Newsletter 22 April 2010
Inching closer towards the goal
After having spent a few days in the colourful madness of Kathmandu, most of Himex’s clients (climbers and trekkers), the guides and the expedition doctor are finally on their way towards Namche Bazaar. They had a very early start on Wednesday morning as flights to Lukla traditionally leave at the crack of dawn to avoid the cloud cover that normally moves into the Everest Region later in the day and makes landing on the tiny airstrip impossible.
After a 5am wake-up call, the team left the Hotel Tibet at about 5.30am to board a Twin Otter and embark on one of the most spectacular flights. As the mobile coverage has improved significantly in the region over the past few years, I had the chance to speak to one of the guides, Adrian Ballinger. He told me that the views from the plane were amazing this morning, but that high winds made the flight a little bumpy. At one point the stewardess apparently lost control over her little tray containing cotton wool, which the passengers stuff into their ears to muffle the sound of the noisy engines, and sweets and sent it flying through the air. Well, at least there was free candy for everyone!
The team was actually lucky to catch a plane this morning, as bad weather had forced the airlines to cancel most of their flights to Lukla the previous day. However, during the expedition briefing on Tuesday evening, a massive thunderstorm cleared Kathmandu’s polluted air and got rid of the clouds and dust, so that everyone woke up to a clear and gorgeous morning.
The expedition has now arrived in Monjo (2,850m), where they had the opportunity to dig into their first meal of Dhal Bhat, the traditional Nepali food consisting of lentils (dhal) and rice (Bhat). Dhal Bhat is the staple diet of every Nepali and is normally served with a variety of meat and vegetables. What amazes me sometimes is the fact that most of my Nepali friends eat it twice a day – every day, and they love it!
The team will set off to tackle the notorious ‘Namche Hill’ on Thursday morning, which will be rewarded with a rest day in the Sherpa Capital, where they have the chance to do yet some more shopping as some of the best-stocked gear shops of Nepal are actually in Namche Bazaar!
Getting to know the team
The last few days were very interesting for the expedition members as everyone had the chance to get to know each other during expedition briefings, dinners and of course, the odd cocktail in one of the many bars in Kathmandu’s tourist district Thamel. For me, it was a pretty busy time, as I was rushing back and forth to the Hotel Tibet to grab everyone for a quick interview in between their various engagements, like gear checks with the guides, briefings with Russell or just doing their last minute shopping, getting their hair cut or having a last soothing foot massage. However, it was great as everyone was happy to talk to me and tell me about their ambitions and reasons why they are here, and I am actually quite excited to share this with you in the form of the members’ profile over the next few days.
One interesting fact is that quite a few of this year’s clients are actually aiming for the Seven Summits, which are the seven highest mountains on the seven continents.
Some of them had been trekking or climbing in Nepal before, but for some the Himalayan country is complete new territory. However, every single client is very excited to be here and share this amazing opportunity to aim for the highest point on earth.
So, watch the space for more news about guides, members, Sherpas and eventually base camp life!