Wednesday, December 30

Lance Armstrong - My Comeback, up close & personal

"For me living life to the fullest is a lot about testing myself: accepting challenges, training hard, and then going for it"

My kind'a quote!

Summary Cycling Season 2009

RACE KM Meters Climbed TIME AVG SPEED km/h
Aqueduct Challenge 101km 2,030m 4:20 23.3
Dragon Ride Wales 190km 3,000m 07:03 27.0
London to Paris - day 1 170km 1,330m 06:07 27.8
London to Paris - day 2 168km 1,652m 06:41 25.1
London to Paris - day 3 167km 1,393m 07:00 23.9
Tour of Exmoor 123km 3,138m 05:58 20.6
Etape du Tour Mondovélo 172km 3,719m 07:28 23.0
TOTAL 1,091km 16,262m 1 day 20 hours 37 mins 24.4

Sunday, April 26

My Three Namche mistakes - by Raymond E Hose

Extract from Mark’s Blog entry:
Thursday, April 2
Trek Day 02 - Bengkar (2,630m) to Namche Bazaar (3,440m)

This was likely to be a challenging day as we all live below 150m. Climbing 800m when one is already at 2,600m was going to be hard work. How would Wendy and Ray do? Sonal had been ‘gyming’ and hiking around Stanmore but would Mum & Dad's hikes in Swellendam be sufficient to get them up the Namche hill?
Luckily there are a couple distractions before the long climb at the end such as the entrance to Sagarmatha National Park and five exiting suspension bridges.
Well four exhausting hours after departure, Sonal and Ray arrived at Namche Bazaar - a superb effort! I was following Mum who was hand in hand with Nima. The reason for following was that I was bringing my CTU up the valley with me, and was suffering under the load due to the lack of training caused by my broken arm back in January. Wendy was doing a sterling job, one step at a time and an hour later arrived to meet Sonal and Ray in Namche. The killer news was that our lodge was at the top of Namche another 150m higher....

Posted by Hoseman at 1:42 PM

Good Start

After our heady spell of site-seeing in kaleidoscopic Kathmandu, we were almost unprepared for the next bout of excitement of flying to and landing at Lukla (2840 m) on that remarkable and abbreviated runway. Disembarking, we were immediately awed by the towering ice peaks almost within arms reach. After so much sitting around at airports and in aircraft, strolling through various Durbar Squares or ducking and diving in and out of the traffic melee that is boisterous Thamel, it was great to slip on our backpacks and stretch our legs on the great trekking highway that is now the main route to that T-shirt mecca, Kala Patar and Everest Base Camp.

Because we had had a good start and were relatively early, a decision was made to go beyond the usual first stop at Phakding (2610 m). We joyfully pressed on to a smaller village of Bengkar (2630 m) where we enjoyed a good meal and night’s rest in our first Khumbu Tea House/Lodge and were introduced to a Nepalese-style toilet across a cobble stone yard.

My First Mistake

Next day, suitably refreshed, Mark, Nima, Sonal, Wendy and I, (the ‘High Fives’), set off for the Sagarmatha National Park entrance at Josale (2740 m) where we registered with our official permits. Mark amused everyone by enquiring who the oldest person was that had been admitted over the past few weeks. It turned out to be Wendy! My name appeared on the next turned-over page.
While Mark was still fooling around photographing a dear old Sherpani lady, who smiled sweetly for us, Sonal took off on her own. As Mark handed me my backpack he weighed it and said: “Far too heavy!” and strapped it on top of his already huge backpack.

Here occurred my first mistake. Instead of protesting or arguing, I let it be. My backpack contained my personal goodies including new fleece jacket and magnesium tablets and, most importantly, my full water bottle. See my backpack below, strapped to Mark’s backpack!. I set off rationalising that, strong as he is, Mark would soon come pounding up from behind and I would cadge whatever I needed at that stage.

Unfortunately, because of his heavy backpack, made heavier because of his new computer, solar charger, and additional gear, etc Mark decided (wisely) to take it easy during this initial stage and to keep up with Wendy and Nima, her personal Sherpa.

Picture on left shows all I was wearing. Soon, I began to feel thirsty and worried because, obviously, Mark was nowhere to be seen and obviously not about to overtake me with my backpack. As I became more and more de-hydrated, I worried even more and wondered whether I would have the nerve or courage to ask the many people on the trail whether I could beg some water off them – and then I would not know whether that water would be safe!

Just when I felt my situation was becoming desperate enough to ask someone for water, I came across ‘Naartjie Corner’ - one of the spots where, if you were lucky, you could catch a first glimpse of Everest. Here a group of enterprising women were selling tangerines. As I realised that I didn’t even have money to buy these tempting thirst-quenching fruits, I heard my name called and there was Sonal! She immediately gave me a much-needed drink of water and kindly shared her ‘Satsuma’. I assured her that she had just saved my life!

My Second Mistake

“The climb to Namche is long and takes you from a ‘safe’ altitude to one in which altitude sickness is a real danger. One important aid to acclimatisation is to avoid getting exhausted; therefore, it is important to walk slowly on this hill. Many fit trekkers have spoilt their trek by racing up this hill and becoming exhausted or worse.”
Lonely Planet - Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya by Stan Armington (p192)

Sonal and I set off together and then my ‘natural’ (Marloth) pace took over and I went (I would hardly call it ‘racing’) up the hill on my own. (My second mistake!).

Later, but too late, I was to learn the importance of the slow trudging ‘Nepalese’ pace that Nima was teaching Wendy, step by step. When I reached a convenient Tea House at the entrance to Namche (3440 m), I was quite happy to sit and wait for at least half an hour until I saw Sonal approach. By then it was getting quite cool in the afternoon so we decided to find a warmer Tea House where we could sit indoors and yet have a good window view of new arrivals to Namche. In fact, I was quite cold and Sonal saved another of my nine lives by lending me one of her jackets – a bight pink one!

We searched high and low but couldn’t find a suitable venue. We did however see our second casualty being evacuated on horseback. The first was a woman seen on the trail. This time it was an older man with his eyes bulging and his head lolling as he was being lifted onto his horse. He was carefully instructed on how hold the saddle pommel with his right hand and a rope behind with his left. He looked most insecure and I wondered how he would ever reach safety down the steep parts of the trail. Little did I realise that this form of transport would be considered for me in a day of two – “Horse or Helicopter?”

By now, it was getting uncomfortably late. As there was still no sign of the rest of the party, I grew more concerned as to what had happened to them. I knew Nima and Mark were strong as yaks and therefore felt uneasy that something might have gone wrong with Wendy. If this was the case, I reasoned that, presumably, Mark would have returned to Bengkar with Wendy while Nima would have come to look for us at Namche.

I urged Sonal to accompany me once more round the prayer wheels at the Namche entrance – to bring us luck. We then decided to go down to the Sagarmatha police post where we would be sure of meeting our party or, confirming my fears, a remnant of it.
Just then, after another round at the prayer wheels, we spotted our porters who cheerily informed us the rest of the party were on their way. Sonal and I took up positions on the stone wall at Namche’s entrance. I stretched out on my back and promptly fell asleep! In my dream state, I thought I heard Mark’s voice. I woke up and there they were – our prayer wheels had worked!

My Third Mistake

Namche Bazaar (Namche), at 3440 m, is the administrative centre for the Khumbu region. Acclimatisation is important before proceeding higher. This is the first of two specific ‘acclimatisation days’ that everyone should build into their trek schedule. You can spend the day by taking a day hike, by visiting Khunde or Khumjung or by relaxing or exploring Namche Bazaar.
Lonely Planet - Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya by Stan Armington (p195)

My third mistake was not allowing at least two ‘acclimatisation days’ before advancing to a higher altitude. In my defence, I only read about this important suggestion in my guide book after returning to Swellendam. We only spent one day in Namche, acquiring last-minute things like warm Tibetan yak headgear. The following morning we set off for Khumjung.

After deliberating at the stone stile junction whether to take the short but steeper route or the longer, more picturesque route, we chose the shorter route. In the end, it did not matter all that much for Wendy and I because, by afternoon, we were returning via the other route.
We got to Khunde (3840 m) quite happily but, at Khumjung, while photographing the entrance gate and being photographed in turn, I noticed I was feeling a bit odd. I had a typical migraine headache. By the time we got to a Tea House for lunch, I felt I had acquired the dreaded Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) ‘headache’!
Referring to the guide book again:
“You must become familiar with the early symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue. Once you are familiar with these symptoms you must be willing to admit that you have them.”
“Three trekkers on average die each year of altitude sickness in Nepal despite the fact that we now know as much as we need to know to prevent every trekker from dying of altitude sickness.”

I also suffered a tiny bit of disorientation. Trying to tell Mark about my headache, I just couldn’t think of the word ‘migraine’ which annoyed me. We decided to heed the first and foremost well-known injunction which states:
‘Immediately descend to a lower altitude. Never ascend to sleep at a higher altitude while showing any symptoms of AMS.

Regretfully our ‘High Fives’ would be split up with Mark, Sonal and their porter going on to Gokyo while Nima, Wendy and I returned to Namche via the longer picturesque route. Our intention was to rest for a day or two and then go to Thame to await Mark while he did his Gokyo Ri and Renjo Pass circuit.

Unfortunately, I spent a very uncomfortable night. The next morning at Nima’s behest, we were up early to witness that most magnificent panorama of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and Ama Dablam but, by the afternoon, I felt bad again. Much as I regretted doing so, I felt I had to return to a much lower altitude. We would have to forego Thame.

Major Hume (Peter) came to see me and that night we all gathered in the lodge’s kitchen (to be near the satellite phone aerial) and discussed the situation with Mark. He wondered whether I should be evacuated by helicopter but I said: “While I have my own two legs – No”.
Nima said ‘No’, Peter echoed ‘No’ and the proprietor of the Khumbu Lodge, dear old Chuldim, summed up the consensus by saying ‘No’. It was accordingly agreed that, in the morning, Nima, Wendy and I would go back to Lukla and try and get a flight back to Kathmandu. Having seen the horse rescue in operation, that wasn’t even considered.

That night, going to bed, I chanced to see Wendy’s knee – it was a huge swollen balloon! I said: “What’s wrong with your knee?” and got the inevitable answer: “Nothing!” I tried to get her to show Nima but she refused. (Pity I did not photograph it!) At least Wendy agreed to take the anti-inflammatory tablets that I had with me.

My personal thoughts were, at least we were homeward bound. I could still walk but had Wendy gone on to Gokyo, we might well have required some form of casualty evacuation. If not a helicopter or a horse, at least in a porter’s basket!

The next night at Monjo (2840 m) was my worst night ever. I sat up all night trying to breathe and didn’t sleep a wink. After a while, Wendy’s knee started paining her and by now her ankle was also badly swollen. We had a lovely offer by Mark to visit Langtang Reserve but our better judgement told us to head for home. Luckily, but also sadly, Kedar found a suitable cancellation for us.
Days later, back in Swellendam after a bout of severe coughing, I chanced to read another of my guide books. It said tersely:

“If you get a chest infection or upper respiratory infection, which is usually marked by the production of green phlegm and difficult breathing, it is time to hit the antibiotics.”
The Trekking Peaks of Nepal by Bill O’Connor p201

My symptoms exactly! I wasn’t prepared to make yet another mistake and immediately made an appointment to see my doctor. I asked: “Are my lungs injured (as a result of High Altitude Mountain Sickness) or infected? The doctor said: “It’s definitely an infection in both lungs and sinuses!” Fortunately, after the antibiotics, there is now a definite sense of improvement.

Much Later

Days later, Mark (concluding independently), said he did not think I had caught AMS. He felt I had caught a chill waiting at Namche. I’m inclined to heartily agree with him – and with the doctor who felt the same! I then remembered I thought I had picked up a flu bug in the bus we travelled in to Camps Bay earlier in the month. Maybe something was still lurking in my system?

Wendy also saw a doctor who tested her knee and diagnosed an inflamed media meniscus, the cushion pad that rests under the knee on top of the lower leg joint. He was concerned that this cushion might have torn or ruptured - which would have meant micro-surgery. Nice!

It only requires three small punctures – one above the knee for the tiny camera, and the other two for the needle and thread to stitch it up! Fortunately, after a course of medication, the knee seems to have recovered - but has not been tested yet.

Anyone for 12-Uur Peak?

temp photos

Saturday, April 18

Back to Kathmandu again - Sights, sounds and smells and very disappointing news!

Luckily we all got out, albeit on different flights this morning from
Lukla. My flight quite bumpy due to fat cumulonimbus clouds along the
way. Shower, 5h1t shave and shampoo - fresh clothes! Always nice to get back
after a trip, especially if been roughing it up a bit.

Discussions with Navin, don't go very well - price for expedition has
had to triple due to me being solo. Tempted to pay but opportunity cost
just to ridiculously high! Its crazy though to come all this way, get
physically and mentally prepared and then be faced with this. Even if I
agree to pay, its still not certain how quick climbing permits will be
released - could end up waiting weeks - this was the main reason why
Andrew Lock decided to cancel. Yes the mountain will still be there, but
I'm not getting any younger. My first attempt was in 2006, so if I try
again in 2010 - that's 4 years!

So its odd feelings... Obviously will be great to see Claire (and I have
already missed her very much), but potentially a great time to be up a
mountain instead of fretting over the UK job market. Another month away
will give it more time to rebalance - something I believe it needs to do

The drought over the winter months would have meant that the mountain
may have been "clean". Too much snow on the last attempts were
contributory reasons for not having summited. Yes it would have meant
that the crevasses would have been more exposed, but with careful
route-finding and placing adequate protection these risks could have
been reduced. The "valley" above camp II is often a slog and often
impassable if on ones own, but this year might have been perfect. Oh to
be at camp III looking up towards the summit! Rats rats and more

So not a happy bunny!

Even worse I now have to repack i.e.unpack....

Thursday, April 16

Above and around Namche Bazaar

Trek Day 15 & 16 - Roaming above Thame, then back to Lukla

A little earlier than normal - 9:00am, as going to go all the way down
to Namche. Have requested "single" expedition quote for Navin of Explore
Himalaya. Hopefully no surprises there!
Follow the Bhote Koshi river down the valley. Potatoes planting has
begun in Mingmo, and planters will slowly work their way up the valley
as it gets warmer. Fantastic peaks to the East - see some great
waterfall ice. Possible trip for the future - Location Google Earth -
N27 51 41.2 E086 38 38.5
Just above Thame, a village has almost been isolated by extreme erosion
by the river. Take a short cut to this village by crossing the Bhote
Koshi river - cold but with boots no issues - half way up thighs. In end
short cut requires second crossing back and hence ends up being a "long"
cut. Great just to be out exploring on my own - hardly see anyone along
the way...
Catch main trail back just above Thame. Certainly a lovely but different
valley - glacier shaped rather than V shaped as by the Bhote Koshi river.
Sorry that "family" did not meet in Thame - think would have been a
restful experience, but with little side one day adventures if required.
Thame is at 3,820m, so certainly feeling the thicker air. Then back
across Bhote Koshi at official crossing point - bridge over deep gorge
with smooth eroded rocks. Left a prayer flag for Mum & Dad tied to the
Next village is Thamo 3,493m, which also has a monastery. Got dehydrated
as kept looking for a nice (view) lodge to stop, but most closed. Not
sure why this route no very popular - does not have the T shirt draw
card of Kalar Patar perhaps - fine by me though.
A little further down recognised Major Hume who had walked up the trail
from Namche to meet me - drank all of his water! Great to see him - pity
we had not met up earlier for a pass or two...Arrive Namche and met up
with James for & Peter for dinner & beers...

Nothing much to report on next day as we all "mosied" back down to Lukla
- strange feeling will I be back? Stayed with Dawa again - prime Lotse 3
bedroomed suite

Tuesday, April 14

Trek Day 14 - All the way down to Maralung

Magic morning, clear, no wind. Slow pack up, discuss and continue
renegotiating finances with Nima Tenji - agreement!
Thereafter in my usual style, decide to "beetle" down the valley. As
this (Nangpa La) objective is "over" need to start focussing on next -
Have felt extremely good so far - no issues, therefore a great platform
for climbing. Just hope the rest can be sorted out.
Walk - 10:00 to 13:45, this after picking up bag left at Arya. Met Pemba
II's wife at Arya lodge.
On arrival at Maralung agree that Nima Tenji can carry on down to home
below Lukla- Maybe will see him later on Shisha.

Although is great to be in the Nangpa La valley for acclimatising not
sure I will be back. It would be significantly more pleasant to achieve
"something". But as this trek is really about getting ready to climb,
think I have achieved a great platform - fitness, acclimatised and
"mountain legs".

Monday, April 13

What I hoped to see...

Photo Credit: FlipityJipity

Nangpa La

Trek Day 13 - Rats, Nangpa La 2 - Hoseman 0

Sun rises us...
Breakfast and map reading skills lesson for Nima T
So much one can teach these guys about the outdoors - this then they can
impart to their clients in the future and make everyone's trip that much
more rewarding
Bear West up a different valley towards Lunak (2007 camp site). This
valley flows east west so can access the Inmarsat satellites. Call Mum &
Dad - back home all fine.
Couple of climbers based at Lunak - attempting highest unclimbed peak
left in Nepal, just under 7,000m - Its remote, challenging and not very
accessible, hence its status - name & exact location to follow... Guys
are from Washington state where I learnt many good climbing skills from
Willie Pritty.
We forge on and bear North up the alongside the Nangpa glacier valley,
But the trail just disappears. Nangpa La seems tantalisingly close. The
main problems come from the active Nangpa glacier. This is eroding the
valley walls where the "trail" goes. On the steep sections there is
constant rock fall. From where the trail is to the top of the glacier
below is a good 125m, A daunting sight when you are right on its edge.
Nima T an I try scrambling higher up the valley slope - but this proves
fruitless due the the effort/time/risk that it takes with no reward.
It's one large quarry with a jumble of huge, often unstable boulders.
Another option would be to drop down onto the glacier, but we agree that
this will take longer than the supplies we are carrying. The risk of an
accident would also be high due to the icy rocky undulating moving
glacier surface.
So it becomes 2-0 to the Nangpa La! More rats...
Our turn around point is approximately N28 01 40.0 E086 35 14.3 at 5,200m
I take my hat of to the Tibetans and their Yaks! Hopefully they may
resume their journey so that the trail can be re-established.

Sunday, April 12

Trek Day 12 - Action, bag found, Nangpa La here we come - Camp I

Up with the sun again - no need to rush things
Nima Tenji arrives after having checked that the folks got safely on the
plane to KTM. Note, this after two full days of walking!
He had gone via Arya and found my kitbag - great news as we can go
onward and upwards for some unfinished business on the Nangpa La!
Nima Tenji had found one of the daughters who happened to pop into their
"lower" abode and made contact. She sleeps higher up where the Yaks are
grazing. Pack up and share gear, me mainly carrying CTU and off on the
hardly used trail up to the Nangpa La. It used to be one of the main
trails between Tibet and Nepal, with the Tibetans bringing supplies to
sell at the weekly market at Namche Bazaar.Unfortunately this seems to
have stopped!
Back in September 2007 I tried (in vain) with Major Hume to get to the
top of the pass. With no lodges on the way one needs to camp and carry
all required supplies.
Its great to be "alone" on the trail just with these incredible vistas.
On either side of the valley that we are ascending are lines of 6 to 7
thousand meter peaks. We do our first foray across a relatively small
glacier moraine with no difficulty. The trail is "clear" (marked with
Yak dung) which is good news if remains that way.
Camp I was pitched at next to stream at N27 58 44.1 E086 36 51.3 at
4,812m a height which I'm now completely comfortable which is great.
Listen to Half Dome 1985 Lighting fiasco audible book on iPod - man
alive, then rough night as hips not used to hard cold ground due to
Thermarest going flat. The joys of camping...

Saturday, April 11

Trek Day 11 - Lungde the hidden village

This illusive (on way down from Renjo Pass) village is actually only 50
minutes back but up the trail. It's slightly raised from the main route
hence my missing it. Anyway glad now that I have stayed in Maralung as
have met and shared some time with a lovely Sherpa family - Ang Phurba
Sherpa (father), Lhakpa Futi Sherpa (mother), Ang Chhutin Sherpa
(daughter 1), Pasang Dikee Sherpa (daughter 2) and last but not least
Sanche Khadka Sherpa (son)
Leave my pack at middle lodge and take CTU up the hill (300m vertical)
to get some comms - aka Mark Bauer
Must be a real sight sitting in the middle of know where with all this
gear, chatting away. At least I could snuggle behind the solar panel to
keep out of the cool wind. Long hat to Mrs H which was great - rats!
Zens hitting the hot spots of London as well!
Back down to first lodge - still no sign of my kitbag with all my
camping gear - came the alternative way so that I did not have to lug it
over the Renjo pass. Think its locked in someone's lodge who is not here
today - sure it will turn up, this is Nepal!

Friday, April 10

Trek Day 10 - Marulung

Promise photo's are coming soon! Have had amazing blue skies so some
lovely scenes...
Hope you all had a good Easter - missed the radar here
As wrote in my diary decided to stay (in Maralung) today, to relax,
think, contemplate...
First day since I left London that I don't have to worry about anyone else.
Techie Hose has his iPhone playing his "movies" play list and office now
set-up with the Yaks in the back yard - doing my bit for global warming
by utilising the solar panel to charge ll my equipment. Although is an
extra 7kg (on top of all the other required gear) I'm now comfortable
using it all. I'll do a gear review later on. James,any rules require
checking, I still have my remote access - ha ha
Interesting watching the family "day" - amazing how different from our -
and interestingly no real urge to change..It's probably not that easy as
all driven by volume of tourists/trekkers but do feel that with the time
they do have, could utilise better and probably bring in more
revenue...If anyone is interested, I do have some ideas of by us giving
some time, some big improvements could be made to the Nepali's standard
of living...maybe even tax deductible - so if interested send me an email
Have just shared by spaghetti lunch with the family cow - she seems to
especially like the egg bits!

Thursday, April 9

Trek Day 09 - Gokyo to Maralung via Renjo La "pass" (5,340m)

An early start, cheers to Sonal and thankfully not suffering from any of
the rum enjoyed the night before! Weather poor though which was going to
make the journey much harder. Low cloud and falling snow, luckily a
group of Nepali teachers marking the trail.But steep sections were
treacherous and I took two tumbles down the hill- luckily no harm done
to my arm but scary moments. Crampons would have been very useful! I
wonder how Major Hume is doing, especially over the Cho La.
After 3 hours reached the top and thankfully all in one piece. Glimpses
of Gokyo and the lakes on the other side through the mist. The other
side consists of the most amazing steps of stonework down into the
valley below. Great if not covered in snow but a little scary when
covered and form this big slide all the way down. So even more calories
burnt up concentrating on the way down.
My intentions were to stay at Pemba Sherpa's lodge in Arya and to make
this my base for the foray up the Nangpa La (pass on the border with
Tibet) but as I approached it it seemed awfully quiet! I whistled down
but got no reaction and then realised that I would have to go even
further down to the village below - many grumbles! This was not good
news as it meant the "base" would be further down the valley meaning
another night camping out - this was not in my food/supplies budget.
In the end I ended walking down to Maralung and luckily found a young
Sherpa, Sanche, who took me to his mothers lodge - it was still snowing
so I was cold and still grumpy about Arya
Slept from 3:00pm to 6:00pm and then dinner of vegetable soup and meat
momo's until 8:00pm - then slept another 11 hours

Blog Archive