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 Everest 2008: Bill Burke Mt Everest 2008 Reports from Everest Base Camp are not good


Moving up the Lhotse Face to Camp IV

Kathmandu  
April 18, 2008  
 
Yesterday was a rest day, which was so nice. The day before yesterday we spent most of our time with the children of the orphanage. Lori & Amy will report on that separately.  
 
Our flights have been arranged, and we return to home-sweet-home on April 20. Yippee! We miss our families so much.  
 
Reports from Everest Base Camp are not good. All satellite telephones and other communication equipment have been confiscated until the Chinese have taken the torch to the summit on the North side. Who knows when that will occur? This means that all those folks parked at Base Camp have no way to communicate home. I would absolutely hate that. I understand that the teams are only allowed to use walkie-talkie radios to communicate with each other at Base Camp. They are required to give their radio frequencies to the liaison officers so their chatter can be monitored. They are absolutely forbidden to mention "Tibet," "Free Tibet" or to say anything derogatory about the Chinese. If anyone wants to send a message to the outside world, they must send a sherpa down the mountain below Gorak Shep. I have been told that all bags going up to Base Camp from Gorak Shep are being searched for sat phones and other communication equipment.  
 
None of this makes any sense to me. What are the Chinese afraid of? We had heard that these sort of restrictions might be imposed, but I never really believed it would happen. How could they enforce such restrictions? Are they going to search every bag going up the mountain?? I guess so.  
 
I feel so blessed to live in a free, great and good country. Sometimes we take our precious liberties for granted. Not any more. God bless America.  
 
I feel super-duper. We're having a great time. God is good!  
 
Bill

Kathmandu  
10 days later...  
 
We are comfortably back in the Yak & Yeti, but this is our account on the mountain...  
 
We boarded our propeller plane with our luggage tags that read "I Was Never Meant To Fly Coach!" that were given to us by a close friend before we left. We zipped down the runway, shared by monkeys and airplanes, and had a successful take-off. The pilot and co-pilot did not high five each other as they did last year when our Dad took the same flight! The flight was quite enjoyable. We flew low enough to get a great view of the beautiful mountain ranges. What we had feared most about this flight was the uphill landing on an airstrip 1/2 the size of Pacific Coast Highway! We arrived safely and we began our first trek, which we were told was an 'easy trek," to Phakding! In comparison to the rest of our trip, it was not as gruelsome. However, it was a complete shock to our systems! The path was a mixture of equal parts; rock and yak dung! It rained on us the entire trek! It was so thrilling to actually be on the mountain and see the people, the animals, and the amazing scenery first hand! We snapped photos the entire way. We especially loved crossing the suspension bridges and seeing the waterfalls and raging river, also known as "The Milk River" for its white/teal color. When we were shown to our rooms in Phakding we were soaking wet and freezing. Before entering, we took off our shoes and would not let anyone enter with their shoes on. If we had to, we would crawl through the door on our knees, with our feet and hands in the air! We immediately changed into dry clothes and jumped into our sleeping bags and never wanted to come out. Dad told us to be sure to put all of our electronics in our sleeping bags ( IPODS, cameras, cell phones, sat phones) so that they wouldn't get ruined from the freezing cold weather. That is when all of the door knocking began! We looked at each other like, "Who's going to get it?" So we took turns hopping to the door in our sleeping bags, hoping we weren't crushing our electronics on the way! We finally relented and came out to the dining room. for soup and tea. That would be our first of 10,000 cups of tea on this journey. The rest of the team must have thought we were crazy. We followed a strict hygiene regimen of cleaning our hands with baby wipes followed by Purell hand sanitizer. Little did we know today was an "easy" day and we slept well in our sleeping bags!  
 
Our climb from Phakding to Namche Bazaar kicked our butts! We had flashbacks of the Mt. Whitney switchbacks! It was best to just not look up. The elevation gain was 3,000 feet! The scenery along the way was stunning. It almost looked fake. Namche Bazaar is a busy, cute and colorful village located on a steep hill. We planned for a rest day there and enjoyed shopping, eating and using the internet at the cyber cafe'. Whenever we pulled out a wad of cash to pay for something, we had to study each bill to make sure we paid the correct amount. The shop owners stared at us like, "Dumb Americans!" So we started calling each other "Dumb American!" Little did we know our stay in Namche would be longer than expected. We knew our Dad was ill when he only ate 2 small pieces of pizza and said he was full. As we mentioned in an earlier report, he got the help he needed, and while he laid in bed we officially became locals! Up and down the village we ventured for 2 1/2 days becoming more familiar with the locals and them with us. They would call us out by our first names as we walked by their "shops." We took tons of pictures and handed out candies (Jolly Ranchers) to the kids and even made friends with 2 cows! Or were they caks (1/2 cow, 1/2 yak)??? We even hand fed them Jolly Ranchers! You could tell they loved it by their slobber and drool. Our Dad looked a little better the next day so we decided to move on to Tengboche. The hike was great for us. We had a lot of energy, listened to our music and we had our first view of the great Mt. Everest!!! That was AWESOME! What a thrill it was to finally see our goal, the tallest mountain in the world! Puchhanga took photos of the 3 of us. WE finally got to see in person Dad's dream! When we arrived in Tengboche, they showed us to the "best" lodge in the village, which was only one out of two! It was more than DISGUSTING! We stayed in a green glowing tube! To enter, you walk down about 3 steps and through a doorway similar to Alice in Wonderland. It stunk so bad! We couldn't wait to go to sleep, wake up and LEAVE! This trip was beginning to resemble an episode of "The Simple Life."  
 
Even though our Dad wasn't completely himself yet, we pushed on to Pheriche, knowing that there was a good medical clinic where we could have him checked out. The accommodations were better than the tube. Anything is better than the tube. We took scalding hot showers. You had to let the staff know 45 minutes in advance so they could boil the water. The water came out of a tiny spout the size of a dime. To release the flow of water, you pull out the extra large toothpick, and when you are finished you put it back in. Amy got the first shower only to get scalded by the extra boiling hot water, and you could hear her saying, "Ouch, Ouch, Shoot, Oww!!!" The dining room facility was very nice. There were many people from all over the world relaxing, reading books, meeting one another and all of the tables were lit by candle light. When it got dark, everyone used their head lamps to read. Dad fell asleep in the dining room and appeared more and more sick. We thought we would sleep in the next morning then visit the doctor. Surprisingly, we all awoke extra early. When Dad emerged from his room, he said he was going to the clinic, which was unlike him. He knew he was very bad, so the 3 of us rushed over together. The clinic is open 24 hours for emergencies. We banged on the door and woke up the doctor. The doctor checked his oxygen Sat. level and his lungs. His oxygen Sat. level was at 40 and his lungs were full of fluid. He diagnosed him with pulmonary edema. He immediately hooked him up to oxygen which brought his oxygen level up to 70. He gave us our options, but highly recommended we get him on a rescue chopper down to Kathmandu. We were so sad to see our Dad in this condition. In order to get down to Kathmandu to be with him we would have to start our trek right away. So there we go with our sherpas down the mountain listening for the chopper on its way to pick up our Dad. We were so excited when we saw it fly by and it seemed only a few minutes later it was on its way down with our Dad. We waved like crazy from the side of the mountain, while Puchhanga took photos.  
 
We took only two days to get down the mountain...we were on a mission to meet up with Dad. Our first day we trekked to Namche Bazaar (where we are now locals!) We were so tired and our legs and knees were so sore. One enjoyable memory on this first day was finding a girlfriend for our Puchhanga! We asked him on one of our breaks if he had a girlfriend at home and he said " No, I'm still praying." The young female server was cute so we asked him about her and told him we thought she was cute. He said, " I know." We told him to ask her out and he said, " She's too far." We asked her if she ever goes to Kathmandu to which she replies to Puchhanga, " No work." He told her in Nepalese that he could get her a job. They exchanged phone numbers and had their picture taken together by both our camera and his camera! We wiped our hands like job well done, and continued our trek!  
 
The next morning it was the same old thing, back down the mountain...another long day to get to Lukla where we can fly out to Kathmandu. We went slow because we were so tired. Puchhanga wanted to have his eyes on both of us so he put Lori in the lead position and Amy 2nd. Lori used her trekking poles to navigate every step, while Amy followed behind like the scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz!" It was like she had no bones in her body and Puchhanga was there to catch her fall! It began rain, then hail, then got dark... "Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!" Before resorting to digging through our backpacks for our headlamps, Lori was now using her trekking poles a guiding stick for the visually impaired on the side of a very steep mountain. At best she was rearranging the Yak poop on the trail! We finally made it and when we arrived our sweet porters were waiting for us with BIG smiles as usual with our heavy bags. They showed us to our room which involved going down through a dungeon first. We got the first flight out of Lukla in the morning...6:30 AM. The take off involved shooting down the steep runway and taking off over the side of a cliff. We didn't care at that point...just get us to Kathmandu!  
 
When we arrived back to the hotel we immediately wanted to see our Dad. We went to his room and knocked, but no answer. We began to worry and imagine the worst, so we started kicking on his door. Finally we saw a housekeeper and asked her to let us in "our room." He wasn't there. We found him in the hotel business center on the computer and looked like himself again! What a relief. Now we just had to make sure he didn't have any crazy ideas of going back up. Although he was considering it, the doctor in Kathmandu strongly recommended that he not. So we will all be coming home together!  
 
Before we come home, we promised the kids at the orphanage that we would be back. That will be in our next report...  
 
Amy and Lori
   

April 14, 2008  
Kathmandu  
 
My daughters are back with me at the Yak & Yeti, and are in fine fettle. Puchhanga and Mingma are fine too. A huge weight of concern has been lifted from my shoulders, and I thank God for their safe return.  
 
Lori and Amy had me doubled over in laughter with their report about the trek down the mountain. But, I almost cried when they told me that they waved at the helicopter ferrying me to Kathmandu as it passed over them on the trail. I was in the comfort of the Clinic less than 1 hour later, and they still had 2 very hard days of trekking just to get back to Lukla. Nevertheless, they will have many happy stories to recount when they get home. At the top of the list is the fact they kicked my butt on the mountain. My family will bring this up at every future gathering until I depart this good earth.  
 
Here is a more detailed account of what happened to me. On the flight to Bangkok or Kathmandu, I picked up a bug that became a passenger within a passenger and traveled with me to Lukla. At Lukla, the incubation period expired, the eggs hatched and a billion hungry germs were released into my system, scurrying to every nook, cranny and corner of my body. They finally brought me down in Namche Bazaar, and I was flat on my back for two full days and nights. I can’t remember ever being so sick. I could not even lift myself up in my bed. Two wonderful doctors visited me, one who prescribed herbal medicine and another who prescribed traditional western medicine for viral infection and flu. On the third day, I felt a little better, and we resumed our trek to Everest Base Camp. In retrospect, this was a mistake, since I was not fully recovered and was suffering from fatigue, weakness and severe loss of appetite. At this point, with the virus brought under control, the second half of the tag team--pulmonary edema--took over, causing my lungs to fill with fluid. This fresh attack pulled me under when we arrived in Pheriche two days later.  
 
After a restless night, I woke to the sound of my lungs gurgling with every breath. I was barely able to lift myself out of bed, pull my boots on and struggle into the dining room where I picked up my daughters who accompanied me to the Nepal Himalayan Rescue Association medical clinic just a few steps up the trail. The doctor came out and put my index finger in a pulsometer that measures the oxygen saturation (“SAT”) level in the blood. After seeing my SAT level, he let out an audible gasp and said “what’s this?” The reading was 40. Readings in the high 90’s are normal and anything below 70 in the mountains is dangerous. By way of comparison, Amy’s SAT reading in Pheriche was 93. (How embarrassing is that?) He then checked my lungs and confirmed that I had pulmonary edema and had to go down quickly. He said that, if I was in the states, they would have me hooked up to a respirator which he did not have in his Clinic. Asian Trekking called for the helicopter, and my daughters quickly organized all my gear and their gear for the trip down the mountain. My teammates were wonderful and supportive, especially my good friend David Liano from Mexico. David kept reminding me that this was the right call and that the mountains are always secondary. He gave me an old Tibetan coin and made me promise to bring it with me next year when we return to Mt. Everest.  
 
The doctor in Pheriche told us that one of his patients is a young porter who is critically ill with a heart condition. The doctor did not have the proper equipment to treat him, the porter could not travel down the mountain by himself and he couldn’t afford to pay for a helicopter evacuation. So the doctor asked us if his patient could share the two-person back seat with me for the trip to Kathmandu so he could be admitted to a hospital and receive proper medical attention. Of course, we agreed, and the porter and I traveled down the mountain together. As I was moving up the mountain in the previous days, feeling sicker and sicker, I kept asking myself, why is this happening to me now. I rarely get sick, and I have never had any form of serious altitude problems in the mountains. Maybe I now have my answer.  
 
The doctors and support staff at the Nepal International Clinic in Kathmandu were so kind and nurturing. Dr. Govind Pokhrel gave me a full check-up, including a lung test, an EKG, blood work, SAT tests and blood pressure testing. He pronounced me healthy. Because there was still some crackling in my lungs, he suggested that I stay overnight at the Clinic hooked up to oxygen. So, that’s what I did. A young nurse came in to take a SAT reading. When I asked her how it looked, she said the reading was 92. I proudly announced “wow, that’s a great reading, so I’m okay.” She responded “Yes, Sir (meaning “dummy”), you are on a 6 litre flow of oxygen directly into your lungs through your nose.” She razzed me about that incident until she left at the end of the day.  
 
While I was in my clinic bed, Jeff Giger (my wonderful son-in-law), called. He had searched the net to find a way to locate me, and one of the names hit. I reassured him that I was fine. He gave the number to Sharon who called, and we had a heart-warming chat. Sharon told me that she heard from my climbing friend, Bud Allen, that Lori and Amy safely reached Namche Bazaar from Pheriche and would be trekking down to Lukla the following day. Bud heard the news from Puchhanga who sent an e-mail to Bud from Namche. Thanks to our dear friends Bud and Puchhanga.  
 
My care-taker at the Clinic, who stayed with me the entire time and cooked all my meals, was Tseri Sherpa. What a loving and gentle person. He heard about our trip to the orphanage. He held his hands to his face in a prayer position and said, with the greatest sincerity, “thank you.”  
 
I have nothing but good things to say about Asian Trekking. A helicopter evacuation is usually a long process filled with bureaucratic red tape and lots of delay. This is especially so during the holiday and election seasons, both of which converged on April 12. I arrived at the Clinic in Pheriche in the morning and the helicopter picked me up at 11 am, an impressive and unprecedented accomplishment. Asian Trekking had 2 representatives pick me up at the airport, and they took me right to the Clinic. Mohan and Sanjay from Asian Trekking stopped by to see me in the morning and had a driver pick me up and take me to the hotel when the doctor discharged me later in the day.  
 
A brief word about the political situation in Nepal. On April 11, there was a national Constituent Assembly Election in Nepal to elect representatives to draft a new Constitution establishing a federal democratic republic. The election process was quite vigorous and heated, drawing international attention and hundreds of election observers from all over the world. This included former President Jimmy Carter, who stayed at the Yak & Yeti. One of the reasons for all the heat and interest was that the Maoists Rebels laid down their guns and participated in the electoral process. In a stunning turn of events, the Maoists scored victories by wide margins in many of the Constituent elections. It appears that they could now establish themselves as the largest party in the 601-member Assembly. Some attribute their victory to a desire for peace and economic prosperity, which the Nepali Congress apparently could not deliver. Other say threats and fear played a crucial role in the upset victories. One cab driver told me that the Nepalese people are, by nature, peace-loving, and he thinks many of them silently voted for the Maoists so as to keep them from returning to the jungle where they would resume their guerrilla warfare. Whatever the reason, pressure will undoubtedly be brought on Washington to remove the Maoists from its international terror list.  
 
I have grown to love the people of Nepal. You never see a frown on a face. The people are genuinely kind, sincere and respectful, and they seem to love all foreigners, including Americans. Most importantly they are peaceful and peace-loving. Yesterday morning in the hotel, a little Nepalese girl toddled over to me as I was seated on a couch waiting for my room to be prepared. She crawled up beside me, took the pencil out of my hand and started to scribble on a piece of paper I had been writing on. She was so cute.  
 
We plan to visit the orphanage at least one more time. Lori and Amy want to take more gifts to the older children who we were not expecting to see on our first visit. I want to take more video footage. We also want to find out what other supplies they might need that we can bring back on future trips. We will share this information with you in case you are interested in helping. Maybe we will make this an annual pilgrimage.  
 
My plan was to return to the mountains on April 16 when another Asian Trekking group leaves to climb Mt. Everest. But, I had one last appointment at the Clinic, and wanted to see what the doctor had to say. He said I am healthy, but still in the recovery stage. He strongly recommended against going up again so soon. If I don’t allow my body sufficient time to fully recover before I go back up, there is a serious risk that I will have the same problem. He wanted me to rest in Kathmandu for at least 7 days. But, waiting 7 days would not allow me sufficient time to make a serious run at the summit. So, I’m coming home with my daughters.  
 
One good consequence of making this decision is that Asian Trekking can secure a refund of $10,000 for my permit fee. After today, no refund can be secured. Asian Trekking will also hold all my oxygen bottles until next year.  
 
Honestly, having my daughters back with me has jolted me back to reality and made me realize what is really important. I don’t really care that much about the mountain right now. I will come back next year with Bud and David, and my daughters promised to make every effort to return with me. I hope my other 2 children--Lisa and Danny--will try to come too.  
 
This trip has been a huge success. Lori, Amy and I have had the best time, and Lori and Amy have proven their power and mettle in so many ways. The three of us have created memories that will last forever.  
 
Lori and Amy plan to post their own report after receiving a decent night of sleep in a real bed. We will keep you advised as to our plans for the return home.  
 
Thanks so much for your prayers, love and support.  
 
Bill

Editorial Note: If this is not success what is!

April 13, 2008  
Kathmandu  
 
Happy New Year.  
 
Yes, I am in Kathmandu, and it is the first day of the New Year in Nepal. As you must know by now, I contracted pulmonary edema in Pheriche and had to be airlifted off the mountain by helicopter to Kathmandu. This all started with the virus that attacked me in Namche Bazaar. I feel great right now and am back at the Yak & Yeti.  
 
I plan to file a full report tomorrow, but now I am concentrating totally on the safe return of my daughters, who are trekking today from Namche to Lukla. I expect to see them later tonight or tomorrow. I am supremely confident of their safe return as they have the two best sherpas in Nepal by their side. They are also very strong and feeling quite well. Still, the separation makes my heart ache. How ironic: all my contingency plans were designed to insure their safe return if something happened to them on the trek to and from Everest Base Camp. Here I sit in the Yak & Yeti after a chopper ride down the mountain while they trek down the mountain to catch up with me.  
 
Thanks to Jeff Giger (my son-in-law) for tracking me down at the Clinic in Kathmandu; Sharon, for her words of love and support; and Bud Allen for calling Sharon to let her know my daughters safely arrived in Namche Bazaar last evening. Thanks also to all of you for your prayers.  
 
I may be down right now , but don't count me out for this year. More on that tomorrow.  
 
Bill

 

 

April 12, 2008  
Costa Mesa, CA  
 
After some phone calls and e mails I have learned that Bill is resting, on oxygen, at a clinic in Kathmandu. I talked with him this morning after Jeff Giger, my son in law, researched on the internet and was able to find him. Thank you Jeff! Bill sounded good, much better than when I talked with him in Tengboche.  
 
He immediately began feeling better when he was taken to a lower altitude. They want him to stay another 24 hours on oxygen.  
 
The girls have made it down to Namche Bazaar and are fine. (Thanks to Bud Allen for finding this out for me.)  
 
I will let them fill you in on details. I want to thank everyone for your prayers and concern.  
 
God is good!  
 
Sharon

April 11, 2008  
8 PM  
Costa Mesa, CA  
 
I just got a phone call from Amy. They are in Pheriche. Bill has pulmonary edema and they are waiting for a helicopter to take him to a hospital in Kathmandu. He is now at the hospital in Pheriche. His oxygen sat level was at 40.  
 
He woke up this morning in Pheriche and told the girls that he was taking himself to the hospital. They knew he was really sick when he said that. Amy and Lori will start walking after Bill is picked up. She said it takes an hour and a half for the helicopter to get there.  
 
I wanted to talk more with Amy, but the phone went dead.  
 
We thank you for your prayers.  
Sharon and Family

Tengboche  
April 11, 2008  
 
I think I have fought off the virus and I am now dealing with the after-effects--some congestion, a cough, fatigue and loss of appetite. But, every day I feel better. This must be the year of the bug in the Khumbu region. My personal sherpa and a porter are sick, so I gave them some of my medicine. One of the other Asian Trekking climbers is also sick and is laid up in Pangboche. Glad it is all happening here and not at Base Camp.  
 
Lori and Amy are fine and are acting as the official expedition nurses. Lori follows me around everywhere I go handing me baby wipes to keep my hands clean.  
 
We trekked from Namche (11,000) to Tengboche (12,500) yesterday, an elevation gain of about 1,500 feet. The scenery is stunning in its beauty. We all got our first view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. That was so special. The experience of being in the Himalayan mountain range can only be described as mystical. Lori and Amy really enjoyed the trek yesterday, their favorite part of the trek so far. I enjoyed it too, of course, but I had to labor on the steep sections because of my lack of energy. Even so, I enjoyed it so much, and it is so special to be here with my daughters.  
 
Lori and Amy are taking lots of photos, which is great because it frees me up to use my high definition video camera.  
 
Tengboche is a beautiful village at the top of the mountain. There is a Buddhist Monastery here and a few shops and stores to pick up souvenirs. Our accommodations last night were pretty nasty, and Lori and Amy will have a few funny stories to share when they get home. Unfortunately, I can't repeat them in this report.  
 
Today, we head to Pheriche where we will catch up with the rest of the team. Pheriche is one of my favorite villages. We may even take a rest day at Pheriche.  
 
Bill

April 9, 2008  Namche Bazaar  
 
Wow, these past two days have been memorable.  
 
We trekked from Phakding (8,000 feet) to Namche Bazaar (11,000 feet) on April 7, a huge push involving an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Lori and Amy did absolutely GREAT. They were right behind me the whole way. It took us about 6-1/2 hours. Namche is such a fun village tucked into the side of the mountain. (If you want to see pictures of some of the places I will mention, check out my photos on my website from my Everest trip last year). There are lots of markets, hotels, restaurants and even an internet cafe, which is where I am as I type this report. We had a nice dinner at my favorite pizza house and then retired to our "hotel." That's where the trouble started.  
 
Staying healthy is a cardinal rule of high altitude mountaineering. I broke that rule big time in Namche. I started feeling the onset of a cold during my last night in Kathmandu. Then we flew to Lukla and started our trek to Phakding in the rain. When I woke up the following morning (April 7) in Phakding, my throat felt scratchy. We trekked to Namche and slept at our hotel on April 7. When I woke up in the morning on April 8, I was as sick as I have ever been, and I rarely get sick. I had a fever, sore throat, achy joints, heavy upper respiratory infection and congestion and total loss of appetite. I saw 2 doctors that day-one from Nepal and one from northern California. The doctor from Nepal prescribed herbal medicine that was a combination of a dusty substance and little round pills that look like coco-puffs. I also wanted to see a doctor that practices western medicine so my nurses (Lori and Amy) located a wonderful doctor from northern California (Christina) who was staying on our floor of the hotel. She gave me some pills (I presume anti-antibiotics) and advice (e.g., drink liquids and take Vitamin C "Airborn"). I was in my bed all day April 8. It was difficult for me to even sit up in bed. April 9 (today), I woke up feeling a little better, but, even so, I only left my room twice--once to take a shower and once to type this message at the internet cafe. Tonight, I feel quite a bit better, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. One of my big concerns is that I have not been eating well and my energy level is way down. Tomorrow, we trek to Tengboche or Pangboche depending on how I feel.  
 
I know I will recover just fine, and it is good that I contracted this early in the trek and at a relatively low elevation. I think I picked up the bug on the flight to Bangkok since the seat next to me was blocked because it was "dirty." I bet the person sitting there on the previous flight was sick and threw up.  
 
Lori and Amy have been so great to me through this ordeal. They are also doing really well, with no signs of excess fatigue or altitude sickness. I love them so much.  
 
Mingma and Puchhanga have been wonderful companions and helpers. Amy said that traveling with Mingma is like having a personal nanny since he hovers over Lori and Amy all the way. If they reach for something in their backpack, Mingma is right there pulling it out for them. If they travel too close to the edge of the trail on steep sections, Mingma gets between them and the edge of the trail. I appreciate that so much. Puchhanga caught up with us on the trek to Namche Bazaar. What a total blessing he has been to our trip. Lori and Amy say that they feel like they have a personal bodyguard with them at all times. He goes with them on all their shopping trips and basically waits in the dining area for them to come out of our hotel. This was such a comfort to me as I lay helpless in my sick bed for two days.  
 
I will close this report with a humorous incident so that the report does not sound too much like "gloom and doom" On the trek from Lukla to Phakding, we stopped in a little tea house to get out of the rain. Amy had to go to the bathroom and asked where it was located. I pointed to the bathroom door and she went in. She came right out saying there is no toilet in the room, just a hole in the floor. I said the hole in the floor is the toilet. She said how do you go? I said you squat and go. She was appalled. She made me stand at the door holding the door open and looking the other way while she went because she did not want be alone in a dark room. Lori went in after Amy, and we could hear her laughing from the other room.  
 
God bless all of you,  Bill

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 their horns.  
 
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  

Update: Kathmandu, Nepal  
 
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 fantastic.  
 
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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