It all begins…

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

Kathmandu is a city of intense energy, Shakti as the Nepali call it.  Millions of people bustle about, trying to carve out their niche and ensure their existence in what for many is the land of milk and honey.  Every year tens of thousands of Nepali’s flee their subsistence-based existences for the capitol city in search of better lives.  Their fervor permeates the air.  It is impossible not to get caught up in it.   Time in Kathmandu is always a blur of obligatory meetings with good friends and government officials, finalizing the logistics and equipment needs, and capturing the vibrant history and culture.

 © Kristoffer Erickson

This trip has been no exception.  Ever since arriving in Kathmandu Kris Erickson, Hennie van Jaarsveld and I have been burning the candles at both ends.  No matter how much you prepare for a trip there are always last minute chores.  Documents need to be obtained.  Supplies need to be bought.  Photos and video need to be taken.  The night of the 11th, our last night in the city, our hotel room looked like a pack of monkeys was cut loose in a gear shop.  Nine bags worth of expedition equipment and camera gear lay strewn about.  Kris and I packed, unpacked and repacked trying to create somewhat of a coherent system.  Meanwhile Hennie sat transfixed at his computer trying to make sense of the hours of video shot over the previous few days.  His attention only strayed from the glow of the screen to answer the occasional question, “No, I’ll be good.  You can pack that away.”

 

© Kristoffer Erickson

At 2:00 am we gave up and shoved the remaining gear into whatever bag it would fit.  Our alarm was set for 4:30 to catch the first flight to Lhukla, the gateway to the Khumbu Region. 

Lhukla was a breath of fresh air, literally.  For the first time since leaving our homes clean mountain air filled our lungs.  We wearily packed our mountain of equipment to a nearby lodge and repacked our bags one last time.  Two bags containing camera equipment and what personal items we would need for the nine-day trek to Base Camp would stay with us for the journey in.  The remaining bags were packed and sent strait ahead to Base Camp at approximately 17,500’.  What takes us nine days in order to properly acclimatize takes our porters three or four.  Some of the porters carry double loads of up to 60 or 70 kg in order to sweeten their payday.    

It’s always a relief to hit the trail.  All of the preparation for the trip is over and you are finally under way.  The pace slows down; after all you can only walk so fast.  You are able to take in the sights, sounds and smells as you make your way down the trail.  You especially take in the smells because you know the environment you will be spending the next six weeks in is sterile, nearly void of living organisms and thus scent.  That is except for your own stench and the pungent aroma of your teammates.

                   © Jamie Laidlaw

The destination of our first day was Phakding, a small village situated on the glacial blue waters of the Dudh Koshi River three and a half hours up the trail.  We stretched and exercised our legs for what felt like the first time in an eternity.  Stone walls lined our path while fields were filled with wheat, cabbage, and onions.  Blossoming rhododendron and apple trees competed with pinks and whites.  Our first day was a collage of color and Buddhist culture.

After a much-needed lunch of the local staple dhal bhat (lentils and rice) and a beer we decided to retire for an afternoon nap.  We woke the next morning, nearly 16 hours later, feeling fully rested for the first time in weeks stoked for the adventure to come.  

Jamie Laidlaw

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Comments
  1. Bart Bauer says:

    Cheers guys, good luck. What an adventure, our thoughts and best wishes are with the expedition party. All for now from Bozeman, Bart

  2. Emma says:

    Wow that place is breathtaking isn’t it………I’ve been to Pokhara and the Annapurna circuit. What a great blog and the adventure’s only just started. Maximum respect to you all, and thank you for sharing. Meanwhile I’ll stay tuned in and ready to hear more.

  3. kristi says:

    i’m so excited for you! i will follow along for sure and can’t wait to see you schralping the west face! breathe it in ❤

    • kim havell says:

      yeah guys! wishing you the best for your journey. have fun, be safe, and good luck. we’ll be cheering you on.. and so psyched to read about your progress and your adventure. you both are amazing. have a fantastic mission.

  4. Adam Knoff says:

    Hey Kris and Jamie,
    Just checking in. Dave is over on Makalu right now and wants to say hi. What is the best way. Hope you guys are well.
    Adam

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