Words of the Wise Wombat


Ewen must have been right - whinging can be therapeutic, as this morning I awoke (or rather was dragged out of bed by a starving cat who was going to DIE if he didn't have breakfast), with my eyes open enough to see the whites, a relatively clear head and feeling considerably better. Yay! (again).

Thanks Ewen. :)

Still nothing much . . .


I am rather frustrated with this sinusitis-thingy. Using an inhaler and taking stronger pain killers with Codeine has certainly helped quite a bit, as has keeping tucked up in a warm room and trying to avoid the cold.

Having said that, I getting so frightfully fed up with it. I'm sort of OK and then, wham! The Earache ramps up a few notches, the glands become hard and more painful, and the throat raw and sore. I'm tired and sleeping a great deal, and despite the use of artificial tears my eyes are so dry and gritty it is getting difficult to see.

Whinge whinge whinge. Sorry.

Nothing much to report


Bob seems to be happy a fabulous time, finding that his time spent travelling around Nepal outside of Kathmandu to be particularly satisfying:

On Tuesday morning Kamal and I visited the temple again at 6am, to see the early worshippers in a more subdued atmosphere before the crowds of pilgrims arrived (the cable car starts operating at 9am). After breakfast we headed from Manakamana towards Gorkha, a six hour trek through terraced farms, small villages and areas of forest. It was a delightful day's walk, with no sign of any tourists and the locals most friendly and interested in me. We stopped many times to eat small, rich-tasting yellow berries that grow in prickly bushes everywhere in the region. The track varied from an easy, wide, gravel path, to a narrow track through farmland, to steep, rocky trails. We said hullo ("Namaste") to all the locals, and many chatted to Kamal, asking where I was from and what I was doing there.

A bloke from a pretty, traditional farmhouse waved to us and invited us to have tea with him. We accepted, sitting on the ground that acted as his front porch, with chickens hopping over us and goats nudging our backs. There were only two men there, the 64 year old father and his son. The women were out working in the fields, as all women do during the day. We drank tea and then a couple of cups of roxy, a fermented millet drink. It was very pleasant, and the bloke allowed me to look inside the tiny, unlit house. Though electricity was connected, it operates for only limited periods, as everywhere in Nepal. The building was constructed of stone and rendered with clay and had a thatched roof. There was a fire going in the one room, with just a single, tiny window, so it was smoky and blackened with many cooking implements. The views from the "porch" were fabulous, looking over a deep gully of terraced green fields, dotted with orange and lime trees.

We continued with our trek, stopping in a small shop in a tiny village for lunch. We drank Cokes while the lady who ran the shop (most family run businesses are run by women) prepared the traditional, and by now, very familiar meal of daal baht (literally, "lentil soup with rice"). The husband just sat and did nothing (again, this seems to be the occupation of many Nepalese men while their wives work). Within a minute of us arriving and starting our Cokes a horde of primary school children surrrounded me, just staring and occasionally chatting to themselves. I don't think they'd ever been so close to a "gora" or white person before. We ate lunch around the back of the shop, seated on the dirt (swept and spotless), as we were served from pots on the clay fire. The food was very nice and the people could not have been friendlier.

After lunch the track descended several hundred metres through forest to a small river where a group of naked young boys were jumping and swimming. On the far side of the river the track became a rough road. As we started to climb a truck loaded with rocks came up and offered us a lift to the top. We hopped in the cabin, making eight men, plus the hapless driver, and several more on the rocks in the back. The truck was an Indian-made Tata, and must have been 40 years old. The driver appeared to be skilful but the truck was blowing oil and struggled up the steep, stony road. Eventually the driver decided to stop to make some running repairs, so Kamal and I continued on foot.

At the top of the hill we reached a sealed road, and we caught a small, crowded local bus for the last four kilometeres into the town of Gorkha, our destination for the night. I stayed in what appeared to be the best hotel in town, and had toilet and shower (could get only cold water) as well as a fan. It was very comfortable for the two nights we were in Gorkha. I noticed that there were other westerners there: the European Union Election Observer team with their large 4 wheel drives (the only ones I saw outside of Kathmandu). Kamal is from a village not far from Gorkha and knew the town well. He soon found a good restaurant where we ate dinner of mutton soup, tasha (fried, marinated mutton, with dry-fried rice, pickles etc) and chicken momo, washed down with a couple of bottles of Tuborg beer brewed in Gorkha.

At sunrise on Wednesday morning Kamal & I headed up the steep hill behind Gorkha to the former royal palace, built in the 17th century, that is also a Hindu temple and for which the town is famous. The palace was also a fort, and sits astride a narrow ridge on the mountain, a fabulous setting, and with striking architecture. No cameras were allowed inside, but there were worshippers there, as usual with their livestock for sacrifice. Stone steps have been constructed by a later king from the palace to the highest of the mountain. We continued to the top, with hardly anyone else around apart from a small army base, monkeys and wonderful bird life. The forest was thick, and reminded me of botanic gardens. We headed back down the mountain, stopping for a small breakfast of curried peas & lentils and tea at a small restaurant beside the stone steps. I was back at the hotel by 9:30am.

The remainder of the day was relaxed, having icecreams with Kamal and a friend (30R for the three) and walking around the town. Unfortunately it was Loktantra Day, the second anniversary of the restoration of democracy to the country, and a public holiday. As a result the Gorkha museum, housed in another former palace, 160 years old, was closed. I chatted to one of the European Union Election observers, a friendly pommie bloke, about the election. He confirmed my impression from reading the papers that the election was, in the main, as free and fair as could be expected under the circumstances. He also told me that there quite a few instances of violence, mainly instigated by the Young Communist League. However the re-polling that has been underway since, and which finished yesterday (Wednesday) had overcome the problems from election day. Kamal and I returned to the same restaurant as the night before for dinner for a similar, and similarly tasty, meal.

Bob: Gorkha Nepal


Am continuing to have a wonderful time, though I won't be sorry to breathe clean, Canberra air and will not miss the filth that encroaches on every city and town. Only the countryside is relatively free of rubbish.
In my last email I forgot to mention that while in the canoe in the morning we saw a large stork, only metres from us, catch a substantial eel from the river, and try to kill it before eating it. I mentioned that I was to take an elephant ride on Sunday afternoon. I'd been told it would be about 2 hours, but I was on my elephant (unable to get off for a piddle!) for 3h 40m. It was also much more exciting than I'd expected, as most of the time we were in the national park, with all its wildlife. The elephant handler knew where particular creatures were likely to be, and the animals ignored the presence of the elephant despite there being myself and 3 Singaporeans on my elephant, a well as the handler. It was the same effect as being in a jeep on safari in the game parks of South Africa. We saw a total of nine rhinos - some only a couple of metres away - and including several very young ones. We came across several deer, wild boar, wild peacocks and an eagle at close quarters. By the end of the ride I was filthy from brushing against the leaves, cobwebs and so on at about 4 metres above ground.
On Monday morning I left Chitwan by local bus and travelled back to Privi Highway towards Kathmandu, along the mountain-sides with the river far below. This time I was on the side of the bus on the open side of the valley. It was hard to relax, travelling on such a narrow road, with no road-side barriers and heavy traffic with vehicles constantly overtaking each other.
I alighted at a cable-car, built by Austrians 12 years ago, where I met my guide, Kamal, who was to look after me for 4 days. The cable-car travelled 2.8km, climbing 1,000m, to Manakamana, a small village that exists because of the presence of a highly significant Hindu temple. Pilgrims travel from across Nepal, and from India, to give sacrifices and worship at the temple that I found surprisingly small and modest. When we arrived there was a long, very slow moving line of pilgrims with their offerings of food and flowers, and sacrificial animals - chooks and goats - ready to be slaughtered. The temple has many bells around it, and as the pilgrims arrive they ring the bells to announce their arrival to the gods. So the whole effect was quite electric, with bells ringing constantly, the animals bleating and squawking, people chatting, incense smoke filling the air and blood from slaughtered animals covering the stone grounds around he temple.
After a while marvelling at the scene, I headed off with Kamal to climb the hill behind the temple. (Kamal told me that 17% of Nepal is mountain i.e. more than 3,300m, 68% is hill country, and 17% low rain forest, as I had seen at Chitwan. So anything less than 3,300m is a "hill".) It took us most of the afternoon to climb past small, terraced farms and up through the forest to the peak, surmounted by several small temples. We returned to Manakamana, where we stayed in a small, basic hotel.



I have suffered from significant sinus pain for longer than I care to remember, and the last time I went to the surgeon he advised that so much bone was removed during the previous procedures (2? 3? I can't remember) that there not much else that can be done surgically.

It has probably been the cause, (or at least the exacerbation), of my malaise since Christmas, and despite the current courses (plural) of antibiotics, upon returning to the coldish house on Sunday after having the most glorious lunch with the most wonderful company of Rad at Lambert Vineyard in Womboin.

From then on, the pain in my face developed with a relentless intensity, worsening overnight and limiting my activities entirely throughout Monday and Tuesday. I forced myself to go down to the local shops and early this morning where I spent an hour and a half over a caffe doppio attempting to become somewhere near human, before hitting the pharmacy for the repeats of my antibiotic prescription and some pain relief and advice from the friendly Chemist, Luke.

I have another appointment with Dr John on Monday for a CT scan, but I am not very optimistic at having a successful outcome. I'm already irrigating with saline as often as I can (difficult when I'm at my worst), a steroid nasal spray, heated wheat packs for symptomatic relief, eucalyptus inhalation and pain killers. There are small, temporary improvements (which permits me to blog for example), but it is pretty bad.

On a lighter note, Bob rang me from the top of 'a mountain' yesterday, because he could! In the middle of essentially nowhere, He noticed that he had good coverage, as with the time zone permitting an easy call he rang to say Hi. Having a Great Time. (Wish you were here).

Bob: Heading West from Kathmandu


After cooling my heels in Kathmandu since Monday, I'm heading west tomorrow. I'll catch a 7:30am bus to Chitwan National Park, 6 hours south-west, on the border with India. It's at the lowest altitude in Nepal, so it will be hot and humid. I will spend two nights there, going on a safari and paddling in a canoe along the river, among other activities. I expect it to be touristy, as the wild animals attract lots of foreigners. From there I will travel a short way north to Manakamana, a small village with a special Hindu temple. It is back at altitude, and there should be few tourists.

After a night there I'll trek five hours to the small town of Gorkha, site of a famous fort and reputedly a beautiful place. It should also be free of tourists. I'll spend two nights there before returning by bus to Kathmandu on Thursday afternoon. I've accepted an invitation to attend the Anzac Day service at the Australian Embassy on Friday morning. Plan to stay 3 nights again at the Hotel Thamel.

The weather in Kathmandu has been pleasant, with a usual daily range 12-31 degrees. On Wednesday night a spectacular electrial storm lit the sky with sheet lightning, but there was little rain.

I've enjoyed my few days here, at a slower pace than the hectic Everest trek. Prayas, the taxi driver who took me from the Shangri-La Hotel to the Hotel Thamel was a nice young bloke, with good English and a most careful driver (in contrast to most in Kathmandu).

Yesterday I engaged him to take me to Bhaktapur, another former royal capital about 25km east in the Kathmandu valley. It's superbly preserved, with the "55 window" palace, and many temples. Amazingly, the Nepali New Year festival, Bisket Batra, which is celebrated only in Bhaktapur, was in full swing. The schools were closed and the narrow streets filled with school children, women of all ages, and the men who were not working. The main attraction was an attempt to drag a huge, ponderous wooden chariot, maybe 8 metres high, along on its wooden wheels, with many young men pulling on large ropes. It was great entertainment, particularly when it rolled back down a small hill, nearly collecting a few people in its wake! The other entertainments were primarily games of dice played on a dusty rag on the ground (I lost my single bet!). Many people used the opportunity to make sacrifices to the gods at small Hindu shrines everywhere. Chickens were in great demand: after a brief warm-up ceremony with food offerings the participants would grab their chook, slit its throat and spray its blood over the other offerings. I was assured that the chooks would all be eaten for the evening meal.

It's pleasant escaping from the heavy air pollution of Kathmandu which was giving me quite a sore throat by the time I left. My hotel, Rhino Lodge, is in a small village across the river from Chitwan National Park, and is mercifully quiet, another contrast to Kathmandu.
My bus left Kathmandu at 7:30am yesterday, but after about 15 mins we were caught in terrible traffic jam that took an hour to penetrate. Once out of the city the countryside was striking as we wound along steep mountain sides between terraced farms growing rice and corn. The traffic was heavy - mainly trucks and buses, with much terrifying driving, but only one accident that I noticed.

[Have just been interrupted by the most horrendous noise outside: two elephants walking along the road appeared to have an argument. It took the handlers a couple of minutes to quieten them.] I changed buses after lunch and we drove south, away from the mountains into lowland tropical scenery. Arrived at Chitwan about 2pm. It's substantially hotter here, in the mid 30s with high humidity and quite a heavy smoke haze as we saw in Laos. The hotel is fairly basic but quite comfortable. My room is air conditioned, but the hotel doesn't have its own generator, so during the twice daily 4 hour power cuts, I just enjoy the heat! The only others staying there last night was a tour group from the Netherlands who left this morning.

My package deal at the hotel includes several activities in the National Park. For each I have my own guide. Yesterday in the late afternoon we visited the elephant breading centre several kilometres away. At my suggestion we cycled there, using old Indian, single-speed bikes along the rough, stony roads. The local people here are a different ethnic group from the majority Newari, being related to northern Indian groups. They speak Hindi rather than Nepali among themselves, though they are all fluent in Nepali. Their domestic architecture is different to that in the mountains and Kathmandu. Their homes are constructed of reeds bound with clay, and the rooves are thatched. The elephant breeding centre was fun, but not nearly as good as the one you & I visited north of Ayutthia in Thailand.

At 7am this morning my guide and I headed for a canoe ride down the river for several kilometres, then walked back though the rain forest for several hours. It was great fun. The guide pointed out numerous species of birds on the river, and he lent me his binoculars We also saw the two species of crocodile - freshwater and salt - that inhabit the river. The salt (why? there's no salt water here!) one we saw from the river bank, we were right above him.

The walk was even better, particularly when we saw an old rhino about 30m away. We had to be very quiet, as it is potentially deadly. The guide had advised me of escape plans if we were to come across a rhino, so I was prepared. As we moved away from it, the rhino started to move through the scrub in the same direction. We took off at full speed, stopping at a large tree that I started to climb. The rhino stopped moving, so we crept away, my heart beating at 100%. Later I found that several people a year are killed by rhinos here!
We saw deer and monkeys, and lots of evidence of a small native cat, sloth bears and others. We saw even more birds, including eagles and woodpeckers, and a close encounter with with a wild rooster, a fine, brightly coloured fellow that appeared to be the ancestor of our domestic chooks.

When we crossed the river to return to the village, the working elephants were being taken for their twice daily bath in the river. It was wonderful to watch, and several tourists joined in. I was tempted, but I was suspicious of the quality of the river water. The elephants splashed themselves and everyone nearby, and rolled and soaked up the cooling water. The handlers scrubbed them, which the creatures seemed to relish.

This afternoon at 3pm I'm to go for an elephant ride. I'll leave by bus tomorrow at 9am.

Last night was the first night I'd eaten by myself, as the last of my fellow Everest trekkers flew out during the day. I ate at a simple Nepalese restaurant, in contrast to the rather fancier ones at which we'd been dining since returning from the trek.
This morning I went for a short (7km) run along the Bishnumati River, which looks and smells like an open sewer, with a few dead animals tossed in for good measure. Prayas picked me up and took to two significant places in the Kathamndu valley: Swayambhunath Stupa on a hill behind the city, and Patan, another former royal capital a few miles away.

Woo Hoo!


OK, so I went back to the doctor after my course of antibiotics to find that I was better, but far from best. My ears are certainly much clearer, however the sinuses are still considerably congested.

I have another course of the two antibiotics, with a third added for anaerobic bugs. Conventional wisdom indicates that this is unnecessary, however last year this combination finally sorted me out after a few months last year.

Whether just happen stance or the effects of the drugs, I felt pretty good this morning after a sluggish start. I had intended hoped to go along to Customs early and jog where I could and walk where I had to. Knowing that this would take forever, I wanted to start before everyone arrived. However the best laid plans of ducks and drakes . . . . I arrived after the watch had started, and was delighted to see Aki, Friar, Rad and Paul in attendance. Without too much ado, Aki decided to run with me after I'd cautioned her that I would be both very slow and may not finish.

We started at 6:00 minutes (I noticed my most recent handicap was 1:45) and Aki gleefully complained that I was sprinting too fast 'like a gazelle'. We settled into a comfortable (for me) steady rhythm, and I was delighted to chalk up the first kilometre, the second kilometre and the turnaround at the willow tree.

I am embarrassed to say here that it was a run, given the pace, but; I couldn't help grinning to myself, thinking and occasionally saying 'I ran 5k, I ran 5k'. The time? 37:08 and I am wrapt!

Email from Bob


It has been a most eventful time for me: challenging and tough, but very exciting with stunning views of 3 of the world's highest peaks, plus many others over 6,000m, and extraordinary valleys, glaciers and lakes. I'm fine, with the only residual damage rather battered hands from the extreme cold and strong winds. I had a short bout of Delhi belly, with nausea and lassitude, but Tashi, the head guide, fixed me up from his medicine cabinet, as he did for the others who experienced the same problem.

Everest Base Camp, 3 high passes & 4 peaks conquered!! Not only was the natural environment overwhelmingly beautiful and monumental, but I feel a great sense of achievement. Only 7 of the original 12 finished the entire trip, but several of them didn't do all the peaks: only one other bloke - a very nice Pommie bloke from Manchester - did the 4 peaks with me.

We experienced 2 REALLY difficult days, crossing over the 2nd pass, Cho La. The weather deteriorated after we climbed Kala Pattar (at 5,545m, the highest point of the trek), heading back down the Khumbu Valley and climbing towards the pass. We were battered by winds of 50-60kph, and temperatures below freezing. We camped high, at about 5,000m. It was snowing the whole time, and we woke with our tents covered in 10cm, and about 30cm on the ground. Despite continuing snow, Tashi was confident we could get over the pass. It was the toughest experience of my life, with the snow at about 1m on the pass, and continuing to fall, occasionally blizzarding for 10-15 minutes at a time. We didn't have crampons, so on the large rocks on both sides of the very steep pass it was trecturous. I was in the first group of 5 to reach the village of Dragnag on the far side. What Tashi had expected would take us 4 hours took us 7:40. Three of the party of 10 (2 quit immediately prior to the first pass at Kongma La) quit the following morning.

The next morning the rest of us headed across the Ngozumpa Glacier (at 23km long, one of the word's largest) to Gokyo. Since then the trip has been fantastic and uneventful. Gokyo overlooks a beautiful lake, one of 5 along the glacier, surrounded by snow covered monster mountains. The next morning we climbed Gokyo Ri, a small mountain (5,360m) beside the village. We enjoyed 360 degree views from the top of the entire Himalayan range in the region, including terrific views of Everest, and 3 other 8,000m+ peaks.

The next day we attacked the final high pass - Renjo 5,345m - in beautiful conditions. It was tough and tiring, put with great views on both sides from the top. We descended into the Bhote Khoshi River valley, the most beautiful we'd seen. We followed the valley along to a tiny village of Marulung where we stayed in a basic (dirt floor, plywood walls, no toilet) but friendly lodge. The couple who ran the lodge had a single child, a 7 year old cute little girl, to whom I gave a yellow rubber ball. She played with it - and us - till she went to bed, and wa playing with it a again first thing the following morning. What a hit!

We left Marulung early yesterday, following the gorgeous valley as other valleys joined it. We stopped for lunch at the town of Thamo. It was the first town with a polling place for the national elections, so I went to have a good look. It was in the open air beside a primary school. Men and women entered in separate lines, and went to a table with 4 blokes who gave them 2 ballot papers, one for the constituent assembly and one for the presidency. One of our guides told me that all the people he spoke to - and he spoke to a lot as we were entering and leaving the town - had voted for the Maoist Party.

We continued along the valley. reaching Namche late in the day. Last night we celebrated with several bottles of Aussie red wine, and this morning lingered over breakfast. We're staying here tonight, before heading to Phakding tomorrow and Lukla on Sunday. We'll fly back to Kathmandu early Monday, weather permitting.

Bob: Day 18


Day 18: Below Renjo La (5100m)

(Trekking: approx 4 hours)
As with our previous pass crossings we have the opportunity to take it easy this morning before setting off towards Renjo La. There is another opportunity to ascend Gokyo Peak again for the sunrise before breakfast. The rest of the morning is free and we depart after an early lunch and follow the trail that contours above the northern shore of the lake to the old moraines of the glacier below Renjo Pass. From here we climb steeply on a good trail up to the lip of an old glacier valley strewn with boulders and glacial debris. Keeping to the right of the valley we ascend less steeply to reach camp opposite the large glacial snowfield below two unnamed peaks (5625m and 5906m)

Bob: Day 17


Day 17: Gokyo (4720m)

(Rest and Exploration Day) We rise early for an ascent of Gokyo Peak (5360m), a straight-forward but steep climb and tiring due to the altitude. The walk up will take just over two hours and the reward is one of the best panoramas in the Khumbu. From the rocky summit, four 8,000-metre peaks can be seen - Everest (8848m), Cho-Oyo (8153m), Lhotse (8511m) and Makalu (8481m). Countless other towering snow-capped peaks and rock spires fill the horizons including Gyachung Kang (7922m) to the east of Cho-Oyo, Cholatse (6440m), Taweche (6542m) and Kangchung (6103m). In addition, there’s a bird's eye view of the Gokyo lakes and the huge creaking Ngozumpa Glacier, now cutting halfway across the world and snaking its way down the valley far beneath. Time permitting, we may also follow the lateral moraines of Ngozumpa Glacier past Kangchung Peak to a point where Gyubanare Glacier joins in and from where climbing the ridge to the left of the small trail gives us excellent views of Everest’s north face.

Bob: Day 16


Bob is well over half way through his organised trek now; and the plan for today is:

Day 16: Gokyo (4720m)

(Trekking: approx 6-7 hours) The day begins very early in order to reach the top of the pass in the best possible conditions. From camp we ascend steeply on a narrow trail passing large boulders and huge rock slabs and keeping to the left of the main glacier. There are a number of cairns lining the route to the snowfield and, while the trail is well-defined, it does involve a little scrambling. Once on the snowfield the angle eases off and we soon reach the top of the pass (5420m), where the views are spectacular and include Baruntse (7220m) and Ama Dablam, as well as a sea of lesser peaks. Do not wander around the snowfield as there are crevasses and we may need to rope up for the pass crossing! The descent from the pass is steep and care should be taken as we follow the narrow rocky trail down to the Nymagawa Valley, where we enjoy a packed lunch.

From the valley we cross rocky screes and boulders and ascend the short distance to a small saddle that leads downhill all the way on an easy trail to the huts and tea houses at Dragnag. After a welcome break we cross Ngozumpa Glacier to the lake at Gokyo, from where it is a short walk to our lodge.

This is an example of one of the days which required Bob to take out specialised mountaineering travel insurance. I wonder if there is an option of Vegemite sandwiches for the packed lunch? (I know that sandwiches won't cut it, but I have a real hankering for Vegemite when I am travelling overseas).

I wasn't quite so adventurous today; I went for a walk planning to have a coffee, and the knee was once again surprisingly good after the watermelon episode on Wednesday. I got down to Lake G not feeling as though it was time already for my morning espresso. I knew that circumnavigating the lake was a bit ambitious, but thought that I may as well give it a shot - I could always cut off the peninsula (although it's probably the nicest part). Despite being late morning, there were a lot of people around, and most responded with an equally cheery greeting.

I was thinking about the nearest water bubbler leading up to the first I knew of at the kids playground. I drank like a dying man. I was carefully working out how far it was to Black Pepper both for the short black and, even more importantly the bottle of water at hand.

I was a bit stiff when I had to stand up, and was much, much slower walking the 3kms home, tiring even more noticeably towards the end. I think I made a mistake going quite so far. When I arrived, I knew I had to bathe, brush teeth and change in preparation for my afternoon's medical appointment. I had a bath, but was absolutely wasted. I only made it up to my study where I lay down and crashed out. Completely. With a reasonable length of time between bath and my doctors appointment I eventually pulled myself out of bed to throw on some clothes and get to the waiting room in time.

Verdict: Chronic Gastritis, Peptic Ulcers, Sinusitus, Blocked Ears, and other stuff. A couple of courses of Antibiotics and see him again in 10 days. Woo Hoo.

Is it bedtime yet?

(I'll blog next when I wrest Rudi away from the computer).

Today I took a Capnap . . .


Wouldn't you know it


The PRB and I had a casual stroll down to Lake G on Saturday afternoon for a coffee, which was very enjoyable in stunning Canberra autumn weather. I was worn out on our return however, and chucked him out and lay down and fell into a deep sleep for my (now regular) afternoon lap.

When I woke up, I found that I had missed an entirely unexpected phone call from Bob from nearly five and a half thousand metres. Damn!

It did sound good though, and said everything was going well. He will try to call me from Namche or Kathmandu. From what he said, it sounds as though they are able to stick to the itinerary as it has been planned to date. He visited Everest Base Camp yesterday.

On that issue, the plan for Sunday is:

Day 15: Dzongla (4850m)

(Trekking: approx 4 hours)
After the tiring day to Kala Patar we take the opportunity to enjoy a lazy start. The walk to Dzongla is less than four hours and a morning spent rehydrating and relaxing before taking an early lunch. After lunch we follow the main Everest trail back down the valley before bearing right to contour round the hillside above Tshola Tso Lake and then descending to the valley floor and the small huts at Dzongla. Upon arrival we make camp and prepare for the crossing of the snowfields that lead to the top of the Cho La Pass.
Aah, snow. I'm sure the scenery is stunning, but I can live without the cold and the ice!

Bob: Day 14


From the itinerary, Bob's plan for today:

Day 14: Lobuje (4930m)

(Excursion to Kala Patar (5545m) - trekking: approx 7 hours)

Today we leave Lobuje very early in the morning for the ascent of Kala Patar. Initially we follow the broad valley running parallel to Khumbu Glacier to the moraines of Changri Nup Glacier, where we make a series of small ascents and descents to Gorak Shep (5160m). After a short rest we ascend the slopes of Kala Patar (5545m), a small, rocky peak on the south-west ridge of Pumori. A slow, steady pace once again is the best form of attack. The climb is not easy but the view from the top surpasses the wildest imagination. We hear huge glaciers creaking as they move under pressure and will be undoubtedly awestruck at the sheer size and majesty of the surrounding peaks that include Pumori, Nuptse, Changtse, Ama Dablam, Taweche, Kantega and Everest - the highest mountain in the world. For many trekkers reaching Kala Patar is a very emotional experience and we have allowed plenty of time when on top to enjoy the experience. We return to Gorak Shep for a welcome cup of tea and a light lunch, before walking back to Lobuje in the early afternoon.
Such a welcome cup of tea, I bet.

Bob: Day 12


If the snow or winds (sounds like Canberra at the moment!) isn't too bad, then this was the plan for today:

Day 12: Below Kongma La (5380m)

(Trekking: approx 4 hours)
In the morning we have the option of an early morning walk towards Island Peak (Imja Tse) Base Camp. On the other hand, those wishing to take it easy can sleep in and relax around the lodge until lunch. This is taken early before we set off towards the Kongma La Pass. The afternoon’s walk is a long and tiring climb up steep grassy slopes on a small, but well-defined trail. The angle of the slopes decreases as we near camp and the surrounding rocky peaks and small glacial lakes are a perfect setting for our first night of wilderness camping.

Mmmmm. Wilderness camping. I actually love wilderness camping, but the cold, wind and snow I hate. I hope that everything is OK. It's twice the altitude of Kosciuszko.

Carolyne on Wednesday


I finally felt well enough to treat myself to the planned 'walk to a coffee shop', and with good weather promised, waited until the worst of the morning chill was out of the air before heading out the door.

I stayed on the flat footpath along Bandjalong Crescent through Aranda to begin with, as my knee was still very stiff and I sought to walk on a flatter surface to allow it to warm up.

Across into Black Mountain Nature Park and then on the trails across Belconnen Way at the back of O'Connor Ridge, one couldn't help but wonder at the joys of living in Canberra and the scope of access to such a great network of trails and nature reserves throughout the territory.

I hadn't gone far, but the knee should have warmed up and improved by now. I really enjoyed walking around O'Connor Ridge at the back of the AIS, and then headed down Wattle Street to treat myself to a short black at Tilley's. The service took ages, and although it was pleasant sitting outside in the sun, I wasn't feeling as great as I hoped to be, and realised that I should head back towards home, instead of heading further a field to do a giant loop via Mt Ainslie.

I was a little confused upon leaving the cafe, but eventually settled on getting back onto the trails at the back of Lyneham, and then along the bike paths through the AIS and onto the campus of Canberra Uni, before skirting the lake and heading home.

My knee remained stiff and was not at all happy, although it wasn't especially painful. I continued to be tired, and yawned incessantly. The last kilometre or three were fairly hard going and I succeeded in pulling the washing off the line before collapsing into bed and sleeping until the early evening.

My knee was swollen up to the size of a large watermelon, and I was struggling around like a little old lady.

So no walking for me today. And no Customs on Friday.

Bob: Day 11


Bob Day 11:

Day 11: Chukhung (4780m)

(Trekking: approx 3 hours)
Today is another short day, in order to aid with acclimatisation. From the lodge in Dingboche we head up through the village, following the Imja Khola Valley. The ascent is gradual, crossing small streams and walking through open alpine pastures, with fine views of Island Peak at the head of the valley. We reach the Chukhung lodge in time for lunch, with the afternoon free to rest and acclimatise. Alternatively, you may feel energetic enough to head up valley towards the old moraines that flow down from Lhotse. The views of the massive Lhotse Wall and Ama Dablam are particularly impressive when seen from Chukhung.

I expect that Bob will feel energetic enough!

Bob: Day 10


Much to my surprise, there was an email from Bob in the inbox this morning indicating that he was having a rest and acclimatisation day. From the guide:

Day 10: Dingboche (4360m)

(Rest and Acclimatisation Day)
Dingboche is a beautiful patchwork of small fields enclosed by stone walls protecting the crops of barley and potatoes from the cold winds. It is occupied mainly through the monsoon months, when large numbers of yaks are brought here to graze in the valley pastures. Behind our lodge the huge rock faces of Taweche seem to soar to the heavens. Our trek leader will advise us on activities for today, but the short excursion up the valley towards Chukung is a worthwhile option. The views are fantastic in this valley; the towering south face of Lhotse to the north, Island Peak in the centre of the valley and the fluted ice walls of unnamed peaks that line the southern end of the valley, all form a hauntingly beautiful sight. In the afternoon an optional hike up the hill behind our lodge will enable us to view the world's fifth highest mountain, Makalu (8481m), which is not visible from the valley floor.

Bob's assessment was as follows:

Am writing this from a satellite Internet under cover but open to the elements with light snow falling. Prices here are high by Australian standards and astronomical by local standards (20R per minute for Internet, 350R per minute to use a power point, 360R for a small box of tissues).

Have caught a head-cold but am otherwise well. The scenery continues to be spectacular, but the cold weather (it's 2 degrees with a 40kph wind blowing up the valley) is testing. Food is still good (today's lunch was the first meat: tinned) but the lodges we are staying in a very basic. From Wednesday we'll be camping above 5,000m. We are surrounded by snow covered peaks. During the night we hear the yaks wandering around with their bells ringing. The yaks up here have very long fur and travel in trains carrying all forms of luggage.

Must go. Don't know when I'll have another chance.

An even more surprising one followed:

Dingboche is above the tree line but the locals grow potatoes in small fields divided by dry stone walls. They're planting at the moment. All the field work is done by women as all the men appear to act as guides and porters for trekkers. As one woman hoes another woman drops the seed potatoes in the ground. We've been eating the potatoes at least one meal per day, and they're terrific.

Last evening, for the fourth consecutive evening, it snowed. On the previous occasions there was just a light dusting, but this morning there was a heavy blanket of snow covering the countryside, including the yaks in the field behind our lodge. As usual we were brought tea at 6:30am by assistant guides, and ate breakfast at 7:30am. As today is an acclimatisation day whre we stay in the same lodge tonight, we headed off to climb Nagartsang Peak, the peak behind the lodge, and then return for lunch. The walk was only 5km, but we climbed 500m, to an altitude of over 5,000m. Five (including me) of the 12 in the group reached the summit as it was hard work at this altitude. Unfortunately the whole way up we were clouded in, but it cleared as we descended, for spectacular views of the nearby snow-covered mountains, and the valleys from where we've walked, and where we'll head tomorrow.

After lunch I indulged in a bucket shower in the open for 250R - it will be at least 4-5 days before the next opportunity.

For the conversion one Australian dollar is around 58 Nepalese Rupees at the moment. (That is: around $4.30 for the bucket shower, over $6.00 a minute to use a power point).

I think that it sounds like a great trip, but I know that I couldn't handle an open bucket shower in a howling icy wind!

Click for Hanoi, Viet Nam Forecast

About me

  • I'm Carolyne
  • From Canberra, Australia
  • I love to run! Staying in Weymouth, Dorset on the South West Coast of England until October. I'm 46, live in Canberra with Bob and have been running since 1990. This has been interrupted by long periods of illness, however I am extremely stubborn! I'll never be a fast runner, however I give it everything, and am slowly learning to read my body better and adjust my training and expectations accordingly. Or rather I would, if running were possible at the moment - I will retuyrn soon.
  • My profile

  • <>Vietname vs Brazil Olympic Football Friendly 8PM 1 aAugust 2008
  • A Hot time in the Old Town tonight
  • <>Trip to Nha Trang and Da Lat 4 August to  August 2008
  • Flights Booked
  • <>Scooter Trip to Ninh Binh  aAugust 2008
  • Planned
  • <>Trip to Cambodia and Siem Riep 17 August to 24 August 2008
  • Flights Booked & 2 Nights accomodation

  • Long Course Tri 2k/83k/20k 12 February 2006
  • Sri Chinmoy Long Course Tri 2.2k/80k/20k 6 March
  • Backpacking Laos & Vietnam 14 March to 26 April 2006
  • Thailand Temple Run 21k 19 March 2006

  • Customs 5k Fridays
  • BBQ Stakes  6k Wednesdays
  • Tour de Mountain 19k 18 December
  • 1:55:02 Results
  • Cross Country Summer Series 5k Tuesdays in November
  • Cool Runners Six Foot Track Slow Jog/Walk 46k 25-27 November
  • Wonderful!!
  • Sri Chimnoy Triple Tri Relay 20 November
  • 1:55:38 1:04:53 1:22:55 Results Report Photos
  • Tour de Femme 20k Fun Ride 13 November
  • 40:40ish
  • Bonshaw Cup 6.4k 16 November
  • 30:30ish
  • Hartley Lifecare Fun Run 5k 17 November
  • Belconnen Fun Run 6k 12 November
  • 28:38ish
  • Mt Majura Vineyard Two Peaks Classic 26k 5 November
  • Last! 3:08:00 Results Report
  • Wagga Tri-ants Duathlon 10k/40k/5k 30 October
  • Scratching
  • Bulls Head Challenge 27k 23 October
  • 2:20:49 Results
  • Weston Creek Fun Run 6k 16 October
  • 32:02 Results Results
  • Fitzroy Falls 42k & 10k 15 October
  • Results
  • Orroral Valley 20k 9 October
  • 1:52:44 Results
  • Sri Chinmoy 10k 3 October
  • 0:50:14 Results
  • Duathlon Championships 10k/40k/5k 23 September
  • 3:09:07 Results
  • Canberra Times 10k 18 September
  • 0:45:30 CR TE AM!
  • Sydney Marathon 11 September 3:47:13
  • ACTVAC Half Marathon 21.1k 28 August
  • Entered DNS
  • Black Mtn UpDown GutBuster 5.2k 16 August 0:33:38
  • Results
  • Mt Wilson to Bilpin Bush Run 35k 20 August 3:15:14
  • Results
  • City to Surf 14k 14 August 64:17
  • Bush Capital Mtn Runs 25k 30 July  
  • 2:17:09 Results
  • Shoalhaven King of the Mtn 32k 17 July
  • 2:53:15 Results
  • Sri Chinmoy Off Road Duathlon 3.3k/23k/7.7k 2 July 2:40:29
  • Results
  • Woodford to Glenbrook  25k 26 June DNF Injured Results
  • Terry Fox 10k 19 June 46:59
  • Results
  • Aust Mtn Running Champs9k 18 June 1:06:33
  • Results
  • ACTVAC Monthly Handicap 9k Farrer Ridge 29 May 0:46:05
  • ACT Mtn Running Champs  9k 28 May 1:06:50
  • Results
  • SMH Half Marathon 22 May 1:41:56 (1:40:50)
  • Results
  • ABS Fun Run 7.3k 19 May 0:34:45
  • Results
  • Canberra Half Marathon 15 May injured Results
  • Sri Chimnoy 10k 8 May 0:47:55
  • Results
  • Nail Can Hill Run  1 May 56:23
  • Results
  • Newcastle Duathlon  24 April 2:45:39.2
  • Results
  • Canberra Marathon  10 April 3:47:56
  • Results
  • Women & Girls 5k 3 April 22:53
  • Results
  • Sri Chimnoy 10k 28 March 47:56
  • Results
  • Weston Creek Half Marathon 13 March 1:43:23
  • Results
  • Sri Chimnoy Long Course Tri 6 March 5:30:35
  • Results
  • Hobart International Triathlon 20 February 2:52:05

  • Canberra Capital Triathlon 30 January 3:01:43
  • Results
  • Medibank Private Australia Day8k 26 January 38:39
  • Results
  • Lorne Pier to Pub Swim 1.2k 8 January 22:12
  • Results
  • Lorne Mountain to Surf 8k 7 January 0:37.56
  • Results

    moon phases

  • 5k 20:11 Cairns 2000
  • 10k 43:49 Moruya
  • City to Surf 1:02:57 2000
  • Half Marathon 1:33:50 Steamboat 2000
  • Marathon 3:47:56 Canberra 2005
    Chip Time (3:47:13) Sydney 2005

  • Kilometres Run
    January 212
    February 199
    March 214
    April 201
    May 188
    June 182
    July 255
    August 246
    September 155
    October 159
    November 200
    December 62
    Year to Date 2,267

    Last posts

  • New Blog Address
  • After having been largely blocked from posting on ...
  • Back in Canberra, Blogging Service (hopefully) Res...
  • Kama, Krama, Kramar Chameleon
  • Restaurant Review - Siem Reab
  • Back from Angkor Wat
  • Update
  • Notes from a Rainy Da Lat
  • Overnight Scoot to Tam Dao Hill Station
  • Viet Nam Plans

  • Days Sick
    January 10
    February 10
    March 10
    April 4
    May 7
    June 8
    July 9
    August 11
    September 11
    October 11
    November 9
    December Lots. ?15

    Distance Swum
    February 17,400m
    October 3,800m
    November 4,150m
    December .
    Distance Cycled
    November 120km
    December 297 km