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  Mt. Everest 2005: Czech Expedition to attempt the Hornbein Couloir: Getting caught up


Tuesday 04.05.2005: It is finally here. Our visa is activated today, so we quickly woke up, packed our stuff and supervised distribution of our bags among the porters. Some of the bags hold jars with honey and marmalade and that has to be carefully guarded so we can enjoy these goodies in base camp. Crossing from Nepal to Tibet ( China to be politically correct) is something none of us wants to repeat.  Our "lodging house" Lhasa is located on the right after the barbed wire, another line of barbed wire is about 6 meters from exit from the lodge house. We pass the gate and smiling soldiers ( we are still wondering what they are guarding). Then we pass the big white gate of Nepalese customs and cross over the "Bridge of Friendship" symbolic name for territory belonging to nobody. On the other side of the bridge we see Chinese soldiers in the green uniforms and strict looks. Every one of us has to fill an entry form and they measure our temperature on our foreheads and we enter. Well, it is not that easy.

Our porters go through the same thing. No cars are allowed on the bridge, so our bags go off the truck in Kodari and we hire porters to carry our stuff about 500 m over the bridge. Only the owner of dingy card with two finger prints, can work here. On the other side of the bridge arrives another truck ( with the steering wheel on the left) and our bags are loaded back on the truck. We supervise our honey and marmalade jars, but also making sure we have all 70 bags including our own.

After everything is loaded on truck we get into the jeep and depart to Zangm where they have topical Chinese customs with bags scanners and all the other customs nonsense. There is also immediate change of time so instead being 10:15 it is 12:30. During our custom clearance, we are delayed by the customs officers' lunch break. They take our passports and send us to the town to get lunch as well. The whole delay is a 1.5 h. After the lunch we return to the customs office, but they cannot find our passports and visa. After some time, we finally crossed the borders. There is one more thing. Official travel permission, which we obtain at the police station. Since the police had a lunch break right after the customs officers, we have to wait another hour to get the documents. Some of us are getting inpatient, since we want to get to the Nyalam today. With the delay the chances of getting driver to drive late are getting smaller.

Finally things are moving fast. We obtain the right documents, driver is OK with departure and we are on the road. We were thinking the trip will take 3 hours, but the driver is driving like nuts and in 1 hour 20 minutes we are at the full stop in Nyalam in front of our "lodge". Lodging is all the same here and the accommodation conditions are only for strong mentalities.

Our stuff is in the rooms and we are ordering a dinner at 7pm. We are drinking a lot of tea, absorbing the elevation, buying some thermos bottles, toilet paper and taking a walk on the only street which creates the whole Nyalam village. After a good dinner we are drinking more and more tea. We are going to sleep at midnight since we have jet-leg coming from Nepal , where it is only 21:45

Wednesday 04.06.2005: For breakfast we have Chinese pancakes, although it doesn't taste so great ( they add vinegar to the flower) we depart the village Nyalam in our trucks and jeeps. Right after the village the concrete road ends and small dusty road starts. It goes through out the whole valley of Tibetan villages until saddle in elevation of 5000m. We are stopping to take photos of the Chinese welcome gate.

Crossing the Himalayan range we are ridding down in the direction of the Tibetan table-land, which is in 4000m above the sea level. The table-land is as vast as one can see. It is inhospitable land and one is curious why the locals live here in the first place. After lunch time we are arrived at the village Tingri at 4100m. In order to acclimatize we went for a walk to the top of the only close by hill. On the horizon we can see the goal of this expedition, the north face is beautiful to look at. The wind got stronger and spirals of dust and sand are getting in our ears and eyes. We are running back to the lodge to have dinner. It was quiet good, lots of vegetables, some meat and plenty of chili pepers. We wanted to stay a bit longer and get some tea, but there are other expeditions( about 4 of them) and not enough seats, so we are moving on to get the tea elsewhere. It is a fight for survival. Local "Didi" ( in Nepalese the owner of the dining) is giving us a nasty looks. It took us 15 minutes to explaine we want tea. In the end we get a thermos bottle with hot water and plastic cups. After another 15 minutes we get the tea. We are not thrilled at all, the tea is Jasmin. After another 15 minutes we are trying to get from didi more cups, which seems almost impossible. In the end we get it all , more tea and another thermos with hot water. This all costs us about 20 juans=60 kronas=$3. Nice evening. Finally we went to sleep.

Thursday 04.07.2005: We are staying put today. To use the time we wash our socks, drink tea, read magazines and just relax. Our bodies must get use to the elevation gradually so there is nowhere to rush. We had the phone on the whole day, to connect with Czech TV, but there is a technical problem, so we do not get connected. During the day we skip the lunch in our lodge, for many times it is impossible to eat. Some of us try food in the neighboring place. The prices are low, food is OK, especially they serve meat without the bones which is pretty special here. The day is long and since it is sunny we are getting some energy from the sun. The weather changed around 4 pm, so we tried to stay out, but then we west inside and waited for dinner. We are at the dinner table around 7, but at 8:30 the kitchen is still empty. Local chefs went to play cards, it is one of their few entertainments. When they finally got back and made the dinner it was 9 pm. The dinner is so-so ( unsalted and overcooked noodles, meat with bones). It is Peter's birthday today, so we give him our congratulations and that makes a nice moment of the day.

Dispatches

 

 

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