Hello from Namche Bazzar – 11,000 feet in the foothills of the Himalaya. After a few days in Kathmandu is was nice yesterday to get out of the heat, smog and general craziness that is life in the big city. Really tough to see the level of poverty which most cannot even imagine and the conditions that this thriving city exists under. From rolling blackouts, garbage just being burned in the streets, ever-present smog and smell and smoke…children no more that 3 yrs old begging and sleeping on the sidewalks, sewage in the streets and rivers, and don't forget the cows – yea cows wander the streets as they are considered holy and must not be bothered!! Surreal and often sad, Kathmandu still would be a place I would recommend for an adventurous traveler that wants to see both the good and the bad of a proud third world country.
Our plan was to fly to Lukla which is where the start of the hike to base camp begins. We were delayed one day leaving as the weather in Lukla was poor - and as one of the most dangerous airports in the world - good weather is key to making the short 50 minute flight successful. 8 hours in an airport waiting I at least got in most of the Nepal vs Namibia cricket match - a 50/50 which Nepal won 197/5 to 195 - great stuff - and I got a good tutorial on the rules of cricket which was interesting. You leave the smog of Kathmandu in a vintage Twin Otter tin can stinking of gasoline. Only Nick Cardwell would appreciate the reliability of a plane that most people would never step into!! The smog slowly dissipates as you climb into the mountains - and as it does you notice out the window that you are weaving through a labyrinth of peaks higher than the plane….. so close that you feel you can reach out and touch them. Next you realize you are aiming right for a hillside 6500 feet high and a 1700ft postage stamp size runway (I think most major airports in the US have runways in excess of 11,000 feet long!!) As you land the look on everyones face is always the same - whew!!
A nice 5 hour up and down hike and we arrived in Monjo… our first stop. A 3 hour nap, dinner, then a good night rest (well until the giant rats running around on the roof woke me) and we were off again at 8am for Namche.
A simple sounding 2.5 hour hike - but with around 2000 feet of elevation gain up to 11000 feet - you already started to feel the altitude. So far everything is going pretty well. Getting communications, phone, texting, and emails sorted seems to be everyones priority as we acclimatize and make our way up the valley towards base camp. It will be another 6 days until we arrive there and everyone is looking forward to settling in to our “posh” base camp tents. Even in the remotest of the villages we trek through - where people may not have running water or electricity, most have cell phones as glued to their ears as any teenager in the US. Since I was here ten years ago change is evident everywhere from the cell phones, to the new lodges and improved accommodations and especially the food! Yea, your lucky if you get through this week without getting sick…. but still the food is far superior than just ten years ago. I just wish someone could make an espresso martini! We occasionally will have a Sherpa beer - Nepals first craft micro brew…. but that is the extent of it. So in Namche now for the next two days - we all agree that some shopping therapy in the last outpost before the mountain is on tap for tomorrow. Grab some socks that i forgot in another bag thats already further up the mountain….maybe a clean t-shirt…. and oh yea….enough toilet paper for the next month!!! We’ll go for a little acclimatization hike as well just to keep our bodies moving and continue acclimatization. Legs are definitely tired… but knee seems to be getting better, sore, but better…. I think all will be good with it - thanks Dan & Jen! Great group of 4 climbers on the trip all with experience here in the past so as far as dynamics go couldn't ask for much better - everyone really gets along which is often NOT the case. Ill try to send some photos as we progress, and some rambling updates when I can. Hope all is well with everyone. Hope for some good weather for us!!!
Bye for now,