Wednesday, May 19, 2010


End of my Journey

Hi All,

sorry for the delay in updating everything but a lot has been going on. My last report had me coming down from the North Col. We spent the next 3 days getting our butts kicked at ABC by the weather and wondering if we were going to get the chance to go back up the North Col, spend the night, climb up to camp 2 (25,900 ft) and then go back to ABC. The weather report wasn’t looking favorable and our team wasn’t feeling very good. Fanuru was so sick that he couldn’t even talk. Lopsang was still trying to get over his sinus infection and Julio’s cough was nagging him. On the eve of the 3rd night the team made the decision to hike down to base camp instead of back up the North Col. Little did we know how lucky we were. The day we hiked down to BC was the same day there was an avalanche on the North Col. Who knows whether we would have been caught in the avalanche. All I can tell you is that we were to climb up the North Col that day with team Jordan. Since we were more acclimatized than they were we would have been directly above them. When the avalanche hit, it took out the two Hungarians killing one and injuring the other. The Hungarians were located right above team Jordan. The avalanche hit Jordan and knocked him into his father with Jordan’s crampon hitting him in the head. Fortunately for Paul and Jordan the ropes held them to the mountain and Paul got a cut above his eye that needed only 4 stitches. As for our team, we only heard about the avalanche when we got down to base camp. Our plan was now to recoup for the next 5 or 7 days there at BC and then head back up to ABC and stay there for the rest of the climb. The next 3 days at BC were spent getting our appetites back, taking showers and changing our clothes, and trying to get weather reports. On the 3rd day we decided to walk down to a nearby Tibetan village (1 hour walk) to have some chicken and beers. About 100 yds from the village, I all of a sudden had a bout of vertigo. I went down to one knee, regulated my breathing and tried standing up. Again the vertigo hit me like a ton of bricks and I fell to the ground. I called out for Julio and the Sherpa’s and they came running back and picked me up off the ground. I put my arms over their shoulders and we walked to the village and went into a tea house. As I sat down I quipped to Julio about how funny it was that there was a black chicken that kept running back and forth across the room. He asked me what the hell I was talking about. After closer examination I realized that I now had a big black spot in the vision of my left eye and that there wasn’t any chicken in the room. Not good. At this point I became very tired and proceeded to pass out for the next two hours as Julio, Lopsang, Lhapka Gelu and Fanuru sat there and ate chicken and drank beers. When I woke up, I was pretty much in a daze and not in any position to walk back in the driving blizzard that had arrived so we paid for transportation to get us back to camp. At dinner that night, Julio and I went back and forth discussing all my alternatives and potential damages to my eye. In the end, it was determined that it was probably better that I leave the mountain. The next morning we arranged for the yaks to bring down my gear from ABC (2 days) and my transportation back to Kathmandu (2 day drive). While I was sad to leave the team and the mountain (without achieving my goals) I felt it was best to protect my eye. Over the next two days my head felt a little foggy but I thought it was because I wasn’t drinking enough water. On my last night at BC Fanuru had baked me a cake and we drank some whiskey to celebrate my climb. It was a great way to end my climb as we held our glasses high and cheered to Chomolungma and ate some cake! The next morning I was picked up by my Chinese driver Sumday for my 6 hour drive to Zangmu. It would have been a great drive had he spoke a lick of English but he didn’t. Instead it was like a cone of silence which was ok because it gave me time to reflect on my overall trip. More about that later. On the way back we had lunch in my favorite town of Tingri and spent the night in Zangmu. I’d have to say that night was fantastic as it was nice to actually have a real pillow under my head and be able to spread my feet out more than the width of my sleeping bag! I was excited to be getting back to Kathmandu and then home. The next morning we crossed the border without any problems and I met up with Geljen for my 4 hour ride back to Kathmandu. I could already start to feel the thickness and warming of the air. As we got closer to the city the heat and the smog started to appear and being back into civilization was quickly becoming a reality. When we finally pulled into the Yak and Yeti hotel all I could think about was taking a long shower and changing into some fresh clothes. As I got into my room I stood in front of the mirror and noticed that my clothes were hanging on me. It turned out that I had lost 20 lbs. on the mountain. An amazing weight loss in such a short period of time. My beard had grown in full and I was now staring at someone that I didn’t recognize. After cleaning myself up and putting on some shorts I headed out of the hotel to find an internet café to send off some emails and make some phone calls. Unfortunately, the Maoists decided to start their protests with the government and all offices, stores and transportation had been shut down. Not a thing was open and all the streets were empty. Everywhere I walked there were protesters along with soldiers just waiting to clash. It was kind of eerie walking around with the streets void of any cars and motorcycles yet nice to know that you weren’t going to get run over. So it was back to the hotel for dinner and some well deserved Everest beers! I used the hotel phone to call Sue for 15 minutes to let her know I was alright and back in Kathmandu and it cost me $105. Highway robbery but I didn’t have any alternative. The next day when I woke up my vision was all blurry. It was worse than what my vision was before I had my Lasik surgery 8 years ago. I could see well enough to walk around but when I went to the business center in the hotel to send some emails I wasn’t able to read the screen or anything for that matter. Now I had an even greater reason to visit the high altitude medical clinic that was right around the corner from the hotel. Fortunately it was open and I was the only patient at the time. I met with a young doctor who spoke English and we went over all my symptoms. Pretty quickly he pulled in the head of the clinic to talk to me about the seriousness of my situation. Apparently they see people like me all the time coming off of Everest. He said that he was pretty sure that I had a bad case of High Altitude Retinal Hemorrhaging along with cerebral hemorrhaging and that he wanted to get me to an Ophthalmologist as soon as possible. He also recommended for me to get an MRI when I get back to the states to see the extent of the hemorrhaging on my brain. He said I was a very lucky man that I had paid attention to my symptoms on the mountain and chose to come down. He mentioned that had I ignored what was happening to me and gone higher, I would have lost my vision and then slipped into a coma with limited chances of survival. OK, at this time I became worried because the extent of my condition was getting worse and not better and I had no idea I was as bad off as I was. Fortunately they were able to make an appointment for me with an Ophthalmologist just an hour later. The clinic had someone walk me over to their office of which I then went through an 1 ½ hour exam. The end result was that I had major hemorrhaging in my left eye and moderate in my right eye. The good news was that the doctor felt my blurry vision would correct itself over time and the eye hemorrhaging would dissipate over the next 2 or 3 months. He said it was very positive that the hemorrhaging didn’t reach the one area of my eye to cause any permanent damage. He also cautioned me that due to the extent of the bleeding in my eye that I also probably had extensive cerebral bleeding and that I should get it checked out once I got back to the US. The fact that I hadn’t had any vertigo since base camp or any headaches was a good sign that the pressure on my head had been relieved from coming down from the altitude. Now my next job was to deal with the airlines to change my flight home. Fortunately due to all the unrest in Kathmandu the airlines were willing to change my flights without charging me any extra fees. 2 days later I was on my way home! After 30 hours of flying and plane changes I arrived home on Mother’s day. Of course that was on purpose! Once I got home I went to see my Doctor, then an Ophthalmologist and finally a Neurologist. All confirmed what I had been originally told about my eyes and brain. My vision is back to normal but I still have the black spot. Apparently it will go away when the blood in my eye dissipates enough. We shall see. As for my head, it has been a tough road. I have been really tired and unable to do much in the way of tasks but I have been improving each day. The doctor said this is common for people with brain trauma. My memory is not what it used to be but I assume that will improve with time as well. The Doctor has banned me from any physical exercise for the next two months and to rest whenever I feel tired. Any of you that know me realize that it will be difficult for me to sit around and do nothing but that is what the Doctor is telling me to do. So now it is my job to do nothing but eat and we all know that is one of my favorite things! I’ve already gained some weight back, shaved my beard and back to studying the stock markets so almost back to business as usual.

I would really like to say thank you to all the people who have been following and commenting on my amazing journey over the last two months. It was great to read your supporting comments. It was really tough being on the mountain and it gave me strength to hear so many positives thoughts coming from you all. While I am very sad that I wasn’t able to reach my goal of 26,000 ft and then the summit I realize that I made the right decision to come off the mountain. It is tough for me to realize that my body won’t accept going higher than 20,000 ft but that is the way it is. It isn’t possible for me to go back and try again. In the end, I am glad that I had the opportunity to be there, see the mountain, climb the mountain, meet and climb with Lhapka Gelu and Julio Bird and then get home safely. Being away from home for such a long period of time you get a lot of chances to think about your life and all it encompasses. I am lucky that I have friends and family like you all to support me in my endeavors. We are all very lucky that we live here in the US. It truly is the land of opportunity and freedom. Make the most of it! If anyone has any questions about my climb or trip feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. When I get all my pictures downloaded to the web I will send out an email on this blog with the address to view them. All the best, Bill Fisher

• My climbing partners, Julio Bird and Lhapka Gelu just summited on Monday. It is an amazing accomplishment that they both made it to the summit in such bad weather and difficult conditions. This is Lhapka Gelu’s 14th summit of Everest and makes Julio one of the few Americans and the only Puerto Rican to ever have summited from both the North and South sides!!! Congratulations to both of them on such an incredible achievement!

Monday, May 10, 2010

North Col Climb

North Col Climb
Finally the day has arrived where we are going to do some climbing. Not just any climbing but up a 2,000 vertical foot of snow and ice. This is really going to be a test for my fear of heights! So we headed out early that morning 8:30am and start our walk up the dirt moraine. 45 minutes into the hike we headed off of the dirt and on to the glacier which is called crampon point. Another 30 minutes across the glacier we reached jumar point which is where you drop your hiking poles, grab your ascender and fix yourself to the rope. So this is how it works: The Chinese have fixed rope the whole way to the top. The ropes run consecutively about every 50 yds or so and are held in by ice screws. As you approach the rope you will already have your harness on and your crampons affixed to your boots. You’ll have about a 5 foot rope that passes through the main support of your harness and has a carabiner on one end and the ascender on the other. You attach the carabiner to the rope and then above that you attach the ascender. Your crampons are like velcro to the ice so no worries there. As you take each step you move your ascender higher. So: step – step – ascender. The problem comes in when it starts to get steep and you rely on the rope (which is never a good thing). If the rope snaps you have nothing protecting you unless your carabiner snags. The North Col starts off at about a 60 degree angle and then varies from there up to 85% down to flat. About half way up we reached an area with a ladder crossing a crevasse. It wasn’t that long of a stretch to cross but you looked down into a gaping hole and your crampons wouldn’t fit across two rungs. Therefore you had to balance yourself on each rung holding on to the two ropes. Not very easy. Once across you reached a plateau about the size of a dining room table. As the four of us stood there you all of a sudden realized that this was nothing other than a flat topped snow cone attached to the side of the glacier with the crevasse below you. Above you was an overgrown serac. Other people were starting to come up and your only thought was to get the hell off of what we then called shmoo point. After that fun area you then moved higher to one of the more difficult areas. Here is when you have to move laterally across a swath of ice at about a 70 degree pitch. If you slip the rope will hopefully hold and save you. The alternative isn’t thinkable. Julio and I made it up over several hours, sat on the ledge and then watched everyone else come up. I’d have to say the view was magnificent and it felt great to make it there. As for my fear of heights it really didn’t come into play. I measure everything I climb by whether or not I would ski down the slope. Most of the areas weren’t that bad and I’d say there where about 4 areas that I just didn’t look. I did grab my camera and take a picture in one spot without looking and I can’t wait to see it. What goes up must come down. I’m not that experienced in going down so this was quite the adventure. As you can imagine there are only two ways, facing up or facing down. Lhapka Gelu told me it was more fun to face downwards so I said what the heck. Here, you are now entrusting the rope 100% but better to face what you are looking at than not. So I held my breath, leaned forward and moved like hell down the rope. As I reached each plateau you could hear me try to yell Yahoooooo but in the high altitude it was more of a Ya – cough, cough, cough. What took us hours to get up only took me 30 minutes to get down. Once we reached the bottom we were exhausted. Time to eat, drink and get moving again. On the way back to camp all I could think about was what a great day it was and that I finally had reached a new altitude high for me of 22,000 feet!!! More later.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

ABC Part Deux

Well, I am sure you all can tell how much affection I have for ABC. It has only grown since my last blog. I read through my last blast and realized that I didn’t really give you any visualization of this place. From about 15 minutes outside of BC you are walking on what appears to be rock and dirt but really it is the end of the glacier that begins at the foot of the North Col. As you walk the 14 mile trek in to ABC you would swear that you have just been on a dirt trail until you trip up and dig down an inch or two and you hit solid blue ice. About half way up you hit an area where you can stand next to the glacier as it towers over you about 4 stories high. As you draw closer to ABC the glacier widens and your trail narrows till all you see out from you is a sea of ice. This view goes on for miles as you turn right to head up to ABC. You are now surrounded by beautiful mountains and this Icelandic blue ice glacier. All the tents are on the right hand side of the glacier where the width is about 100 yds and stretches for about 700 yds. There isn’t anything green or any other color except dirt, rock and ice. As for animal life you would be surprised to know that there are plenty of black crows and little sparrows to eat up all the leftovers and in our dining tent we have a family of 3 mice. Not rats but mice which are much cuter and easier to live with. As for the various nationalities they are all here. I would have to say that the USA is not well represented. I would put no more than approximately 12 Americans although I have only met 8 not including ourselves. Right next to our camp we have the tres amigos Alfredo, Pedro and Stephan who are from Espana. This is great because these three guys are a hoot. Fortunately Julio speaks perfect Spanish (these guys speak Castillion) so there is quite a dialog until I try to jump in with my 3rd grade Spanish of Dos cervecas por favor. They just look at me and laugh and feel so bad for me they start to speak English. Their age ranges are 30’s, 40’s and 50’s respectively which fits in well with Julio and me. All I can say is I would love to go out in Madrid and party with these guys some day. Next to them is the Amical group of Rolf and Andreas. Rolf I believe is head of a company called Lowa and Andreas is his climbing partner. I met Rolf down at BC when he was trying to negotiate the Yak herders. He came over and we started talking about the art of the deal with them. He said he ordered and paid for 16 extra yaks in addition to the 18 he already paid for. He said look around and count how many yaks there are, 14. Then the Yak herders told him he owed an additional $3,000 or they weren’t going to move his gear. WTF. Guess who you pay for your yaks???? Yes, the Chinese. Once again skimming off the top. Talk about how to shoot yourself in the foot. Needless to say it has been very nice to have Rolf next to us because he is our weatherman. Apparently he gets his information from some high tech people out of Austria and we get it from him for free! Thank you Rolf! Just below us is the Jordan Romero team. This is the father/son team where the son is trying to be the youngest to summit all 7 summits. They are very nice and are the only people to let us use their phone and internet for free which is incredible. Thank you! The 7 summits club is down and to our left. They are a big group (27) and have quite the set up. I met a guy by the name of Jamie who is using their services and has invited me over twice. They have a communications tent. Are you kidding me? They have a bank of phones, computers and a 48 inch HD TV for watching movies. We can’t even get a generator to work let alone have a communications tent. I am very jealous and they guard it like a hawk. I tried walking in backwards but they kicked me out.  Further above us is the Chinese. This is a huge group of about 80. They have been here since the beginning of April and are the most acclimatized. They run up and down the mountain like they are at sea level. What I like is that they definitely have fun. They have a movie tent and you can hear these guys party all night long. How they do it I do not know. It is hard enough for me to go from my tent to the dining tent let alone party. I hope I reach that point. My Sherpa tells me that they aren’t really Chinese but Tibetans. Then you have the Germans who are here in force along with the Italians, Hungarians, Japanese, Irish, British, Australians, French and I’m sure some others. So each night everyone goes to sleep about a half miles walk from the base of the North Col and staring up at the summit. It really looks like you could reach out to the top but then you realize that it is 8,500 vertical feet. What is also interesting to note is you can always here the crackling of the glacier off to one side and the rock fall from the mountain on the other. Remember that we ARE sleeping on the glacier which is constantly moving and directly above our heads is a huge slope of rock. I’d have to tell you that sometimes I have slept in my boots just so I could run out of my tent if I needed to. I think it just might be a Californian thing because my Sherpa’s think I’m nuts. It keeps my feet warm too! More later.

Basecamp to IBC (interim base camp) to ABC (advanced base camp)

So off we all went for our 7 hour hike from BC to IBC gaining some 2,000 ft. in elevation. The hike was through several valleys and up and down many hills all with a slight gain. In the beginning it was neat because you were looking at Everest from the West side so you could see the North Col up along on the left with the South ridge and the glacier below it on the right. When climbing a mountain it is always nice to see as much of it as you can. As we bore to the left of Changste, history started to come into play as this was the very route Mallory and Irvine had taken on their ill fated attempts to summit Everest in the 20’s. It was rumored that each man had over 2 tons of gear and 300 people for each of their climbs. How time has changed everything. We have also heard that there is an expedition that has already been here for 5 weeks looking for Irvine’s body and camera. We spoke with them and they feel that they have already pinpointed the body and will be going to retrieve it soon. Julio and I just might be here for some amazing history! A couple of hours into the hike my stomach decided to enact revenge on me. I guess all the altitude gain had finally met its match. As I was walking all of a sudden I looked up and saw my shmoo meter. You know the one. On the left it says you’re ok for a while. In the middle it gives you 10 minutes and on the right it says find a rock now. Well the needle was bouncing off the right so I quickly looked for the biggest rock near me and took care of business. Wow that was close. Unfortunately for me it happened 5 more times on the way to IBC. I’ll spare you the details but just imagine walking on a billygoat trail with most stones the size of footballs. I’ll leave it to your imagination of the afternoon I had. By the time I reached IBC I was a little worse for the wear and was ready to hit the sack or so I thought. We had a nice spaghetti dinner and Julio and I were roommates. As we put our heads to our makeshift pillows all this clanging became clear. We were sleeping amongst the yaks who all wear bells of various tones to signify their ownership and seniority. It was so loud and funny that I broke out my video camera that couldn’t capture a picture but you get to hear all the sound and our laughter. Strangely enough it sounded much like the chime I have outside my bedroom window at home. The next morning was an adventure because I told Julio that I refused to carry my backpack any more when we have all these yak herders around us. He liked the idea too and we both agreed that we weren’t really breaking any climbing rules! So it was then that I announced to all the yak herders that we would pay to have them carry our packs. I swear I thought we were in Pamplona with the number of the kids that ran over to want to carry our packs. So for $60 we got our packs carried for the next 6 hours and we didn’t have to carry anything!!! It was also at this time I took a Diamox. I had never climbed this high without taking one (18,000ft) and we were about to climb another 2,000 ft. so I figured what the hell. An hour into what was to be a 7-8 hour hike my body started to shut down. I was drinking enough water as noticed by my urine and my head was clear and not dizzy so I wasn’t sure what the heck was going on. I walked for another ½ hour and then sat down and said I wasn’t going any further. This isn’t like me at all but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I told Lapka Gelu that I was going to go back to BC and then come back tomorrow. He came up with a better idea of getting a tent and food and we would camp out here and move to ABC tomorrow. I said great. So off he went. I figured I would just keep walking slowly with my backpack carrier and see where it would get us. During this time my shmoo meter began to arrive with the arrow pointed hard right. What the hell was going on. I surely hope that I didn’t pick up a bug because at this time Lapsong already had a sinus infection and Fanuru was not far behind him. So I continued walking till Lapka Gelu showed up with all the gear. He asked me how I was doing and I said I felt weak and had the big D. He then looked at me and said in his pretty good english “You need to use a Mars bar for diarrhea”. Now I know I am in altitude and sometimes things sound strange so I asked him “ So if I am to use the Mars bar, am I to eat it or place it?” We then both started to laugh and he said eat it because Mars bars stop diarrhea. Now we all have learned something new for the day but I’d have to tell you I was a little nervous. After the Mars bar and several other food items I felt fine. In all the confusion I forgot one of the most basic rules of climbing which is nutrition. With my stomach full and eating 200 calories every ½ hour I made it to ABC in 6 hours. Julio made it in 5. There was a point towards the end when Lapka Gelu kept telling me one more turn and we are there. This pissed me off to no end so I bet him an Everest beer that if camp wasn’t on the next corner the beer was mine. Of course this time he was right. I should have known. As we made it into ABC and walked into our dining tent and saw Fanuru, Lopsang and Julio sitting there, they all jumped up as they were surprised to see us. It was nice to have made it and cover the 4,000 vertical in 2 days. Julio was so happy to see us he demanded a man hug on the spot. More later.

Everest Base Camp – BC

I forgot to mention that during our first nights dinner I asked Lapka Gelu if it ever snows at ABC or BC. He said that it often snows at ABC but he has never seen it snow at BC. Well you know what that means. We woke up to 1 ½ inches of new snow everywhere. Now it was day two at Base camp and all of us were fighting off the dreaded headache that comes with gaining altitude. So what do we do, drink lots of water and rest in our tent. I wasn’t a big fan of this type of acclimatization as on most of my climbs we climb high and sleep low. It appears according to our schedule that we will be doing a lot of climbing high and sleeping high. Rah. So day two was spent doing much of nothing. So it boils down to talking about my favorite part of the day, eating! Breakfast is always the same which is either pancakes, an omelet, or porridge. Lunch can be considered pretty boring except they make us these sandwiches that you have never seen before but know they are going to be good. Too hard to describe but just know they are tasty. Now it’s dinner time! Tonight we had our first and hopefully not our last Yak burger. Anyone who knows me knows that I love burgers. This one was great because I have basically been protein deprived and it had a different flavor that was between buffalo and very lean beef. Fanuru added his own seasonings which made it all the better. I got extra of that one too!! Now during the night you all can only guess what happened again? Yep, it now snowed 2 inches of fresh powder. The next day (3) we knew we were going on an acclimatization hike to possibly 20k but more like 18k. As we headed out we ran into another group bound for the same hill. There were probably some 16 of them and we were to learn there are a total of 27. Not to point fingers or anything but these people couldn’t hike up their shorts let alone this straight up climb we were about to do. I asked the guide how many of the 27 were going to attempt Everest and he said all but 5. Then he looked at me and said anyone can attempt to climb the mountain. In retrospect I think that meant a lot. He knew that most of these people wouldn’t get past ABC but you could see the determination on these people’s faces. This was their dream and be damned if someone was going to take it away from them. Each day I learn something new. It is the journey! Our group made it up to 18,600, sat there the needed ½ hour to adjust to the altitude and then headed back down for lunch. The rest of the day was spent in the tent or staring at the mountain (in my case thinking about dinner). What could top a Yak burger? How about sizzling hot chicken in an amazing sauce with vegi’s. I wasn’t ever going to leave. Clearly the altitude wasn’t effecting my appetite! We had leechi nuts in syrup for dessert. I had to explain to everyone that evening that one of my favorite martini’s is leechi nuts in vodka. Boy do I wish I had some at that moment. Day 4 was spent resting and packing up for the move the next day. I meandered over to a spot that really tugs at the heart. There at base camp is a location with many of the tombstones of people who have died. You then turn around a get a full view of the mountain. It was very sad to see all the people who have passed away making this very same climb. It did bring tears to my eyes knowing that these lives have been taken away and they won’t be seeing their families any longer. I had to really sit there long and hard to reason why I am making this very same climb. What makes me different? Will I be like them? What am I doing differently? To me this was sort of a right of passage. I don’t think it is responsible to move forward till you pay your respects to the people who climbed and lost their lives before you. Now, having done so, I felt more comfortable moving on up to ABC tomorrow. For our last night’s dinner at BC we had Sherpa’s stew. This is just like shepard’s pie except we are with Sherpa’s so it is Sherpa’s stew. It just doesn’t have the crust on top. For dessert Fanuru out did himself. He made a banana tart with the top layer completely braided. How does one get the flour to cook let alone rise at 16,000 feet. It was cooked perfectly. No snow tonight but there wasn’t any shortage of wind. This brings me to one of the reasons I am here. After dinner I walked back to my tent and just stared at the sky. Fortunately it was a clear night and you could see forever. Literally. The sky was filled with so many stars you couldn’t get any more in there. You could see the Milky Way galaxy along with all the constellations. There were tons of clusters along with moving satellites and shooting stars. We had it all to ourselves! In a way, it really lets you know how small you really are when compared to the rest of the universe. We hear a lot that there is more wind on the North side as well as being colder and so far the mountain hasn’t disappointed, unfortunately. The next day was moving day along with our Psuja and dealing with the Yak herder’s. We woke up a tad earlier because I think everyone gets excited about making a change and seeing the new terrain. Unfortunately for Hoshino the change in terrain wasn’t what he was looking for. Apparently he had been dealing with some immense pain in his back molar tooth but just wasn’t telling anyone. We found a dentist who was nice enough to come over and check out his tooth. It wasn’t that scientific. He grabbed one of our spoons and hit his tooth. Hoshino’s reaction was right along with a roar out of the lion king. Just what the Doctor thought, the tooth was badly infected and had to be pulled. It had decayed to the point that there was already a hole in the side of the tooth. Hoshino’s next stop would be Kathmandu and the dentist’s chair. It was sad to see him go as he brought a lot of great spirit to our team. He did get to stay to be part of our psuja! Right then our holy Lama road up on his motorcycle for our ceremony. Everyone started running around getting our prayer flags, making these domes out of barley and setting up the temple. Right where we were staying someone had already erected a stone temple so we just got to use that one. About a half hour later we were ready to get the ceremony started. We lit the tons of incense, the Lama started his chants and all the Sherpa’s started to spread out the flags from the top of the temple. Right in the middle of it all it sounded like Hoshino’s cell phone started to ring, and Hoshino was sitting next to the Lama. Nope, it was the Lama himself. We all laughed so hard it even made the Lama smile. Now back to the ceremony. As the smoke continued to billow over into our faces we had the final parts of throwing grain onto the temple, chanting, drinking some of the holy water and pouring it on ourselves. Then as the finale ritual we grabbed some white looking flour substance and wiped in on each other’s chin. This is all for good spirits and luck. It was a unique experience and glad that it was over as Julio and I looked like chimney sweeps from all the smoke hitting us. As we stood up we were all greeted with cheers and yelled Chomolungma! Then the beers and celebration started. It was important to celebrate the ceremony and eat some of the food that had been blessed by the Lama. Strangely enough most of it was candy. I went for the bread. Just like perfect timing the Yak herders arrived. Now began the process of weighing all the cargo going up to ABC and back. This was a unique process where they put the bag on one end of a long stick and a weight of dubious amount on the other. The yak herders all yell and the weight has been measured. Of course it is nowhere near what the actual weight is but how are you going to argue. Then they write some numbers on their arms, start to yell at you about their poor Yak’s that can’t carry anything because it is Spring time and you owe them $3,000. I’m just glad that Julio and I paid all up front because we would have been chewed up by these guys. None of them have taken a shower this century and quite frankly smell worse than the yaks. I think it is part of their negotiation tactics. So it was up to Geljen to worry about his margins for the trip. After it was all worked out the yak herders had the gear on their yaks in 15 minutes and on their way. Now it was time to say goodbye to Hoshino and Geljen and for us to start towards Intermediate base camp IBC. FYI, the average temperature at BC was 10 degrees. Add in the heavy winds and it is enough to chill anyone to the bone. More later.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Rants and Raves

I would have to give Verizon a failing grade as before I left I called their global phone unit and talked to them about using my Blackberry phone overseas. Everyone said my phone would work fine in Thailand and Nepal but that there wouldn’t be any coverage in Tibet. I also asked them to not shut off my phone but to only have basic service and voicemail. I was also supposed to be able to replace the sim card in my phone so that I could have cheaper rates to call from Nepal while I am there. Well, my phone didn’t work in Thailand or Nepal. I tried following the instructions for replacing the sim card and it didn’t work. I used several different sim cards to no avail. I had a lump of coal on my hands so I left it in Kathmandu. Then we enter into Tibet and I see this guy talking on his blackberry. I ask him who he uses and he said Verizon. He had a package for $70 and had unlimited data. He said the same thing that the phone didn’t work in Thailand or Nepal but that when he crossed the Tibet border his phone went crazy and started to download all his email and text messages. The picture you see on the blog was from his phone that he emailed to Sue. I then ran into a German guy who had a T-Mobile phone that worked as well. So right now I don’t have my phone and the message says that it is disconnected. Verizon, you are on my Sh-t list.
I haven’t shaved since I left California on March 26th. I now have a beard, yes I know it is hard to believe, that is brown, grey and my Irish red. I’m not caring for it too much but I don’t plan to shave till I get back so my brothers kids can shave my beard again!
Thuraya Sat phones. The damn phone weighs next to nothing, always give you a connection and cost only 70 cents per minute or less to call anywhere you want to in the world. If anyone plans to travel abroad do not get an Iridium phone. Get the Thuraya because the satellites are always stationary so you never drop a call and can get service in valleys like the one I am in.
Today I exchanged $260 for 18,200 Rupees. Somehow that just makes me feel like I am wealthier. 
We have upgraded Fanuru from Cook to Chef. He is so damn good. I am definitely fattening up before we get to ABC.
This computer is set up for Skype video so I am hoping it will work through the sat phone. We won’t know till we get to ABC. Now that would be cool.

Tingri to Basecamp Everest

The next morning it was the standard breakfast and out by 9am. Goodbye Tingri and hello Everest. The ride over wasn’t so smooth. We immediately turned off of the paved road and on to dirt. So the bumpy ride began. Not too bad because we were excited about where we were going and what we were about to see. All of a sudden Hoshino yelled “Geljen, the cranes, the cranes”. Add in a Japanese accent and picture a little guy named Tatoo and Julio and I started to burst out laughing. Of course Hoshino had no idea what we were laughing about. Poor guy. What Hoshino was pointing out to all of us was the Blacked Necked Crane which there are only 2,000-3,000 left in the world. These birds have an annual migration from India to Tibet which means flying over the Himalayas. No other bird in the world is known to do so. We snapped a dozen pictures and a little video and were on our way. As we drove towards the mountain we were gaining altitude at a quick pace. Tingri was 14,000 feet high and basecamp is 16,300. The terrain was incredible. We were the only cars driving across this large plateau towards the mountains weaving our way in and out of the valleys. At one pinnacle we reached 17,000 feet and stopped to take pictures. You could see for miles in every direction with the mountains only getting bigger and bigger behind each range. Truly a spectacle. What you should also know is that since we crossed the border from Nepal to Tibet there hasn’t been a single tree or shrub or piece of green. It’s all brown desert. Now it was the last two corners and we were to be there. We joined into another road which brought us to our first of 3 checkpoints. Why the Chinese feel the need to have 3 checkpoints is beyond me. You can almost see each one from the other. As we rounded the final corner Everest revealed herself to us. We were now only 14 miles from Advanced basecamp and the North Col so the mountain looked huge. My immediate reaction was basically, “Oh Sh-T” and “Where’s my Mommy?” The mountain is immense and vertical. We could only see the top half but that would be enough to scare any normal human being. There weren’t any clouds and you could see that the wind was blowing up top. Right away the discussion began Where are the three steps?,Is that the location of camp 3? Is that the Messner colour? Wow, that summit ridge looks very steep. Not like in the pictures. I have felt this way before. When our plane landed on the glacier for the Denali base camp you looked up and saw the mountain. It too looked huge and I wondered how in the heck I was going to get from base camp to the summit. Now, in front of me, stood even a bigger challenge but one that I sure hope I can achieve. We made it through the final check point and then all the tents started to appear. All the big groups were already here. Asian Trekking, 7 summits club, Amical, Adventure Peaks, Himalayan ecstasy and of course the Chinese group. Right now it looks like there will be roughly 140 to 180 climbers but I won’t really know till I get to ABC. Then, far off in the left corner you could see our truck that Lopsang had taken up the day before. He and Fanuru (the cook) had already set up the entire camp. This is quite the endeavor as they had to set up all the tents (one for each person), the cooking tent, the dining tent, the bathroom tent alias (the shmoo tent named by my first, favorite and unfortunately now past away guide Bruce whom I met on Aconcagua(part sh-t and part poo and you get shmoo) and the shower tent. All in one day under high altitude. It was a pleasant sight to know that we didn’t have to do anything! Once we arrived we gathered all our gear and put it in our tent. Our new homes for the next 5 days! Then Geljen called for us to come to the dining tent. We had to right away start to drink the hot tea and eat some garlic soup. Remember earlier when Lapka Gelu stood over and made me eat the soup in the Khumbu Valley. Same here. He stood over all of us and began to explain all the benefits of garlic and acclimatization. From then on we were to learn that everything we are going to eat will be accompanied by garlic. I know this must make my Italian wife very happy! So after hot tea and soup it was back to our tents to organize all our stuff. Better yet, cram a little here and cram a little there and leave room in the middle to sleep. It was at this point you started to feel the 16,300 feet of altitude. It was hard to catch your breath. I would lay down for a while then start to cram my stuff into more places. Some of it brought back memories of past climbs only we had two to a tent and much more cramming. Then we heard from Geljen again to come back to the dining tent for lunch. It was a nice diet of spam and cheese. Now some of you might not like spam but I really do, so this made me excited to see what I call real food. They also had some freshly made bread to go with it. My food was gone in a second and Julio doesn’t like spam so I got his! Little did I know that Geljen makes the meals so that you can eat as much as you want. So I think I might have eaten a full can. Yum. Then it was time to rest and stare at the mountain. Julio brought out his spotting telescope so that we could pinpoint all the steps and trails. It made my palms sweat looking at the summit ridge through the scope. It was so high up there and so steep. I do not think there is a way to get over looking at an 8,000 foot drop. Even worse, that I was trying to put myself in a position to be standing there in the next month. Enough. Back to my tent. Before I knew it Geljen was calling us back to the dining tent for dinner. What came out was incredible. Fanuru put together a mixed plate of an Indian curry dish with pork and a green pepper dish with chicken over rice. The presentation was right out of a SF restaurant. The sauces he used danced on my palate. Again it was all gone in 2 seconds (which is a good sign in altitude). Then Lopsang asked if I wanted more. Hell yes. This was the best food I had since I landed in Kathmandu. Then we had poached peaches for dessert. Then we filled up our water bottles, drank some more tea and headed back to the tents. We were sticking to our schedule of rising with the sun and sleeping when it goes down. My first nights sleep was hell. You can’t call it sleep if you don’t get any. I was up going to the bathroom or tossing and turning because the altitude was working on me. I believe all in toll I got 3 hours. That next morning the AMS was working on me big time. How can I explain to you what it feels like. Imagine your worst hangover and everything around you makes you feel dizzy. You have a sickening feeling in your stomach that won’t go away unless you drink or eat something of which you know will make you throw up. If you sit there in misery and don’t eat or drink you start to feel a jackhammer hit you in the back of your head. At this point you better eat or drink something because if you don’t the headache moves to the front of your head and the back of your eyes. If you are still stupid enough to not have done something about your condition you begin to throw up and your body turns to jelly. At this point there is no turning back and your climb is done so the point is to not let it develop that far. So as you can imagine, I was drinking what water I could get down. This entire climb is about how your body adjusts to the altitude. There is not one person on the mountain whom will not be affected by AMS. It is just whether you can deal with it or not. We will be here at BC for 5 days just so we can deal with the altitude. Then we will move to Advanced Base Camp (ABC) 21,000 ft and deal with the effects of AMS all over again. It is hell on wheels. Don’t ask me why I do it during a climb because many expletives will come out. After the climb all is forgotten for some reason. That is the only way you come back. If someone were to video the rest days at camps and put it on their website not a single person would ever go climbing. As my friend Megan Delahanty said to me, “When I climb, I hate going up and I love coming down”. I don’t think it can be said any other way! More later.

Nyalam to Tingri

I got a bunch of Bill's blogs from each day of his trip though China and then to ABC. I will post each one seperately in a series. Oh and I did not edit! Thanks Susan Fisher

Nyalam to Tingri
So we were up early to catch breakfast and leave by 9am. This was to be another 3 ½ hour car ride on a paved road. According to Julio these roads weren’t paved back in 2007 so it is really nice to have a smooth ride! To give you an idea, it used to take 3 days to go from Zhang Mu to Lhasa and now it is only 8 hours. All this in the last 3 years. What was impressive about the ride today was getting to see the Tibetan plateau. The expansiveness of the area was incredible. As we drove down the road we would have 10-20 miles on either side of the car and then it would rise up several thousand feet. The entire area is flat till it reaches the mountains. No boulders can be seen anywhere. It’s like one big carpet. Just tiny little pebbles as the glaciers that came through thousands of years ago grounded everything to a pulp. Then remember that you are 14,000 feet high! I do not know of anywhere else in the world that is like this place this high up. So for 3 ½ hours I became picture happy taking in all the landscape had to offer. By lunchtime we reached Tingri. Not much to say here except it is a small town with only one main road and lots of wandering dogs and yaks. We pulled into our motel (and I am being really nice here) and started to unload our car. The manager came out and said that the newer part of the hotel was full and that we had to stay in the older part of the motel. So we picked up our things and went around the corner. So what, pray tell, could be the difference between the old and the new rooms??? The older rooms only have half of the dirt floor covered where the new room’s floors are completely covered. Nice! I was always told that Tingri was a dump and now I have proof. We grabbed our gear and threw it into the rooms and headed to lunch. Yup, the same old thing. After lunch we asked Geljen what else we could do and he said rest. I am not one to sit down quite yet so I decided to stroll down mainstreet. I was looking for anything that could resemble an internet café or an international telephone. I tried walking into several places asking for a phone and was quickly sent on my way. Apparently the standard answer was for them to point next door just so they could get me out of their shop. See, even though I am in Tibet and the spoken language is Tibetan, the Chinese run everything and refuse to speak anything other than Chinese. Even the signs are in Chinese. So even our guide, who speaks Tibetan, gets frustrated because the Chinese just do not want to help. So it was back to the porch at the hotel where we all sat for the next 6 hours (waiting for dinner) trying to figure a way out of Tingri (we were going to be there for 2 days). Dinner was great. What is nice is that the after dinner discussions usually last as long as the dinners themselves. Stories get passed around. We talk about our futures, the climb or the next days events. More importantly, we all are laughing hysterically together at some point in the evening. We all finished our Lhasa beers and it was off to bed. Or so we thought. All night long the dogs of the town were up barking and fighting and driving off the yaks. If that wasn’t bad enough, every truck and car that passed by would sit on their horn till they made it through town. Add this all up and Tingri is on my top 10 favorite places never to visit again! The next morning I talked with the motel owners son to try and find out if there was an international phone anywhere. He was much nicer than the owner and actually spoke fairly good English. He said he thought he knew of a phone and that we should walk around. Each place we went to was either closed or their power was out so the phone wouldn’t work. We found one place but it wouldn’t open till the next morning assuming the power was on. Finally, we found one store that had a phone and it worked! The only thing was the owner of the store knew we were from out of town so instead of charging us the normal 2.6 yuan per minute he said 8 yuan. I had my new friend try to negotiate with the owner and he said that the owner said for me to pay 8 yuan or go somewhere else. Oh how I love the Chinese. So I made my call, paid the 8 yuan per minute and showed him I thought he was #1 with a nice hand gesture. So it was back to the motel for more hours of sitting. All of a sudden Julio remembered that someone had told him there was supposed to be hot springs nearby Tingri. We asked the motel owners son and sure enough the springs were a 5 minute car ride down the road. Once Hoshino found out that there were hot springs he said he would pay whatever it costs for us to go. The man likes his bath house. Since the Chinese control everything, including our transportation, we now had to negotiate the cost of driving down the street and back. For what was not more than 5 miles Hoshino ponied up $40. Highway robbery but welcome to the Chinese. Mind you, our room is $8 a night with food. It was fantastic. You’ve never seen 5 guys so happy to be in a tub of hot water and away from Tingri. We sat there for 2 hours till our bodies turned into prunes. Hoshino was great. He started to come out with all these stories about Tokyo, going to dinner, sake and Geisha’s. Needless to say it was a boy’s day out and well needed. When we got back to Tingri, Geljen felt we all needed beers after such a good day so it was off to one of the Tibetan tea houses. There is such a difference between the Tibetan’s and the Chinese. The couple offered us tea but we all went straight for the Lhasa beers. We all sat there till it was dinner time having realized that we successfully bypassed another day in Tingri!!! The next day we were finally going to be off to the basecamp of Everest!

Monday, April 26, 2010


Hey all-
Bill & Team are safe. Most teams headed up to the North Col today, but Bill and Julio had decided not to, because they felt bad weather was rolling in. Well unfortnunately it did, and Everest took it's first life. Bill didn't know much of the details and it was not anyone he knew, including Jordan and team. I feel fortunate it wasn't Bill's team, but sad for the family and friends of that person. Bill said he is back at Base Camp and will be there for the next four days. (I am not quite sure I understand that). Please keep the comments coming,because Bill hopes to have the sim card in the next few days. Thanks
Susan Fisher


As I understand from what I can gather via news reports, the weather is pretty bad on the North Side right now. When Bill called early this morning, I could hear the winds howling through the phone. I believe that is why they are all back down at Base Camp. According to other news reports it seems that is where most teams are. I don't know if this will interrupt his summit bid or not. As for the climbers, one person has died, and two others were injured. Sad, sad news. Bill's blog was also featured as the "blog of the day" on Alan Arnette's website. Check it out
Susan Fisher

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jordan Romero & an update from Bill..finally!!!!

Ok so I thought this was interesting. I got an email from Team Jordan this morning, it seems Bill met them at ABC. The funny thing though, when I asked Bill if he had met Jordan Romero the other night he said "Who the hell is Jordan Romero?". I told him, glad I did, because that team has much better access to internet. Well Bill met them, and it was nice of them to tell me he is doing well. Team Jordan said they sent pictures, instead they sent Bill's latest blog which is more interesting. Here it is, posted as I got it.

So I had made it!!!!!!!!! As I stand here staring at the North Col and the summit of Everest the realization of being here hit a whole new level. So did the realization that this is one of the worst places to try and live 20,500 feet. Non pressurized aircraft aren’t allowed to fly this high and we are living here. Everyone I talked to hates ABC and I was so looking forward to being here. Little did I know. I can’t tell you what I had for the first nights dinner or any dinner after that. Every meal starts with soup and ends with mangos. My brain kept telling my stomach it was hungry but after the first two bites I just didn’t want to eat anything. Now you know this clearly isn’t my type of place. For the first 5 days it snowed along with high winds. My blog is short here because my mind isn’t functioning the same. We also have had some mishaps. Both of our generators have broken so we don’t have any power. Apparently we have the wrong Sim card for our phone so we can’t make any calls or go on the internet. We have made several friends here at camp so we have been able to broker some power and phone time. I say broker because at 20,500 feet nothing comes cheap. Like $6 a minute kind of stuff. What is nice is that I am not sick or have a cough. Everyone here is sick with some kind of sinus infection. At night you can always tell the new crews coming in because there is usually someone who is throwing up due to the altitude. There is an entire chorus of coughs around me all night long. As for the temperature, it hovers around zero to 5 degrees till the sun comes up. The winds bring it well below zero. We have had on and off winds in the 20-50mph range each day. Yes it sucks here but you are here for one purpose only and that is to acclimatize so you can get to higher levels. So I write to you as I am freezing my ass off, missing everyone from home especially my wife and wondering why the hell I am here. I told you it isn’t any fun on the way up. So where are we now on our schedule. We have been here for 5 crappy days and will be leaving to climb the North Col tomorrow. It will be nice to get off of my arse and do something although I have no energy to do anything. I forgot to mention the headaches that come and go every day. Can someone ship me a gun please. I have told you all that I believe climbing is 80% mental and 20% physical. Well I am being taught first hand the mental side of Everest is brutal. I already hate being here and we haven’t even stepped on the damn mountain. Even worse, what stands in front of me is 8,500 vertical feet of snow, rock and ice. I’ll write something a little more pleasant next time. More later.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

North Col

Heard from Bill Thursday night, and he was doing well, but feeling the cold. His nice new friends "The Spaniards" had loaned him a satellite phone to talk to me. We had a bit more time on the phone this go around, which was fantastic. Good news, Lhapka Ghelu got their generator working well enough so that they have light at night. They still won't have access to their own satellite phone for at least another day or so. Bill says he has been reading Sherlock Holmes on the Kindle (thanks to my sister-in-law!) each night, tentatively sticking out one hand to move the screen and shivering from just having that hand exposed. Bill said the team trekked up to the North Col and were going to have two days of rest at ABC before settling in for an overnight stay at Camp 1. Since it is Saturday, they should be heading up there over the next couple of hours. Bill said they plan to trek up to Camp 2 next week, and both he and Julio are doing well on the climb. The Japanese climber went back to Base Camp and took his sherpa with him, so the team is now Bill, Julio and their two Sherpas. I told him again about all of the well-wishes. Hopefully soon, Bill will be able to get online and give his own updates.
Susan Fisher

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

GPS Location

From Julio-This is the latest GPS location.

Click the link below to see where I am located.,86.93123&ll=28.02392,86.93123&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Monday, April 19, 2010

Julio's Blog

I just got the blog site address for Bill's teammate Julio. It is

There is a GPS link from a few days ago, and some additional information regarding their progress and climb, from Julio's wife, Maribel. Bill and I only talked for 3 minutes last night, since it is so expensive to make these calls. I forgot to add that he sounded well, and was very excited to move on to the North Col. I'll try to get as much information in the future as possible, but I think the best policy is to read both blogs that way you'll have information from me and Maribel.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Advanced Base Camp

Just heard from Bill, although it was a very quick call since he was on a borrowed satellite phone. They are at Advanced Base Camp, and will be trekking to the North Col in the next two days. Unfortunately, their generator blew, and they won't have any access to any means of communication, or Internet. I'll continue to update the blog as I hear from Bill each time.
Susan Fisher

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Base Camp

Bill and Team have been at Base Camp for the past four days. They will be heading to Interim camp tomorrow. He sounds good, and has had some pretty bad headaches, but is finally getting used to the high altitude. He said his appetite hasn't altered a bit, which is not much of a surprise. If you know Bill, he likes to eat. He's says the best thing about base camp is their fantastic chef, who has been feeding them great food. Bill hopes to have more access to the internet via the satellite phone once he is at Advanced Base Camp (ABC). He had to borrow a Satellite phone in order to call me tonight. The team plans to move to ABC by April 25th, and we can look forward again to Bill's insight about life on Everest. Bill's teammate, Julio, has a GPS tracker, which he will be setting up. As soon as he does that, we will be able to follow Bill and Julio's progress up the mountain via an internet link. I read all of your comments to Bill tonight and he is thankful for them all. The remarks and well wishes keep him motivated, so please keep them coming. Oh and I didn't dare tell him about the Sharks loss tonight! Thanks all for following his progress ...Susan Fisher

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just some thoughts

There are a couple of thoughts and perceptions that have come up over the past 2 weeks that I thought I might share. Kathmandu, much to my surprise, is inundated by smog. It is so thick it is hard to breath. Most people wear masks to breath. It is worse than any other city I have ever been to. It is very unfortunate. Both Julio and I have started to get what we call the Kathmandu hack. Maybe that is why it brings me to my second point. Everyone here spits. It is one thing to see a man spit but another one to see a woman nail one into the street. So sexy! The dust is so bad that all the vendors throw water out onto the street to keep it down for fear of getting it on their merchandise. For example, I bought a pair of pants, wore them on the hike in the Khumbu valley, got them washed and when they came back they were a different color. I thought they were grey but they were really charcoal. They came back better than when I bought them! The religions by popularity run Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, other. The street work crews are just like Cal Trans but worse. Two people are working with 20 people watching. Yaks get right of way over any vehicle. You really can put 5 people on a motorbike made for 2 and just because you filled all the seats on the bus doesn't mean that you can't sit on the roof! There are an extra 25 people up there! The time change in Nepal is 12 hours, 45 minutes ahead of SF. Since when did time changes occur as part of an hour? Here in Tibet the kids still have slits in the back of their pants so all they have to do to go to the bathroom is squat. The Chinese are much better at building roads. I prefer Chinese food to Nepalese food even if it is the same damn thing every meal. As I crossed the Tibetan border a Chinese guy walked by me and bumped into me. I just won't go there. The landscapes in both countries are just amazing. The mountains are so steep with waterfalls all over the place. I can see why people would believe they have reached Shangri-La! Oh, it's cold and I believe it is going to get much colder. Yikes!

Into China

The next morning was a mad scramble because we were leaving early from the Yak & Yeti to head into Tibet and I didn't have any of my stuff organized. Surprise! So I basically stuffed everything I had into my two duffel bags and ran out the door. This was an intense moment because we were finally headed towards the base camp on the North side of Everest (although it will take us 6 days to get there by driving. We hit the usual traffic on the way out of Kathmandu but we had planned for that. Two and half hours later we hit the border town between Nepal and Tibet. For the most part this was a major traffic jam but it dispersed after about 45 minutes. We couldn't take our cars across the border so we paid some helpers to lug our gear to customs. Now it was our turn to cross the "Friendship Bridge" and enter into Tibet. What a misnomer. It all sounds pretty nice except the Chinese are a-holes. I tried taking pictures of the event and was mobbed by security. They made me go through my pictures and delete any picture of the bridge and crossing. As we went through customs they searched everything and were at liberty to take what they wanted. They tried to take Julio's spotting scope by calling it a gun and they tried to take my magazines. The customs Agent also wanted to see every picture on my camera to make sure the Dalai Lama wasn't on there. After the first 100 they finally told me to move on. It's all about control and power and they really like to try and show it. No I didn't do anything stupid. There is more that I would like to talk about but I can't since I am still here. When all of us were finally cleared through customs you get to walk out to this deck and get to see what the Chinese are famous for, garbage. Any box, wrapping or piece of paper had been thoughtfully thrown over the side and down the bank to the river. Such a beautiful sight. It's an enormous difference from the Nepalese who view nature as part of themselves and don't pollute like this. So now we were met by our Chinese drivers from the CMTA (Chinese Mountaineering & Trekking Assoc.) in a set of Land Rovers! It was nice except these cars each were rounding 200k in miles with transmissions that made me wonder if we were going to get up the hill. Our driver was kind of cool when we got into the car he put on some Chinese rap (if you can imagine). Either way, it was a decent beat to listen to. We were now meandering our way up the hill to a town called ZhangMu. This town is a good size and is built completely into the hillside. The drive up made me a bit nervous because we were cliff side the whole way up. The driver liked to hit the gas around the corners. I kept one hand on the seat in front of me to brace myself and the other on the door handle just in case I had to make a jump for it. Fortunately we made it there without any incidents. What you need to know is that the roads here are only 1 1/2 car lengths wide and there are a lot of trucks and parked cars along the way. It was pretty slow moving. We checked into the hotel which wasn't as bad as I had expected. We actually had a bathroom in our room! The toilet seat was disconnected and laying against the wall which was kind of funny. Julio and I were just glad we had a bathroom with a seat! Most places are just a hole in the ground. Now it was dinner time! A change of diet! The food was great. I'd have to say the rule of thumb out here is don't ask, don't tell and don't look and hope you don't get sick. It is tough when you look outside and see all the garbage and know that the water is polluted along with what they grow their vegetables in and that is what you are eating and drinking. But hey, the food tasted great and we aren't sick yet!!! I forgot to mention that we had lunch at the border town. This was a new experience because when I walked into this hole in the wall place and saw the food on the counter I promised myself I wouldn't eat it. Who knows how long it has been sitting there and what the hell it was. Plus, they only had 1 item to choose from. I always love mystery food. Next thing I know I was eating these whole fried fish, heads and all. I'd have to say they tasted like crunchy fish sticks but I didn't go back for seconds. I caught Julio feeding his to the cat and dog. They must have seen tourists like us coming a mile away. So let me get back to dinner and the new foods we tried. One of the best dishes was this spicy tofu dish. I'm not a tofu guy but this stuff was really good. All the other dishes had a spicy sauce with vegetables. Two dishes had what might be misconstrued as small morsels of pork but it was debatable. I didn't care, as it was filling and tasty. After a decent nights sleep, we had to leave early again as we heard the Chinese were going to shut down the road to do some work. What I forgot to tell you was that when we crossed the border into Tibet we instantly gained 2 hours and 15 minutes so getting up this time was a little more difficult. Now we were off to the next town called Nyalam. What is important to know at this point is that when Julio came through here 3 years ago this road was dirt and rocks. Now, almost all of it has been paved! This dramatically quickened our travel time. Quite often you hear the main complaint of coming to the North side is the hellish road to get there but so far it has been really good. As we drove into Nyalam, you notice that it is a small town with not much to it. There are 40 buildings that line two main streets and I would put the population here at approx. 400-600 people. The usual shops were present along with the various hotels. The Chinese separated us from our Sherpa's as the Chinese treat them differently. I won't elaborate because I am here on a restricted computer. We were put into a brand new hotel just down the way. The rooms were nice with the bathroom at the end of the hall. We are now at 12,000 feet and no the rooms don't have any heat. The highlight of the day was when Julio had mentioned he had been here before and knew of a place for us to get a hot shower!!! Not a trickle of water that would send us into hypothermia like the one we took in the Khumbu Valley. No, real hot water, what a treat! We all headed to lunch and surprise, it was the same as last nights dinner! No big deal as it was good food and the rice was going to help my stomach. The afternoon was spent here at the internet room. There are 10 computer terminals for use that look turn of the century but are effective. Somewhere they have to have a huge server because the kids come in here to watch movies and there aren't any delays. What you do find out is that I can't access my blog, facebook, twitter, youtube, hulu or any American tv shows. It took me 30 minutes to get to yahoo finance and that is only because I accessed it through the French website and then converted it to English. There are a ton of controls on this pc. So after some good internet hacking it was time for dinner. This dinner was different than the others as we are now starting to run into other teams that are on their way to Everest base camp or Cho Oyu. The topic of discussion turned towards the climb and summit day and its difficulties. Strangely enough the subject of all the dead bodies on Everest came up. Then Lapka Gelu told us this story about how Geljen used up all his oxygen to get a running start to jump over the legs of what has now become known as the "guy in the green suit" whose body is on the main pathway to the summit. For some reason we all started laughing and then Julio cracked a joke and then I cracked a joke and before we all knew it we were laughing hysterically at something that wasn't funny which only made it funnier. Maybe it's the altitude but it is one of those moments that you just have to be there to understand. Sorry if it offends anyone but death is very much a factor in climbing this mountain and this was our way of trying to alleviate the situation. What I have noticed is that our team is really starting to mold together. Lapka Gelu and Geljen are fantastic guides and leaders and we have found out that they can dish it out just like the rest of us. Lopsang smiles and laughs along with everyone as his English is a little more limited. Julio is definitely taking pole position as he usually is the first one out on trail and the strongest of us climbers. Hoshino has had a little trouble with the altitude over the last 2 days but we are hoping he will bounce back soon. Even though he doesn't speak any English he tells us jokes in a manner that just makes us all laugh. We are glad to have him along with us and are greatful for his experience. Something to know, Geljen speaks 5 languages fluently including Japanese. What I am trying to say is that I am not just climbing a mountain but on a journey. The relationships and experiences I am building are going to last a lifetime. Our team of 6 friends will always be in contact in the future because the bonds you build with someone while going through these types of events are life long and special. It doesn't always happen this way. A trip like this can also make enemies but that is definitely not our case. We have 6 very special people that each in their own way are contributing to the greater of the good. I am very lucky to be here and part of this team! Tomorrow we leave for Tingri. There is not supposed to be any access to the internet or phones in the town. If there is, I will update as usual but if there isn't it will be some time before I am able to make my next update. It is now time for dinner which I am sure will be the same as lunch! I wish you all the best, Bill

Thursday, April 8, 2010


After arriving into Kathmandu from the flight from Lukla we headed back across town to the Yak and Yeti hotel. It was really nice to get back to the hotel as I had not brought any other clothes on the Khumbu valley trip with me. Yes, this made me rather ripe at this point. I threw out my socks and underwear and had my shirt and pants cleaned. I think I stayed in the shower for about a 1/2 hour scrubbing myself clean. Then it was off for Julio and me to go on another round of shopping. While I was at Phakding I met an American by the name of Jamie. He had already been to the North side a couple of years ago and was going back again this year with the Russians. (He has been living in Russia for the last 3 years and speaks perfect Russian) I asked him for some advice on what to bring to base camp. He said to bring everything. This is contrary to my past climbs where weight had to be watched at all costs. He said the cost of an extra yak verses your comfort is nothing. I agreed. So off to shopping we went. When we got back to the hotel it was dinner time which was going to be special because our Japanese climber had just flown in and we were going to finally meet him. When we all sat down, Geljen had beer served to everyone, we raised our glasses and toasted to six friends and a successful climb. The team was finally together! Our newest member was Hoshino (I can't spell his name or anything else for that matter) was immediately telling jokes and making everyone laugh. We then found out that he has been coming to the Himalayas twice a year for the last 20 years. It was at this time that I began to look around the table for the weak link. Not seeing any I quickly surmised it was me. Hoshino might be 70 but he looked 60 and in shape. Here I thought I might have caught a break and a guaranteed slow pace. Not a chance. Between Julio and Hoshino I think they will be having a race to see who gets to the North Col first. Oh well. The next day was spent on a sight seeing tour. I believe we would have seen much more of the city except that the Maoists were striking and blocking all the streets. Therefore we were only able to see 2 temples, one Hindu and one Buddhist. It was Geljen's son who gave me the tour. His English was perfect which was nice and amazing in its own right since most kids here don't get school past the 4th grade. First stop was the Hindu temple. As we walked towards the temple my guide asked if I could smell the incense. I remarked yes but that it wasn't very good. He said it was because it wasn't incense but burning bodies. That pretty much stopped me in my tracks. I had him explain to me what the heck was going on before I took another step. He said it was the Hindu way to burn the body after death. That the spirit had moved on and that the body should be burned. He also said there was another process but it is too gross to repeat. So I tentatively moved forward as the smoke got thicker and stinkier. I figured if I have to face dead bodies on Everest I might as well get a head start! I took some less than Ann Landers kind of shots until my guide pointed out the head of one guy. That was enough for me. We then tried to get into the temple but were blocked by the guards because I wasn't Hindu. I told them I was but that didn't go over to well. Just outside the temple were several Hindu Priests. I asked my guide if one of the Priests could bless my wife and me for having children and a safe climb. He said no problem. It was pretty cool. I got a red dot on my forehead along with a band around my wrist that is to stay there till it falls off. Once it falls off I am to tie it to something that goes into the ground. The Priest then asked for Sue and my names and then said they will be in his heart till the children are born and went into a long chant. I really hope it works! Now we were back in the car heading over to the Buddhist temple. You all know the one that you see in every picture of Kathmandu. It symbolizes the city. Standing there in front of the temple I couldn't stop staring at it (because the eyes were staring back at me). It was another one of those ah ha moments where you realize you are there in Kathmandu and going on a journey to Everest. As we walked around the temple to find the entrance (clockwise) and I was spinning all the prayer wheels, just a certain level of emotion starts to overwhelm you. As a climber you have seen this time and time again and now it was my turn. Many questions immediately pop into my head like "Am I worthy of being here?" "Am I really here?" "What does it mean to be here?" "I sure hope this brings me good luck!" As we walked into the entrance there was a massive prayer wheel off to the left so we had to go in there. Little did I know, inside by the wheels were some Monks who were midgets offering prayers. I asked my guide if I could get a prayer for having children and a safe climb. He said absolutely. 20 Rupees later I was being doused by holy water and blessed for the climb. I got to light a candle for the children! So there you have it. I have Hindu, Buddhist and Catholic priests all praying for Sue and me to have children and wishing me a safe climb!!! So on the way back to the hotel we hit another Maoist blockade. These people really disrupt the city in many ways. Once we got back to the hotel we all met up again to have a meeting with a guy by the name of Ted. He owns and operates Top Out oxygen masks. He was there to show us all the ins and outs of the masks and to make sure we didn't have any problems on the mountains. It was really nice to add the extra confidence to the climb. Once that was over Julio and I began to talk about what we wanted to do for our last dinner. He knew an Indian restaurant down the way that had great food. Nice. We called it the last great supper. We ate till we couldn't fit any more into our bellies and rolled out of the restaurant. It was perfect! More Later

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Khumbu Valley II

We all just sat there staring at the mountains, running through each of their names and marveling at their beauty. Then the cold and AMS settled in and it was time for the tea house warmth! I walked into the main restaurant, plopped myself down next to the wood burning range and sat there with a daze on my face. I was dizzy, tired, had a headache and wanted to puke. Sweet combo. After several dialogs btw Julio and Lapka Gelu I found it was time to take a diamox, an aspirin, drink a liter of water and go to bed. Next thing I woke up an hour later with Lapka Gelu standing over me telling me to eat the garlic soup. I think I told him, "No way in hell". Then I fell asleep for another hour, woke up and Lapka Gelu was still standing over me like a bad dream. He said, " Eat the garlic soup". I figured since this was a bad dream and I didn't want it to continue to repeat I might as well eat the damn soup. So I did and fell asleep again. Funny thing was, the next time I woke up Lapka Gelu was gone and so was my AMS! We all met up for a hearty breakfast because Lapka Gelu said we have many more ridges to climb today but not to worry "all down hill". Sure. To try and paint you a picture of where we were, imagine standing on the stage of an old Greek theater. The area dropping off from the stage was the river running through the valley. The seats to the high walls that surround the theater were the mountains that seemed to touch the sky. We were at 13,500, the river was at 8,200 and the mountains went up to 29,000. Just an amazing view. The sound of music kind of stuff. So we were off to Thame. To keep this short and only pictures will do this justice when I get home, we crossed several glacial fields where we had to dig out steps in the ice to cross on the billygoat paths. One slip and we would fall into the valley. We hiked for 7 1/2 hours up and down every ridge till we reached the village. It was a quaint little town with about a half dozen tea houses to stay at. At dinner I learned something new. There was something on the menu called a momo. What the heck. Turns out they were pot stickers filled with yak meat and butter. I had them for breakfast the next day too! During dinner a man came in to sell us some paintings he had painted. He had several neat drawings one that was the Tibetan symbols for luck so I bought it. I figured I could use some for this trip. The interesting thing was that the man used to be a Sherpa who climbed Everest and several other mountains. On his last climb he got frostbite and lost all his fingers. He only had nubs of which he used to draw his paintings. You would buy a picture too. The real funny part was when he asked where we came from. We said Kongde. He said "no way, only helicopter from Kongde" We told him we walked. He told us we were crazy. Yup. When we were leaving that next morning the head lady came out and put a prayer scarf around each of our necks and wished us a safe climb. I have a great picture with Julio and me standing there, scarfs in tow, with the mountains towering behind us. A magical moment.
It was now off to Namche Bazar, which is the main trading town btw Tibet and Nepal in the Khumbu Valley with our final destination being Mounju. For some reason Julio and I had a little skip to our step because we cruised to NB an hour before Lapka Gelu planned. Nice! When we got there it was special because as we entered the town we ran into Russel Brice's Hymex team and cameras. Julio said hello, becasue they know each other, and he said hi for Megan Delanhanty who climbed Everest with them and summitted last Spring. It was great to see them in the flesh. Kind of nostalgic. As we moved further into the town we ran into Alpine Accents Everest team. We only knew that because Lapka Gelu is a guide for AC in the states and knows everyone so we said hi to them too. As we headed out of town we ran into another one of Lapka Gelu's friends, Nima at his tea house. Nima has the seconds highest number of summits on Everest at 17. Here we were sitting in this tea house having juice with 2 out of the 3 most acclaimed climbers on Everest. Nima had all his Everest Summit certificates all over the walls. What was special was that nobody knew these guys had 31 summits btw them. Both were moving around serving food and drinks like they were hired help, talking btw each other like old friends do. They don't brag or ask to be treated specially. I think the best way to put it is that they aren't selfish. They just want you to be happy. Incredible. Special people! So after a bunch of pictures we headed out to Mouju. Today's total hike was just 5 hours and felt good. Our legs were just getting used to the pain and soreness which I am sure will come in handy later on. At Mounju it was more momo's and tea! We woke to the head lady chanting her prayer and swinging the incense throughout the entire tea house. Apparently they do this every day for the spirits. As we were leaving to head back to Lukla, Lapka Gelu ran into another Sherpa friend who wanted to join us on our way back. He was guiding a newly married Irish couple who weren't a day over 25 each. They had a big ceremony the night before and dawned the Nepalese wedding clothes. The funny part were the hats they wore. The woman wears this huge furry hat that looks like it is from Russia except it is brown. The man wears a cowboy hat. Who knew? They said part of the ceremony was to drink from their cups from each person. Even these two Irish folks couldn't handle the total consumption. It was great to see their pictures. So 5 hours later we were back in Lukla a little early. Something like 3pm. This was really the first day Julio and I had a little time to spend for ourselves. We walked around town and talked with the locals. The most fun was going over to the airport to watch the planes come in. We had a nice nights rest, more momo's and went to the airport at 6:15am. There was probably 80 people waiting for flights. The main guy would yell something, everyone would rush to door because nobody knew what he said, he'd turn away all but the 14 for the flight. Mayhem. We finally flew out at 8:30. Fortunately for us the skies were clear and the flight was perfect. Something every airline could learn, the flight would land, people were off loaded and then loaded and the plane headed out in 4 minutes. Wow. Oh, I also monitored the flight back. We went from 9,800 feet to 4,200 feet in 60 seconds to land back at Kathmandu. Now imagine the big boy planes coming in like that. More later!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Khumbu Valley

Hi All, the last 6 days are really hard to put into words. I will have to do it over several posts because there is just too much to say.
First I would like to talk about the people here in Nepal. Their disposition is so calming, spiritual and an overall sense of wellbeing. At all times we are asked if we are ok, need anything else or want more. The city here is extremely safe because the people don't want any bad karma. I bought a bucket of KFC chicken yesterday and had 1 rupee for change so I left it on the counter. The exchange rate is 70 rupees to the $1. The woman behind the counter chased me down the street because she couldn't accept the 1 rupee. I told her to keep it and she refused. Are you kidding me? I haven't seen anything like it before. For all the thousands of people I have walked passed in the streets I haven't been bumped once. On the streets of NYC it's like playing hockey. The other day I had received some bad news. The Sherpa's knew I was upset, came over and gave me a big hug and said their thoughts were with me. The Nepalese people are just so kind. I can only think that it stems from their religious beliefs. Enough said.

Two days after our arrival into Kathmandu we grabbed our gear and flew to the Khumbu Valley. This is the headway for every South side expedition of Everest. It was going to be an exciting time because of its history and it was going to be our first time seeing the mountains. We boarded the tiny non pressurized plane that seated I think 14 people, 7 on each side for the town of Lukla. Little did I know this was going to be a 25 minute plane ride from hell. We took off at 4,200 feet of elevation and quickly rose rose to 12,600 to get over the mountain pass. Just as a sense of dizziness started to swirl around your head you realized that you are about to fly into humongous cumulus clouds. I asked the pilot if they use any IFR or GPS to direct them. He said nope, it's all in their head. Sweet. Our plane now was bumping around like a cork in the ocean and then we had the sudden altitude drop. I don't know how far we fell but my foot was in my mouth causing me to gag and you heard a whole bunch of comments from the passengers that can't be repeated here. I looked up at the GPS device on the dash board and the flight plan called for banking left. At this point the pilots looked at each other in despair, then agreed, and then proceeded to bank hard right with the nose down pushing you deep into your seat wondering if this is how you were going to die. At the last minute they straighten out the plane, are back on course and you can see the runway in front of you. Please pull up Lukla's airport because it has to be the shortest steepest landing strip in the world. 10 seconds later we slammed into the runway at full speed, the pilots put on full reverse thrusters only to stop 20 feet from the wall that would of turned us into an accordion. Applause resounded from the plane and then the pilot turned towards us and gave us the thumbs up. I was shaking so much I didn't know whether to puke, smile or pass out. I couldn't believe we had made it. Needless to say we were the last flight in as they closed the airport due to poor visibility. No Sh_t. I forgot to mention. Julio and I were the only Americans on the plane. The other 12 were Iranians going to climb Mt. Meru. I don't know why I find that interesting but I do.

So we made it to Lukla alive, I think we did, because what we experienced over the next 5 days was much like a dream. We grabbed our backpacks off the tarmac and headed out of the airport and were quickly met by one of our Sherpa's, Lapka Gelu. Julio and Lapka Gelu had summitted both Cho Oyu in 2000 and Everest South side in 2002 together so it was a warm welcoming back. Lapka Gelu noticed we were a bit shaken so he took us to a local tea house for some tea to settle our stomachs and tell us what our itinerary was for the next 5 days. We were now at 9,200 ft. and going to have a short 3 hour hike to Phakding. No big deal as it was mainly down hill with a couple of ups and downs. What you quickly noticed was that everyone knew Lapka Gelu. The man (42 years old) is a huge star here and as we walked the trail we were constantly greeted by people that wanted to say hello or have us in for juice. One man brought us up onto his bench in front of his house and had juice in our hands before we knew it. After talking to him for a while we were to learn that he was starting a software company in Naples, Fl. and also building ultra light aircraft in Kathmandu. What??? These people are far more enterprising than you would think. Clearly he wasn't the norm but it was nice to see some people are doing rather well. We arrived at Phakding in the early afternoon to give ourselves a little reading and journal time. During the hike you noticed that you were in the beginning of the valley and only given little glimpses of the surrounding mountains. Basically, you were following the river up into the valley that started to get bigger and bigger. At dinner Julio and I were feeling good and decided to change up the itinerary. If we only knew what we were getting into. The plan was to head up to the Kongde lodge over two days camping out on the way up. Stay there for two nights and then head back. Julio thought it would be better to see more of the valley and get to Namche Bazar which is the main trading post between Tibet and Nepal. Sounded good to me. Lapka Gelu just obliged. The next morning we headed out onto the trail like two kids ready to explore. Then we reached this town not too far out when Lapka Gelu told us to drink a lot of water and eat some food. Fair enough. After that he turned around and headed off the main trail and up some stairs. I joked with him that we were headed straight up the mountain. He replied, "Yes". Oh No. For the next 6 hours we climbed straight up. 4,500 feet straight up. We never saw another person for the next 2 days. Nobody was that dumb to take this trail except us. I am going to try to download some pictures because they will take your breath away. While the pain was settling into our thighs we stopped for lunch on this perch that overlooked the whole valley. It was worth the pain. At this point we were at about 12,000 ft with mountains towering over us at 20 to 22,000 feet and we were the only ones there! It was a 3,000 foot drop off from where we were sitting. The buzz of the altitude made it palpable. We then asked how much further to go? Lapka Gelu said, one more ridge! For the next several hours Lapka Gelu said, "one more ridge". He was about to have a revolt on his hands. When we reached 13,200 feet it started snowing with a cross wind that would almost knock you over. We told Lapka Gelu if he said "one more ridge" again that we were going to wish very bad karma on him. He smiled and said he could see the lodge. A very smart man he is except it was two more ridges over. When we finally reached the lodge both Julio and I were exhausted. I was dealing with the beginning stages of acute mountain sickness and wanted to get sick. Julio's stomach was bothering him but for the most part was fine. At this point it stopped snowing, the skies cleared and Lapka Gelu smiling said look: There they were!!! Time stopped along with all sound, temperature and pain. Right smack in front of us in clear view was Everest, Ama Dablam, Makalu, Lotse, Nuptse and others. A total of 6 of the tallest mountains in the world. The entire Khumbu range was staring at us right in the face. I will never ever forget that view. More later.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Welcome to Kathmandu

The journey continues! We finally made it to Nepal! The flight in was a little hair raising. Our plane seemed like it was coming in at full speed. We basically came over the mountains, then the pilot put on full flaps to stall the plane and then they went to full throttle to make the runway. I think I left one of my fingernails in the armrest. Going through customs took awhile but who cares. We were in Nepal! When we got out of the airport we met up immediately with Geljen who owns WRET (World Records and Expeditions & Treks) who promptly grabbed our bags and brought us over to the van. He then put a lei of marigolds around our necks, welcomed us to Nepal and then gave us a big hug. I think this gives you an insight to the type of people the Nepalese really are. We got into the van for what then turned into Mr Toads wild ride. There aren't any rules of the road here except "get the hell out of my way" but you had a sense, that somehow you wouldn't end up in a head on car crash. Definitely not for the light hearted. As we arrived at the Yak & Yeti hotel you could tell that we had moved out of the chaos and into a little tourist hallow. The hotel used to be the spot of the US Embassy. The rooms turned out to be spacious and nice. Geljen then brought us out into the courtyard for our welcoming beer and review of the climb. At this point I just couldn't keep pinching myself enough. Here I was, finally sitting in Kathmandu going over all the details with our Sherpa about climbing Mt. Everest. Holy Sh_t. The time has come! Yahoo! That Everest Lager tasted fantastic. After this, Julio and I decided not to go back to the room or we would fall asleep so we went for a walk around town. Walking around Kathmandu is like trying to get through the door of Walmart when they announce a sale. People are everywhere. The streets are rather small and you don't dare step from the sidewalk unless you plan to cross the street. When you go to cross the street it's like playing frogger but with your life. I had several motorcycles take pity on this tourist and stop before they ran me over. Shopping here was an adventure. Julio and I went all around looking for the extra gear that we needed to buy, got prices, jotted down the location so we could return the next day. After 4 hours of roaming we headed back to the hotel to have dinner with Geljen. It was a nice buffet at the hotel but towards the end I just couldn't keep my eyes open. Then I felt a tapping on my shoulder. It was Geljen telling me I had been sleeping at the table and maybe it was a good idea to head up to the room. At this point I don't remember my head hitting the pillow. Fortunately both of us slept through the whole night. We went down for breakfast, which was another buffet, and then hooked up with Geljen again. He introduced us to another one of our Sherpa's, Lopsang. He is 25 years old and the Nephew of Lapka Gelu. So it turns out that Geljen is Lapka Gelu's Uncle (their Mothers are sisters) and this is a family business. The important factor to Julio and me is that they all have the great climbing genes!!! So then Lopsang, Julio and I all headed back to the shopping district to get our gear. Here Julio and I thought we had it all worked out. Then stepped in Lopsang the negotiator. The down pants I needed to buy for $90 he got the Nepalese price of $58. The North Face Goretex XCR windproof jacket for $180 was $60. Bottom line: it pays to bring a local shopping with you. You could see the owners of the stores not happy to see Lopsang because we would have paid the higher prices yet they were glad for the business. Now it was time for lunch. We figured why not hit a local joint. So Lopsang took us down this hellish road with an abandoned building at the end of the street and the smell of something god awful in the air. Then there was this door with the sign marked " Garden of Joy". We walked in and it opened up into this beautiful garden with plants, water fountains and a real Zen kind of feel. We sat under the canopy to get some shade and melted into the lounge chairs. It was a Fanta for me please. (That's my favorite travel soda) The menu had Indian, Napalese and Bhutan choices. I stuck with what I know, Chicken Masala with garlic nan. Yum. What a gem this place was. It is just amazing how there is such a ruckus outside and yet there is peace and tranquility in here. After lunch it was back to the hotel which brings me to the internet center and this update.

For tomorrow we head out for a 7am flight to Lukla which will be the beginning of our 5 day trek. I don't know if there are computers there but I will update if there are. Now a little word about our team.

We are a total of 3 climbers and 3 Sherpa's. The climbers are a 70 year old Japanese climber, Julio and myself. I don't know anything about the Japanese climber other than I heard from Geljen that he will be the oldest climber on the mountain this year. Julio is just amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better climbing partner. He knows everyone and everything. His knowledge about the mountain and our climb make me feel very secure that I am with the right people. The confidence that he exudes about the climb makes you feel like this is going to be a walk in the park. (Even though I know it won't be)
Every group climbing Everest has to choose a name and we came up with ours this morning which I think truly fits. We are: WRET 6 friends climbing Chomolungma exp. 2010 Tibet. Therefore, you can find updates on us at as well as I think. Our Sherpa's are world class. Lapka Gelu's world records speaks for himself. Something special is planned this spring too but I can't say! Geljen is special. He laughs all the time so you know he has a good spirit. Listening to him talk about the climb and all the extra's that he is throwing in for us makes you thankful that you are with the right outfit. Extra food, extra oxygen, extra yaks and more. You can tell he just wants to make sure that this is the most enjoyable trip for us. Lopsang the negotiator I think will be carrying me up the mountain. He can't weigh more than 140 but I believe he can carry twice that up the mountain. All in all, with a climb like this it really helps to have such experienced and genuine people with you. Now all I have to do is actually climb! Talk to you all later, Bill