2004 Everest Base Camp Trek Cybercast
April 16, 2004. Kathmandu
Greetings to everybody out there in cyberland yet again, this is Willi from Kathmandu, reporting. That's right, we're out of the Khumbu and back to the big city at this point. We had a good hike back to Lukla, a fairly short day from Monju to Lukla. Got there about noon, enjoyed lunch and decided to hit the town for a while, so we consumed a fairly high number of beers while trying our luck at some of Lukla's many pool tables available at the pool hall. That was how the evening started out anyway, then back home for a nice dinner and our evening party with the local Nepali staff, all the people that we hired, Sherpas, Gurungs, Rais, Magongs, joined us in a rather shortened evening of celebration where we all partook in a few more interest drinks including the local rakshi and chang. I say shortened because due to concerns, certainly earlier in the year, of Maoists and the airport being a target, they actually have a martial law that is declared in the little town of Lukla, surrounding the airport, so we pretty much had to be indoors by 7pm and close everything down by 9pm.
That's okay because it was an early morning the next day anyway. We had a rather rough flight back to Kathmandu, due to increasing early morning winds and like I say, we're back in the city. I'm not sure, but I think that some of us are already missing the peace and the clear air and the nice conditions of the hill country, I'd certainly exchange angry yaks on the trail for lots of running around all of the motorcycles and car traffic. Sidewalks and streets here are sometimes not any easier to walk on than the hill trails are, but at least we're closer to home, that's the thought at this point.
Many people actually took up the shopping where they left off, we were wandering around Thamel, some very beautiful Kashmiri silk carpets were purchased as well as some equally beautiful but very different Tibetan wool carpets. Many other things as people poked around and explored this rabbit warren of the neighborhood called Thamel in Kathmandu.
All are definitely having a good time here, but also looking back on the trek. There's good times and bad times of course. People were tired occasionally, myself included, people were sick occasionally, myself included. And that always makes you dig deep and really question your motivations on something like that. But all in all I think a good time has been had by all, especially on the trek and everybody has done very well. Coming up tomorrow: The Wind River Restaurant, 40,000 and a Half Foot Bar, and the Dorji School. As Jeff would say, "Stay connected baby".
April 14, 2004. Monju
Hello again everybody this is Willi and reporting for the almost the last morning for us here in the Khumbu We're all sitting here in a tea house at Monju, enjoying a nice breakfast. Yesterday was a wonderful trip down form Namche. It's great to be able to move fast and change a lot of altitude rapidly, those of us in the front of the pack kind of danced down the rock steps and stones coming down Namche Hill about 2,000 feet in 25 minutes or so and it was actually a very enjoyable experience, especially when there was a line of several people in front of us, all of us moving very rapidly, it was definitely an answer to gravity coming down the hill.
Anyway we enjoyed coming down into the lower valley, thicker trees, more green, more life, more birds, more air. Great day yesterday, it was a short one. A couple of messages that I was actually supposed to do yesterday, which I spaced. From Vinnie: He wants to say hello to all of his friends in Guatemala! And also from Josephine she would like to say hello and love to Justin at Base Camp, he is on the climbing team, going for the summit of Everest, and we all wish him the best of luck and Godspeed when he gets up there on the mountain.
Again on the hearts front, young Nathan, he's not too happy these days, he seems to be continuing his run of bad luck, while that sneaky person, Tiffany, seems to be increasing in closing the gap in the ad-lib hearts tournament here at this point, more on that later. However we did have a little bit of a tragedy this morning: the Sherpanis were serving us bed teas around the rooms and opened up the door and saw Dr. Kevin in his underwear, and it shocked them so much, that they dropped the thermos and broke it! What can I say? Life is tough here and that's all for now from the Khumbu.
April 13, 2004. Namche
Hello again, this is Willi reporting again from our continued descent down the Khumbu, down to thick air, bigger trees, and much more enjoyment. When we were descending to Namche, we were actually fortunate enough to see lots of wildlife, very, very beautiful, getting back down into the timber zone, lots of greenery around you missed that green when you're up into the high alpine desert regions in a big mountain range. We were able to see a couple of different species of eagle, many pheasants, musk deer, some Himalayan Tar, which are like mountain goats, straw colored mountain goats here in the Himalaya. Very wonderful experience for everybody.
We also had some interesting yak attacks on the way down. With our man for all seasons, Vinicio, squaring off against a big one. And also Young Nathan and Clayton, getting ready for a little three musketeers action against another big one. What can I say, we didn't really tell them they were actually porters dressed up in furry suits. I could give you another update on the hearts game at this point, but young Nathan is glaring at me as I'm sitting on a 500 foot drop off, I think he might push me over if I did, so we'll save that for later, that's all for now.
April 12, 2004. Pheriche
Well good morning to you all out there once again, it's actually evening for us, this is Willi once again from the Khumbu. I'm happy to report that everybody's appetites are coming back, everybody is sleeping well, 14,000 feet definitely feels like thick air now. The local people that work on our staff, both Sherpas and other indigenous people here, as hard-working and as tough as they are, they also feel the altitude as well. So it was a big relief for them to come down. We actually had a problem with one of our cook boys, the job description is kind of a jack-of-all-trades-type of position, they cook, they serve as porter, running up with the kitchen gear from breakfast site to lunch site, from lunch site to dinner site, very very very hard working. Several of them were actually complaining of headaches and mild altitude problems and we were watching them very closely. The one that we weren't watching so closely was feeling poorly otherwise, and on the way down at a place called Dugla at about 15,000 feet, he apparently collapsed. Well we got him down to the medical clinic at Pheriche, thanks mostly to very quick work by our trekking Sirdar, Pasang. And he was actually diagnosed with pulmonary edema, secondary to a respiratory infection. In other words, he got some kind of respiratory infection in his system and because of that he actually got pulmonary edema, which is a high altitude ailment. He's going to be just fine. He's been on oxygen in the medical clinic at Pheriche, and we ,made full provisions for him at that point.
But what this actually does is underscore the need for good communication inside of an expedition whether it be climbing or anything else, amongst staff among team members, whomever, you need to have strong communication and awareness about conditions before they develop, before it gets out of hand.
On another note, we have some people things to discuss, Daniel Villegas from Redding, Ca. He's discovered for himself definitely, (which is probably the greatest draw to this special and magical place), and that is the people here. He's really been psyched hanging out with the Sherpas, with the Tibetan traders, he's definitely having a ball, and I'm sure that he has gladdened Tibetan trader's hearts all up and down the Khumbu, with his purchasing habits here, having a great time. Vinicio Montoya, once again, our man for all seasons in the news, sometimes dentist, sometimes talk-show host, and live minister. I'm happy to report that he almost won in hearts. Unfortunately Nathan Garret wasn't even close, much to his chagrin. That honor, the winner in hearts, goes to that shifty-eyed London resident, Kirk Sauer. Final note from Tiffany and Jeffrey Begoon, they would like Max, Casey and Ryan to know that they made it, and that Dad was super, and that they are on their way home, all their love, from Mom and Dad. We'll that's all from the Khumbu right now, for this great group of fun bugs, you know it's a tough life here but somebody's got to do it.
April 11, 2004. Gorak Shep
Greetings to everybody out there following us in cyberland, this is Will reporting from the Khumbu. Yesterday we had a very long day, everybody made Base Camp just fine with a beautiful day, beautiful views, 360 degrees all day, got a chance to chat with our summit team and other support Sherpa at Base Camp, pretty much they had everything in readiness for our climbing team that is going up and we passed our climbing team as we were going back down and got the opportunity to wish all them our best for the summit.
Coming back we had as you might imagine a tired crew last night. But today, the magic of acclimatization has kicked in and everybody, (minus me in particular, I seem to be having problems with a bit of a head cold and a bit of a lung problem here, but at least I'm using it as a good excuse to keep out of hearts games), everybody has successfully pretty much gone up to Kala Pattar, again we have a beautiful day here today. Everybody is really stoked, really psyched, and feeling like they've accomplished something and indeed they have. So that's all for now, we keep up with you as we move back down the Khumbu and visit a few other villages and we'll keep in touch.
April 9, 2004. Lobuche
Greeting to everybody out there, this is Willi reporting from the Khumbu. Sorry about the gap in cybercasts there, but yours truly had been going through a nasty combination of head cold and flu, as have a couple of other people. We report from Lobuche, at 16,100 feet. Everybody seems to be on the mend and we're fine. We spent a couple of days in Dingboche for acclimatization and we were regaled with the Nepalese version of the Vinicio Montoya show. And that literally drove us out of Dingboche and here we are in Lobuche.
We have another beautiful morning, it has been snowing in the afternoons. We had a complete day of clouds and snow when we were in Dingboche, but we're at least blessed with beautiful morning views and we're going to be spending at least part of the day today going up to our high camp at Gorak Shep. As I am speaking I am looking at Lhotse and Nuptse with quite a white plume blowing off of it, beautiful day down here, not such a beautiful day if you are trying to climb high at all today. In any case we'll be back at you soon and that's all for now from the Khumbu.
April 6, 2004. Deboche
Once again, good morning from the Khumbu. I'm standing here in a stunningly clear morning with the high peaks of the Himalayas, 360 degrees around us. We are camped here just above the Tengboche Monastery in a little town called Deboche. We had a very good hike yesterday, it clouded in quite heavily and we got a bit of rain and a little bit of snow last night, but it cleared the air remarkably, we had some of the best views, we have had this entire trip. As I am standing here I can see the summit of Everest, Lhotse, Lhotse Shar, and Ama Dablam, looking up the valley. Looking down the valley, the view is almost as impressive as that. We are really enjoying good luck from the weather gods here this morning.
First I would like to give great Kudos on our cybercast to vacationing dentist from Guatemala, Vinicio Montoya. One of our Sherpas has been having a pretty grave tooth problem, an infection going on, and he's converted his vacation into a working vacation and actually treated the Sherpa and has alleviated the problem (Transmission unintelligible) The old Rinpoche from what used to be the Rongbuk Monastery in Chinese occupied Tibet is giving a special ceremony down there, so many people including the dentist in Namche are down there. So we are actually treating the Sherpa so his tooth infection and everything gets cleared up. (Transmission ends)
April 5, 2004. Kunde
Good morning to everybody this frosty morning, this is Willi once again reporting from the Khumbu, this time from the village of Kunde, almost 12,700 feet. We had a really great day yesterday, a very interesting visit with the Rinpoche of the Thame monastery and a combination of the trekking team and climbing team had an audience with him and had a nice scenic forested as well as a nice kind of open brush land walk to get here to the village of Kunde. Kunde of course is a very historic village above Namche Bazaar in the Khumbu region. Many people who have never visited Nepal actually know Kunde, because this is where Sir Edmund Hilary established the first school in the Khumbu region and the first hospital as well. Sir Edmund Hillary of course being the first ascensionist of Mount Everest in 1953, but he's much loved by the Sherpa people because he spent a good part of his life, through his foundations and non-profits, bettering the life of the people of this region.
So we had a really nice but frosty night here, our first night camping out in tents in this village and this morning we are planning on visiting the historic Kunde School and Kunde Hospital before we make our way further deeper into the heart of the Khumbu region towards the Tengboche Monastery today.
Happy to report that everyone is on the mend from any sniffles and any sinus problems and intestinal problems, just typical Asia travel things. If you've never traveled in Asia, you won't understand that. If you have traveled in Asia, you will probably be chuckling as you read this. We in the West definitely have some physiological adaptations that we have to go through whenever we travel in Asia. All are well, we are enjoying ourselves, we had a spectacular view here this morning from the village of Kunde, very clear, mountains, the 6000m peaks of Thamserku, of Kantenga, the famous Ama Dablam, many others are in view here also, we're very much as I say, enjoying ourselves. We're off to breakfast, I believe we're having scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes as I speak and my mouth is watering, I'll see you all later.
April 4, 2004. Thame
Good morning everyone out there, this is Willi reporting to everyone from Thame in the Khumbu, that's Nepal right? Everybody's having a great time here, despite getting my ass whooped in hearts last night, I did have a little consolation prize because I did manage to barely squeak a very narrow victory in chess, and that's during the evening's lounge time, after we have our beautiful hikes during the day.
We're up here at Thame as I said, about 12,000 feet and we are surrounded by beautiful freshly snow-covered mountains. I tell you, it's hard to imagine a more beautiful place on earth right now. We have a new nickname for Vinicio I forgot to report a couple of days ago, we call him 'Sagi' occasionally now, that's short for Sagarmatha. Sagarmatha being the fairly recent Nepali name for Mount Everest, one of the translations is "Churning stick in the sea of existence." and because we've all decided that Vinicio Montoya is such a trouble maker at times, Sagi is the new nickname there.
Also I believe it was Tiffany who wanted some folks back at home to know, "No worries here. There's plenty of peanut butter for me to eat here in Nepal."
Vinicio would also like to say hello to his family and friends in Guatemala, who undoubtedly are following this cybercast. And this morning we're going to be having some breakfast in a little bit. I know it's evening for most of you, but it's morning for us. We're going to be heading up to the Thame Gompa, or monastery, along with the climbing group, and visit with the Rinpoche, or reincarnate Lama, to accept his good wishes and blessings for our travels and climb and whatever may be in store for us in the future. So that's all for this beautiful sunny gorgeous morning here in Thame in the Khumbu region and as always, we'll get back to you later.
April 2, 2004. Namche
Greetings to everyone out there, coming to you almost live from the Khumbu in Nepal. Our trek had a very good day for arriving at the famed commercial center of the Sherpa Heartland, the Namche Bazaar. We had very nice again, smooth trekking weather and everybody has been doing just fine doing the long hill into Namche from the lower valley. We're starting to go through the climactic zones now, from the very lush, green lower valley, getting into the sub-alpine and the alpine zones, where the views open up and stunning Himalayan peaks are amazing everybody at this point.
We did have a couple of people yesterday that had to dig pretty deep. The 'travel in Asia routine' which is a few intestinal bugs, getting people down occasionally, it's pretty much a normal routine to adapt to traveling in Asia. This morning everybody was doing much better on the mend, hearty appetites for breakfast this morning and that's good to see. So today we're actually spending all down exploring the town of Namche Bazaar, we'll be visiting a few cultural sites, we've got the Gompa here, the museums here.
And we are, some of us anyway, going to try to get up tomorrow up to a nice viewpoint hill, just above town where we can watch the sun rise of Everest Lhotse, Nuptse and many of the other high peaks here in the Khumbu from a great distance from us at this point, but it's a wonderful view. We're all really psyched to be here, definitely feels like coming home again for me, whenever I'm here and as always we'll keep you posted.
April 1, 2004. Phakding
Greetings to everyone out there, this is Willi reporting again from the Khumbu in Nepal. Our 2004 Everest Base Camp Trek got off to a great start yesterday, had a really good day on the trail, it was chilly, a bit cloudy, a little bit of a breeze, all in all, perfect hiking conditions. Really good shake down, really go to get out of the city and get up into the beautiful mountains and start walking.
For you folks back there, most of the folks looking at this on the internet, it's going to be evening, for us it's going to be morning, we're just getting up, having hot drinks, just getting ready for breakfast and embark on Day 2 when we will arrive in Namche Bazaar, the famed trading town in the heart of the Khumbu here in Nepal.
Last night we had a rather rousing round of dominos. Our Puerto Rican contingent were teaching a few of us how to play and we all think he is cheating, but then the jury's out on that one. In any case, everyone is doing well, we are all enjoying things, it's been quite a dry season here in Nepal so far, so there's been a lot of fires, wildfires burning out of control in Eastern Nepal, so consequently it's been very very smoky, very hazy and smoky on the hike in yesterday, we had a little rain last night, it looks like we're starting to get some pretty nice mountain views along with some fresh snow dusting the high peaks here this morning. So it promises to be another beautiful day here in the mountains and we promise to keep you posted.
March 31, 2004. Lukla
Hello out there everyone in cyberland, this is Willi and Ellie reporting from Nepal for the 2004 season here in Spring in the Himalayas. We are reporting for the 2004 Everest Base Camp Trek. Just like to introduce all of our people. We have a Latino contingent here, Enrique Laureano from Dillsboro, IN originally from Puerto Rico. We have Daniel Villegas who is from Redding, CA and Vinicio Montoya who is from Guatemala. Moving along we also have Kirk and Rachel Sauer, living in London, England, but also Americans. We have Jeff and Tiffany Begoon from New Haven, CT. We have Jospehine Adams from Jackson, WY. We have Kevin and Nathan Garrett from Appleton, WI. And we have Clayton Hotson from Berkeley, CA.
We spent the last couple of days recovering from the very, very long series of flights to actually get to Nepal. We immersed ourselves seeing many of the cultural sights in Kathmandu and were enjoying conditions down there and today, this morning first thing, we did a pre-dawn wake up so we could get to the airport and had a generally, very smooth flight here into Lukla, Which is where I'm reporting from, about 9,200 feet in the Himalayas beginning our Trek up.
So we're all starting walking on the trail as we speak and we'll be keeping you updated on a daily basis as to the ongoings, happenings, misadventures and anything that might be of interest to this very diverse and interesting group of people that we have here together. So that's all for this day and we'll be talking again later.