Friday, April 4, 2014

I'm in Kathmandu!

Well, everything has gone incredibly smoothly. Both of my bags arrived. No delays to flights. No bad weather. I met up with a couple of employees, including the general manager, of Asian Trekking. Now I'm set up at the Yak and Yeti, a really nice hotel. Looking at the list of other members on our expedition I was stunned to see Melissa Arnot on the list. I'm a little starstruck.
Cows Eating Just Outside a Grocery Store in Kathmandu
There is a bad side to the story today. Last night I jammed my toe against a bed post in my hotel room. Now it doesn't feel the greatest. For all I know, it could be broken. (For reference it was bent inward before and my right foot is bent the same way. It's funny, and a tad worrying, spending all this time and effort to prepare, and I might have broken a toe at the last minute. I'm not worried yet because I can walk on it without a limp. Plus, there is at least one story of a guide with a broken arm trekking to Everest and after the cast came off he ended up summiting.
Is it broken?
In part, I was pretty spaced out at the airport and drive through Kathmandu. I'm tired from the travel and it's very comparable to Indonesia, Pakistan and Rwanda, and there is the usual hustle and bustle of people doing business in a language I do not understand. Yet as Nepal becomes the 11th country I have stamped in my passport, a lot of novelty of "off the beaten path" has worn off. Seeing the developing world again, I hardly took any pictures, just the one of cows above, because everything else to me seemed to normal. It makes me sad and fearful in a way, that somehow I might be less culturally sensitive than I was before.

Finally, before I even arrived in Nepal, the first death of the Everest 2014 spring season occurred to Mingma Tenzing from a bout of HAPE. I'm pretty shocked. I mean, it seems he became sick at base camp, and that's pretty rare. Then he didn't get better in Kathmandu, which according to my altitude watch is somewhere between 4200 and 5500 feet of elevation. This guy lived at altitude. There has to be something else at play in his case… some undiscovered or misunderstood aspect of biology, or biochemistry. There you go, there are more deaths on Everest in 2014 than summits. This will be yet another year with at least one death on the mountain. I was really hoping that one of these years, like this one, there wouldn't be a death for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Once again I am the youngest, the only 27 year old or younger, on this expedition, just like I was in Pakistan. There are two other men born in 1986 on this particular expedition, both in January. Well, I have a meeting at the Ministry of Tourism for a briefing, then a meeting at the Asian Trekking headquarters, then we are off to dinner together. For now, stay safe everyone!

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