Hello from Namche!! Here’s as brief a version of things that I can muster.
After being snowed in, I finally managed to leave Belfast on Monday. Arriving in Kathmandu, I have to admit it wasn’t as hectic and crazy as I thought it would be. I hadn’t managed to bump into anyone from the group on the flight, which surprised me somewhat though I did meet the producer of casualty which was kind of cool.
Back to Kathmandu-I (thankfully) managed to find the ‘Adventure Company’ sign without too much squinting and tentatively started making my hellos.
My group are amazing, there’s just no other way to put it. 14 people of a range of ages and I think half boys and half girls (I can’t be bothered counting just now). I don’t want to say too much about everyone except there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that we’ll be helping each other get up that mountain no matter what. It’s a really nice balance of personalities, and also not to forget our awesome group of Sherpas and porters!
We did a little sightseeing in Kathmandu and the main thing for me was the noticeable Buddhist influences. I think that calmness, sincerity and peace permeates even to the very nature of Nepalese people. Even hawkers step back when you say no-weird!
After a one day delay at Kathmandu due to bad weather at Lukla (and a lot of angst and tension about whether we would have to pay $250 dollars for a helicopter if the flights didn’t go the next day), we finally (and I do mean finally!) made it to Lukla. Thank. God.
Lukla was something really special. The ominous flight to Lukla, the landing strip of doom all added to the excitement but for me it was just the atmosphere at Lukla. Quaint, vibrant, full of the simplicity than only the mountains can bring but not at all in an inferior way. It was magic.
We trekked straight away to Phakding (said correctly it sounds almost like a rude word) and rested for the day. A light walk to a nearby river (my heaven), some decent food and a lot of banter later it was time for an early night.
Then came Namche Ascent. I almost lost it. I don’t know what it was but I think being told it was going to be the second hardest trek of the whole thing sort of put the fear of god in me. Again, if it wasn’t for the group and my demands to ‘talk to me’ to distract me from my own negative thoughts I really probably wouldn’t have made it. But I did.
Namche is great in itself. We are here for a day and a bit to acclimatise and then head on to the hardcore phase of our trip. Today, we took a walk to Sagarmatha National Park, visited the museum where I learnt that an expedition to Everest is like an expedition to outer space, at least in terms of planning. Our final stop was the Panorama Hotel where we were privy to some spectacular views. Our top height today was 3,800m odd and like all good Trekkers we’ll be sleeping low back at 3,440m at Namche itself.
This is our last night before we have no more hot showers, no more Internet access and it will soon get colder and colder.
I’ve been ok so far with the altitude. Some nausea, some dizziness and a little bit of coughing but I’ve been trying to drink as much as possible and the key is no matter how much you drink, your pee should be clear. I’m still winning on that front at least.
We’ve met several other groups who I’m sure we’ll continue to see at every step and in a way this kind of adds to the fun of it all.
Today, I purchased some extra Paracetamol and Ibuprofen and also got myself a traditional scarf and hat. I’m happy.
Without actively doing so, almost everything I own is purple and I have therefore been dubbed, ‘The Purple Lady’. Some members have even offered to swap clothes to keep up my purple streak!
Last night, a few of us checked out the local Irish pub (they’re everywhere aren’t they) and enjoyed a good few rounds of foozball with our Sherpas. They get very animated and succeeded in spilling drinks all over our jackets and fleeces, twice. But the banter was flowing and for some reason 10pm seems to be a very late night.
My sleeping bag has been fairing me well, in fact I’ve been roasting in it! But I’m sure it’s only going to get colder so I am not complaining! One guy told me a little trick which is to stuff your clothes for the next day at the bottom and they’ll be a little toasty when you put them on. Good tip!
Tonight, we are told the Sherpas are going to stage a karaoke and dance evening for us, with Pemba (our pace setter) already giving us a few songs down to Namche today. Let the songs begin.
One thing to maybe say is, force yourself to eat and force yourself to drink. Stay warm, take sweaty cold things off as soon as possible and wash socks and underwear whenever you can. Drying them is not an issue.
That’s probably it for now! I wish I could tell you the ins and outs of our route but unfortunately I’ve pretty much blanked out of all that and am just taking it a day at a time. I’m keeping a diary as best as I can so hopefully you’ll hear from me after I’m back in Kathmandu.
Wish me luck!