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  Mount Everest 2004 Expedition: Americans Dan Lochner and Dan Meggitt

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 Tibet.

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 house.

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 for him.

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.

Americans Dan Lochner and Dan Meggitt



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