Monday, July 14, 2014

Trip Notes

So like 5 years after our awesome Nepal trip KTP decided it was a good idea to finally post our trip notes of all the post's I never made. Enjoy.

The Nepal Crew

Trek day 7

Dhingboche to Louche

* Alicia unwell

* Alicia dropped camera in the toilet!

* Ash had vertigo

* Walked over hils - saw down to valley - apparently the route heading home

* Randomly found 2000 rupees

* Interesting lunch toilet - wonky wooden boards and OMG the smell!!

* Massive hill after lunch = KTP killed it

* Lead up to memorials for those who had died on everest (includ. Scott Fisher/Rob Hall)

* flattened out after that => touched the edge of the Khumble glacier

* followed the river for ~ 2hr => Torbs/Mark tried to break through ice (Failed)

* Smoked out @ lodge by 'yak bark'

* KTP unwell - migraine => nausea. Feared she would not make it to base camp - even Raj said it didn't matter as it was just ice and rock and we had already made 5000 m anyways

Trek Day 8

Dhingboche - Goreshep => BC

*Alicia had splitting headache

* Woke up @ 4:30am for 6am start \. V. cold with head torches on

* Nepali flat/Big Hill ~ 3 hours to Goreshep 'highest restaurant in the world

* 9am lunch => not served till 11:30. Worried about light running out

* Across ground of everest test match & on to glacier. Lots of ups, couple of downs. Ground v. rocky because of glacier - walked across the ridge.

* Ash nearly trapped under boulder as it slipped away while she was peeing - Kasia to the rescue!!

* Alicia went wrong way

* Finally had to cross glacier (icy) to the base camp

* BC: cold, windy.... where the hell do they camp... small area.

* Celebratory beer, "sprite", chocolate and pee!!

* lots of photos - no group shot

* Began the return - took forever and seem to never end. Seemed like more ups than downs!!

* Came to 60* incline with rocky ground - slipped and slided... turned to KTP and said "I don't think I can do this"

* Ash, Kasia & Kev raced ahead and nearly got caught up in a rock slide

* Finally made it back (KTP, Bren, Amy & Marky Mark) to Gorshep.

* Made it into teahouse - only to drop stuff, head back outside and throw up. Ill for rest of night - headed to bed very very early.

Trek Day 9 4/1/10

Gorshep - Orse

* Alicia has splitting headache

* Begin of the return

* Did reverse of KTP/Brennan trip

* Morning tea @ teahouse in Loubche

* Back down killer hill

* Lunch @ stinky toilet - took FOREVER to arrive

* Headed through the valley we saw previously

* Made it to a town which we thought was final destination but was another hour away (this place too cold and windy)

* Started getting quite cold - walked with the river and crossed dodgy bridge and up hill

* KTP & Alicia @ front, I brought up rear with Torbs

* Ended up @ Orse at the teahouse in the 'middle of nowhere!!'

* V. warm dining room - brought pringles

* Played cards with Joel & Torbs - shithead, cheat and bit of 500

Trek Day 10 5/1/10

Orse - Namche Bazzar

*So many ups & downs!!

* Surprising amount of snow around esp near monastary

* snow ball fight - Alicia got KTP

* Morning tea @ Monastery => couldnt believe how steep it was to get there!! Don't remember that!

* Down Down DOWN to the river - hard on knees

* Lunch @ bottom of hill

* Raj 'the Don' helped run the kitchen - saw how the guides help to prepare the food

* Made it to sickness lodge (up, up up!) - first exp of yak/nak cheese - Alicia has fallen in love!!

* Impressed @ distance KTP walked when sick

* Fell behind - saw Namche from a distance... down down into town and to the lodge.

* After dinner went to paradise bar - private bar

* Alicia succumbed to beer very quickly

* Pool - Nema v KTP - Nema is a pool shark (thou she only lost by 1)

* Late night - bed @ 10:30PM

Trek Day 11

Namche to Phakding

* Later start

* LONG WAY DOWN to begin with - Brennan @ front

* Last view of Everest

* Crossed river 5 times - lots of little ups and down

* Left National Park

* Lunch @ iMax - KTP played cards, Alicia's great Yak plan, crazy Asians & German lovers

* Afternoon tea @ 'waterfall view' lodge - more yak cheese

* Back to Phakding

* Massive round of Shithead (renamed Yak Bark). Brennan dubbed Yak Bark after losing penultimate game even thou Alicia lost many more times that evening. KTP had awesome luck - kept winning

Trek Day 12

Phakding to Lukla

* "short day" only 3 hours.... mainly up though

* Everyone kinda over trekking therefore slow going

* Walked through some villages

* Mandy & Joel almost missed the turn off the Lukla

* Lunch @ Lukla... TOOK FOREVER 1.5 hr... everyone quite hungry

* Arvo:

- coffee shop with child barrista

- art shopping

- sweets that were gross

- Waves: 2 for 1 cocktails!! Met English couple

* More cards before dinner - cheat... Pachish's 6 ace/nines

* Warm room...


Day 14

Lukla to Kathmandu

* Early morning rise

* Guides/Porters carried or bags to airport

* Everyone (but KTP/Brennan) weighed themselves

* Torbs stole customs stamp/KTP carried through Swiss Army Knife on plane!!

* relatively short wait for flight (2 hours?)

* Trip back via v. short runway to Kathmandu

* SHOWER/HAIR WASH first in 2 weeks... very good

* Sent out LOTS of laundry (6 kg Brennan)

* Internet

* Final dinner @ Rum Doodle

* Foot: Rah's Dirty Dozen

* Goodbye Mark & Amy

* KTP/Brennan piked early - Alicia partied on


09/01/10 - 10/01/10

* Shopping!!

* Italian dinner/Shish Bar/Fire Club... crazy

* Random Aussies - about to do Base Camp

* Back ~1am

* Goodbye to Peter, Mandy, Torbs & Joel

* Strike!!!!!!

* Lazy Day

Kathmandu to Chitwan

11/01/10 - 14/01/10

* Interesting bus ride

* No need for tout thank goodness

* Royal Palace Hotel

* Ox Cart

* Mark & Amy

* Canoe w/ crocs

* Elephant breeding centre

* Shopping

* Elephant safari

* Lazy Day

* Tharu Cultural Performance

* Off to Bandipur


14/01/10 - 16/01/10

* Crazy bus with no suspension

* Jeep ride - Alicia out back

* Old Inn - lunch on terrace

* Explore temples

* Lazy afternoon - reunite with Ari and family

* Jenga match

* Dinner => met Aussie Mum & Daughter

* Saddhia Gufa cave - guide Suk... crazy slippery

* Long walk down

* Exploring cave!!

* Back via local bus/jeep via roof

* Chauput?

* Aussie Couple living in Kathmandu


* Spacecraft Bus - BREAK DOWN

* Crazy Bus

* 5-6 hours travel time.... waiting van


16/01/10 - 19/01/10

* 5-6 hours travel time.... waiting van

* HE office - see Ari again

* Hotel Taj

* Dinner - Indian... overeat

* Paragliding!!

* Exploration

* Tibetean hustlers

* MASSIVE fruit juice

* Early dinner - Pokhara Thakli Kitchen

* Walk along lakeside

* Hike to Peace Pagoda

* Try to find restaurant

* Back down - Typical rest.

* Row back across

* Lots of shopping

* Japanese for dinner!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Begining of the End

4th January

Woke up a little later than yesterday this morning - feeling much better than yesterday. Still missing my appetite BUT I'm sure it'll reappear sooner rather than later.

While I was sleeping a few brave souls (Kev, Torbs & Ash from memory) made the ascent up Kala Patthar - meaning 'black rock' - to catch the sun rise and get a good view of Mt Everest itself. From all reports it was a hard climb and extremely cold (I believe their water bottles froze on the way up) but the view was magnificent! While they were up there Torbs tied a prayer flag up on the summit with everyone signatures... well everyone EXCEPT mine - I was too busy sleeping off my BC exhaustion (Thanks guys!)

So anyways, today we started on our return journey. Pretty much we'd be doing the trek that KTP and I did on the way to get here - so at least we had some idea of what to expect. Poor Alicia was still suffering through a splitting headache - but as it was all downhill (kinda..) from here, she'd hopefully be feeling some relief soon.

We started off trekking to Loubche (to the teahouse that smells like Yak Bark!) where we had some morning tea, before making our way back along the river and down that killer hill (much quicker this time!) to have lunch at the tea house with the stinky toilet... (and yes I can confirm that the toilet still smells as bad as we thought it did). Lunch arrived eventually (took like 1.5hrs!) and we started head back through the valley that Raj had pointed out to us previously (when we were on our way to Loubche!)

We eventually made it to this smallish town which we thought was going to be our resting place for the evening... only to discover we actually had another hour or so to go! (According to Raj this place is too cold and windy to stay at!) I guess another hour today means an hour less of walking tomorrow?!

We followed the river, crossing some dodgy bridge and walking up hill (argh!) for a little while. It started to get quite cold, especially as the sun was starting to set - however watch the lights rays disappear slowly along the valley was pretty spectacular. KTP and Alicia (KTP just wanting to get it all over with) were far ahead of me but I had a good chat with Torbs along the way and it was a relatively pleasant journey... if a bit long and kinda cold.

We eventually reach Orse and KTP and I quickly realized we had been here before - it was the tea house in the 'middle of nowhere' (previously surrounded by snow) that we stopped at for morning tea while on our way to Dhingboche! The dining room was nice and warm - and as a treat we bought ourselves some popcorn and some PRINGLES (expensive but worth it!).

Spent most of the evening by the fire playing cards with KTP, Joel and Torbs - a bit of cheat, some 500 and quite a bit of Shithead - cause we're classy like that!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

In which Team Nepal makes it to Base Camp!

3rd January

It was a VERY early morning start this morning as the alarm started blaring off at 4:30am in the morning so that we could pack & eat before our 6:00am starting time. Now I know 1.5 hrs sounds like a long time need for just packing and eating but at this altitude (4900m) even little things seem to take quite a bit out you! After packing my bag I actually had to catch my breathe... which as you can imagine bode well for the rest of the day!! Unfortunately for Alicia - she had to do this all with a splitting headache!! (Altitude sickness rears its ugly head!)

We finally left Loubche at 6:00am extremely cold with our head torches on as it was pretty dark, though after about 30min or so it was light. Our first part of the day was a 3 hr trek to Gorakshep (5140m), our last stepping stone to Base Camp and our final place of resting for this evening & home to the HIGHEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD (imagine that done with a booming Wizard of Oz type voice!)

Anyways, it was a relatively easy trek except for the massive arse hill we had to climb up in the middle... which was you know 'fun' if you like pain... which (to be honest) I don't! But we got up there eventually and had a nice break at the top and watched these Europeans practically run up the mountain.... freaks.

Anyways, we eventually reached Gorakshep at 9:30am and ordered our extremely early lunch (I'm not going to call it brunch as no cantalopes were involved).... and then waited... and waited... and waited... til about 11:30!!

We were actually a lil worried we would not have enough time/light to make to Base Camp, as it was still another 5 hour walk there and back but we all wolfed down our lunches and were ready to go by 12pm (our deadline).

We started out by crossing the sight of the Everest Test Match, which hold the record for the "Highest alitude recorded for a field sport" - I can't imagine playing a game of cricket up here... I think I'd be requesting a runner! The field itself was pretty rocky as well - so I could imagine it'd be quite easy to roll an ankle or two... (not that I need any help in THAT department - I'm quite good at falling over without any external assistance!)

After following the relatively dried up river beds for awhile we ended up walking on the Khumble glacier which kept things pretty interesting as it was pretty up and down and extremely rocky and prone to rockslides as poor Ash found out when nature called! She almost ended up sliding her way to the bottom with a few boulders but luckily Kasia was there to save the day.

We spent quite a bit of the time walking along the 'ridge' of the glacier, which I guess was the easiest path to follow... relatively close to Base Camp, Fangy actually followed the ridge a little too far and the guides had to yell out to her that she was going the wrong away!! (But don't fear... the guides got her on the right path eventually!)

As we got closer to Base Camp the ridge of the glacier actually got quite small and slippery - so much so that KTP and I (the stragglers), instead of staying on the ridge, had to walk a different path as they had determined the ridge was too unstable! Raj and the guides mentioned that this path was perfectly fine the last time they has made this trek (only a couple of weeks ago) but it obviously deteriorated very quickly... Alicia told us later that she was quite scared crossing the ridge as it was icy and about 1cm in width! I was glad that we had the other path!! And then... finally... there is was

BASE CAMP!! in all it's rocky/icy glory!

Now lets be honest. Base Camp is not a very exciting place. It's bloody cold. It's very windy. It's rocky and icy. Did I mention it was cold and windy? (and where exactly the mountaineers camp is a freaking mystery to us!)

But this is a perfect example of how its about the journey and not just the destination. 8 (or so) months ago we decided (unfit, unprepared and completely sober) to do this. Randomly. Out of no where. We wanted to make our way to this place, in this amazing country, fiver thousand and six hundred kilometers above sea level. And finally here we were - slightly fitter, a little more prepared. There's just something amazing about setting, what seems to be, a far off unreachable goal and actually making it. It makes all the pain and toil worth it.

Unfortunately (for me anyways) the pain and toil weren't exactly over... but more on that later.

Our short time on Base Camp mainly consisted of us taking lots (and lots) of photos... though we never got around to taking a big group photo at the camp! Which is a bit of a shame! Kev carried up a can of beer and a few people had a good sip of the (very frothy) celebratory beer, while Raj and guys mixed up a bit of a shandy and asked everyone if they would like some 'sprite'! (Nice try guys!) AND quite a few of us managed to defile BC with a celebratory pee!!

I stuck to the celebratory chocolate - mainly as the trek to BC had taken a lot out of me. It seems I had finally succumb to the chest cold that had been plaguing me for the past few days.

The trip back to Gorkashep was, by far, the hardest leg of the whole trip. It just seemed to go on forever and myself and Marky Mark really struggled (with our lovely companions KTP and Amy).

We got to one part where there was a steepish incline, slippery with lots of small rocks. I half-heartedly attempt to get up but slipped back all the way down. Exhausted I looked to KTP and was all like "I don't think I can do this!" but KTP had my back giving me the advice I needed to get up there!

Anyways, with the sun quickly slipped behind the horizon we did eventually make it back to Gorkashep - about an hour or so behind everyone else. Though it wasn't an easy time for those who made the trek back quickly either. We hears later on that Ash, Kasia and Kev nearly got caught up in a rock slide on their way back!

As we finally walked back in to the tea house the rest of the team gave us a little cheer to welcome us back. Unfortunately for me the day had taken its toll and as soon as I dumped all my gear I was back outside having a bit of a spew.

Which was the begining of a short but horrible even where I split my time between the table (attempting to eat dinner...) and the bathroom (throwing up dinner). Eventually I just headed to bed with Ash's hot water bottle and an extra blanket from Raj to a solid nights sleep.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Off to Lobuche

2nd January

Heading off from Dhingboche we walked back up the hill that KTP & I had ‘acclimatized’ with the day before – following the lay of the land over hills and small dips. The high altitude was most definitely starting to affect me as I found I quickly became very short of breath, despite my slow walking pace. Though in some ways my slowness came in hand as I spotted two thousand rupees that had been dropped along the path!! Being a kind soul I made sure no one else had dropped it before adding to the Team Nepal’s group fund… which was received with little gratitude :( (haha!) From where we were we could see down the valley below us and Raj pointed out that this would be the route we would be using to head home after Base Camp!

After crossing a frozen over river (by jumping from rock to rock) we made our way to our lunch teahouse. Lunch took forever to arrive (Nepali time!), however this tea house will forever be remember for the god-awful toilet!! A little tin shed off to the side… wooden wonky board over a LOOOONG DROP… and OMG THE SMELL!! I had my neck warmer over my nose and the roll of toilet paper and it was still horrible!!

After lunch we had to conquer a massive hill “straight up” to make our way up some 200 m to the Thokla Pass. For the majority of us the pace was slow going as we needed constant breaks to slow our racing heart or gather back some breath – however KTP zoomed up that hill like the devil was after her… and I think was about the 2nd person up the hill!!

During the climb I chatted a little to one of our porters called Nema… and then confused him by mistaking his question of “first time” (in Nepal) for “past time?”… The whole f/p pronunciation thing confuses me!

Upon reaching the Thokla pass we rested for awhile and admired the memorials for those who had lost their lives on Everest. From memory, believe at least one person dies for every 5 – 6 people who reach the summit… though these numbers may come down now as those figures were after the 1996 distaster (where 11 people died in the one climbing season) – but as you can imagine there are quite a lot of memorials there.

The route flattened out after this and we touched the edge of the Khumble Glacier – a massive wall of rock and ice that reaches all the way to Everest Base Camp (& beyond). It was about at this point that Alicia unfortunately succumbed to the runs – making the rest of the way to Lobuche quite unpleasant for her :(

For most of the afternoon we followed the path of a frozen-over river – Mark & Torbs both testing the strength of the ice by hurling large stones at the river… none of the rocks broke the ice, so it was obviously nice and solid!! I hung out the back for the majority of the trek hanging out for KTP and Alicia (who had to make a few stops along the way!).

As we reached Lobuche, we came across poor Ash who was struggling with vertigo. It took her quite a few minutes to make it all the way to the tea house and she looked pretty worse for wear – obviously the high altitude (Lobuche is @ 4910 m) was starting to make it effects known!

Alicia didn’t even make it to the tea house before needing to stop – ducking behind a Porter’s rest house for another ‘rest’ stop… and when she did reach the teahouse she headed straight outside to the toilet only to come back a few minutes later with a sheepish look on her face and a short exclamation “Oh my God guys, I dropped my camera in the toilet!”

As you can imagine, we all just burst out laughing (no sympathy here!) as she told us how her camera had fallen out of her jacket pocket right down the LOOOONG DROP!

It was the guides/porters to the rescue as they successfully retrieved her camera… according to them it didn’t actually make it all the way down – instead falling on a piece of ice. I must admit it looked pretty clean – but we used a good dosage of hand sanitizer before we touched it again!!

Poor KTP had a massive migraine tonight which also made her feel pretty nauseous, which probably wasn’t helped with the entire place reeking like Yak Shit from the heater. She’s a bit hesitant about making the massive trek to Base Camp planned for tomorrow and even Raj said it’s not worth pushing yourself to Base Camp if you can’t as really it’s just “ice and rock”, at least you’ve made it to 5000 m above sea level… achievement enough! Either way, she’ll just have to wait to see how she feel tomorrow… BASE CAMP DAY!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fang's reminiscence on January 14, 2010

Ok so far I have been told off that I have not added or contributed to the blog so I thought I would add a few thoughts to Brennan's efforts of our Nepal trip this far.

So currently I am sitting in Bandipur at probably the only internet cafe in the whole entire town. As you can gather it is not a very big town. I think we walked pretty much all through it in about 30 minutes but it is a very beautiful, quiet and quaint town with many beautiful people. We travelled for a good 2.5 to 3 hrs on a very interesting looking bus where I couldn't get my knees behind the seat in front. There were many many many bumpy parts on our journey from Chitwan to Dumre (town just outside of Bandipur). All we were really missing on this bus were some chickens and some goats. We arrived here at 1pm today at the back of a pick up truck. The interesting thing about this journey was probably the number of people that were on this truck. We are estimating that there were approximately 17 people that were crammed on top, inside and hanging on the outside of this truck. People were getting in and people were getting out. Have a wild guess where I was positioned on this truck.....that's right on the back, standing up, holding on for dear to not die and to make a fool of myself as there were 2 Nepalese women that were laughing at me a good part of the way up to our destination. Standing at the back I really thought how in the hell did I end up here right NOW!

So officially we finished our Base Camp hike on January 8, 2010 where we flew out from Lukla. I would have to say that trekking on that path was probably one of the most difficult things that I have done physically to date. As some of you may have been reading Brennan's daily posts it has been quite the physical challenge that has been faced. Pushing the body to that challenge on a daily basis was very tough and to also combat altitude sickness made things interesting! To sit on your bed at 7am in the morning after your head has throbbed since 12am that night and to pack the entire contents of your bag, provided that it wasn't that much was something that was so hard to muster for our last stop before Base Camp! I have been known to say to motivate myself!

After trekking for 6 hrs to Everest Base Camp after leaving Loubcher, I cannot describe the sense of satisfaction, achievement and calm that I felt when I reached the "destination". It was rocks after rocks that we had to walk over, some big some small but each one a challenge an obstacle that was overcome. To some if you saw the photos of Base Camp it doesn't look like much. Not fancy, not flash, definitely no neon flashing lights saying......Base Camp here! It is bascially surrounded by rocks and is a huge mound of rocks itself with prayer flags and momentos left behind from other trekkers and climbers but to me it was such a sense of accomplishment for 2009. After setting out and committing to this trip since an early early morning back in April. All the hard work, preperations and sweat paid off as soon as your foot touched that "sacred" spot. I don't think I will ever forget after clambering up the rocks, staggering across to the centre of Base Camp and Ashleigh running and hugging me screaming into my ear "we did it, we made it". I don't even think it registered at that time what she was saying. I was just standing there in awe of where I was and trying to breathe. Thinking back on it, all I can do is smile to myself. To many Base Camp is only the beginning, the start of their climb, to something bigger, harder and better, and I do feel that by reaching the location of Everest Base Camp that it was only the beginning but standing there that day I had climbed my Everest for this part of my life!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Tale of Two Halves

30th December - 1st of January

After probably my best sleep so far of the trek I woke to discover that my poor roomie KTP had not been so lucky.... turns out she had to visit the bathroom multiple times for a bit of a vom vom. She really did not look well but decided to attempt to carry on none the less and so we started our journey towards Phortse.

Obviously after expelling all her previously eaten food KTP was feeling a little on the weak side so it was a pretty slow journey with Torbs joining us up the back as well. The trek itself was a 'Nepali flat', which means it was mainly flat with a few ups and downs... this was probably the most maintained track we've come across so far - and halfway along we came across a guy who had apparently done all of the work himself... through donations from tourists like ourselves - so I happily donated a few hundred rupees to his cause... (even thou I doubt he'd be able to do anymore work on the track based on his advanced age!!)

We eventually made it past all the prayer poles and stupas to our first rest stop - a small tea house kinda in the middle of nowhere. KTP pretty much looked like the walking dead at this point so it was quickly decided that both her and myself would spend the day her to allow her to recuperate before moving on any further.

Luckily for us the Intrepid itinerary diverts from the main Base Camp trail to Phortse, which means we could travel an easier route over the next few days to catch up with the crew in Dhingboche.

While Alicia was a bit conflicted, we encouraged her to stay with the rest of the group as she was the strongest out of us and two people would be much easier to manage than three. So after leaving us with a guide, Nara & a porter we bade farewell to the rest of the group & Alicia and put KTP straight to bed... AND while KTP slept... I pretty much read and lazed around in the sun... (for what happened to Alicia & the rest of the group... you'll just have to wait till she's bothered to blog about it.... possibly never!)
The next morning we both awoke to the fact that it had SNOWED overnight (something like 6 inches!)!!! In fact a small pile of snow had built up in our room's window still. After her day of rest KTP felt quite ready to continue on our journey so we headed out into the snow(and somehow resisted the urge to create snow angels!)

The morning walk to us down toward the river - and to be honest it was the most fun I've had so far. Neither of us could imagine a better place in the world to be at that moment! I managed to get KTP with a good snow fall a few times by just tapping the trees above us with Hesus 2.0 (my walking pole), but don't worry - karma paid me back as I stacked it big time into the snow! Our poor guide, Nara, seemed a lil under prepared for the snow as we had to stop a few times for him to remove the snow that had built up in his sneakers!!

Once down by the river we had a quick break for some tea before beginning to climb (OMG CLIMB) 400 m straight up to the Tengboche Monastery.... There's not much to say expect it was hard, we did it very slowly and we took LOTS of breaks... and that we made it up there... eventually.

We ate lunch at a teahouse just across from the monastery and meet a Sydney-girl, Marissa Ward, who by pure coincidence I share a few mutual friends with. She was actually 'snowed in' as her group was unable to head to their next destination as it was to unsafe for the porters to carry all their gear!!

After lunch we headed toward our final destination - Pangboche - by again heading back down to the river and then climbing back up agin (this happens WAY too often for my liking). The main 'exciting' event of this trip is me having to the whole 'crap in the woods' thing way too literally as I suffered from the 'runs'. We finally reached Pangboche (to my great relief) late in the afternoon - both KTP and I were so tired we actually had a nap before dinner... and then as soon as dinner was over headed back to bed.... though not before celebrating Sydney New Years (~7PM Nepal time) with a hands raised "HAPPY NEW YEAR".... oh yeah... we're party animals.

The next morning we woke up relatively early again to make on way to Dhingboche - where we would finally meet up with the rest of the crew. It was a relatively pleasant morning walk in the snow-covered hills and we passed a few people who wished us a 'Happy New Year.' We stopped to have morning tea in this teahouse that was basically in the middle of nowhere with snow-covered ground as far as the eye could see.
We reached Dhingboche just around lunch time - with both Raj and Kevin coming outside to meet us... we are both still sorely disappointed that Alicia did not come out and greet us with open arms!! She claims she was told that we would not arrive for another hour or so... thou we believe she just couldn't be bothered leaving her sunny position in the dining room :D
We did however enter the dinning room to a round of applause - which was both very nice and made us feel like we had been missed. Sitting back and having lunch with everyone again I think made both KTP and I aware of how much we had missed our social interactions with the rest of the group. We also were
Today was an aclimatization day for the group - so they spent the morning climbing some 300 m up o a Tibetan prayer pole on the hill behind the teahouse. In an attempt to make up for it, both KTP and I did our own aclimatization walk - though as we had already climbed some 500 m... we decided we would not go as far up as the group had.
First we made our way up to the stupa directly behind the teahouse - which was probably around about 100 m up, we then made our way to the right to where some prayer flags had been strung together to make it about 200 m. It only took us ~ 1 hour and as we made our way down the hill we ran into Torbs who had gone out searching for us so he could do some extra walking... next time Torbs!
Once inside the teahouse we found most of the group intensely playing Phase 10 (some sort of American card game similar to Gin Rummy) so KTP and I started playing Shithead (name of the game I swear) and we taught it to Raj... who then proceeded to kick our arses!
All in all a good day! Tomorrow - Loubche!!

Brennan (KTP & Fang)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

To Namche & Beyond

28th - 29th of December

We were up relatively early again today for our trek to Namche Bazaar (3440 m) – the last real ‘BIG’ town on our trek. Didn’t really sleep very much – no major reason why – just kinda laid in my sleeping bag for most of the night. It was relatively cold – but not TOO bad, though I did wear my thermals to bed for the first time.

Apparently though, it can be quite difficult to sleep in high altitudes (we are currently only 2610 m above sea level… BUT it is a lot higher than what I’m normally used too!!) and you can also have extremely vivid dreams… thou I guess I’d have to actually get some sleep to experience that!!

The trek to Namche Bazaar was probably our first real ‘test’ for the trek. While we were walking only 9 km it took ~ 6 hours as we had to climb a long way up right at the end (known as a Nepali ‘straight up!’). The first few hours were a Nepali ‘flat’, which consisted of “little” ups and downs as we made our way along the Dudh Kosi River – actually crossing it by swing bridges 5 times!!
The swing bridges are kinda interesting to walk across – as quite often they seem to be swinging up as your foot is coming down and then you end up all out of sync… it just a little weird. You also have lots of obstacles to pass – yak caravans, porters carrying trekkers bags… or 80kg of glass using only their foreheads and backs(!!... it’s AMAZING!). At one stage I was walking along a bridge and I heard a rustling behind me and realized there was a guy, right on my tail, carrying 60 – 70kg of empty plastic water bottles on his back (it was these massive bags that were twice his height and twice as wide)!! I practically had to jog down the bridge to give him enough room… it felt very raiders of the lost ark!!

Just before lunch we entered to Sagarmatha National Park – Sagarmatha is the Nepali name for Everest – and finally saw our first glance of EVEREST in a small clearing as we started making our way up (UP UP!) to Namche Bazaar. While the ‘overall’ altitude gain between Phaking and Namche is ~800 m, because we have to go down to floor of the valleys to cross the river we probably climbed up much further (someone we met along the way suggested it was a climb closer to 1500 m!) Either way it was a LOOOONG way up and took 2 – 3 hours to complete. KTP & I firmly planted ourselves as the tortoises of the group (everyone else seems to be moving VERY quickly)… but we are not that much slower really… and we get to hang out the back with Raj, who has been able to answer all our stupid questions.

Our first sight of Namche was definitely a sight for sore eyes – it’s a bit like a big alpine town… though it’s slightly unusual in that it seems have multiple levels… its quite hard to describe actually… but when I finally post photos you’ll understand… but there’s probably like another 200 m in altitude gain from the bottom entrance of the town to the top – and about 6 – 7 levels of buildings between the two.

As we climbed up to our teahouse we passed the Tibetan markets, which is filled with Tibetan refugees who have escaped from Tibet with goods (like shoes, pants, etc.) to sell. They all live in these flimsy tents made out of tarpaulin, despite the fact it is freezing here! It’s quite sad actually.

We did eventually make it to our teahouse, tired and weary, and had a nice hot meal and a relatively early evening… despite the fact we had a bit of a sleep in the next morning as we were staying on in Namche for one more night to help acclimatize.

Acclimatization day was relatively peaceful – we spent the morning walking up to higher altitudes and then returned for the afternoon to rest and relax and then sleep.

We first walked up to visit a local museum, which despite Raj describing as ‘not very interesting’, wasn’t too bad. It had lots of information about the National Park and the surrounding fauna and flora, as well as info on the Sherpa culture and some of the programs Hillary had set up. We probably spent 20 – 30 minutes up there, as there were also great views of the mountains from there as well. Even more interesting were the military exercises happening right next to us at the army barracks!!

After seeing the museum, we headed back down to head straight back up again to the highest airport IN THE WORLD…. From memory I think it’s around 3750 m above sea level… on a mountain… and is funnily enough called ‘Mountain’!! While there is still a runway there, planes are no longer allowed to land there as there have been too many accidents, and the airport is now only being used by helicopters.

After a MASSIVE lunch we spent most of the afternoon exploring the town (not that interesting really…) and picking up a few essentials including our new walking poles (named Moses 2.0 (A), Hesus 2.0 (S) & pole (K)) which I think will be quite handy.

Another earlish nigh as we head off again tomorrow to Phortse Gaon (a random Sherpa village).

Brennan (KTP & Alicia)