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Archive for October 10th, 2009

Kathmandu, Nepal

budha

Sitting Buddha, little Tibet

Ok, so maybe an expedition is a bit of an exaggeration, but I figure a porter and a climbing guide, along with boots, crampons, ropes, helmet, ice ace, and 20,000 ft….has to count for something. I leave in the morning and will be gone for nearly a month.  My new summit attempt day is October the 30th.  On Dad’s birthday, the 23rd of October, I should be on top of Kalipathar enjoying the reported best view of the Himalaya (happy early birthday Dad); I should be able to see California from the top and will be thinking of you.  My schedule is below and the locations can be found on any good map of the Everest regions if you are interested. Oh yea, “lodge” does not mean Timberline Lodge in the North Cascades; rather think of a shelter with a plywood bed complete with 4 inches of foam, a squat toilet down the hall, and some hot noodles to eat….all good.

Number one fact checker comes through again.  I reported that Cei had pulmonary edema but she actually had cerebral edema. the former being a lung problem while the later is the much more serious brain swelling problem attributed to lack of oxygen reaching he brain. Thank you John, appreciate the help as always.

My dear sister Sheri said: ” Next time you post translate the mountain heights into feet for me :)”.  I love you girl, but that is not going to happen. I am having to train myself in metric because when you say “feet” here people just role there eyes with that “catch a clue American” look.  Seriously, I have talked to people from no less than 20 countries and NO ONE uses feet and can not believe the idiocy of the U.S for keeping  a system that is archaic, difficult, inconsistent with the world’s scientific community, and directly responsible for conversion errors that have caused human life.  But then again the “American government is famous for their arrogance” is typically the conclusion we jointly come to; albeit with good humor.  I often respond with one of my favorite quotes that RT shared with me: “Yes, it is easy to be principled when you are insignificant” .  That pretty much drives a final nail and solidifies the arrogance argument completely. Wanting to help  my math challenged sibling however,  the math is: 1 M = 3.28 ft.  Or simply multiply the meters times 3.3 and you will be close enough for understanding purposes.

go-BIG 2009 Himalayan Expedition: Gokyo valley, Chola pass, Everest base camp, Imja  Tse summit

Day 01: (October 12, 2009)

Fly to Lukla early in the morning (2827 m. 45 minutes flight) and then trek to Phakding (2-3 hours walking). Over night at lodge.

Day 02:

PHAKDING – NAMCHE (3440 m 6-7 hours.). Over night at lodge.

Day 03:

Fully day acclimatization and explore to climbers museum, Sherpa culture museum and visit to monastery.

Day 04:

Trek to Khumjung (3850 m 3-4 hours)  Over night at lodge.

Day 05:

KHUMJUNG – DHOLE (6 hours 4130 m.). Over night at lodge

Day 06:

DHOLE – MACHHERMO (4 hours 4520 m). Over night at lodge

Day 07:

MAHHERMO – GOKYO (4 hours 4860 m) Over night at lodge.

Day 08:

Wake early morning, climb Gokyo peak (5480 m)  Over night at lodge

Day 09:

Early morning walk to Chola Pass (5430 m 8-9 hours) Over night at Dhongla (5060 mtrs) Over night at lodge.

Day 10:

Trek to Labuche (5 hours 4860 m) Over night at lodge.

Day 11:

Rest day at Labuche.

Day 12:

Early morning VISIT KALAPATHAR for best Himalaya view (4 hours 5545 m) back to Gorekshep. Over night at lodge.

Day 13:

Early morning visit Everest Base camp (5 hours 5340 mtrs.) trek back to  Labuche (5 hours 4830 m) Over night at lodge.

Day 14:

Trek to Dingboche. Over night at lodge.

Day 15:

Trek to CHHUKUNG (7-8 hours 4730 m). Over night at lodge

Day 16:

Rest day at Chhukung. You will be meeting your climbing guide and check all the equipment.

Day 17:

CHHUKUNG – ISLAND PEAK BASE CAMP (6-7 hours 5130 m). Over night at tent

Day 18:

ISLAND BASE CAMP TO HIGH CAMP (Imja Tse) (5-6 hours. 5820 m.). Over night at tent.

Day 19: (October 30. 2009)

HIGH CAMP SUMMIT PEAK  (Imja Tse) (6189 m.) back to Base camp/Chhukung Over night at lodge.

Day 20:

PHERICHE – THYANGBOCHE  (3868 m 5-6 hours.) Over night at lodge.

Day 21:

THYANGBOCHE – MONJO (7 hours.). Over night at lodge.

Day 22:

MONJO – LUKLA (7-8 hours). Over night at lodge.

Day 23:

LUKLA fly to KTM.  (35 minutes flight.). Transfer to selected hotel in Kathmandu. Over night stay.

Talk to you all in a month; know you are in my thoughts and my heart.

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These stomach bugs kick ass

I have been hanging out at the International Guest House (recommended) in KTM for nearly a week. I developed a bit of a lingering cough in the mountains and it has been dancing into a respiratory infection ever since. Yesterday I went to the Travel Medical Clinic with my friends (who were there for a serious problem), and I got a chance to chat with a Scottish doctor for a minute.  He was very helpful, not overly concerned but also not wild about me going back to high altitude: “It will only get worse at altitude, and makes you much more vulnerable to problems – your oxygen uptake will be further limited”. He suggested a series of antibiotics as a bit of insurance against further development of an infection, and told me to monitor closely when back in the mountains.
My friends, David and Cei, from Australia needed to see the doctor again because Cei was still suffering from brain swelling (or being a “fat head” as her father said once he heard she was going to be ok). About a week ago, she had been at just over 4500m and had a sudden onset of Pulmonary Edema; a very dangerous and life threatening ailment resulting in massive swelling of the brain, followed by ruptured blood vesicles in the cranium….then you die.  This is caused when the brain is starved of oxygen (at 5000m there is only ~50% of the O2 available, and given that we loose ~2% of our V02 (max oxygen uptake0 each year as we age…these altitude can cause problems.  Anyway Cei is very fit, was well rested, well hydrated, and acclimated properly. She was even taking Diamox (high altitude drug that helps O2 absorption-somehow) and had been higher a few days prior. Regardless,  she suddenly gets a massive headache, starts to throw-up uncontrollably, and begins to loose consciousness; all within an hour.  Miraculously, an Italian doctor was staying in a local village and had a medical kit from a summit expedition.  Cei, was given a huge dosage of steroids to stop the swelling, they tried to get a helicopter in but the weather prevented it, so they literally stuffed her into a “porter basket”, and her climbing guide, after securing the basket around his forehead, ran down slope for 2 jarring hours to a location that the aircraft could reach and an altitude that she may survive at.  So yesterday, we went to the Dr. because she was still having great difficulty with her motor skills.  Fortunately, her clinical exam showed improvement and the doctor believed she was going to fully recover; but they are going to continue to monitor and do a MRI (they all ready did a CT) tomorrow if she is not better.  It is also possible the altitude caused a stroke, but the doctor does not think so, and like he said “even if it did, there is nothing we can do about that now – is there”.  Medicine is a bit more practical and direct here.  Update: David, Cei and I just had breakfast and she continues to improve; they are booking tickets to a beach in Thailand to recover, and are planning on coming back in the spring to “finish, unfinished business…attempt the +6000m Island Peak again”. Update two: fully recovered.
As for me, I going for it in a few days.  I plan to fly to Lukla on the 10th and start a 21 day mini expedition.  I plan to ascend up the Gokyo valley, climb Gokyo peak (5480m), cross Chola pass and rejoin the primary route to Mt. Everest.  From there I will ascend to Everest base camp and Kalaphathar (5545) and the infamous ice fields.  Then I plan to double back and take the side route up to Chhakung; hike to high camp on Imja Tse (5820m) and tent over, and finally at 0200 hours around the 26th or 27thattempt to summit Imja Tse (Island Peak, 6181M).  So around that time, look up because that is hopefully where I will be.
What month is it? The monsoons are supposed to be long gone, but Nepal and much of Asia is getting hammered with rain; mudslides and flooding are widespread and the paper reported a corresponding 34 dead in Nepal. In KTM it has been coming down hard for a few days now and I am glad I am not in the mountain this week.  My trip may be pushed out a bit farther as many flights to Lukla are being cancelled.  This is fine with me however, because over the years every time they try to “force” flights onto Lukla’s  difficult mountain airstrip – they crash.
Things in Nepal are often different! Sometimes often very different. Order anything with a preconception and you will likely be surprised and disappointed.  Check something out with an open mind, and you will likely laugh, or cry, but will enjoy the experience regardless.  The bakery advertised chocolate brownies – my favorite. First bite is always tentative and while good the heavy cinnamon threw me off – cinnamon really, in a brownie?  The Spaghetti with long chewy cheese strips layered in the middle was also a bit “off”.  But we may have found the most “not expected” thing in Nepal last evening. We had a high end ($20usd) dinner and could not help but noticing the bar below the restaurant.  The sign read: “Pussy Cat Bar, with shower”. After dinner, Cai says: “Ok guys I know you are dying to check that out, lets go…one drink”.  Now I have not been in a strip club for a few decades and, well,  I still haven’t.  We knew this had to be something special as this is a Maoist and thus very restrictive government.  Inside the bar we watched what could have been auditions for India/Nepal version of So you think you can dance; kind of a MC Hammer, meets Michael Jackson, meets John Travolta in a Bollywood thus very cheeky way. Some of the guys were actually pretty talented and the women served as back ground dancers (bad bad bad).  There was indeed two shower heads over the dance floor and the floor had a drain but they were never deployed.  We were actually concerned that one of the girls was going to put a high heel in a drain grate and break a leg. There was also a “pole”, which the guys used to swing around like Frank Sinatra in singing in the rain. One young women actually jumped on the pole for a micro second after a big approach…..we all looked at each other and nearly died. We asked Mimar (David and Cei Trekking guide) who joined us if this was a typical men’s club.  “oh yea, very good, but not just for men”.  What about the shower we asked, “with no clothes?”  “oh no, with clothes…sometimes they wash their hair, very nice, very very nice”. The best part was when we got the bill and Dave had to borrow some Rupees because he failed to realize that the coke he bought for a “host”, who proceeded to fill his beer after each sip and pat his knee, cost him $350rp (5 bucks). Not to be outdone, I also paid $350rp for a $15rp water and I opted out of the knee patting. As we walked back to the hotel, we each practiced our “moves” , laughed at the condominium project advertised as “condom house”, while the local police drove the street picking up drunks.
We went a bit a field yesterday (relying on Lonely Planet) and discovered a remarkable Tibetan co-op where wool was being spun and carpets being made entirely by hand.  The women working there, without a doubt, were the happiest people I have ever met. We tentatively looked in the door and were greeted with a chorus of “Namaste” as the artist masterfully managed their looms and spinning wheels all under the watchful eye of a large photo of his holiness the Dali Lama. The co-op supports over a thousand Tibetan refugees and relies on funds generated from the hand made rugs they make.  Now, I have a thing for rugs; after my divorce I only asked for one picture, one chair, and both rugs (one Turkish, and one from Afghanistan); I am thinking about buying a 100 knot room rug – spectacular.
My journal “fact checker” has weighed in once again and it is obvious that his cube in the United Arab Emirates is providing him to much contemplative time.  But facts are facts and I appreciate him holding me to the highest international reporting standards.  There is NO SUCH THING as yak milk, butter or cheese.  You see, as Yak is a male and a Nak is the female and thus the lactating one.  I apologize for this grievous oversight.
“I wonder how long it will take them to find my body?” This was my thought as I had been lying in the fetal position for 40 hours….and yet again, I fortunately did not die. One thing for certain, the ‘bugs” in the U.S. are wimps compared to the kick your ass prowess of these stomach creatures. I sent word to my porter and while the communication system here is crude, he got word and showed up to check on me. I am sipping water and fruit juice and am planning on heading to Lukla on the 12th.
David and Cei were leaving in the morning and given that Lonely Planet had completely overlooked or decided not to report due to political correctness onthe “dance bar” scene in KTMm, we decided to do our own independent – complete review by going to every club in town.  I think we ultimately saw 7 or 8 clubs with names like “titanic (and the dancers were) “Crazy bar”, “Tequila bar”…….  many were equipped with shower equipment but I am sorry to report that we did not experience that; I think it may have been a pre-Maoist thing. What we did see was more really cheeky dancing with the guys being by far the most talented. But boy did we laugh.
I had a great week hanging out, seeing the sights, and exploring manufacturing options for their business, with David and Cei. I am looking forward to visiting them again in Brisbane or Laos….great people, and hanging out with the biggest guy in Asia was fun as the cleared the streets in front of Cei and me.
Kathmandu, Nepal
boy and birds

Little Tibet, outside KTM

I have been hanging out at the International Guest House (recommended) in KTM for nearly a week. I developed a bit of a lingering cough in the mountains and it has been dancing into a respiratory infection ever since. Yesterday I went to the Travel Medical Clinic with my friends (who were there for a serious problem), and I got a chance to chat with a Scottish doctor for a minute.  He was very helpful, not overly concerned but also not wild about me going back to high altitude: “It will only get worse at altitude, and makes you much more vulnerable to problems – your oxygen uptake will be further limited”. He suggested a series of antibiotics as a bit of insurance against further development of an infection, and told me to monitor closely when back in the mountains.
boy on balcony

View from my window

My friends, David and Cei, from Australia needed to see the doctor again because Cei was still suffering from brain swelling (or being a “fat head” as her father said once he heard she was going to be ok). About a week ago, she had been at just over 4500m and had a sudden onset of Pulmonary Edema; a very dangerous and life threatening ailment resulting in massive swelling of the brain, followed by ruptured blood vesicles in the cranium….then you die.  This is caused when the brain is starved of oxygen (at 5000m there is only ~50% of the O2 available, and given that we loose ~2% of our V02 (max oxygen uptake0 each year as we age…these altitude can cause problems.  Anyway Cei is very fit, was well rested, well hydrated, and acclimated properly. She was even taking Diamox (high altitude drug that helps O2 absorption-somehow) and had been higher a few days prior. Regardless,  she suddenly gets a massive headache, starts to throw-up uncontrollably, and begins to loose consciousness; all within an hour.  Miraculously, an Italian doctor was staying in a local village and had a medical kit from a summit expedition.  Cei, was given a huge dosage of steroids to stop the swelling, they tried to get a helicopter in but the weather prevented it, so they literally stuffed her into a “porter basket”, and her climbing guide, after securing the basket around his forehead, ran down slope for 2 jarring hours to a location that the aircraft could reach and an altitude that she may survive at.  So yesterday, we went to the Dr. because she was still having great difficulty with her motor skills.  Fortunately, her clinical exam showed improvement and the doctor believed she was going to fully recover; but they are going to continue to monitor and do a MRI (they all ready did a CT) tomorrow if she is not better.  It is also possible the altitude caused a stroke, but the doctor does not think so, and like he said “even if it did, there is nothing we can do about that now – is there”.  Medicine is a bit more practical and direct here.  Update: David, Cei and I just had breakfast and she continues to improve; they are booking tickets to a beach in Thailand to recover, and are planning on coming back in the spring to “finish, unfinished business…attempt the +6000m Island Peak again”. Update two: fully recovered.

As for me, I going for it in a few days.  I plan to fly to Lukla on the 10th and start a 21 day mini expedition.  I plan to ascend up the Gokyo valley, climb Gokyo peak (5480m), cross Chola pass and rejoin the primary route to Mt. Everest.  From there I will ascend to Everest base camp and Kalaphathar (5545) and the infamous ice fields.  Then I plan to double back and take the side route up to Chhakung; hike to high camp on Imja Tse (5820m) and tent over, and finally at 0200 hours around the 26th or 27thattempt to summit Imja Tse (Island Peak, 6181M).  So around that time, look up because that is hopefully where I will be.

What month is it? The monsoons are supposed to be long gone, but Nepal and much of Asia is getting hammered with rain; mudslides and flooding are widespread and the paper reported a corresponding 34 dead in Nepal. In KTM it has been coming down hard for a few days now and I am glad I am not in the mountain this week.  My trip may be pushed out a bit farther as many flights to Lukla are being cancelled.  This is fine with me however, because over the years every time they try to “force” flights onto Lukla’s  difficult mountain airstrip – they crash.

condom house

Lost in translation -again

Things in Nepal are often different! Sometimes often very different. Order anything with a preconception and you will likely be surprised and disappointed.  Check something out with an open mind, and you will likely laugh, or cry, but will enjoy the experience regardless.  The bakery advertised chocolate brownies – my favorite. First bite is always tentative and while good the heavy cinnamon threw me off – cinnamon really, in a brownie?  The Spaghetti with long chewy cheese strips layered in the middle was also a bit “off”.  But we may have found the most “not expected” thing in Nepal last evening. We had a high end ($20usd) dinner and could not help but noticing the bar below the restaurant.  The sign read: “Pussy Cat Bar, with shower”. After dinner, Cai says: “Ok guys I know you are dying to check that out, lets go…one drink”.  Now I have not been in a strip club for a few decades and, well,  I still haven’t.  We knew this had to be something special as this is a Maoist and thus very restrictive government.  Inside the bar we watched what could have been auditions for India/Nepal version of So you think you can dance; kind of a MC Hammer, meets Michael Jackson, meets John Travolta in a Bollywood thus very cheeky way. Some of the guys were actually pretty talented and the women served as back ground dancers (bad bad bad).  There was indeed two shower heads over the dance floor and the floor had a drain but they were never deployed.  We were actually concerned that one of the girls was going to put a high heel in a drain grate and break a leg. There was also a “pole”, which the guys used to swing around like Frank Sinatra in singing in the rain. One young women actually jumped on the pole for a micro second after a big approach…..we all looked at each other and nearly died. We asked Mimar (David and Cei Trekking guide) who joined us if this was a typical men’s club.  “oh yea, very good, but not just for men”.  What about the shower we asked, “with no clothes?”  “oh no, with clothes…sometimes they wash their hair, very nice, very very nice”. The best part was when we got the bill and Dave had to borrow some Rupees because he failed to realize that the coke he bought for a “host”, who proceeded to fill his beer after each sip and pat his knee, cost him $350rp (5 bucks). Not to be outdone, I also paid $350rp for a $15rp water and I opted out of the knee patting. As we walked back to the hotel, we each practiced our “moves” , laughed at the condominium project advertised as “condom house”, while the local police drove the street picking up drunks.

rug weaver

Tibetan rug weaver


We went a bit a field yesterday (relying on Lonely Planet) and discovered a remarkable Tibetan co-op where wool was being spun and carpets being made entirely by hand.  The women working there, without a doubt, were the happiest people I have ever met. We tentatively looked in the door and were greeted with a chorus of “Namaste” as the artist masterfully managed their looms and spinning wheels all under the watchful eye of a large photo of his holiness the Dali Lama. The co-op supports over a thousand Tibetan refugees and relies on funds generated from the hand made rugs they make.  Now, I have a thing for rugs; after my divorce I only asked for one picture, one chair, and both rugs (one Turkish, and one from Afghanistan); I am thinking about buying a 100 knot room rug – spectacular.


making yarn

Making yarn from lambs wool


My journal “fact checker” has weighed in once again and it is obvious that his cube in the United Arab Emirates is providing him to much contemplative time.  But facts are facts and I appreciate him holding me to the highest international reporting standards.  There is NO SUCH THING as yak milk, butter or cheese.  You see, as Yak is a male and a Nak is the female and thus the lactating one.  I apologize for this grievous oversight.

David and Cei were leaving in the morning and given that Lonely Planet had completely overlooked or decided not to report due to political correctness onthe “dance bar” scene in KTMm, we decided to do our own independent – complete review by going to every club in town.  I think we ultimately saw 7 or 8 clubs with names like “titanic (and the dancers were) “Crazy bar”, “Tequila bar”…….  many were equipped with shower equipment but I am sorry to report that we did not experience that; I think it may have been a pre-Maoist thing. What we did see was more really cheeky dancing with the guys being by far the most talented. But boy did we laugh.

I had a great week hanging out, seeing the sights, and exploring manufacturing options for their business, with David and Cei. I am looking forward to visiting them again in Brisbane or Laos….great people, and hanging out with the biggest guy in Asia was fun as the cleared the streets in front of Cei and me.

little tibet

Little Tibet
“I wonder how long it will take them to find my body?” This was my thought as I had been lying in the fetal position for 40 hours….and yet again, I fortunately did not die. One thing for certain, the ‘bugs” in the U.S. are wimps compared to the kick your ass prowess of these stomach creatures. I sent word to my porter and while the communication system here is crude, he got word and showed up to check on me. I am sipping water and fruit juice and am planning on heading to Lukla on the 12th.

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