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  Mallory and Irvine The Final Chapter: Dispatch 1

Sandy Irvine, (member of the Oxford University winning Boat Race crew) 1923 © The Sandy Irvine Trust, UK.  Not to be reproduced without permission.

Dispatch 1 4/3/2004: And so my journey begins…

A 7 hour drive to Pittsburgh, PA starts the trip. 2 full days of meetings to iron out the details, compile gear and ideas. Good-bye to loved ones is difficult but we know that is a good thing. Pittsburgh to San Fran goes smoothly. SFO to Hong Kong is 17.5 hours, darn those head winds. I arrive HK late; I make the connection to Bangkok but my baggage does not. I wonder if running through airports with 100lbs. of carry-on baggage counts as low altitude training. Thai Airlines knows that I am late and meets me as I land and escorts me through the airport so I do not miss my flight. On board my flight to Bangkok my flight attendant, a Ms. Santana, brings me plenty of water to cool me down and then calmly explains to me what is going on with my baggage and how to retrieve it in Kathmandu. Panic attack is averted.

Did I mention that Thai Airlines is now my favorite? Bangkok to KTM goes fine I am starting to settle down after nearly 30 hrs. in the air. I obtain my visa and head to baggage claim, I wait and wait but my baggage is not there. An airport official is walking with a sign that says “Tom West, Thai Airlines” Hey, that’s me. He informs me that my baggage is delayed and should be in at 1:00pm the next day. I am then met by Deha from Dan Mazur’s group and whisked away to the Nepa Hotel. I am introduced to Dan.

I meet our Sherpas, who we will be working closely together for the next 10 weeks and I realize immediately that I am in very good hands. We go buy clothing for me to change into and we grab some Momo’s for dinner… delicious. Over the next few days I go with my Sherpas go all over KTM, buying batteries, rope, picking up our SummitOxygen, sorting and resorting and checking and rechecking our gear. This week we will build some crates to protect our gear on the long trip into Tibet. It seems as if there is nothing that our Sherpas can not do. They are organized, experienced, patient, smart in the ways of an expedition and has the warmest smiles and laughs. I am sure that I will learn much more from them than they will from me; I am very lucky to be working with our Sherpas. Slowly the rest of the team arrives in KTM. The atmosphere is relaxed but professional. We have made a solid, strong choice by hiring Dan Mazur for logistics [transport to and from the mountain, food, etc...].

Today, 3 April we will visit a Lama and ask for his blessing to bring us luck and success on Chomolungma. All my baggage has finally trickled in and I am a little closer to being ready for the weeks ahead and the challenges that I know will come with them. Until the next time. Namaste, TjW


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