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 www.alanarnette.com as well as www.everestnews.com 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