Saturday, April 01, 2006

Smog city

Kathmandu is just one of those places. Loud, dusty, fragrant and full of life. We played at being tourists yesterday and went on a sightseeing mission while waiting for some equipment and the rest of the climbers to arrive. It was pretty impressive and a great way to relax after the mayhem of the last few weeks. By the evening all of our climbers were gathered and Russell sat us down to go over some basics and introduce the new arrivals. Terry O’Conner our doctor flew here straight from a 30hr shift in the Intensive Care Unit back home in Oregon – only for the airline to lose his luggage poor guy. And Brett Merrell our fireman from LA arrived after a few days relaxing in Hong Kong and Bangkok with his partner. He also introduced us to Tim - I can’t remember his surname off hand, but he’s a hulk of a guy and apparently he walked up to Russ a couple of days ago and asked if he could join the expedition! Russ has known him a while but he’d discounted him from this year’s trip as Tim couldn’t get the US$40,000 needed to sign up. Sponsorship came through at the last minute, so we now have a Harley Davidson mechanic from Hollywood with us...
Together with Wayne ‘Cowboy’ Alexander, the custom motorbike mechanic from NZ who designed and built Mark Inglis’ prosthetic Everest legs (see, we are not far off an episode of Discovery’s American Chopper. We also have Bob Killup from Australia with us now, so the only climbers missing are two Swiss gents that are arriving a few weeks late as they are climbing another small peak as part of their acclimatisation and Gerard from Cannes in France. Gerard went for a medical just before setting off and they detected early signs of cancer in his kidney, so they whipped his kidney out and sewed him back up. The doctors have now given him the all clear and apparently he will join us in a couple of weeks…! You can’t make this stuff up.
We also have Rosemary - an English vet, another couple from the Netherlands and Irene joining us briefly further down the line as North Col trekkers. At some point I’ll do a who’s who on the camera and guiding teams, as there are some amazing characters with incredible backgrounds, but there’s loads of us, so that can wait.
As for today, there’s a different atmosphere. From the relaxed comfort of yesterday, there’s a frenetic purpose to everyone’s movements today. Last minute shopping for gear and supplies, and vast blue barrels being rolled around as we all attempt to take the minimum with us to Lhasa, packing the rest in barrels to be driven directly to base camp.
We filmed some simple cognitive tests on the roof of the hotel with a few of the climbers, so that when we repeat them at altitude, the effects of low oxygen levels on the brain will be evident for all to see. Things like asking if John is taller than Bill, who is the shortest person…? Simple stuff, but apparently mind boggling when your brain is fuddled, we’ll see.
Anyway, I’d better fly if I’m going to try and work out how to post some pics. Once we are at base-camp (if not before) I’ll also try and get the rest of the team to start writing their bit so you can get a different take on the expedition from all involved.
But we probably won’t have internet access from now til then as the sat phones are all packed away, and once we arrive it’ll take us at least a few days to set everything up (and stop feeling like death), so there won’t be an update to this blog for a while.
You of course can reply with comments, and I’ve changed the settings so that you don’t have to register to add anything.
Til then thanks for checking this out and take care, Barny


Anonymous Amanda Murray said...

Wow - it sounds like an amazing start to your trip - and it's fantastic to have this blog so we can keep up with you all. Good luck on the climb to base camp. Can't wait to hear what it's like up there. Amanda x

3:59 pm  
Blogger Nabil said...

Your pics and writting are great. We can really share the experience from home . Thanks Barny. Let's hope the mountain is kind to the climbers and that technology is kind to you (and us)...
P.S. a group picture of the climbers would be much appreciated.

1:30 pm  
Anonymous Rachael Peedom said...

Hi, its Jen Peedom's sister and Mark Roger's new sister-in Law Rach here. Just want to wish you all the best of luck. I will be following you every step of the way. Love the updates so far...keep them coming. I have nothing but envy and admiration (and admittedly an element of fear) for all of you and what you are about to attempt. I will be living my life precariously through you all for the next several weeks. Please take care of each other. My thoughts and love are with you. Rach xx

7:40 pm  
Anonymous Rachael peedom said...

Hi Guys,
Rach Peedom (Jen Peedoms sister) here from Sydney. Just got a heightened government warning through about the situation in Nepal. The Australian Government has urged all travellers to "Reconsider their need to travel". Just a warning for you all to take care. See info below.

Rach Peedom x

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Nepal at this time due to the ongoing nationwide violent armed insurgency against the Nepalese Government by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
If you do decide to travel to Nepal, you should exercise extreme caution.
Clashes between government forces and Maoists occur across the country, including in popular trekking and tourist areas. Maoists have targeted vehicles, including buses. There have been indiscriminate bomb attacks by Maoists. Foreigners have been injured in Maoist attacks.
Political parties in Nepal have called a nation-wide bandh for the period 6-9 April 2006. In response, Nepalese authorities have imposed an order prohibiting all public gatherings and demonstrations in the Kathmandu and Lalitpur districts inside the ring-road. This includes the Thamel tourist district in Kathmandu. There is a potential for violence and civil unrest in the period surrounding the bandh. You should monitor the media and other local information sources for information about possible demonstrations or public gatherings and avoid relevant areas.
You should avoid all rallies and public demonstrations as they may turn violent. Government-imposed curfews (including daytime curfews) and bans on gatherings can be called at short notice. Security personnel are authorised to shoot people breaking curfews.
Maoists and political parties call enforced national and local strikes (bandhs) during which most businesses are closed. Lack of transport during strikes can make travel very difficult. Maoists could also attempt to blockade Kathmandu, making travel outside the Kathmandu Valley difficult.
Because of the ongoing violent armed insurgency, we strongly recommend that you register your travel and contact details with us, so we can contact you in an emergency.

1:17 pm  
Blogger Monica said...

Darling Mark and Jen. Just read your email Jen. How brave and how lucky you are to be doing this trip. Thanks for your emails, they are so inspiring, humbling and moving. So glad you are together. thinking of you with lots and lots of love.
Tu hermana Monica

10:21 am  
Blogger Monica said...

Darling Mark and Jen. Just read your email Jen. How brave and how lucky you are to be doing this trip. Thanks for your emails, they are so inspiring, humbling and moving. So glad you are together. thinking of you with lots and lots of love.
Tu hermana Monica

10:23 am  

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