Dispatch 3. 4/15/2004
has been so long since we last wrote a dispatch. We have actually started to
write about six dispatches over the last couple of weeks but then something
always happens and we get interrupted.
A lot has
happened since the last dispatch and probably the easiest way to tell you
about is by chronological event rather than day by day.
the Khumbu valley: After spending a little over a week trekking around the
Khumbu valley we decided to head back to Kathmandu two days before we had
originally planned. Good job we did as the weather turned nasty and flights
out of Lukla were cancelled for two days in a row creating a huge backlog. We
couldn’t even get ourselves on to a flight for days. Not happy with this we
managed to blag our way onto a helicopter that had been servicing the British
forces Makalu expedition for an extra £30. It was an old Russian helicopter
that technically we shouldn’t have been on. (The Nepalese Government doesn’t
let westerners use these because generally the service history isn’t exactly
glowing). However it was another new experience for us, and something we will
look back on with fond memories.
strikes and bombs: We arrived back in Kathmandu airport to find the Maoists
had called an unofficial strike. Therefore there were no taxis or
transportation to the Hotel (about 30 minutes drive away). In the end we
managed to convince a taxi driver to take us and two English schoolteachers
also stranded at the airport to tourist area of Kathmandu for about 10 times
the normal fee. With in 5 minutes we came face to face with angry mobs and
burning roadblocks and people telling us to get out of the taxi. We were
scared and the taxi driver that shouldn’t of been operating during the strike
almost shit himself. After a lot of shouting and more and more people
gathering round us we were forced out of the taxi. Lucky for us I had my
mobile and called Marai (our Napal agent) and he came to meet us. He walked us
back to the hotel via a stand off between the police and the rioters. ( we
literally walked in between the two at a crossroads).
and tension continued to rise over the next few days, with a number of bombs
and flash points. During the day all of the shops and restaurants “closed”
(most stayed open behind shutters or round the back door) however movements
around the city were restricted.
Kathmandu: Due to the strikes we could not leave Kathmandu as planned. It was
planned that we would travel this part of the trip with Dan Mazur’s main
expedition. The 30km trip to the Tibet boarder was blocked by the Maoists with
varying stories on when it would be open (between 3 and 21 days). We couldn’t
wait this long so Dan arranged transportation via helicopter from Kathmandu to
a village 4km short of the boarder. It took two days and a six heli loads to
shift all expedition members. Eventually we crossed the boarder via friendship
journey to Everest base camp: Once we cleared customs in Tibet we headed for
Nyalam in a convoy of 4 x 4’s. At times during the journey I (Ian) was
genuinely scared for my life. The roads twisted there way round the mountains
coming very close to the edge on a number of times.
a complete dump. The people were strange and generally not friendly. Packs of
wild dogs roam the streets and the dust storms were frequent.
our next destination for two days was even worse. What we found really strange
though, is the 6 outdoor pool tables. Especially as the town is smack bang in
the middle of the Tibetan plateau and exposed to very fast winds and sand
storms!! Great for outdoor pool… still, it didn’t prevent Andy and I from
taking on Garth and his partner Sarah (both BA pilots) in a best of three,
two-day pool challenge. We won.
base camp: We arrived yesterday at base camp (approx attitude of 5200m). We
are still with the main group at this point and will split from here on,
from here is amazing – we are sitting right in the shadow of the north face of
Everest. It’s actually quite intimidating, very steep and dark during most of
people are feeling the effects of the attitude. Some more than others.
Personally (Ian) I felt really crap yesterday, I had a bad headache and felt
sick. I managed to sleep most of the night and woke up this morning feeling
planning to leave base camp tomorrow but we will see how we feel.
thing is now after three weeks of messing around we are here at the foot of
Mount Everest chasing our dream. All that stands between the summit and us is
the weather, illness, injury, logistics, personal hygiene, oh, and over two
vertical miles and six weeks of rock and snow!!!
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