Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another Day in Kathmandu

What do people do on expeditions? Spend time waiting for the weather to cooperate. I'm quite serious, if most people knew the amount of time expeditions (especially Patagonia ones) spend waiting on weather to cooperate for travel plans or climbing plans they would be stunned. Well, before we have even gotten out of Kathmandu, we have a one day weather delay.

The most cost effective way to get to the start of trekking to Everest Base Camp is to fly from Kathmandu to Lukla on a Twin Otter, a small two engine plan designed to land on 1000 ft. long runways. However, it requires flying through a pass, and that pass has been socked in with clouds. In the last two days, only about four flights have made it in or out. Tomorrow's forecast is not good. In Nepal the main form of navigation is visual flight rules, not GPS. To be quite honest, considering how many aviation accidents happen and how close some of these flight paths are to mountains, a 50 meter location error or three second delay at the wrong time could be deadly. Even if an accurate enough system was available, what if it was struck by lightning? So when the pilot doesn't want to fly, I certainly agree with him.

Our leader presented us with several options, and we took his suggestion to drive seven hours and take a "big helicopter" to Namche Bazaar (or rather a landing 200-300 meters uphill from Namche). I'm quite excited to do this because we will get to see a part of Nepal by bus, then another part by helicopter, and I have never ridden in a helicopter! It also means we are getting out of the city tomorrow morning, and while there is a lot to see and do in Kathmandu, I came here to climb a mountain.

I spent some time in Thamel, a district of Kathmandu, eating at Gaia and more or less walking around. I really enjoy the outdoor eating with plants all around. It's relaxing and quiet, and in my opinion, the plants probably take away from the dust and pollution of the street.
Eating at Gaia. (Don't judge me for staying on the tourist path, I don't want to get sick.)
It strikes me as interesting, and somewhat unexpected, the quality of brand name climbing stores here. You can see The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, and Marmot stores in the picture, Millet and Salewa have stores too. There are likely more. Around the corner, on the other side of the USA embassy, are Nike, Polo, and Adidas stores. For every name brand KFC and Pizza Hut there are five or ten gear shops and restaurants that do basically the same thing with used gear or local foods. There must be at least 30 shops with a selection of down jackets in Kathmandu.
Why buy gear at home when you can buy it all here from legitimate company stores?
In reverse chronological order… last night was just dreadful! I was exhausted at 9:00 PM, not very tired by the time I made it to bed at 9:30, lights out at 10, then I woke up at 1 AM not capable of falling asleep at all, until around 3 AM, then I finally fell asleep and woke up to my alarm at 6 AM for breakfast. It doesn't make sense to me. I'm tired, but then I can't sleep. I'm keeping a normal schedule for here, I suppose it just takes time to adjust to the time difference.

That's all for today! As will often happen, I'm not sure when I will be able to update again. This is all part of the two weeks it takes just to get to base camp.

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