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 Everest 2008: Bill Burke Mt Everest 2008 Namche Bazaar

Moving up the Lhotse Face to Camp IV

April 9, 2008  Namche Bazaar  
Wow, these past two days have been memorable.  
We trekked from Phakding (8,000 feet) to Namche Bazaar (11,000 feet) on April 7, a huge push involving an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Lori and Amy did absolutely GREAT. They were right behind me the whole way. It took us about 6-1/2 hours. Namche is such a fun village tucked into the side of the mountain. (If you want to see pictures of some of the places I will mention, check out my photos on my website from my Everest trip last year). There are lots of markets, hotels, restaurants and even an internet cafe, which is where I am as I type this report. We had a nice dinner at my favorite pizza house and then retired to our "hotel." That's where the trouble started.  
Staying healthy is a cardinal rule of high altitude mountaineering. I broke that rule big time in Namche. I started feeling the onset of a cold during my last night in Kathmandu. Then we flew to Lukla and started our trek to Phakding in the rain. When I woke up the following morning (April 7) in Phakding, my throat felt scratchy. We trekked to Namche and slept at our hotel on April 7. When I woke up in the morning on April 8, I was as sick as I have ever been, and I rarely get sick. I had a fever, sore throat, achy joints, heavy upper respiratory infection and congestion and total loss of appetite. I saw 2 doctors that day-one from Nepal and one from northern California. The doctor from Nepal prescribed herbal medicine that was a combination of a dusty substance and little round pills that look like coco-puffs. I also wanted to see a doctor that practices western medicine so my nurses (Lori and Amy) located a wonderful doctor from northern California (Christina) who was staying on our floor of the hotel. She gave me some pills (I presume anti-antibiotics) and advice (e.g., drink liquids and take Vitamin C "Airborn"). I was in my bed all day April 8. It was difficult for me to even sit up in bed. April 9 (today), I woke up feeling a little better, but, even so, I only left my room twice--once to take a shower and once to type this message at the internet cafe. Tonight, I feel quite a bit better, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. One of my big concerns is that I have not been eating well and my energy level is way down. Tomorrow, we trek to Tengboche or Pangboche depending on how I feel.  
I know I will recover just fine, and it is good that I contracted this early in the trek and at a relatively low elevation. I think I picked up the bug on the flight to Bangkok since the seat next to me was blocked because it was "dirty." I bet the person sitting there on the previous flight was sick and threw up.  
Lori and Amy have been so great to me through this ordeal. They are also doing really well, with no signs of excess fatigue or altitude sickness. I love them so much.  
Mingma and Puchhanga have been wonderful companions and helpers. Amy said that traveling with Mingma is like having a personal nanny since he hovers over Lori and Amy all the way. If they reach for something in their backpack, Mingma is right there pulling it out for them. If they travel too close to the edge of the trail on steep sections, Mingma gets between them and the edge of the trail. I appreciate that so much. Puchhanga caught up with us on the trek to Namche Bazaar. What a total blessing he has been to our trip. Lori and Amy say that they feel like they have a personal bodyguard with them at all times. He goes with them on all their shopping trips and basically waits in the dining area for them to come out of our hotel. This was such a comfort to me as I lay helpless in my sick bed for two days.  
I will close this report with a humorous incident so that the report does not sound too much like "gloom and doom" On the trek from Lukla to Phakding, we stopped in a little tea house to get out of the rain. Amy had to go to the bathroom and asked where it was located. I pointed to the bathroom door and she went in. She came right out saying there is no toilet in the room, just a hole in the floor. I said the hole in the floor is the toilet. She said how do you go? I said you squat and go. She was appalled. She made me stand at the door holding the door open and looking the other way while she went because she did not want be alone in a dark room. Lori went in after Amy, and we could hear her laughing from the other room.  
God bless all of you,  Bill

April 5, 2008  Kathmandu, Nepal  
Namaste from Kathmandu.  
There has been much talk and worry about the economy in Kathmandu because of the recent political turmoil in the region. All that was erased when our plane touched down at the Kathmandu Airport. The emergence of Lori and Amy on the scene was a shot in the arm for the local merchants in Thamel that will undoubtedly carry them through the season.  
Kathmandu has not changed a bit from from last year. The traffic of machines and people on the streets of Thamel can only be described as chaotic. How motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, rickshaw drivers, pedestrians and animals survive is truly a Wonder of the World. When the narrow streets get too crowded, the motorcyclists just drive on the sidewalks, honking at pedestrians that get in their way. Everyone, I mean everyone, drives with their horns.  
I love walking around and taking it all in. It was especially fun showing my daughters around. They love the shopping. Watching them ply their trade and negotiate with the merchants is a real treat as well as a study in contrasts. Lori takes the hard-nosed approach. Her favorite line is "No, that's way too much." (Shouting across the room at Amy) "Amy, are you done? I am ready to go." The tactic almost always works. Amy's approach is more soft and subtle. Her system works because she keeps the merchants constantly off balance, always thinking that, if they lower the price just another 100 rupees, they can cinch the deal. She is also a sophisticated negotiator. For example, all the merchants walk around with an electronic calculator in their hand, constantly running figures to show you how much you are saving. The first thing Amy did was to purchase her own calculator so as to level the playing field. It is so much fun watching Amy and the merchants duel with each other, using their calculators as weapons of choice.  
A funny thing happened at one of the clothing stores. Lori couldn't reach a deal with the merchant and she noticed a store across the street that sells the same product. She told the merchant that she would just walk across the street and buy the product from a mercant that would meet her price. He replied, "okay, I'll be right over. I own that store too." When another merchant was asked the price of a particular product, he said "whatever you want to pay. No matter what price I quote, you will say it is too high."  
We met with the owner of Asian Trekking and their staff and they seem like really nice people. I also met my personal sherpa, Mingma Sherpa, and I really like him. He reminds me of the famous Yankee relief pitcher, Mariano Rivera. Steely-eyed, young, strong, competent and somewhat shy. He has summitted Mt. Everest 5 times. In an amazing coincidence, David Liano knows Mingma. When David summitted Everest in 2005 with Alpine Ascents, Mingma was one of the sherpas hired by Alpine Ascents. David says he is super strong and I am lucky to have him as my personal sherpa.  
We had breakfast this morning with the personal sherpa that will accompany us on the trek. His name is Pachhang. We really like him. He is a Christian and speaks very good English. Lanny Anderson, who is trekking to Base Camp this year, joined us because he too is a Christian. Yesterday, poor Lanny was bending over to tie his shoe and a dog that was laying on the sidewalk bit him on the finger. He went to the hospital and now has to have the painful series of rabbies shots. He still plans to trek to Base Camp and will get some of his shots along the way. I am so happy and comforted to know that Pachhange will be traveling with Lori and Amy when I am not with them.  
After breakfast, Pachhange, Lori, Amy, Lanny and I visited some of the famous sites of Kathmandu. We went to the Swambhu Nath Temple (the "Monkey Temple"), site of the largest sitting Buddha in Nepal, the Boudhanath Temple, site of the largest Buddhist Stupa in Nepal, and the Pashupati Hindu Temple, where cremations take place. Lori was not particularly fond of the smoke and ash from the cremations. When we returned to the hotel, she immediately took a shower. She said that she has never felt so dirty. We had such a great time together, and it was nice to have Pachhange as our wonderful, informative and accommodating tour guide.  
Our last event of the day was a trip to the Lhomi Kids Care Home, which is an orphanage. Pachhange organized the visit. Lori and Amy brought several duffle bags full of gifts for the children. Many of the gifts were donated by friends, neighbors and churches in Newport Beach. The visit can only be described as once-in-a-lifetime and sacred in nature. I will let Lori and Amy fill in the details in a later post. I am so proud of them.  
At 6 am tomorrow morning, we fly to Lukla to begin our 35-mile trek to Base Camp. That's when the work and adventure really begins. I told Lori and Amy to enjoy their last good meal and shower for a long time.  
God bless all of you.  Bill Burke  

Update: Kathmandu, Nepal  
We just arrived at the Yak & Yeti hotel in Kathmandu. This appears to be a very nice hotel. More on that in a later post. So far, our trip has been fantastic.  
The flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand was easy and uneventful. Thai Air upgraded us to business class, which helped a lot. We arrived on April 1 at 9:30 am and were in the Arnoma Hotel by 11 am. After getting settled, we went shopping--surprise, surprise. Actually Lori & Amy went shopping, and I tagged along. They had a great time and picked up a lot of good stuff (so they say). We first shopped at a large mall near the hotel and then ventured out of town to a popular indoor and outdoor shopping mall. I decided to help Lori and Amy by making a financial contribution to their shopping spree. Lori refused to accept the donation, saying I had already done enough. Amy took the money out of my hand almost before I had a chance to open my mouth. The next day, as Lori’s finances dwindled, she was more accepting of my offer.  
We slept well and started the day on April 2 around 11 am. That’s when I had my first panic attack. We agreed to meet at the Starbucks café next to the hotel at 11:15 am as Lori & Amy needed to pick up a “couple of things” at the mall near the hotel. I was there on time. No Lori or Amy. At 11:30 am, they were still not there, so I went back to the hotel. No Lori or Amy. I went back to Starbucks and waited until 11:45. Still no Lori or Amy. I repeat the process--back to the hotel--back to Starbucks--and no sign of the girls. Now it’s noon, and I am starting to get really concerned. I hurry 4 blocks to another Starbucks, thinking we had a mix-up in signals as to where to meet. They are not there. Now it’s 12:15, I am in full scale panic mode, imagining all sorts of things. I decide to search for them in the shopping mall. Sure enough, there they are, walking up and down the aisles trying things on. Arrgggh. That’s when it dawned on me that, when they are safely home, climbing Mt. Everest will probably seem like a leisurely, stress-free stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon.  
We spent the afternoon sightseeing, and it was so fun and interesting. We visited the Grand Palace which houses the royal residence and throne halls and is the site of several government office buildings. It is also the location of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We then visited another temple which houses the famous Reclining Buddha. In the evening, we went on a dinner cruise on the Chaophraya River. The buffet dinner was great, and the music and entertainment were really enjoyable. We saw many famous temples that are located along the banks of the river. All the while, we were serenaded by karaoke singers. Lori, Amy and I danced to “You Aint’ Nothin But a Hound Dog”--Thai style of course. After we finished the cruise, we went to the Suam Lum Night Bazaar. When we arrived, Amy said “we hit the jackpot.” Lori & Amy shopped from 9:00 pm until midnight, when the bazaar closed. I slept in a chair on the street.  
Bangkok is a busy metropolitan city. The air is pretty polluted from all the cars, and the traffic in the downtown area hardly moves. In fact, on the way back from our sightseeing trip, we sat in traffic that did not move one inch for over 15 minutes. Since we were on a tight schedule to get to our river cruise, we finally hopped out of the car and walked the remaining kilomteter to the hotel.  
This morning, we were up at 6:30 am to pack for our trip to the airport so we could catch our 10:30 am flight to Kathmandu. We had to catch two cabs because of all our gear. Lori and Amy’s cab ride was a wild one, and we had an incident at the airport while checking in at Thai Air. I will let Amy describe these events in her post, which is coming soon.  
Tonight, we are going in to Thamel to have dinner. I can’t wait to show my daughters around. It seems like just yesterday that I was here.  
Go Bruins!   Bill

Background: Bill Burke, who attempted Everest from the South as part of Dan Mazur team in 2007, will be back in 2008! His first report is below...

As most of you know, in 2008, I will return to Nepal for a reprise of my trip earlier this year. I hope to complete the last 100 meters of the mountain of my dreams...the magnificent Mt. Everest.  
--I will be posting reports of my 2008 trip.  What is new for 2008 is that, on summit day, I plan to file 6 reports: (i) upon departure from Camp IV at the South Col (26,000 feet), (ii) upon arrival at the Balcony (27,600 feet), (iii) upon arrival at the South Summit (28,750 feet), (iv) upon arrival at the Hillary Step (28,900 feet), (v) upon arrival at the Summit (29,035 feet) and (vi) upon return to the South Col.   
--In October, Sharon and I took my training partner, Oliver, on a round-trip train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle. We had a great time.

I have regained the 30 pounds I lost on Mt. Everest, and Ollie and I are now back into our normal training regimen.  
Your prayers and support meant so much to me during the 2007 expedition. I hope I can count on that same support in 2008.  
As my plans for 2008 firm up, I will let you know.  Bill Burke

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