Tuesday, August 22

In Kathmandu!

One thing about blogging is that many things can happen between blogs, and the writer has to remember that the last thing readers see is the last blog - therefore one has too follow on..

So Heathrow.... as Claire has said, it couldn't have gone smoother. We arrived 3 hours before take off and were second in the check-in Q. The guy behind the desk, didn't even ask me one question (did you pack your bags etc etc..). Just said I was booked all the way through and that was that. What a relief! Claire had just given me two of her Ibruprofens as I had a splitting headache. That quickly cleared especially due to the smooth check-in. My extra 10kg was not even noticed. After a very sad good-bye to Claire, I joined the Q for the security check...that did snake around the world (I think 3 times) but I eventually got through and into duty free.

Qatar airways is great. Plenty of leg room and a new plane, personalised video good food etc etc 3 of the cabin crew were South Africans and all seemed very happy working for Qatar. Smoke could be seen as we flew over Bagdad and Iraq - not not really. Watched The Sentinel with Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria - quite fun, but 24 still better.

Doha international airport was new and clean - aircon was actually quite cool and I had my (high altitude) puffa jacket over me while I slept the couple of hours for the Kathmandu (KTM) connection - crazy seeing was over 40 degrees outside. Only one of two Europeans on the flight, and the tallest, rest all Nepales. I sat next to Mingma Gelu Sherpa (5 time Everest summiter).

His two sisters are also climbers in their own right. His one sister summited Everest when she was 15 and his other is the only woman to have summited 5 times! See http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?id=699. Hopefully will be able to arrange some mountain food from his suppliers for my trip - one thing that I did not get time to do back in the UK. Anyway, good flight again, about half full and arrived at KTM at about 18:45. Met by Samir from Explore Himalaya See www.explore-himalaya.com. This is a great company run by Suman Pandey and I can highly recommend them. I used them for my trip to Everest Base camp back in 1998. They dropped me off at the Hotel Marshyangdi - very pleasant twin room on the second floor (view over garden at the side) with hot water, aircon and multi channel TV! See www.hotelmarshyangdi.com. Just so that you have an idea I'm paying $25 including breakfast. immediately went out to explore the local Thamel sights and very much sounds. I forgot to mention that the trip from the airport was entertaining to say the least. Although everyone and everything is all over the road, they all seem to co-exist somehow.

KTM was very much how I remembered - I think though some of the roads have new tar on them - less mud! Amazing the number of industries jam packed next to each other. Everyone trying to get your business - things have been quieter for the last couple of years to to the political instability, but on the ground all seems just the same. There is some issue with petrol prices but life seems to carry on...

This morning was clear and blue and I had a long relaxing breakfast in the hotels garden. Have decided to go to Langtang for my 8/9 day pre-climb trek. Objective will be to get my "mountain legs" and get as acclimatised as I can prior to our drive to Shisha base camp. See www.welcomenepal.com/new/destinations_parks_langtang.asp. Bill Tilman and Peter Lloyd explored this area in 1949 and this is detailed in his book "Nepal Himalaya". He described the valley as one of the most beautiful in the world. Here was his peak Gangchempo - the "glorious Fluted Peak".

So it should be fabulous, other than the rain (I'm taking a large golfing umbrella - and no Dries it's not a DeBeers one) and the leaches. As very early in the season I should also have some peace and quiet and there should not be any lost wildebeest on the trail. Will also be testing out my equipment - new sat phone, GPS etc along the way. Another reason for going to this area is that Shisha is just to the north - who knows if I get high enough I might even to have my first glimse of my objective.

So plan is to finalise some food and gear tomorrow and then catch a local bus the next day to Dhunche (7/8 hours on a good day!). Then trek North West to Morimoto Peaks base camp. How far up I go will depend on conditions - one never knows what the monsoon might have done in the valleys...
Will blog again tomorrow
By the way you can text me: https://sms.thuraya.com

My sat number is +88216 52 00 22 91 Say who you are else I won't know...

Don't worry if I don't respond - saving batteries...

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