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  Mt. Everest 2005: Czech Expedition to attempt the Hornbein Couloir!




Josef Simunek leads the strong Czech team to attempt the Hornbein Couloir!

4/4/2005 and 4/3/2005: It was a fair 12-hour sleep, but we really deserve it. We know that we can expect two days of "doing nothing", which was caused by coincidence. We can't be in KTM, because during the strike it could become impossible to get out and we could be stucked there for many days, on the other hand, the visa which is necessary for entering China shall be valid from April, the 5th. So, we spent the days of obligatory rest in Kodari.
In the Kodari village there is a border crossing between Nepal and the communist China. The crossing itself is situated on the bridge over the Bhote Kosi river. On the Nepali side there are simple houses clued directly next to the road. On the other side of the bridge there is a terrific communist architecture represented by monstrous buildings made of concrete, glass, chrome and a red flag on the pole waiting for us. It looks like they would like to show us, what they are capable of. If a man looks closely, he can see many of the houses are empty, some of them are destroyed by stone avalanches.

There is a peace in the streets of Kodari - or better said in the single street which goes through the village - only wheels of barbed wire lying along the street and the police closing hour at 8 p.m. reminds us that not everything is as it should be.

On Sunday we go to a local Buddhist monastery located approx. 300 vertical meters above the village, so it's not a very long journey for us. We are welcomed very heartly by the monks and treated to a traditional Tibetan tea with milk, yak butter and salt. Further they explain us in perfect English that one of the lamas died and a funeral ceremony shall take part tomorrow.

We also can't miss hot water springs in the village of Tatopani, which lies about 2 km down the valley. For 10 rupies we get inside and have the opportunity to see, how local bath functions. There are two parts separated by a concrete wall - one for men, one for women - and there is everybody washing, cleaning, scrubbing.. Boys don't hesitate and go to take the bath. For girls it's a bit more difficult. Local women sport a special bathing sari, and they are washing practically only under it, it's not permit table to show anything more. A long sleep is awaiting us after a good dinner.

In the morning we agree on the further program. For sure we will go to see the lama's funeral, it's just a short walk up-hill. Also we have to count all luggage, check everything and prepare it for the Sherpas. Despite the fact it's Monday, there's almost no traffic, no tourists. We don't know whether it's the strike in KTM or one of the religious celebrations called Dassain. We'll know tomorrow - either we'll pass through without any problems or not ...

Other part of our journey goes through the village of Zhangma, the Chinese border-village, over a pass in 5000mts, further to the village of Nyalam situated in the altitude of 3700 mts.

3/31/2005: The flight from Prague to Kathmandu was quite smooth, without any complication. At the airport we were picked up by our agent, the owner of the agency, Pasang Dawa. He accompanied us to a simple hotel and despite a very late hour (the time difference between CET and the local time in Nepal is +3 ? hrs.) we discussed our time-table for the next days, as well as a current political situation in Nepal. According to local sources, some Maoist demonstrations and strikes are said to start on Sunday, April 3rd. Of course, the most affected would be Kathmandu. Based on this information, we agreed to postpone our departure from KTM already to 2.4., i.e. 5 days sooner than we have originally planed.

4/1/2005: The day started very early and was quite busy, as we had many things to arrange. Ivan was charged with a probably most difficult task - to pick up the cargo at the airport. Under an assistance of Pasang's employer Beam he managed everything easily-as he usually does. The others had to check and pack tents, which will be used in base camp, as well as in altitude camps, buy large amount of food and other things necessary for almost two months stay under the mountain. After an extremely sunny and hot day, to which we were not used to from our homes after a long winter, we have finally got everything ready. Around 7 p.m. we loaded all the duffle bags on two off-road pick-ups. Many Nepalis were standing around, helpful was this time none of them.. After the hard day we deserved a delicious, traditional Nepali dinner, to which we were invited by Pasang and his wife to their residence.

4/2/2005: In the early morning we ran from the hotel to the touristic part of KTM - Thamel to get the last European breakfast. Thanks to Pepino and his experience we drop in a local kind of a bus, which brings us a bit closer to Thamel. After a good breakfast we hurry up back to the hotel, pack our personal luggage and leave to Kodari. The route goes over the ridges until we reach the valley of Bhote Kosi river, where it is possible to try rafting or bungee-jumping from a bridge over an extremely deep valley. Finally, we reach Kodari in the early afternoon and are happy to check-in the place, where we will stay next three nights. The small lodge is called Lhasa. We spend the afternoon on a roof of the lodge and - for the first time after long months of preparations, planning, packing, organizing all the things necessary for the expedition and also important for keeping our business operating during the long time of our absence ended with the one-day stress in KTM - we finally rest. None of us belongs to the people, who regularly rest on Sundays, all of us are used to work 7 days in a week many hours, but for now it was enough. Therefore we are not upset, when someone "smart" switches-off the electricity in the entire village around 9 p.m. and we are forced to go to bed.




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