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Thursday, October 31, 2013

What does a typical Everest expedition look like? Post 4: Kathmandu

Kathmandu (1,300 m / 4,200 feet) - a few days to sort out details



While in Kathmandu, we have several things to accomplish.  

  1. Climbing Visas.  We need to get our visas for Tibet from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.  Yep, no shortcuts to this step.   According to Dan and others, we take our passports to the Chinese embassy and wait to get the climbing visa.  Various websites provide the same details on the visa situation.  The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issue visas only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9am to 11am local time and cost roughly $200 US for US passports.  I am confident Dan knows how to expedite this process since he has done it many times before.  Most people who describe the process on the web say that it is an odd day of uncertainty - perhaps why so many climbers choose to climb from the Nepal side rather than the Tibet side.  Regardless, I am committed to climb with Dan on the north side so this process will be fun or, at a minimum, entertaining.
  2. Logistics and Training.  Once we get the required things out of the way, we need to meet to discuss logistics and training.  Here is a great photo of Dan talking about logistics for another climb (courtesy of his Facebook postings).  Well, he is either talking about logistics or discussing what food is available for the night's meal.  Regardless, here is Dan and I suspect he will look just like this when we meet to discuss logistics:  
  3. Packing again.  Remember I said that climbing requires packing and unpacking?  Well, the airlines require a certain type of packing and climbing requires another.  The one novelty for me on this climb is that we will have most of our gear taken to the mountain via cars or some other transportation that does not include me walking with all my gear.  Repacking, therefore, affords each of us the opportunity to divide up our gear and sort it out according to when we need it.
  4. Last minute purchases.  I intend to rent/purchase a different O2 mask unless Summit Climb uses the newer masks.  The old Poisk masks apparently leak and freeze up.  Here is the old system:
    My friend Dave Roskelley recommended that I check out the newer masks such as TopOut:
    and get a nasal cannula....
    for sleeping up high because the masks are uncomfortable - no matter which one you use.  I know the discomfort because I slept with my hypoxico mask for several nights when we visited my cousin and his family at the beach.  The oxygen mask and cannula need to be picked up in Kathmandu so I plan to make a trip for them - unless Summit Climb provides them for us in advance (for a fee I know).  
  5. Enjoy a beer and a hardy meal.  Beer and other non-essentials might be scarce on the mountain.  Even if they are present, I do not intend to drink much while climbing.  Alcohol interferes with acclimatization.  It would be a shame to train for months, make huge time and monetary sacrifices only to have the opportunity to summit and enjoy Everest get wiped out by a few drinks.  Nope.  Not me.  I love a good beer from time to time but I can easily abstain while climbing.  I do intend to have a few cold ones while in Kathmandu.  
  6. Walk around and meet the locals.  It is not every day I get to Kathmandu.  In fact, I have never been there so I intend to walk about and see some sights.  The sights I really look forward to seeing are the temples and, perhaps if I am lucky I can steal away for a visit with Elizabeth Hawley and Richard Salisbury.  These two maintain the Himalayan Database - a compilation of all climbing activity in the Himalaya region.  Elizabeth maintained archives, interviews and news from around the area and Richard created the database to store her archives.  Together, they would be an awesome team to visit.  I hope I get the opportunity either before or after my climb.