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

A few photos

OK, so now we’re back in Lukla at the trail’s end, awaiting our flight tomorrow morning back to Kathmandu. All in all, not feeling to bad – don’t feel like I have any leftover symptoms of HAPE, and my legs are surprisingly lively. Soon put that to rest with a few beers.

We’ve splashed out ($15) on a posh room at the North Face resort, with our own shower and everything. Actually ended up in exactly the same room as I shared with Colin two years ago. Worth every cent to get the smell of two weeks trekking off.

Anyway, in advance of my return, I thought I’d post a picture or two to show you what its all been about.

And here’s a picture of me where the last one was taken. Looking rather happy for a man about to develop altitude sickness. And below is a picture of what I’m going to be doing later this evening.

Thanks to everyone who has donated, and if you haven’t, why not?
Weather and flight logistics permitting we should be back in the UK on Tuesday evening, so see you soon.

We knocked the bastard off

Well, me and the 100 odd other trekkers who went up Kala Patar today. As trails end it is pretty spectacular, giving as close a view of Everest as you can get without roping up, and today the weather was absolutely clear, which isn’t always the case. I can’t put up any photos until I’m back in Namche (probably tomorrow) but it was worth it, and I managed to also achieve the aim of taking a photo every 5-10 paces all the way from Lukla to the top. Less than my original estimate at around 24,000.

Today didn’t go completely to plan though. I got off to a relatively early start, Lobuche (4940m) at 7am, the ultimate aim to get to the top and back down to Pheriche this evening. It went reasonably well, I crossed the glaciers and got to Gorak Shep (5150m) around 9am, starting straight up the long slog to the top of Kala Patar (5630m). With these steep climbs it’s a case of ‘bistarre, bistarre’ (slowly slowly) – but I got to the top around 11am. At the time I though the last 50m or so was far harder than it should be – normally the sight of the top pushes you on – but I got some time on top alone until 3 enthusiastic Italians joined me on the table-top sized summit.

I guess I spent about half an hour on top before trudging down again, and it was only when I got back down to Gorak Shep I realised why the last bit was so hard. I was still breathless on the flat, felt congested in my left lung and was making odd noises breathing – basically all the signs of high altitude pulmonary edema. Not good. The only thing you can do to make this better is go down – which was my plan anyway – but I did have a moment of panic. I was feeling weak, dizzy and wondered whether I’d actually be able to walk myself down. I stopped for some tea and food in Gorak Shep, still feeling bad, and remembering my insurance docs were back in Lobuche making it a bit difficult to organise a helicopter if necessary, but decided to try to walk down first.

Luckily the concentration of putting one foot in front of the other made me feel better, and I knew if I could get over the glacier crossing it was basically all downhill. I could go on about the survival instinct and ‘epics’ and all that crap, but basically I just needed to get down and did. The lower I got the better I felt, and by the time I got to Thugla (4650m) my head was clear and although I still felt congested, I wasn’t breathless. By the time I got into Pheriche (4250m) – at what seems to be my normal dusk arrival time – my lung felt pretty clear, and the only side effect I seem to have now is a husky voice. The advantage I have now is the Himalayan Rescue Association medical post is literally next door if I have any relapse or side effects. The whole thing was quite scary, even though there will always be someone to help you here, and shows altitude can be a pig when it wants.

So there you have it, mission accomplished (apart from actually getting back home), with only a 100% sickness rate