|Moving up the Lhotse Face
to Camp IV
April 5, 2008 Kathmandu, Nepal
Namaste from Kathmandu.
There has been much talk and worry about the economy in Kathmandu because of
the recent political turmoil in the region. All that was erased when our plane
touched down at the Kathmandu Airport. The emergence of Lori and Amy on the
scene was a shot in the arm for the local merchants in Thamel that will
undoubtedly carry them through the season.
Kathmandu has not changed a bit from from last year. The traffic of machines
and people on the streets of Thamel can only be described as chaotic. How
motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, rickshaw drivers, pedestrians and
animals survive is truly a Wonder of the World. When the narrow streets get
too crowded, the motorcyclists just drive on the sidewalks, honking at
pedestrians that get in their way. Everyone, I mean everyone, drives with
I love walking around and taking it all in. It was especially fun showing my
daughters around. They love the shopping. Watching them ply their trade and
negotiate with the merchants is a real treat as well as a study in contrasts.
Lori takes the hard-nosed approach. Her favorite line is "No, that's way too
much." (Shouting across the room at Amy) "Amy, are you done? I am ready to
go." The tactic almost always works. Amy's approach is more soft and subtle.
Her system works because she keeps the merchants constantly off balance,
always thinking that, if they lower the price just another 100 rupees, they
can cinch the deal. She is also a sophisticated negotiator. For example, all
the merchants walk around with an electronic calculator in their hand,
constantly running figures to show you how much you are saving. The first
thing Amy did was to purchase her own calculator so as to level the playing
field. It is so much fun watching Amy and the merchants duel with each other,
using their calculators as weapons of choice.
A funny thing happened at one of the clothing stores. Lori couldn't reach a
deal with the merchant and she noticed a store across the street that sells
the same product. She told the merchant that she would just walk across the
street and buy the product from a mercant that would meet her price. He
replied, "okay, I'll be right over. I own that store too." When another
merchant was asked the price of a particular product, he said "whatever you
want to pay. No matter what price I quote, you will say it is too high."
We met with the owner of Asian Trekking and their staff and they seem like
really nice people. I also met my personal sherpa, Mingma Sherpa, and I really
like him. He reminds me of the famous Yankee relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera.
Steely-eyed, young, strong, competent and somewhat shy. He has summitted Mt.
Everest 5 times. In an amazing coincidence, David Liano knows Mingma. When
David summitted Everest in 2005 with Alpine Ascents, Mingma was one of the
sherpas hired by Alpine Ascents. David says he is super strong and I am lucky
to have him as my personal sherpa.
We had breakfast this morning with the personal sherpa that will accompany us
on the trek. His name is Pachhang. We really like him. He is a Christian and
speaks very good English. Lanny Anderson, who is trekking to Base Camp this
year, joined us because he too is a Christian. Yesterday, poor Lanny was
bending over to tie his shoe and a dog that was laying on the sidewalk bit him
on the finger. He went to the hospital and now has to have the painful series
of rabbies shots. He still plans to trek to Base Camp and will get some of his
shots along the way. I am so happy and comforted to know that Pachhange will
be traveling with Lori and Amy when I am not with them.
After breakfast, Pachhange, Lori, Amy, Lanny and I visited some of the famous
sites of Kathmandu. We went to the Swambhu Nath Temple (the "Monkey Temple"),
site of the largest sitting Buddha in Nepal, the Boudhanath Temple, site of
the largest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal, and the Pashupati Hindu Temple, where
cremations take place. Lori was not particularly fond of the smoke and ash
from the cremations. When we returned to the hotel, she immediately took a
shower. She said that she has never felt so dirty. We had such a great time
together, and it was nice to have Pachhange as our wonderful, informative and
accommodating tour guide.
Our last event of the day was a trip to the Lhomi Kids Care Home, which is an
orphanage. Pachhange organized the visit. Lori and Amy brought several duffle
bags full of gifts for the children. Many of the gifts were donated by
friends, neighbors and churches in Newport Beach. The visit can only be
described as once-in-a-lifetime and sacred in nature. I will let Lori and Amy
fill in the details in a later post. I am so proud of them.
At 6 am tomorrow morning, we fly to Lukla to begin our 35-mile trek to Base
Camp. That's when the work and adventure really begins. I told Lori and Amy to
enjoy their last good meal and shower for a long time.
God bless all of you. Bill Burke
We just arrived at the Yak & Yeti hotel in Kathmandu. This appears to be a
very nice hotel. More on that in a later post. So far, our trip has been
The flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand was easy and uneventful. Thai
Air upgraded us to business class, which helped a lot. We arrived on April 1
at 9:30 am and were in the Arnoma Hotel by 11 am. After getting settled, we
went shopping--surprise, surprise. Actually Lori & Amy went shopping, and I
tagged along. They had a great time and picked up a lot of good stuff (so they
say). We first shopped at a large mall near the hotel and then ventured out of
town to a popular indoor and outdoor shopping mall. I decided to help Lori and
Amy by making a financial contribution to their shopping spree. Lori refused
to accept the donation, saying I had already done enough. Amy took the money
out of my hand almost before I had a chance to open my mouth. The next day, as
Lori’s finances dwindled, she was more accepting of my offer.
We slept well and started the day on April 2 around 11 am. That’s when I had
my first panic attack. We agreed to meet at the Starbucks café next to the
hotel at 11:15 am as Lori & Amy needed to pick up a “couple of things” at the
mall near the hotel. I was there on time. No Lori or Amy. At 11:30 am, they
were still not there, so I went back to the hotel. No Lori or Amy. I went back
to Starbucks and waited until 11:45. Still no Lori or Amy. I repeat the
process--back to the hotel--back to Starbucks--and no sign of the girls. Now
it’s noon, and I am starting to get really concerned. I hurry 4 blocks to
another Starbucks, thinking we had a mix-up in signals as to where to meet.
They are not there. Now it’s 12:15, I am in full scale panic mode, imagining
all sorts of things. I decide to search for them in the shopping mall. Sure
enough, there they are, walking up and down the aisles trying things on.
Arrgggh. That’s when it dawned on me that, when they are safely home, climbing
Mt. Everest will probably seem like a leisurely, stress-free stroll in the
park on a Sunday afternoon.
We spent the afternoon sightseeing, and it was so fun and interesting. We
visited the Grand Palace which houses the royal residence and throne halls and
is the site of several government office buildings. It is also the location of
the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We then visited another temple which houses
the famous Reclining Buddha. In the evening, we went on a dinner cruise on the
Chaophraya River. The buffet dinner was great, and the music and entertainment
were really enjoyable. We saw many famous temples that are located along the
banks of the river. All the while, we were serenaded by karaoke singers. Lori,
Amy and I danced to “You Aint’ Nothin But a Hound Dog”--Thai style of course.
After we finished the cruise, we went to the Suam Lum Night Bazaar. When we
arrived, Amy said “we hit the jackpot.” Lori & Amy shopped from 9:00 pm until
midnight, when the bazaar closed. I slept in a chair on the street.
Bangkok is a busy metropolitan city. The air is pretty polluted from all the
cars, and the traffic in the downtown area hardly moves. In fact, on the way
back from our sightseeing trip, we sat in traffic that did not move one inch
for over 15 minutes. Since we were on a tight schedule to get to our river
cruise, we finally hopped out of the car and walked the remaining kilomteter
to the hotel.
This morning, we were up at 6:30 am to pack for our trip to the airport so we
could catch our 10:30 am flight to Kathmandu. We had to catch two cabs because
of all our gear. Lori and Amy’s cab ride was a wild one, and we had an
incident at the airport while checking in at Thai Air. I will let Amy describe
these events in her post, which is coming soon.
Tonight, we are going in to Thamel to have dinner. I can’t wait to show my
daughters around. It seems like just yesterday that I was here.
Go Bruins! Bill
Background: Bill Burke, who attempted Everest from the
South as part of Dan Mazur team in 2007, will be back in 2008! His first
report is below...
As most of you know, in 2008, I will return
to Nepal for a reprise of my trip earlier this year. I hope to complete the
last 100 meters of the mountain of my dreams...the magnificent Mt. Everest.
--I will be posting reports of my 2008 trip. What is new for 2008 is
that, on summit day, I plan to file 6 reports: (i) upon departure from Camp IV
at the South Col (26,000 feet), (ii) upon arrival at the Balcony (27,600
feet), (iii) upon arrival at the South Summit (28,750 feet), (iv) upon arrival
at the Hillary Step (28,900 feet), (v) upon arrival at the Summit (29,035
feet) and (vi) upon return to the South Col.
--In October, Sharon and I took my training partner, Oliver, on a round-trip
train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle. We had a great time.
I have regained the 30 pounds I lost on Mt. Everest, and Ollie and I are now
back into our normal training regimen.
Your prayers and support meant so much to me during the 2007 expedition. I
hope I can count on that same support in 2008.
As my plans for 2008 firm up, I will let you know. Bill Burke
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