Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Failed Expedition... stopped by AMS

"I am nothing more than a single, narrow, gasping lung, floating over the mists and summits."

Reinhold Messner, 1978
First to solo Everest and summit without bottled oxygen

We returned to Kathmandu on May 26th without reaching Advanced Everest Base Camp. We were stopped by Acute Mountain Sickness and cold at Lobuche.

Some people are genetically predisposed to breathing problems up high. Altitude physiologists remain baffledd why some adjust easily and other not at all.

As it goes, most expeditions set up a simple, yet loafty goal; usually to summit some interesting peak and then plod off to see if they can get there. Most end in failure. So it wasn't suprising that like so many mountaineers before us, we also followed in the great tradition of failure in the big hills. In some ways, it was the perfect ending, because an adventure without calamity and set backs doesn't hold the same dramatic narrative. A failed attempt in the mountains usually prompts an exhausting account of what went wrong. In the work place, we used to call it a "post mortem".

So what did go wrong? Lots. But what went right was also an important lesson in humility. One that I picked up earlier in my climbing career, when I paid my dues on the cliffs. In the end, everyone is safe, uninjured and happy with their effort. Good judgement prevailed-- which is most important when you're toiling around on the rooftop of the world in the most formidable mountain range.

Details to be continued...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Namche Bazaar

We are now in Namche Bazaar. We arrived today and plan to head to Dobuche tomorrow morning. Those of you who have read any books about the Himalayas would have definitely heard of Namche Bazaar. It seems like we are two days behind Rahila and plan to pick up the pace a bit tomorrow if we don't wake up with any altitude issues to try and catch up with her. We are at 3840 m here and have already previously crossed a 3850 m pass. Tomorrow we spend the night at 3710 m and have the option of going down to 3340 m in a couple of hours if there are any altitude symptoms at all.

We are holding up well. I feel muscle fatigue today after so many days of constant trekking on paths that are not so maintained. Vadim is going strong and makes it hard for me to keep up. We are very careful with sunscreen and wear hats during the day. Still my forearms and the back of my neck are very dark from being in the sun everyday.

We are able to find filtered water along the way or very expensive bottled water or ask the tea house to boil some for us.

Let see if we ever catch up with Rahila's Exodus group or if they remain as elusive as the Himalayan Yeti.

nadia & vadim


A very quick note to let you guys know that we survived the 7 hour bus
ride to Jiri. So far we have trekked from:

Jiri to Shivalaya - Day 1
Shivalaya to Bhondara - Day 2
Bhondara to Kenja - Day 3
Kenja to Junbesi - Day 4
Today in Junbesi - Rest Day

It seems that we are at least a day or two behind our planned meeting time with Rahila in Lukla. The trek is very long every day and tiring especially for Lily so we are trying to take it slower. We went up 2000m in elevation and another 700m down. It was a 11 hour trek and we arrived wet at 9 pm after it started
raining at 3.30. We passed out and had no choice but to rest all day.
Tomorrow we head to Thakshindu or if we are up for it, all the way to

Hope all is well for everyone. We are doing great and being very
careful. No issues with altitude sickness so far except for one slight
headache that Vadim experienced when we are at Lam Jora Pass at 3530 m
but it went away when we descended to 2705 m.

More to come when we have internet again! We still hope to meet up
with Rahila somewhere along the trek.

nadia & vadim

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Off to Jiri....

We wanted to send out a quick note to let everyone know that we are off to Jiri by bus tomorrow morning (April 2nd). We have booked a 6 am bus in hopes of beating any traffic out of Kathmandu. The 188 Km trip is supposed to take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours on a narrow, windy and hilly road. Hope all goes well. Vadim has a local SIM card on his phone and incoming calls are supposed to be free. The number is: 011-977-1-980-808-2688. I am not sure how far there will be a signal into the mountains but since I was unable to make a Skype call today before the load shedding, I am sending the number.

We have done all our due diligence to be safe for this trek. We are starting 8 days earlier than Rahila Baji to get better acclimatized. We have hired a guide who has been to Base Camp many times. We will also have two porters helping us carry our bags. We have registered with Himalayan Rescue Association and they have in turn sent out our registration forms to both the Canadian and US Consulates here in Kathmandu. We have evacuation coverage as well as travel medical insurance, plus altitude sickness medication, all of which we hope to not ever have to rely on.

It is getting very late and we should head to bed. We spent the last four hours packing in candlelight and then just as we finished, the light came back on :) And I want to post this before the light goes out again. We hope to send updates along our trek if and when we find an internet cafe.


Checking in from Kathmandu

This is our first check in on the trip. We arrived safely in Kathmandu as scheduled. It has been hard to send a note earlier because there is heavy load shedding here so the light is actually only on for 4-8 hours of the day and we were very tired yesterday and missed the oppertunity to send a note. So far, we are holding up well. Kathmandu is very dusty with hardly a single paved road and lots of pollution from traffic.
Our hotel is clean but very basic and the phone doesn't always work so calling is going to be hard. We will try to turn on our tracking device but I am not sure if it will update our location here.
Our overnight stay in New Delhi was way better than we could have anticipated. The KLM land crew got our passport numbers and luggage tags and passed it to the Jet Airways crew. The three of us walked into a lounge and stayed the whole night there although we were told we could only be there for three hours. Two ours before our flight, a Jet Airways representative brought us our boarding passes and new luggage tags. We had checked in 5 bags and total weight was definitely more than 20 kg but they didn't ask us anything at all. We picked up our bags in Kathmandu and there were no issues at all. So we didn't have to go through customs or immigration in India and didn't have to have my visa stamped. The airlines went our of their way to be accomodating and it was much nicer service than we get during most visits to JFK. Although, I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the JFK staff was to us as well.
Will send a longer note later when we have some time. The load shedding is supposed to start any minute now.