Posts Tagged 'Chinese government'

Trek To Everest Base Camp

We flew from Katmandu to Lukla, a tiny mountain village very high in the Himalaya.  So high that the run way is on the side of a mountain and points uphill.  We flew in on “Yeti Airlines”  in a tiny plane.  When you see the runway it is a nail biter.  Once off the plane our gear is assembled and sorted and the trek begins.  The countryside is spectacular.  Tiny hamlets all in stone.  No roads only a foot path that winds all over the mountains from village to village.  This is the main and only infrastructure and all forms of commerce pass by.  Yaks, native people with baskets on their heads, kids and many trekkers heading to various places in the Himalaya.  We stopped at many a tea house for a break and socializing with the proprietors.  Everything is neat and tidy and amazingly built and maintained.  Remember all this is still accomplished as it was hundreds of years ago.  There is no running water or electricity only an occasional generator.  These are the true Sherpa who left Tibet and now live in the Khumbu valley.  This “highway” connects their villages but they are not connected to the outside world except for the climbers.

Today was a six hour climb to Namche Bizaar.  This is considered the big city!  They even have an Internet cafe!  About an hour before arriving I had my very first glimpse of Everest…..amazing and absolutely enormous.  The wind was high on the top but I was able to see the south col and Lhotse and Nupste on either side although considerably lower.  It is magnificent and she took my breath away.  Brooke and I just looked at her then at each other then back at her.

The conditions in Namche are not as inviting as they were our first night on the trail.  Here everything is a hike and a steep on at that.  It will take me most of a half hour to return to our tent as it is uphill from here.  The village is truly built on the very steep side of the mountain.  All along our travels commencing in Lukla we have been greeted by the Buddhist prayer flags. Along the way huge boulders are inscribed with Buddhist prayers hand carved in the rocks centuries ago.  We must always pass to the left.  Anytime there is a monument or a pray flag or bells, which we ring as we pass for those are the sound of our prayers going up to the heavens, we must pass to the left.  I love that part of the climb.

This will be all for today.  There is a good deal of political tension and satellite phones and communications are being confiscated.  We have heard that at Everest Base camp no satellite phones or computers are being allowed.  They are critical for the climbers and safety for high altitude rescues.  The Sherpa are also not being permitted on the mountain.  They are the ones who put in and maintain all the fixed ropes and routes so this too will make  climbing just now very dangerous if not impossible.  Word is that the Chinese are now putting pressure on Nepal until after the torch goes up the mountain sometime in May.  Glad we are not making an attempt to climb this year although we have already had to change our schedule.

More to follow.

Climb On!

Congratualtions, You Are Over Fifty!

My first twenty four hours in Kathmandu.  Words once again escape me, and to describe all that I have experienced in this short a time is also going to be hard.  I can describe my emotional state in one word…. intense.  The dirt, heat, sanitation (or lack thereof) population, sights, sounds, color and mainly the squalor.  Traffic like I have never witnessed.  No rules just drivers sharing the road with rickshaws, bicycles, cars, buses, cows and millions of people.  And these roads are tiny even walking is frightening.  I was unable to take many photos yesterday (I am writing this in the dark as the electricity goes out daily all over the city.  The computer is on a generator.) Blackouts are frequent. But taking a picture was more than I could do. I had to first try to absorb all that I was seeing.  I have now been around the world, the number of countries I could not say but I can say I have never seen anything like this.  The air is filled with dust and smoke.  The smoke is from the funeral fires where the Hindus cremate their people out in the open.  They stand in homage until the fire is small, several hours. Then the ashes are swept into the river where bathing, drinking, swimming and general livelihood takes place.  Our eyes burn, we take shallow breaths so as not to cough from all that is undoubtedly airborne.  Tiny children beg but we have been told by the government not to give anything to them, it is very difficult to even pass and not acknowledge.  Both Brooke and I slipped money to a frail lady, funny how we both gave to the same woman.  There was something about her that touched us both. The streets are teaming and I feel like I am back in a time zone to which I have never been.  Leper’s, cripples and car horns.  The nose and push of humanity is everywhere.  When we finally find an enclave into which we can stop and rest we are exhausted.

But despite my western eyes taking in this very strange world, to the Nepalese this isn’t strange at all.  It is I who am the strange one.  I inquired of our Sherpa, Kharma Babu what the life expectancy is.  As you may imagine it isn’t very old.  Few people over fifty anywhere.  I would say the average age of the people I see out on the streets is 20 – 30.  How sad I tell Kharma.  “Oh no,” he tells me, “it is not so sad.  It is a wonderful thing to be old.”  I lament my age and upcoming birthday.  Ah but by Nepal philosophy we look at the young and say “ah ha, we have made it, we survived the 20’s, 30’s.  Congratulations, you are over fifty – and by Nepal standards this is far better than being young!”

I wasn’t too happy about my birthday next week although celebrating it at Everest Base camp is pretty exciting.  Now I’m thinking I may really like this over fifty thing because I too survived my youth and that’s not really a bad thing now is it?

Tomorrow we fly to Lukla and begin our trek to Everest base camp then on to Baruntse.  Our itinerary changes by the moment because of the Nepal elections and the Chinese army also at Everest Base camp both on the north and south side.  No satellite phones allowed, not computers and no Sherpa allowed (they are Tibetans) so we are adjusting as we go and will plan accordingly.  We rely on the Sherpa for our safety and progress through the Himalaya so we will see what tomorrow brings.  We are registered to climb in Nepal so from there the adventure begins.

More to follow.

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.