I'm finally back in Kathmandu again, a city where I have spent maybe 30-40 nights the last few years. And I have a confession to make: "I LOVE THAMEL, KATHMANDU AND NEPAL!". So much will happen during the next few weeks and I really look forward to the Ama Dablam climb. But first I have some shopping and sightseeing to take care of....
I arrived the international airport in Kathmandu around noon. To my surprise I only got a 30 days visa, because it happened to be my second stay in Nepal during 2005. Nima Sherpa was waiting for me outside of the airport building and he took me to the hotel. He also promised to take care of my visa problems. I met Marcus from Canada at the hotel, and we decided to share a room.
Marcus and I went sightseeing in Kathmandu. We visited the Monkey Temple and the Bodhnath Stupa, the latter one being the biggest stupa in Nepal. We spent the afternoon shopping and we surprisingly met Nima Gombu Sherpa in one of the stores (this is not Nima Sherpa from the Fieldtouring expedition!). Nima Gombu Sherpa has summited Everest 11 times and he owns a small shop in Thamel.
I took Marcus to downtown Kathmandu, to visit the famous Durbar Square. Later in the afternoon we met Stu, Brad B, Mike, Herb and Sue who arrived Kathmandu early in the afternoon.
While the other ones left the hotel at 4am to see the sunrise at Nagarkot, I decided to stay in my bed and get some more sleep. I met them at breakfast around 9am, and they told me that they've had a splendid time watching the Himalayas at sunrise. The rest of the team arrived Kathmandu in the afternoon, that is, except Vanessa and Brad J who were already up in the Khumbu Valley aiming to climb Island Peak before Ama Dablam.
Dispatch from Stu Remensnyder:
Mike, Marcus, Sue, Brad B, Herb and myself left Lyngve sleeping heavily in the hotel for a morning ride to Nagarkot to see the sunrise on the Himalayas. We had a cool morning with light cloud cover which cleared as the sun rose giving us a fine view of the range from Annapurna 1 to our left all the way to Makalu to our right. Langtang stands out as a shark tooth and the most impressive mountain from Nagarkot. We were joined by 40 people from Bangalore (India) and it was a fun switch to have other people trying to take out picture and wanting us to stand next to them for portraits!
We returned to the hotel to enjoy a buffet feast and then spent the morning shopping and sleeping until midday when we headed out for lunch. In the early afternoon we had our meeting at the ministry of tourism to sign documents and drink tea with high level officials. The parchments of the permits are lovely and rough and the red ink has the look of ancient printing methods. The other documents are depressingly modern photocopies so we will treasure the delicate permits as testament to the ancient nature of the kingdoms and mountains of Nepal.
Marc and Sophia and Anthony arrived and joined us for a nice afternoon of sitting in the hotel garden discussing the details of the expedition. We then headed out for a glorious roof top supper at the Third Eye restaurant. We had clear skies cool weather and spicy tikka masala. We finished supper at 11pm and all returned to he hotel for a heavy and well deserved sleep after a truly full day.
Team RFM from Colorado also have arrived and are in fine shape and high spirits. They intend to hike straight to Namche and stay in a tea house as they are already acclimatized to 12000ft. They took a walk with three of our team (Brad B, Marc and Sophia) and were apparently walking as fast as most of us run!
This day was the last opportunity for us to buy gear and supplies in Thamel. I bought a fake North Face down jacket for 5000 rupees, hoping that it would be sufficient on Ama Dablam. In the evening the whole team visited a Lama in Kathmandu to get blessing for the climb. Each of us got a white scarf and a blessed necklace from him, which we were supposed to wear during the entire climb.
Dispatch from Stu Remensnyder:
Today we are all making final purchases in preparation for an early morning flight to Lukla tomorrow. Nima (our ground manager) has been a marvel in organizing details and cutting red tape at every turn. He has already managed to ship 900kg of our personal equipment up to Lukla as we are only allowed 25 kg on our own flight and each come with 50kg minimum. He has us scheduled for the earliest flight tomorrow to ensure that if there are delays we will still be the most likely to reach Lukla that day. As such we will be out of the hotel by 5:15am and on our way.
Our last member to arrive Brent Hamblin looks a little tired from his travels but very enthusiastic and well prepared to go. Anthony was waiting for a bag that did not make it yesterday and it seems a good sign that it arrived today before we hit the trail! Speaking of good luck we had a great blessing to day with one of the three rinpoches for the entire sherpa community who is living in Kathmandu as his area is too complicated with maoists who frown on religion. Our luck though! He chanted and tied knots and placed katas on our shoulders and blessed three nice bead necklaces and one picture of my daughter Madalyn!! We were treated to a full moon over the town section of Boudnath and alpen glow on the Himalayas beyond. All in all a fine evening! We are wearing our knots around our necks for now though I suspect we'll tie them to something other than our necks when we begin climbing.
We spent a lot of the day searching for the perfect cheese and salami and would recommend to future travelers to bring your own prepackaged cheese wheels or the wax covered gouga/bonnie bells. We finally found some yummy tasting local goat cheese and are carrying ample chunks to base camp where we will inspect them for the first time. Hoping it stays fresh!
Kathmandu has as always provided a wild smorgasbord for the senses and we will leave in the morning behind honking horns, tinkling rickshaw bells, blaring Indian music, hawkers offering cheap prices for fine tigerbalm and following up rejection by whispering in our ears "smoke hash?" whose rejection leads to the start of the offers all over again!
While our ears, eyes and noses will miss Kathmandu I think our respiratory tracts will relish the clean cool air of the Khumbu as most of us are already developing the classic Kathmandu cough.
Journals from this expedition:
Intro to the Expedition
The Expedition Team
Part 1 - In Kathmandu
Part 2 - From Lukla to BC
Part 3 - Acclimatizing
Part 4 - To Camp 3
Part 5 - Summit Day