Inner Thoughts and Trip Impressions

Hello all, I thought I would post a bit of an update not just on where we are and what we are doing, but how I feel about all the things I have seen and experienced so far.

First I will go back to the Friday before I left, after leaving work in Calgary. As I was walking from the office to the train station, I had all these thoughts about the trip. They were not really positive; I was aprehensive in going, I was thinking, “Why am I leaving this beautiful city and this beautiful life with all these wonderful people and all these wonderful experiences that I have been having since coming back. Why am I leaving all of that behind for the unknowns of a different city, country, continent, and then place myself in so much discomfort of expedition mountain climbing, away from the basics of Calgary life that are in-obtainable luxuries here in the Himalayas.” This was on my mind and combined with knowing that I still had to spend all day getting all my things together, and the next day packing it all into two bags.

Luckily my brother called to wish me a happy birthday (I spent my birthday with these thought and with packing!) and I could talk some of that out and that made me feel better. And I knew I was going along with the trip so it had no effect on whether I would go or not. In the end I saw it as another aprehension of doing something just before doing it, but once you started it’s not that bad. It’s like dreading work as you are getting to work, but once you get there it’s not that bad. Or not wanting to go work out or excercise, because the mind is telling you to be lazy, but once you go and are doing it you enjoy it, and enjoy the after effects as well.

This aprehension went away as I was flying in, but came back for a little bit as the culture shock of Kathmandu took me by surprise. Luckily, the people that I will be climbing with, and the ones that are organizing the expedition, are awesome people. We’ve had many interesting chats and discussions and funny jokes, all with people that are, for all intents and purposes, still strangers. That’s the wonder in going expedition climbing, barely anybody brings a friend, and so everyone ends up being friendly to everyone else. So I look forward to spending the next month with them and building up some good friendships.

A bit of a view I have on the locals here: The Nepalese are some of the nicest people I have met. People greet you in the street, smile as you walk by, and seem to be quite happy living the life they live. Perhaps another example of a financially poor nation that makes up for it by being richer than most in happiness, something people in the developed northern hemisphere don’t seem to have a concept of. The Tibetans are also very nice people, and they have about them a very specific look. Almost all have rosy cheeks, which makes the babies (and the ladies) very cute. The Chinese are a different breed, and although officially Tibet is a part of China, really it is not. The people are different, the languages are different. The Chinese here seem to me to be imposing, trying to show superiority.

Let me give you an example from the border crossing between Nepal and Tibet. First of all, what you need to know is that even though there is a bridge that makes up the border, and this bridge can be driven over, motor vehicles do not seem to be allowed to cross. This means that entire fleets of semi trucks come to the border, are unloaded by labourers, and goods are carried across the border by porters, through customs and immigration and everything. Then they get re-loaded back onto other trucks, etc. (this happened with our checked baggage also). We saw ladies carrying large propane cylinders on their backs, strapped to their head as seems to be the normal way of carrying things here, and then on top of the propane cylinder was a basket with her baby in it. Wow. Anyways, on the Chinese side one of the officials/guards was slapping some of the porters and hitting their load because they were not standing in a clean line. This same official told me as I stood by the passport counter and rested my hands on it, not to touch the counter. And in general their presence in Police stations and other official building seems imposing and unwelcome.

Alright, on to another topic. Diamox is a drug used for (among other things) helping climbers acclimatize to elevation. I wasn’t sure about whether or not I should take this drug, but I have and I am absolutely amazed at it’s effectiveness. In 24 hours we went from Kathmandu at 1350 meters, through the border crossing, and into a Tibetan town of Nyalam at 3750 meters. Then, after sleeping very well during the night (which is not normal when moving to a new high altitude), we went on a quick hike up to above 4000 meters. I had no problem, the altitude made for some tough breathing, but that is nothing and quite remarkable. To ascend 2400 meters in 24 hours, and then go climbing even higher the next day is unbelievable. Normally people should ascend 300 meters per day (or 600 per day then rest day, etc.)

Alright, that’s all I had on my mind today. Will post more as news develops. Bye Bye!

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