Thursday, April 2, 2009


I'm sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu, Nepal.  We'll have another day or so here before we fly to Lukla to begin our trek to Everest base camp on Saturday.  I spent the day walking around Kathmandu doing some last-minute shopping for some essential climbing gear.  This is probably the best place in the world to pick up equipment for high-altitude mountaineering.  There are something like 200 climbing gear shops in the city.  Kathmandu has changed quite a bit since I was last here in 1994.  Most of the roads are paved now, and the power supply is more consistent, although there are still periodic outages.  Tourism is down almost 20% due to the recession, so people who depend on tourism for their livelihoods are a little aggressive.  Who can blame them?  You do what you have to do to survive.  Still, compared with 15 years ago, the standard of living seems to have improved quite a bit, although there is still abject poverty everywhere you turn.

I'm getting to know some of the other members of my expedition.  They are an interesting group of people.  There's John, 55, from the Isle of Man, a motorcycle racer who's had his share of near-fatal accidents.  This is his third attempt to climb Everest.  Then there's a married couple, a rare entity on expeditions like this, Nowell and Lynn, both endurance racing enthusiasts who regularly run eco-challenge races and ultra marathons.  They attempted Everest together in 2005, but Nowell experienced retinal bleeding in both eyes, compelling him to abandon the attempt.  Nowell and Lynn had made a pact, that if one of them could not continue, the other would go on, but Lynn could not bear to leave Nowell in that condition, so she abandoned her own summit attempt.  Nowell came back the next year and successfully reached the summit of Everest.  This year the two of them are back to reach the summit together.  Another member of the team is Philippe, an IBM executive from France.  Today a friend of Nowell and Lynn's arrived, Patrick from Canada.  Then of course there are the Russians, starting with our expedition leader Alex Abramov.  More on them later.

Arizona is almost exactly on the other side of the planet from Kathmandu, so I've got 12 time zones of jet lag with which to contend.  I hardly slept at all last night.  Hopefully, I'll fare better tonight.

I'm anxious to begin our trek to Everest base camp.  Soon enough.

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