Dispatch #2 and 3 Everest 2004 Team Endeavor
Dan Lochner & Dan Meggitt Team
Endeavor - Everest 2004 North
Dispatch #2 Ė April 5, 2004
Today we shipped off from
Kathmandu and began our journey to Tibet. After waking at 6:30am, Dan and I
met with Ang Mingma and Man B (our Sherpa) outside our hotel and walked a few
blocked to where a bus was parked, to be used for our transport to Kodari,
Nepal. The drive was very refreshing, driving into the beautiful countryside
and exiting the polluted city of Kathmandu. The foothills along the road had
these stepped terraces which seemed to be a means to cultivate crops on their
hilly terrain. I cannot imagine the time or manpower it required to chop these
steps in the hills but nonetheless they were fascinating to look at.
The erratic mountain driving
of the bus driver, which included persistent passing and near misses with
other vehicles and pedestrians reminded me of Russia. At some points, the
drive became a bit hairy when the driver passed trucks on the exposed side of
the road, leaving little room for error. This made me wonder how I would go
about jumping from the bus in the event that the bus rolled over the cliff and
into the river below.
Along the way, the bus
stopped numerous times and men wearing camouflage with machine guns questioned
us where we were going and why. In addition, I noticed several demolished
trucks that appeared to have been blown up recently. It appeared the Maoists
attacked these trucks a day or two before.
At the moment we are in the
town of Kodari, Nepal, minutes away from the border that divides Tibet from
Nepal. The original plan was that after arriving in Kodari, we would walk
across the Friendship Bridge into Tibet and then meet up with a truck that
would take us to the nearby town of Zangmu. Unfortunately, for some reason, we
cannot cross into Tibet today, so we are staying in Kodari for the night.
Kodari is a small village
perched on the side of a hill with a river crashing through the valley below.
It would be quite fun taking a raft down this river. From our guest house,
Zangmu can be clearly seen above, carved out of an adjacent hill.
After having lunch at our
guest house, we settled into our room which was surprising. The room was
small, dirty and reeked of some sort of waste that smelled familiar. Needless
to say, Dan and I slept in our sleeping bags, using our sleeping pad as a
buffer between the bed and the bag. When we woke in the morning, the surprises
continued when a spider the size of a coffee saucer bolting across the floor
to seek asylum in a dark corner.
Dispatch #3 Ė April 6, 2004
Today we rose at 6:30am,
packed our gear, ate breakfast and headed toward the Chinese border to enter
After finishing breakfast, we
walked outside to see a hundred or so Nepalese people portering our gear up
the valley and across the Friendship Bridge to Tibet. These people ranged from
young children, to mothers who were carrying their children, to very senior
individuals. Itís quite amazing how young the Nepalese people begin working
and how strong they are given their slim frames.
Also, itís interesting that
the Nepalese people carry the weight of a load with their head. Instead of
using a backpack to strap a load to oneís back, the Nepalese people lay a
piece of rope across the top of their head, which is attached to the load and
then lean forward, letting the force fall on their neck and back. I felt bad I
was letting the transportation of our gear literally fall on the necks and
backs of these people but they seemed content having work. After carrying an
individual load across the Friendship Bridge into Tibet, the Nepalese porters
returned to the Nepal border running with large smiles on their faces, likely
from the wage they just received and to return to carry an additional load.
Getting across the Friendship
Bridge into Tibet was logistically simple for the porters, only requiring a
quick flash of a laminated piece of paper to the Chinese guards. However, we
had to wait several hours before we could cross. First we had to wait for a
bus to arrive that would bring us from the Bridge to the town of Zangmu. Once
it arrived, we were required to further wait for the Immigration Official to
finish his lunch and make his way over to his office. In total, the process
took about four to five hours. While waiting, Dan and I took photographs of
the surrounding area but were repeatedly scolded by the Chinese guards at
attention for doing so. We also kept the Nepalese children entertained by
shooting video of them and then replaying the footage on the LCD screen to
show what they looked like on camera.
After finally crossing the
Bridge, we hiked up a dirt road for a few hundred feet where we met up with
the awaiting bus and our gear that the Nepalese porters had carried across.
Here we boarded the bus and took the twenty minute ride to Zangmu on the bumpy
dirt road, which entirely followed the edge of a cliff. The scenery during the
ride was absolutely breathtaking, now having the ability to glance down at the
valley below to spot all the homes and monasteries on the adjacent mountain.
Once the bus arrived in
Zangmu, we unloaded and underwent another immigration procedure where our
luggage was screened through an X-ray machine. I was impressed that our
laptops and other electronic devices didnít flag a probe of the equipment
contained in our carry bags. From here, we assembled into a line at the
command of a Chinese official and waited for our name to be called for our
passports to be inputted and checked into their system. I had also thought
that a full cavity search was in order here but again no troubles. Once all
the members on our permit had successfully passed through the Chinese
inspection, we hiked up the one and only street in town toward our guest
This guest house was an
improvement over the one in Kodari, but not by much. The lobby was quite
pleasant, although it gave a false impression of the overall quality of the
establishment since once we entered the stairwell leading to our perspective
room, a strong sense of urine filled the air. The hallway connecting to our
room had the same aroma but at this point our nasal passages had become immune
to the smell until a member opened the bathroom door at the end of the hall.
Once settling into our room,
we walked next door to the restaurant where our dinner was to be served. The
Chinese food was good and I chowed down as much as I had room for, although
some found it unappetizing. The food was quite similar to that which is served
in the States, but it was greasier with less flavor.
I have shown no fear when
consuming the local cuisine and I have been experiencing sporadic stomach
cramps since, possibly as a result of my bravery. Meggitt, as usual, has been
sticking to his conservative approach of not eating questionable local
cuisine, but opting for prepackaged food. So far, his approach has worked well
Like many of us, several
tasks still remain to be completed. Meggitt is diligently working to file his
taxes, not a cheerful moment for him as money needs to be paid to the
government. Luckily, I am on the receiving end this year. While Meggitt keeps
himself busy, I am attempting to resolve troubles with our satellite modem.
After filling our stomachs,
we strolled up the curvy one road town to explore the local atmosphere of
Zangmu. We covered the entire town in twenty minutes and it didnít seem to be
very fun filled besides drinking and shooting pool. In terms of technology,
there is only one internet cafe in the entire town, which has one computer
with an intermittent connection. We spent the rest of the night hanging out
and chatting with one another until turning in for the night.