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Dispatches are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent appearing first.
Friday, April 1
We head off to Namche, the cultural center for the Sherpa people in the Himalaya. We stroll passed beautiful vistas and many tea houses, always appreciating all the smiling Nepali Sherpa children. A lunch in Jorsale fills our stomachs for the uphill climb of the Namche hill. A pretty steep climb of almost 2000 feet, it takes us above the 11,000 foot mark where we feel the air a bit thinner. We get our first glimpse of Everest from afar, and it still is a massive mountain from more that 30 miles away. We are in awe of the huge jet stream plumes of clouds blowing off the summit.
We all make it into Namche in good spirits and decide to take a rest day here to let our bodies adjust to our first good jump in altitude. We spend some time with Apa and his wife and Paula enjoys the Saturday market. This is a 5 century old Himalaya tradition in which many Tibetan traders brave the high passes over from Tibet to sell their wares everything from bootleg music CD's from China to yak and goat meat to live chickens every Saturday in Namche - its a transformation back into time to see.
We plan to move on in a couple days to Thame and Khumjung.
Thursday, March 31
Nepal - Paula, John and Rob are on there way up to Lukla, a small village and the start point for the long trek into Everest Base Camp. The flight is a short and sweet one and we land on our first try. Anyone who has flown into Lukla knows that its one of the most exciting landings one can make on a small airstrip carved into a side of a mountain at 9300 feet. Since the runway terminates into the side of the mountain, there are no second takes for a bad landing, and our pilots make a perfect one. We are greeted by Apa Sherpa, our Sirdar and we take a time in a lodge to take in some tea.
We then head up the trail to the small village named Phakding. Here we stay the night at a nice lodge, have a good meal and rest for our long day of hiking that is in store for us.
Tuesday, March 29
We finalize some of our trekking plans and finish up last minute elements of payments and logistics. In the afternoon we have a bit of time to do some work and shopping. We will do some filming and touristy stuff the next day and start to head to the mountain on the 31st. Everything to this point has gone pretty smoothly.
Monday, March 28
We continue to fly on - our short flight to Katmandu affords us with some comfort and the flight is not as crowded as our previous ones. We meet some of our past climbing community on the plane, including Vern Tejas, who we shared some story telling with last year on Denali. We speak about our teams and plans on the mountain and it starts feeling like we are going climbing.
Upon landing, we get our visas and I get a quick pass through immigration and expedite the loading of our bags. I am greeted by Apa Sherpa outside the doors of the airport and it feels great to see his smiling face and the excitement of the climb that is coming up.
John, Paula and I load into our mini-van where we are dropped off at our hotel in the Thamel district of Katmandu. Its back in the saddle again, going and doing shopping for last minute supplies, packing our climbing gear bags in rushed fashion to get them to the airport late that night so that we can get them sent up to Base Camp before we start our trek, business as usual on an Everest expedition.
We have a nice dinner with fellow climber Will Cross and later try out our laptops and some communication gear, with mixed results, but I finally figure out the bugs and head to bead at 1am. At 3. am I am awakened by competing roosters crowing away in the building 50 feet across from our rooms. At 430am dogs start barking in a repetitive fashion, and by 6am the birds and pigeons are singing out my window - how good it is to get a good night's rest back in Katmandu.
Saturday, March 26
At 4:30am, I am up early to head to the airport, my load of six 70 pound duffles await in the garage for the long journey to Nepal. I have been very tired this week getting all our last minute preparations competed, in particular, our solar power system that just arrived on the 25th, but all is packed and nothing can stop us now.
At 8 am, my neighbor loads his truck up with my gear and his daughter and my dad head to the San Francisco Airport - we arrive and all my gear is off loaded - a few photos, a few hugs and my journey begins. Inside I am greeted by my mom and my best climbing partner's parents. They know the drill as this is my 6th time to the Himalaya. I get all my bags check to Katmandu. Extra baggage is $125 a bag x 4! almost double the price from 2003, fuel cost and bad tourism levels I guess. Paula and John show up. There is a Japanese drum troupe roaring away in the termial, giving me a surreal feeling that its almost like a thunder send off. Doug and Allyn, my best and trusted friends show up from Sacramento to well wish us, they each endow us with two kata scarves for safe travels. It feels very weird not to have them on board as they have been on all my trips to Nepal since 2000.
On the long flight over to Hong Kong (13 hours) I try to figure out new heart monitor watch. My neighbors around me watch me with some fascination to see what the heck I am strapping on my chest under my shirt. I figure out the basic functions, but after 3 hours for testing, according to the monitor, my heart stopped 4 times for more than 5 minutes... a double check of the instruction books says "user should first wet heart monitor strap for maximum transfer of data from body contact" alas, that explains the heart issue, it would be bad if my heart did indeed stop four times- and I plan to climb Everest in a few weeks.
During the flight, I asked for a special menu since I cannot have dairy foods, I end up being designated a vegetarian! Yikes, all of my meals, no meat! luckily I am able to fanagle an extra meal each eating time that has some real substance. I have ramen noodle with little beef franks in it for one snack, early in the morning, and it reminds me of someone special at home.
We finally make it to Bangkok and are headed to Katmandu. Today we will work on getting all our permits straight and meet some of our support Sherpas. Hopefully everything goes well. Paula, John and I are tired but are slowly catching up on our sleep. More soon.....