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.