Everest Nepal Dispatch #1: Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - Kathmandu
Greetings from Kathmandu! Our
entire team has arrived safely and are already getting a taste of Nepal
living. Many team members were last seen in the Thamel tourist center
exchanging currency and preparing to dive into the shopping extravaganza,
looking for that great last minute deal on down mittens.
We enjoyed a tasty Welcome
Dinner this evening and met for the first time as one large group. The team
members were greeted by our Nepal trek staff and everyone started the process
of learning many new names and faces. We shared backgrounds and family
information and inevitably digressed to our trekking and climbing stories.
It was a fairly impressive
gathering of mountaineering experience. By my rough count, the group record
includes 5 Seven Summiters (six if you count Phil Ershler having done all of
them twice), over a dozen other 8000m summits including Kangchenjunga, Cho
Oyu, and Shishapangma, scores and scores of Denali and Aconcagua summits, and
too many Rainier climbs for me to tally given the late hour and the jetlag,
but something approaching 800 when I lost count.
Plus, we have yet to meet the
real record holders. After spending another day here in Kathmandu, we'll fly
to Lukla and begin the trek uphill. The high altitude sherpa team has already
started setting up our Base Camp, but they'll stroll down to meet us at
Namche, and they are the ones with the real bragging rights!
We'll lob in another call in
the next day or two and let you know how the hairball flight to Lukla went. I
know people focus on the dangers posed by the Khumbu Icefall, and rightly so,
but we all seem to easily overlook the first rite of passage: the Lukla
Airstrip, which is a very short dirt and grass track that begins precariously
on the edge of a dramatic cliff, passes quickly through a livestock pasture
and then ends abruptly in a rock face. Not for the weak in spirit, that's for
sure. Not for the weak in brakes, either. OK, until then ....
veteran expedition leader, Everest Summiter, author and motivational