a way of giving the trail a new life, which is absolutely fascinating. It’s great to spend some time with them.
After lunch, I took the afternoon to rest in my tent, albeit while processing the photos to see how things turned out. The actual processing will likely take weeks, but in 3 hours I was able to generate a sparse point cloud and it appears that the 475 photographs covered the terrain quite well, so that was a relief! Now it’s time to shut down the laptop and head to dinner and enjoy the influx of some new faces and good stories!