NEWSLETTERS - Makalu 2014

Makalu team in Kathmandu2 April 2014

Makalu team in Kathmandu - Everest/Lhotse members in Khumjung

The Himalayan Experience team is more or less complete with all but one Makalu members having arrived on Tuesday. "I can't believe I am finally here; the last few days were very hectic at home, but now I cannot wait to start the expedition," said Heidi Sand, who is joining the group from Germany.

On Tuesday evening, Russell gathered the crew for their briefing at the Hyatt Hotel explaining logistics and schedule for Makalu. "One of the most important things on the trek is hygiene. So please make sure you will always have clean hands and watch whatever food you put into your mouths," he explained proudly handing out the traditional toilet roll and hand sanitizer.

After the meeting, the group dispersed and either had dinner at the Hyatt or got into a taxi to explore Thamel, the tourist district of Kathmandu. "We are going to have dinner at the Ying & Yang in Thamel as I want to show my daughter the highlights of Kathmandu," said Annie Doyle, who was on Everest with Himalayan Experience in 2012, is lagging a bit behind her fellow Everest climbers as her daughter Grace is accompanying her to base camp.

Views of Ama Dablam

While the Makalu members are running their last errands, packing their gear and going to the briefing at Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, which issues the climbing permits and has just introduced a new rule that request each and every climbing member to personally show up and sign on the dotted line, the Everest and Lhotse members are slowly ambling up the Khumbu Valley.

Ama Dablam seen from Khumjung
Ama Dablam seen from Khumjungu

"I am standing in front of our Phurba Tashi's (our sirdar) lodge in Khumjung enjoying the view of Ama Dablam," said guide Woody when I rang him on Wednesday evening. The team has followed the usual schedule and stayed their first night in Monjo, their second night at the Sherpa capital Namche Bazaar and are now in the neighbouring village Khumjung, where they will stay for two nights to adjust to the higher altitude of 3,970m (13,000ft). "The weather has been good with a bit of a snow shower this afternoon," Woody continued.

Getting the fire started in Phurba Tashis lodge
Getting the fire started in Phurba Tashis lodge

The team is now trekking inside the Sagarmatha National Park, which was created in 1976 and became a Natural World Heritage site in 1979. It is an important breeding ground for rare birds and ranges in elevation from 2,845 m (9,334 ft) at Jorsalle to 8,848 m (29,029 ft) at the summit of Mount Everest.

"Everybody is in a good mood and is strong and healthy. We haven't seen any sickness at all and the team is getting on really well," said Woody. "Some of us even had a few quiet beers at the Danphe Bar in Namche last night, which was rather enjoyable."

During their time in Khumjung, the team will visit the Everest View Hotel, which was built by a Japanese businessman in 1968. This famous hotel lies at 3,880m (12,779 ft) and used to be frequented by Japanese tourists, who flew to the nearby airstrip in Syangboche. However, the sudden rise in elevation often made them altitude sick and even though the hotel offers oxygen in every room, it is now mainly visited by trekkers and climbers, who just want to enjoy a nice cup of tea while taking in the stunning views of Everest and Ama Dablam.

On Thursday morning, our helicopter pilot Jason will fly the Makalu team to Lukla, from where they will start their adventure and follow the footsteps of the Everest and Lhotse climbers. I will keep you posted on their progress – so, watch the space!

Billi Bierling, Kathmandu