Luckily back home, but far from finished

I’ve now been back in the UK for a little over a week, but it could have been very different. The last post was about our ‘interesting’ flight back from Lukla, and after the (actually quite minor) psychological trauma it inflicted I have not updated the blog, but after a certain piece of information was pointed out I thought I ought to mention it.

This was Lukla on the day we flew out.

OK, so not too bad, but what you have to remember is the entire area is surrounded with quite large mountains that are not very visible when covered by clouds, and the planes that fly in and out of here don’t have any fancy radar or instrument landing systems. Simply put, if you can’t see it, you don’t fly there, and if you can’t see through it, you don’t fly through it.

We got out. We knew we were luckily, just not quite how lucky.

We were on one of only two flights that got out that day (31st October 2011, for reference). Lukla then was shut for a little while. Actually a week, and they were still working through the backlog yesterday (9th November 2011), so if we hadn’t got out, we might still be in Nepal today.

The biggest thanks needs to go to our porter, D.B. Tamang, who despite technically being off the clock found us moping into our drinks in the early afternoon with the rallying cry of ‘first flight! you on first flight! coming now! airport now!’.

This was despite the fact that the previous afternoon when re-confirming our flights I was sure we had been put on the third flight, which for clarity did not actually make it that day.

We’ve contacted the trekking agency to get an extra bonus tip to him. Only fair, and he was great throughout.

So in the end we got back to Kathmandu on the day, if not the time expected. And as expected the Kathmandu Guest House had made a hash of our booking, so we stayed at the Excelsior around the corner. Although it doesn’t have the gardens and bar area, it does have a nice roof terrace in a traditional 6 stories up not sure if it’s safe nepali style.

What this doesn’t give an impression of is the noise of the streets below.

Of course it will, once I’ve pulled together all the various threads of the Stop Frame Everest film. But i do think it may be some time away, just down to pure logistics


I have around 25,000 photos and a few hundred video and sound clips to pull together, So far, in a week, all I’ve managed to do is put archive pictures into fairly generic folders based on where taken. I’ve started to work out the best way to go to video from stills with stabilisation, but it aint easy.

So lots of beta, like this;

The film will take a good few months, but I’m hoping will be ready for a premier at one of the Leamington Underground Cinema events in February – i.e. debut on the big screen at the Apollo.

And I’ll keep you all updated with teasers.

BTW – donations are still open now I’ve actually done the bleeding trek


Stumbling towards fitness

As you can tell from the photo I’m feeling pretty chuffed with my progress so far. It was really nice to go out to Philadelphia to train, if somewhat profligate given the aim of raising money for charity. However you have to keep the motivation going, and I would never condone false photographic tricks to persuade potential sponsors I was working hard.

Back in the real world, any efforts to gain some semblance of a training program have been shafted somewhat by social engagements this week. I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘any excuse’ but my brother’s wedding isn’t something I can easily get out of, particularly when I’m both a witness on the wedding day and photographer the next day for the reception. The copious flowing booze doesn’t help – as anyone who knows me will testify, I can resist anything except temptation.

I have, however managed to fit in (in descending order of usefulness)

  • alternate nights 30-40 minute run whilst Lila is being put to bed (as the other nights I’m putting her to bed)
  • 3 days a week speed yomp up and down town between childminder and home / work
  • a couple of times a week quick 20 minute session on the cross trainer in-between times I have to either deal with the girl or the noise would wake her up
  • 1-2 days  week of not actually getting drunk

Written like that, it sounds as if I’m actually making an effort, but I wouldn’t want to mislead you into believing I’m dedicating all my spare time. This weekend we’re going to Paris

Yep that’s the one, with scary dog statues on the top of buildings, pointy bits of scrap metal as cultural anchors and legendarily arsey waiters. I do have two really good excuses for yet another break in any kind of training schedule (if it warrants the name). They are

  1. It is our wedding anniversary – our 18th. We must have got married when we were 12, or I’m so old my memory is failing. Or both.
  2. In France we can avoid the slew of English language 9/11 documentaries on TV. And for f***s sake it’s 11/9 you bloody colonials. How does Month/Day/Year make more sense than Day/Month/Year? At least do Year/Month/Day if you want efficiency and a nice sort order…

Anyway. You can make your mind up which is the better justification. In the meantime, to alleviate all the depressingness in the world at the moment, here’s a unicorn chaser.

And btw, if you haven’t sponsored me yet, donations are still welcome.

Is that the time? $£!!!

Anyone who has idly navigated to the home page of this blog may have noticed a countdown widget that I’ve added. When I did I got a bit of a shock, as it tells me today there is only one month and three weeks left until the trek.

Normally I would be quite sanguine about this, after all there is a lot you can achieve in the 53 odd days I have left. However it is a little more concerning as in those intervening days I have to fit in;

  • 34 days of work. A drag, but someone’s got to fund the trip. Oh that’ll be me then.
  • 3 days in Paris. It is our wedding anniversary after all.
  • 3 days of weddings – and probably 2 days of recovery to go with them.
  • My father’s 70th birthday party; another day and another day recovering.
  • 4 days of weekends either away or with visitors where I won’t be able to get much else achieved.

Not even counting the ad-hoc bits pieces (small child wrangling, band practices, fish maintenance) exaggerated tabloid-style maths tells me I have only 5 days left to prepare.

How did that happen?

Next thing you’ll be telling me I should use early mornings and evenings to train….

Perhaps you could help my motivation, and if you haven’t already I could give you a gentle nudge in the direction of sponsoring me?

Planning…sort of

So at the weekend finally, despite the great distance between us, Beccy and I managed to catch up to do some planning. Given that she lives in Penzance and I in Leamington Spa, the obvious place to meet was Cambridge.

Now there was another reason for catching up, that being the an imminent birthday on the part of my trekking partner. Delicacy (and a probable kick in the knackers) forbids me from stating a number. But it was a good excuse to get together in any case, as we haven’t caught up for a while regardless of our planned trip.

Normally when you want to go through plans for something that is at least fairly challenging, there are quite a few things to think about. You need itineraries, packing lists, contingency & emergency plans, and to decide all sort of important things like who’s going to get the top bunk. Traditionally this is done with a notepad, a fresh HB pencil (with rubber attached), and to keep you going a nice pot of tea and some biscuits. I go for strong English breakfast and some Hob-Nobs personally. With tea, biscuits and a well sharpened pencil you can achieve pretty much anything. That’s all the British Empire was based upon – that and clever commercial exploitation mixed with devious flattery of the local ruling classes, subtly interspersed with brutal repression, of course – but you can’t plan a good crackdown without tea and biscuits. I digress…

However this was a birthday party, and so the refreshments were a little more on the..

potent side. And I don’t remember there being a single Hob-Nob in sight. Disgraceful, I thought. So this, and the distinct lack of books / maps / paper / sharp HB pencils brought meant that the planning was at best limited.

In fact it mostly consisted of talking a load of cobblers and not really achieving anything, other than planning to have a planning session, and perhaps if we can get our arses into gear a training trek up Snowdon together to test pack weights & camera gear as much as fitness. Although I seriously did start having my doubts about the whole thing when Beccy asked where Snowdon was. My facetious answer of ‘Wales’ probably didn’t help.

For your information Beccy, its here

So it was pretty much a case of competition drinking for the evening and regretting it in the morning.


Happy Birthday Beccy

On the proper planning side I have two more pieces of technology that may help with the film; a Freeloader solar battery charger, which according to my calculations won’t be quick enough to charge all the batteries I need but may reduce the attrition, and a shoulder mount to stop my arms from falling off holding up the camera to take photos every 10 seconds.

As you can see below, it makes me look a real  twat  professional.