Welcome to Nepal

Welcome to Nepal

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

How best to read this blog

As most blogs display the most recent post first, you will need to locate the first entry I made if you want to read it in sequence:
  1. Locate the 'Blog Archive' on the right, just below the 'About Me' photo.
  2. Click on the Year '2006'
  3. Select the month of 'August'
  4. Click on the entry 'Xtreme Everest Trek 2007'
  5. Read that entry, then click on 'Newer post'
  6. Again, once you've read that particular post, click 'Newer Post'
This will take you through the story in date order up to the very last post. Hope this helps.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

April 2015 Nepal earthquake

'The April 2015 Nepal earthquake killed over 8,000 people and injured more than 21,000. It occurred at 11:56 Nepal Standard Time on 25 April, with a magnitude of 7.8Mw or 8.1Mₛ and a maximum Mercalli Intensity of IX.'

Nepal earthquake: Dozens die in new tremor near Everest

'A major earthquake has struck eastern Nepal, near Mount Everest, two weeks after more than 8,000 people died in a devastating quake.'

Nepal Earthquake Appeal

'Thousands of people have died, millions more need urgent help. Please give a donation if you can.'

Nepal: The return of the mountain kingdom

'Why now is the time to visit Nepal, a country slowly getting back to its feet following the devastating earthquake last April.'



Lincs2Nepal was set up in January 2009 by Garry Goddard to continue his work with some of Nepal’s most marginalised people.  The charity has been involved in various projects over the last 6 years and helped many people but the focus is now very much on helping the lower caste Tharu people living in villages around the town of Kohalpur in Western Nepal who, without our assistance, don’t have access to education. The main thing that we have learnt while working primarily with children and women is that we can provide shelter, food, clothes, love and understanding, but the only thing that truly makes a difference long term and offers a real chance and a brighter future is education - not just a token education but a quality, life changing education that will enable them to access opportunities that would otherwise be beyond reach.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Bahrain to Heathrow [Day 22]

No more solo adventures

We finally board the Airbus A330 for London Heathrow on time and take to our seats. I was squeezed in the centre aisle between James and Colin with Deborah in the end seat. Promptly all three fell asleep leaving me to play with the entertainment console and screen in front of me.

I discover about 20 channels of various programmes and end up watching something about historic F1... with Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and others. A really interesting journey back into time watching some of these old Grand Prix that I remember so well.

The flight was pretty uneventful and I manage to sleep much of the way. I wake just at the time dinner was being served - though many were asleep and missed the meal altogether. This was a much better fare and I enjoy it immensely.

Arriving at Heathrow, I begin to get excited about meeting the family again. I hurry out to baggage reclaim, pick up my holdall on my shoulder with rucksack on my back, say goodbye to each of the team and wander out into arrivals, where my darling wife and son were waiting for me. Much emotion is displayed with hugs all round... and shock at my gaunt look.

My 'once in a lifetime' adventure is finally over.

Memorial at Pheriche to all those
lost on Everest (courtesy of Harriet)

Everest Base Camp (courtesy of Harriet)
Extracts of the route from Everest Base Camp Map

Lukla to Monjo

Monjo to Namche

Namche to Tengboche

Tengboche to Pheriche & Dingboche
Trek D Participants
  • Austin, Colin
  • Bottomley, Nigel
  • Bulmer, Felicity
  • Gallally, James
  • Hall, Geoff
  • Henker, Ralf
  • Innes, Stuart
  • Jacobs, Dennis
  • Jonas, Max
  • Kemp, Harriet
  • Laugharne, Debbie [Expedition Leader]
  • Lee, Stewart
  • Lew-Gor, Simione
  • Payne, Mike
  • Saddler, Julia
  • Selzer, Nikolaus
  • Williams, Nadia


Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Kathmandu to Bahrain [Day 21]

No more tests

Waking early, we have the final physical tests before handing in our research diaries. This morning my results were:
Resting - O2 95; HR 70; BR 9.  BP 146/88; 128/84; 127/83.  After exercise - O2 94; HR 123; BR 13.

I return my diary to the XE staff and question them over how my data would be utilised, particularly as my trek had differed somewhat from those of my colleagues on Trek D. I was told in no uncertain terms, that my data would be equally valid, if not of more interest to the research team, due to the problems I had encountered on the way up. This data would be analysed to see if there were any indicators for mild AMS.

A contribution to medical research was a major driver for me when deciding to come on this expedition, especially that relating to intensive care, so I feel quite comforted in the knowledge that my data won't just be discarded.

Leaving the Summit Hotel for the last time, the heavens open and the rain pours down. Perhaps Kathmandu is shedding tears for our departure?

We get on the minibus, but as it navigates the narrow streets outside the hotel, we manage to get stuck in a 'traffic jam'. The road is barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass, except in driveways, and the stubborn nature of Nepali drivers mean that often an impasse is reached, neither party moving forwards or backwards.

Last day... and rain

We are there for about 25 minutes, honking horns and moving backwards and forwards a couple of feet to let traffic through... but no real attempt at reaching a resolution. Everybody is tense, not wishing to miss the flight. I feel like jumping out to direct the traffic... as the solution seems so obvious.

The humidity levels are rising in the bus and so are tempers... but the experienced Nepal travellers had seen it all before and are quite chilled about it. Finally, the main instigator, a tanker driver sees the obvious and pulls out of the way down a side road, freeing up the situation.

We arrive at Kathmandu Airport and there is the usual scrummage to check holdalls in for weighing. Deborah decides to do this as a group, so as to offset any potential baggage excess - but chaos reigns after someone loses their boarding ticket. I believe it is far easier to check in your own luggage, so there is individual responsibility. If there is excess baggage to pay, then that individual settles up.

My rucksack is given a cursory examination at security and I am released through for boarding. The flight is delayed slightly due to a missing passenger (perhaps the one with the missing boarding ticket), but within half an hour we are on our way, turbulence included.

The plane for this part of the flight is a Boeing 767-300 Gulf Traveller seating 257 in Economy Class. The flight is nothing spectacular and I sleep most of the way, apart from being wakened for lunch - a spicy rice and chicken dish, with a lychee and a carrot/cucumber mix - yuk. I don't find it appetising at all and leave most of it. Hopefully the next flight will be better.

We arrive at Bahrain pretty much on time, but now have a six hour wait for our next flight at 0130hrs tomorrow morning. After the experience of sitting around in departures for an extensive period on our way out, we decide to pay the extra and go into the Executive Lounge. For 27US$ this is good value. Reclining leather chairs, free food and drink, newspapers to read etc. We take full advantage of the facilities and the time passes quickly. I try to send a text message to the family, but my Sony Ericsson K700i battery is dead. I tried to source a charger, to no avail.

Executive Lounge, Bahrain (photo courtesy of Ralf)

Impetuously, I decide to go down to Duty Free to see if I can buy a replacement charger, but none are compatible. I end up looking around at new mobiles... and being tempted by all the glitz, buy a new Sony Ericsson Z710i for about £125 using my credit card.

I settle down to charge it up in the Executive Lounge and attempt to send a message... but damn it all, it won't send.  By the time I source the problem... time had run out and I was due to board. My SIM card has retained all my old mobile numbers... and what I should have done is get the new ones off the phone memory.

So much for my 'great idea' and an very expensive solution to attempting to send a text message.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Lukla to Sinara to Kathmandu [Day 20]

Early flight out

I wake at 0515hrs in readiness for an early departure at Lukla Airstrip... the first flight out. I shake the two lads and then pack away my sleeping bag for the last time. A quick 'wash' with wet wipes and climb downstairs with the holdalls, so the porters could take these for security clearance.

My thoughts return to home and I am quickly reminded that today is the anniversary of our grandson who sadly passed away a year ago. Goodness knows how my son and daughter-in-law must be feeling. I wish I was at home so that I could be there for them. It is also my dad's 79th birthday... and the poor chap is suffering from dementia in a care home.

Arriving at the departure hall, we find it is already full of trekkers who are trying to get on the first flight out, but magically we have been allocated this luxury. Our Sirdar and Trek Leader must have been up very early to get this sorted for us.

The time comes for us to say our goodbye to the Nepali staff and it is really quite sad. We have been with them 24/7 for almost three weeks and they have become good friends. Llakpa seems genuinely upset to leave us... but as he is off to guide yet another trekking group up to EBC, I'm sure he'll be over us.

We breeze through security and sit airside waiting for the first flight to arrive. As it touches down, the last few snaps are taken.

Lukla Airport

Our flight awaits

Our holdalls are stowed, we are herded on-board, given cotton wool for our ears and a sweet to suck. I manage to get myself in a good position right behind the pilots, so I can take a video of the hairy take-off. The turnaround time for the aircraft is very short. Our own airport authorities could learn a trick or two from Lukla's slick operation.

The engines rev to a crescendo, the brakes release and we shoot off downhill towards the valley at the end of the runway. The pilot uses every inch, right to the warning lines at the bottom, only then rising into the air... what a buzz. I capture the whole thing on my Olympus camera (no sound).

As we approach Kathmandu, there is clearly something amiss as the two pilots become very animated with their contact over the radio. It transpires there is a security incident at the main airport and we are to be diverted.

I look at the fuel gauges and we have less than 400lbs in each wing tank. A dangling warning tag informs me that there should always be a minimum of 200lbs retained in each tank... that doesn't seem to give us much leeway considering each tank has a maximum capacity of 2400lbs!

We fly for a further 15/20 minutes or so and land at Sinara Airport. I get out of the aircraft into tropical heat, especially compared with the early morning cool of Lukla.

Sinara Airfield (photo courtesy of Ralf)

Every bit of shade helps

There is the sound of insects and heat shimmers up from the ground... and here am I, dressed in my winter salopettes and a long sleeve wick away shirt... not exactly the type of garb for this type of climate. I sit under the wing trying to keep cool, as the pilots wander off to get an update on the security position.

Pre-flight checks

Within about 15/20 minutes we are on our way again and land at Kathmandu without any drama. We double up, carrying a couple of holdalls each, to the waiting bus... fighting off the many people who want to take our bags for a tip. Once on board, we are off through the manic traffic of Kathmandu.

I take a rather shaky video of the arrival back at the Summit Hotel (no sound).

As soon as we arrive, the XE medical staff take control and we are whisked away to be weighed - I have lost over 3kg and am now down to 63kg. I was aged 17 the last time I was at this weight - remarkable. To make up for this weight loss we all dive into breakfast, looking forward to the change of diet. I eat fresh fruit, a bread roll and jam, fruit juice, omelette, coffee and tea.

Mike and I are allocated Room 104 this time... it has nice parquet flooring, cane furniture, a ceiling fan, twin beds and a conventional loo and shower in an en-suite... and hot water... downright luxury.

There is a knock at the door and the hotel porter brings Mike and I our spare clothing that we had left behind as part of the baggage weight reduction. I had made sure I left two sets of trousers, shirts, underwear and handkerchiefs... for the final two days. I am so glad I planned in advance, as it is great to get into clean clothing. Now, sitting here in my underwear, I am waiting for Mike to finish his ablutions so that I can have my own shower and shave. It is so nice to be back in civilisation again.

The Summit Hotel is such a tranquil place to be - birds tweeting in the trees, the hustle and bustle of attentive staff meeting all ones needs. It is just nice to be chilling out again, with no destination to be walked to.

I must take the time to sort out my holdall for the flight home. First priority will be to make sure I have everything I need in my back pack... then everything else can be stuffed in the holdall... and sod the excess charges.

Summit Hotel


I book a head/shoulder massage for this afternoon as a treat for myself. This will cost 950NR. Some lads have already visited a barber down the road for a cut throat shave, haircut and head & shoulder massage... all for 200NR. Bargain - the only problem is that they all look like clones of each other.

Mike and I put all the costs of lunch, drinks and telephone calls on our room, so we can split the cost before we leave tomorrow. We can then get rid of the remaining rupees and dollars. Our flight is scheduled for 1700hrs tomorrow, so we have to leave the Summit Hotel at 1300hrs. I do hope the flight isn't delayed.

I manage to phone my wife to let her know I was back in Kathmandu and looking forward to coming home. I decide to exchange £40 into rupees as we are out for a final 'Trek D' meal tonight - Thai I think. Rather than take a taxi, Mike and I set out to navigate our way across Kathmandu to Thamel... and what a cultural experience that is!


I am armed with my trusty Silva compass, Mike with the map. We wander down little side streets, looking at all the micro businesses operating out of shanty shacks. Some are recycling wire cables, burning off the outer plastic to get at the copper wire within - toxic fumes everywhere, with no protection at all. Health and Safety - what's that?

We come across an old pedestrian suspension bridge which spans a filthy, polluted river that carves its way through the city. The locals stared at us as if we were the only Westerners ever to venture down these parts. We pass a couple of sleeping dogs, only to find them dead and left to rot in the street. One was a little puppy, its glassy eyes not registering the living world anymore. A harsh end to 'man's best friend'.

The busy traffic expresses its frustrations at pedestrians and vehicles alike... you take your life in your hands when choosing to wander through streets like this. Drivers lean on their horns at the slightest provocation. After breathing in pollution and deftly dodging traffic, we manage to locate the Kathmandu Guest House and close by, the Yin Yang Thai in Thamel.

Mike and I order two large bottles of San Miguel and settle down to watch the street life. Julia and Harriet were first to arrive, clutching many shopping bags... what else. The rest of the team then begin to surface... with some unexpected visitors too.

A Radio 4 journalist carrying out research on porters in Nepal joins us. She is intending to walk from Jiri to EBC to do her feature. Another Jagged Globe leader is present, accompanying a chap from Trek G or H, who had been advised to return to Kathmandu because of shortness of breath whilst trekking.

We have a lovely meal and the chatter was incessant. Harriet asked me to say a few words on behalf of Trek D in thanks of Deborah's superb leadership. I jot down a few words, following the keep it short and simple mantra:

"Deborah, on behalf of trek D I would like to say a big thank you for your professionalism, your care and assistance and your friendship throughout the last 20 days or so. You expertly managed us, from the novice walker through to the more experienced adventurer. This is a little token of our appreciation. (Harriet to hand out presents). Please raise your glasses for Debbie."

After the meal we all jump into taxis which race back to The Summit Hotel. Rather than retire for the night, I decide to go in the bar and have a last beer. Lynn (Kathmandu XE Medical Centre head) was there and came over to chat with me. We have a good discussion about what had happened to me and I was pleased that she was interested in updating herself on my medical position.

I then depart for bed and some rest ready for tomorrow.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Namche to Lukla [Day 19]

Long haul to Lukla

Back to the morning tests. My results are:
Resting - O2 89; HR 67; BR 11.  BP 149/81; 133/83; 138/79.  After exercise: O2 88; HR 116; BR 16.

I am pleased to leave Namche behind, having been based there for quite a few days. It seems a slightly muted 'goodbye' from the XE permanent staff as we departed - maybe the social dynamics with other trek groups were better.

We have a lovely trek out this morning - I have a good chat with Dawa (our guide) about his education and family. I also enjoy the company of Deborah (Trek Leader) talking about different climbing techniques, the management of funds as trek leader and general 'goings on' in the group after I was left behind at Pheriche.

I have Deborah's website address: www.deborahlaugharne.co.uk if you are interested in finding out more about her background.

Astonishing loads

Ice cold waters

Rest stop for porters

My legs are slightly sore from not having put Factor 50 on yesterday. I start off with shorts this morning, but as the weather starts to get blustery, drizzly and cloudy, I fasten the bottoms back on my trousers.

We are now at Phakding waiting for lunch. The weather has changed again, the sunshine is beating down and we are drinking lemon teas, white/black coffees and normal tea. This place is about halfway in distance to Lukla.

It is noticeable there are less photos being taken now we are on the way down.

Relaxing in the warmth of the sun

Weary trekkers

I am feeling quite down today... as tomorrow is the anniversary of Sam's death... one of the main reasons for me being on this trip. I cannot believe it is a year since my family were going through those horrendous few days.

It was nice therefore to have the company of an extra companion for most of the day - a very friendly dog. Joining us at Namche, he walks virtually all the way with us to Lukla. He did not appear to be a stray, as his coat was in superb condition. He sits down with me at most of the rest stops while I fuss him and feed him titbits. As we approach Lukla, he seems to know this is his limit and he turns back to make the journey home, wherever that was. He was a nice interlude to my otherwise dark thoughts.

Welcome companion

I really hope the research gained from my difficult ascent and the expedition as a whole really bears fruit for Intensive Care Units. According to the doctors who were caring for me... and those in the team... they do say my results will still be valid. If everyone reached EBC without any issues at all, the data wouldn't be as useful. I do hope the Xtreme-Everest research will also benefit Special Baby Care Units around the UK too.

Dawa and Llakpa

It has been a very hot, sweaty day... and a long haul into Lukla. Walking down the main 'street' of Lukla, it is amazing how much you overlook on the way out. There were far more shops/outlets than I remember. Tunnel vision towards the mountains... that is what I must have had when I walked in.

We come to the Eco Paradise Hotel. What a lovely hostelry for the very last night in the Khumbu. The lady owner not only looks after the day-to-day running of the hotel, she is also an air traffic controller and a well respected member of the community.

Eco Paradise Hotel

We have a enjoyable evening - a couple of beers, nice food and terrific company. I empty my hip flask into the Sirdar's and porter's glasses as a toast to their unswerving assistance throughout the trek. Excellent service.

I am in a triple-bed room... with Mike and Sim, both lovely blokes... and no snoring... sheer bliss.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Tengboche to Namche [Day 18]

Getting stronger and stronger

I have yet another good night - and this morning actually find a sit down loo before I leave Tengboche (a rare commodity).

On the trail again, I feel really strong and am up front most of the time, bounding up the steep slopes. We finish with a hard climb through Khumjung to the Everest View Hotel. This is where people start to suffer and drop off towards the back of the group. I don't think my fellow trekkers expected this slight diversion before Namche... thinking they would just drop down into the village. I get the impression some were none too pleased at the extra effort required.

Toiling up the slope

One of our guides with Mike (on the right)

Dawa - one of our guides

Arduous path to the Tengboche Monastery (Centre)

Everybody finally reaches the top and wander into the plush hotel. Many order drinks and we sit awhile recovering from the rigour of the days walk.

There is the usual issue with trying to get a group of people to pay a bill... and this is exacerbated by the fact we are all running rather short of NR. Rumour is circulating that the permanent medical staff from Namche (who just happen to arrive at the hotel at the same time as us), manage to incorporate their drinks on our bill.

Everest View Hotel

After a good rest, we descend down the mountain side into Namche and then climb up to the Sherwi Khangba. It has been very hot and humid today, so if it is nice again tomorrow I think I will trek out in my shorts. It is three days since I have washed and showered properly... and there is likely to be a fair bit of competition for the Namche showers. My fellow trekkers have all been without since before EBC, so I will leave my shower until later - it's only right they take precedence.

I must also check to see if I have put aside sufficient funds to pay for my airport departure taxes and tips for the sirdar and porters. I need about 4200NR... but then I'll only have about 700NR and £60 to get me home.

Nice image of the Namche 'bowl'

I really need a shower. Nice, hot water sluicing away the previous days filth. Clean clothes and I feel like a new man. Tonight the permanent staff are supposed to be organising a 'farewell party' in 'Club Namche'... as there was for Trek C.

I don't think the dynamics will be the same with Trek D though. Maybe it's just me, as I'm not one to be railroaded into things? Furthermore I'm really not interested in the type of dance routine that was suggested for Trek C (and I suspect it's going to be something similar).  Tomorrow is a hard days walk to Lukla, so the last thing I want is a late night and a hangover, especially since I am only just rid of headaches and nausea.

The evening is as expected... an entertainment evening of Ceroc... a style of dance. I believe this is, in the main, for the benefit of the permanent XE staff at Namche, rather than the trekkers. Our group would have been content to have a couple of beers and a natter, a few games of pool and then drift off to bed, but there was a strong push to be participative and to try out some of the dance moves.

I don't know whether the permanent staff picked up on this, but I think our Sirdar and porters seem quite embarrassed by the whole thing too. I wonder whether this 'semi-erotic' dancing is acceptable to the Nepalis and may not even be appropriate culturally.

Mike and I leave for our beds around 2100hrs and although we were encouraged to stay the course, we exercised our right to leave. As far as I'm concerned, the proper celebration for Trek D will be the meal in Kathmandu.

So to bed... and up early tomorrow. 0500hrs to watch sun up on Everest... then testing at 0600hrs, with breakfast at 0630hrs... away by 0700hrs.