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

Stuck in a cloud

For the first time in the couple of weeks we have been in the mountains, the weather is not glorious. It is, in fact, far from glorious. It is, in fact, tipping down with rain, and Lukla is inside a big cloud.

This is not good for several reasons. Firstly, I don’t have a chance to top up my tan. Secondly, it means no flights to Kathmandu. This is a problem, as if there are no flights to Kathmandu, we can’t be in Kathmandu to catch our flights home tomorrow.

Consequently we are

  1. Praying to whatever gods we can think of to get rid of the clouds
  2. Checking out how much replacement flights will be
  3. Crying into our lattes at the fake Starbucks

Last year there was a period of a week where there were no flights out of Lukla. Please not again..

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.

in Namche – posting through a very small pipe

Hello everyone, we’ve made it to Namche Bazaar, gateway to the high regions and home of many sellers of yak related trinkets. So far our trip has been fairly true to form;

Preparation

  • Manage to faff about a lot getting last minute things, panic about how much we’re packing, take it anyway
  • Get to Heathrow in plenty of time, but manage to lose the valet parking man so may as well have got cheap parking. Dinner is Pret sandwich and a quick pint

Flights

  • Very annoyed as despite having picked window seats online, Virgin re-allocated them to centre – didn’t look at boarding passes so only realised when on the plane.
  • Was slightly more concerned that our bags were checked through to Kathmandu, but we weren’t. Getting on a flight to Delhi with no onward boarding pass and no visa was a little worrying
  • However a nice man came and collected us at the gate, fastracked through transit and got us to the next flight on time. Which also left and arrived on time

First night in Kathmandu

  • Again true to form, the Kathmandu Guest House did not have a room, despite the reservation, but found us a nice room elsewhere with a balcony overlooking a… not sure what, ‘favella’ might get the right feel.
  • We were initially not true to form in getting flight tickets from Kathmandu to Lukla, trekking permits & changing money in record time. We also decided due to the stupid amount of gear I’m carrying to hire a porter – who could be there for us the following day in Lukla
  • More true to form, we then had a few beers at the Northfield Cafe, then some more at the New Orleans with some food, then got some take-outs to have on the roof terrace of the hotel. Then got some more take outs. This was not sensible as we had a 6:15 flight the next day.

Lukla flight & first days trekking 

  • Getting to the flight, well it was a bit of a challenge in the getting up front, but we got there (just), and it was spectacular. Let’s see if I can add a picture from here..

Now that didn’t take too long, so here’s another of the landing strip

  • Met up with our porter, D.B. Tamang, who seems like a very nice man. He carries Beccy’s pack whilst I keep mine, I’d like to make that clear.
  • The first days trek was bit hungover, but we got all the way to Monjo at the national park entrance, I took around 3,000 photos and realised my pack was too damn heavy.
  • Slept the sleep of people who haven’t slept properly for 48 hours and have just done 5 hours trekking.

Into Namche

  • The next day the trek up to Namche was as hard as I remember it, but we did get our first sight of Everest. Went quite slowly, and then both were a little miffed when the lodge our porter D.B. had booked was right at the top of Namche. Which is about 100m further up than the bottom. Oh Well.
  • Now up to 7,100 photos, give or take. The early stuff is a bit ropey, working on the technique and rig to try and make it steadier, but have realised I do need a photo every 5-10 paces. That’s a lot. At least the solar panel seems to be working.
  • Also getting a lot of love (or just attention) with the camera rig and solar pack. When I tell them what I’m doing the reaction is a mixture of quiet respect, awe, and ‘another lunatic Englishman’. Probably a lot more of the latter.

I put a couple of quick rushes together on the laptop, then downgraded them massively as I thought the connection here would be slower. Then also realised I dumped it in the wrong format, so the following is i) rough ii) downgraded from hd to phone quality iii) re-converted via an online file converter to the right format and iv) I haven’t got the technique to make it less jumpy yet. Oh well, have a look anyway;

This is a view over Namche, a chopper landing at Syangboche airstrip, and entering the Everest View Hotel.

Like I said, looks a bit lot crap – I think it only works when the resolution is right. May replace this link later.

As far as other stuff goes, we are both hale and hearty, excepting a slight headache for Beccy which actually went away when we had a coffee – think it was caffeine withdrawal as had oxygen saturation tests and all good.

Next update – who know’s? I’ve heard rumour of an internet cafe in Dingboche, 3 nights onward.

In the meantime, donate!