|Moving up the Lhotse Face
to Camp IV
April 18, 2008
Yesterday was a rest day, which was so nice. The day before yesterday we spent
most of our time with the children of the orphanage. Lori & Amy will report on
Our flights have been arranged, and we return to home-sweet-home on April 20.
Yippee! We miss our families so much.
Reports from Everest Base Camp are not good. All satellite telephones and
other communication equipment have been confiscated until the Chinese have
taken the torch to the summit on the North side. Who knows when that will
occur? This means that all those folks parked at Base Camp have no way to
communicate home. I would absolutely hate that. I understand that the teams
are only allowed to use walkie-talkie radios to communicate with each other at
Base Camp. They are required to give their radio frequencies to the liaison
officers so their chatter can be monitored. They are absolutely forbidden to
mention "Tibet," "Free Tibet" or to say anything derogatory about the Chinese.
If anyone wants to send a message to the outside world, they must send a
sherpa down the mountain below Gorak Shep. I have been told that all bags
going up to Base Camp from Gorak Shep are being searched for sat phones and
other communication equipment.
None of this makes any sense to me. What are the Chinese afraid of? We had
heard that these sort of restrictions might be imposed, but I never really
believed it would happen. How could they enforce such restrictions? Are they
going to search every bag going up the mountain?? I guess so.
I feel so blessed to live in a free, great and good country. Sometimes we take
our precious liberties for granted. Not any more. God bless America.
I feel super-duper. We're having a great time. God is good!
10 days later...
We are comfortably back in the Yak & Yeti, but this is our account on the
We boarded our propeller plane with our luggage tags that read "I Was
Never Meant To Fly Coach!" that were given to us by a close friend before
we left. We zipped down the runway, shared by monkeys and airplanes, and
had a successful take-off. The pilot and co-pilot did not high five each
other as they did last year when our Dad took the same flight! The flight
was quite enjoyable. We flew low enough to get a great view of the
beautiful mountain ranges. What we had feared most about this flight was
the uphill landing on an airstrip 1/2 the size of Pacific Coast Highway!
We arrived safely and we began our first trek, which we were told was an
'easy trek," to Phakding! In comparison to the rest of our trip, it was
not as gruelsome. However, it was a complete shock to our systems! The
path was a mixture of equal parts; rock and yak dung! It rained on us the
entire trek! It was so thrilling to actually be on the mountain and see
the people, the animals, and the amazing scenery first hand! We snapped
photos the entire way. We especially loved crossing the suspension bridges
and seeing the waterfalls and raging river, also known as "The Milk River"
for its white/teal color. When we were shown to our rooms in Phakding we
were soaking wet and freezing. Before entering, we took off our shoes and
would not let anyone enter with their shoes on. If we had to, we would
crawl through the door on our knees, with our feet and hands in the air!
We immediately changed into dry clothes and jumped into our sleeping bags
and never wanted to come out. Dad told us to be sure to put all of our
electronics in our sleeping bags ( IPODS, cameras, cell phones, sat
phones) so that they wouldn't get ruined from the freezing cold weather.
That is when all of the door knocking began! We looked at each other like,
"Who's going to get it?" So we took turns hopping to the door in our
sleeping bags, hoping we weren't crushing our electronics on the way! We
finally relented and came out to the dining room. for soup and tea. That
would be our first of 10,000 cups of tea on this journey. The rest of the
team must have thought we were crazy. We followed a strict hygiene regimen
of cleaning our hands with baby wipes followed by Purell hand sanitizer.
Little did we know today was an "easy" day and we slept well in our
Our climb from Phakding to Namche Bazaar kicked our butts! We had
flashbacks of the Mt. Whitney switchbacks! It was best to just not look
up. The elevation gain was 3,000 feet! The scenery along the way was
stunning. It almost looked fake. Namche Bazaar is a busy, cute and
colorful village located on a steep hill. We planned for a rest day there
and enjoyed shopping, eating and using the internet at the cyber cafe'.
Whenever we pulled out a wad of cash to pay for something, we had to study
each bill to make sure we paid the correct amount. The shop owners stared
at us like, "Dumb Americans!" So we started calling each other "Dumb
American!" Little did we know our stay in Namche would be longer than
expected. We knew our Dad was ill when he only ate 2 small pieces of pizza
and said he was full. As we mentioned in an earlier report, he got the
help he needed, and while he laid in bed we officially became locals! Up
and down the village we ventured for 2 1/2 days becoming more familiar
with the locals and them with us. They would call us out by our first
names as we walked by their "shops." We took tons of pictures and handed
out candies (Jolly Ranchers) to the kids and even made friends with 2
cows! Or were they caks (1/2 cow, 1/2 yak)??? We even hand fed them Jolly
Ranchers! You could tell they loved it by their slobber and drool. Our Dad
looked a little better the next day so we decided to move on to Tengboche.
The hike was great for us. We had a lot of energy, listened to our music
and we had our first view of the great Mt. Everest!!! That was AWESOME!
What a thrill it was to finally see our goal, the tallest mountain in the
world! Puchhanga took photos of the 3 of us. WE finally got to see in
person Dad's dream! When we arrived in Tengboche, they showed us to the
"best" lodge in the village, which was only one out of two! It was more
than DISGUSTING! We stayed in a green glowing tube! To enter, you walk
down about 3 steps and through a doorway similar to Alice in Wonderland.
It stunk so bad! We couldn't wait to go to sleep, wake up and LEAVE! This
trip was beginning to resemble an episode of "The Simple Life."
Even though our Dad wasn't completely himself yet, we pushed on to
Pheriche, knowing that there was a good medical clinic where we could have
him checked out. The accommodations were better than the tube. Anything is
better than the tube. We took scalding hot showers. You had to let the
staff know 45 minutes in advance so they could boil the water. The water
came out of a tiny spout the size of a dime. To release the flow of water,
you pull out the extra large toothpick, and when you are finished you put
it back in. Amy got the first shower only to get scalded by the extra
boiling hot water, and you could hear her saying, "Ouch, Ouch, Shoot, Oww!!!"
The dining room facility was very nice. There were many people from all
over the world relaxing, reading books, meeting one another and all of the
tables were lit by candle light. When it got dark, everyone used their
head lamps to read. Dad fell asleep in the dining room and appeared more
and more sick. We thought we would sleep in the next morning then visit
the doctor. Surprisingly, we all awoke extra early. When Dad emerged from
his room, he said he was going to the clinic, which was unlike him. He
knew he was very bad, so the 3 of us rushed over together. The clinic is
open 24 hours for emergencies. We banged on the door and woke up the
doctor. The doctor checked his oxygen Sat. level and his lungs. His oxygen
Sat. level was at 40 and his lungs were full of fluid. He diagnosed him
with pulmonary edema. He immediately hooked him up to oxygen which brought
his oxygen level up to 70. He gave us our options, but highly recommended
we get him on a rescue chopper down to Kathmandu. We were so sad to see
our Dad in this condition. In order to get down to Kathmandu to be with
him we would have to start our trek right away. So there we go with our
sherpas down the mountain listening for the chopper on its way to pick up
our Dad. We were so excited when we saw it fly by and it seemed only a few
minutes later it was on its way down with our Dad. We waved like crazy
from the side of the mountain, while Puchhanga took photos.
We took only two days to get down the mountain...we were on a mission to
meet up with Dad. Our first day we trekked to Namche Bazaar (where we are
now locals!) We were so tired and our legs and knees were so sore. One
enjoyable memory on this first day was finding a girlfriend for our
Puchhanga! We asked him on one of our breaks if he had a girlfriend at
home and he said " No, I'm still praying." The young female server was
cute so we asked him about her and told him we thought she was cute. He
said, " I know." We told him to ask her out and he said, " She's too far."
We asked her if she ever goes to Kathmandu to which she replies to
Puchhanga, " No work." He told her in Nepalese that he could get her a
job. They exchanged phone numbers and had their picture taken together by
both our camera and his camera! We wiped our hands like job well done, and
continued our trek!
The next morning it was the same old thing, back down the
mountain...another long day to get to Lukla where we can fly out to
Kathmandu. We went slow because we were so tired. Puchhanga wanted to have
his eyes on both of us so he put Lori in the lead position and Amy 2nd.
Lori used her trekking poles to navigate every step, while Amy followed
behind like the scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz!" It was like she had no
bones in her body and Puchhanga was there to catch her fall! It began
rain, then hail, then got dark... "Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!"
Before resorting to digging through our backpacks for our headlamps, Lori
was now using her trekking poles a guiding stick for the visually impaired
on the side of a very steep mountain. At best she was rearranging the Yak
poop on the trail! We finally made it and when we arrived our sweet
porters were waiting for us with BIG smiles as usual with our heavy bags.
They showed us to our room which involved going down through a dungeon
first. We got the first flight out of Lukla in the morning...6:30 AM. The
take off involved shooting down the steep runway and taking off over the
side of a cliff. We didn't care at that point...just get us to Kathmandu!
When we arrived back to the hotel we immediately wanted to see our Dad. We
went to his room and knocked, but no answer. We began to worry and imagine
the worst, so we started kicking on his door. Finally we saw a housekeeper
and asked her to let us in "our room." He wasn't there. We found him in
the hotel business center on the computer and looked like himself again!
What a relief. Now we just had to make sure he didn't have any crazy ideas
of going back up. Although he was considering it, the doctor in Kathmandu
strongly recommended that he not. So we will all be coming home together!
Before we come home, we promised the kids at the orphanage that we would
be back. That will be in our next report...
Amy and Lori
April 14, 2008
My daughters are back with me at the Yak & Yeti, and are in fine fettle.
Puchhanga and Mingma are fine too. A huge weight of concern has been lifted
from my shoulders, and I thank God for their safe return.
Lori and Amy had me doubled over in laughter with their report about the trek
down the mountain. But, I almost cried when they told me that they waved at
the helicopter ferrying me to Kathmandu as it passed over them on the trail. I
was in the comfort of the Clinic less than 1 hour later, and they still had 2
very hard days of trekking just to get back to Lukla. Nevertheless, they will
have many happy stories to recount when they get home. At the top of the list
is the fact they kicked my butt on the mountain. My family will bring this up
at every future gathering until I depart this good earth.
Here is a more detailed account of what happened to me. On the flight to
Bangkok or Kathmandu, I picked up a bug that became a passenger within a
passenger and traveled with me to Lukla. At Lukla, the incubation period
expired, the eggs hatched and a billion hungry germs were released into my
system, scurrying to every nook, cranny and corner of my body. They finally
brought me down in Namche Bazaar, and I was flat on my back for two full days
and nights. I can’t remember ever being so sick. I could not even lift myself
up in my bed. Two wonderful doctors visited me, one who prescribed herbal
medicine and another who prescribed traditional western medicine for viral
infection and flu. On the third day, I felt a little better, and we resumed
our trek to Everest Base Camp. In retrospect, this was a mistake, since I was
not fully recovered and was suffering from fatigue, weakness and severe loss
of appetite. At this point, with the virus brought under control, the second
half of the tag team--pulmonary edema--took over, causing my lungs to fill
with fluid. This fresh attack pulled me under when we arrived in Pheriche two
After a restless night, I woke to the sound of my lungs gurgling with every
breath. I was barely able to lift myself out of bed, pull my boots on and
struggle into the dining room where I picked up my daughters who accompanied
me to the Nepal Himalayan Rescue Association medical clinic just a few steps
up the trail. The doctor came out and put my index finger in a pulsometer that
measures the oxygen saturation (“SAT”) level in the blood. After seeing my SAT
level, he let out an audible gasp and said “what’s this?” The reading was 40.
Readings in the high 90’s are normal and anything below 70 in the mountains is
dangerous. By way of comparison, Amy’s SAT reading in Pheriche was 93. (How
embarrassing is that?) He then checked my lungs and confirmed that I had
pulmonary edema and had to go down quickly. He said that, if I was in the
states, they would have me hooked up to a respirator which he did not have in
his Clinic. Asian Trekking called for the helicopter, and my daughters quickly
organized all my gear and their gear for the trip down the mountain. My
teammates were wonderful and supportive, especially my good friend David Liano
from Mexico. David kept reminding me that this was the right call and that the
mountains are always secondary. He gave me an old Tibetan coin and made me
promise to bring it with me next year when we return to Mt. Everest.
The doctor in Pheriche told us that one of his patients is a young porter who
is critically ill with a heart condition. The doctor did not have the proper
equipment to treat him, the porter could not travel down the mountain by
himself and he couldn’t afford to pay for a helicopter evacuation. So the
doctor asked us if his patient could share the two-person back seat with me
for the trip to Kathmandu so he could be admitted to a hospital and receive
proper medical attention. Of course, we agreed, and the porter and I traveled
down the mountain together. As I was moving up the mountain in the previous
days, feeling sicker and sicker, I kept asking myself, why is this happening
to me now. I rarely get sick, and I have never had any form of serious
altitude problems in the mountains. Maybe I now have my answer.
The doctors and support staff at the Nepal International Clinic in Kathmandu
were so kind and nurturing. Dr. Govind Pokhrel gave me a full check-up,
including a lung test, an EKG, blood work, SAT tests and blood pressure
testing. He pronounced me healthy. Because there was still some crackling in
my lungs, he suggested that I stay overnight at the Clinic hooked up to
oxygen. So, that’s what I did. A young nurse came in to take a SAT reading.
When I asked her how it looked, she said the reading was 92. I proudly
announced “wow, that’s a great reading, so I’m okay.” She responded “Yes, Sir
(meaning “dummy”), you are on a 6 litre flow of oxygen directly into your
lungs through your nose.” She razzed me about that incident until she left at
the end of the day.
While I was in my clinic bed, Jeff Giger (my wonderful son-in-law), called. He
had searched the net to find a way to locate me, and one of the names hit. I
reassured him that I was fine. He gave the number to Sharon who called, and we
had a heart-warming chat. Sharon told me that she heard from my climbing
friend, Bud Allen, that Lori and Amy safely reached Namche Bazaar from
Pheriche and would be trekking down to Lukla the following day. Bud heard the
news from Puchhanga who sent an e-mail to Bud from Namche. Thanks to our dear
friends Bud and Puchhanga.
My care-taker at the Clinic, who stayed with me the entire time and cooked all
my meals, was Tseri Sherpa. What a loving and gentle person. He heard about
our trip to the orphanage. He held his hands to his face in a prayer position
and said, with the greatest sincerity, “thank you.”
I have nothing but good things to say about Asian Trekking. A helicopter
evacuation is usually a long process filled with bureaucratic red tape and
lots of delay. This is especially so during the holiday and election seasons,
both of which converged on April 12. I arrived at the Clinic in Pheriche in
the morning and the helicopter picked me up at 11 am, an impressive and
unprecedented accomplishment. Asian Trekking had 2 representatives pick me up
at the airport, and they took me right to the Clinic. Mohan and Sanjay from
Asian Trekking stopped by to see me in the morning and had a driver pick me up
and take me to the hotel when the doctor discharged me later in the day.
A brief word about the political situation in Nepal. On April 11, there was a
national Constituent Assembly Election in Nepal to elect representatives to
draft a new Constitution establishing a federal democratic republic. The
election process was quite vigorous and heated, drawing international
attention and hundreds of election observers from all over the world. This
included former President Jimmy Carter, who stayed at the Yak & Yeti. One of
the reasons for all the heat and interest was that the Maoists Rebels laid
down their guns and participated in the electoral process. In a stunning turn
of events, the Maoists scored victories by wide margins in many of the
Constituent elections. It appears that they could now establish themselves as
the largest party in the 601-member Assembly. Some attribute their victory to
a desire for peace and economic prosperity, which the Nepali Congress
apparently could not deliver. Other say threats and fear played a crucial role
in the upset victories. One cab driver told me that the Nepalese people are,
by nature, peace-loving, and he thinks many of them silently voted for the
Maoists so as to keep them from returning to the jungle where they would
resume their guerrilla warfare. Whatever the reason, pressure will undoubtedly
be brought on Washington to remove the Maoists from its international terror
I have grown to love the people of Nepal. You never see a frown on a face. The
people are genuinely kind, sincere and respectful, and they seem to love all
foreigners, including Americans. Most importantly they are peaceful and
peace-loving. Yesterday morning in the hotel, a little Nepalese girl toddled
over to me as I was seated on a couch waiting for my room to be prepared. She
crawled up beside me, took the pencil out of my hand and started to scribble
on a piece of paper I had been writing on. She was so cute.
We plan to visit the orphanage at least one more time. Lori and Amy want to
take more gifts to the older children who we were not expecting to see on our
first visit. I want to take more video footage. We also want to find out what
other supplies they might need that we can bring back on future trips. We will
share this information with you in case you are interested in helping. Maybe
we will make this an annual pilgrimage.
My plan was to return to the mountains on April 16 when another Asian Trekking
group leaves to climb Mt. Everest. But, I had one last appointment at the
Clinic, and wanted to see what the doctor had to say. He said I am healthy,
but still in the recovery stage. He strongly recommended against going up
again so soon. If I don’t allow my body sufficient time to fully recover
before I go back up, there is a serious risk that I will have the same
problem. He wanted me to rest in Kathmandu for at least 7 days. But, waiting 7
days would not allow me sufficient time to make a serious run at the summit.
So, I’m coming home with my daughters.
One good consequence of making this decision is that Asian Trekking can secure
a refund of $10,000 for my permit fee. After today, no refund can be secured.
Asian Trekking will also hold all my oxygen bottles until next year.
Honestly, having my daughters back with me has jolted me back to reality and
made me realize what is really important. I don’t really care that much about
the mountain right now. I will come back next year with Bud and David, and my
daughters promised to make every effort to return with me. I hope my other 2
children--Lisa and Danny--will try to come too.
This trip has been a huge success. Lori, Amy and I have had the best time, and
Lori and Amy have proven their power and mettle in so many ways. The three of
us have created memories that will last forever.
Lori and Amy plan to post their own report after receiving a decent night of
sleep in a real bed. We will keep you advised as to our plans for the return
Thanks so much for your prayers, love and support.
Editorial Note: If this is
not success what is!
April 13, 2008
Happy New Year.
Yes, I am in Kathmandu, and it is the first day of the New Year in Nepal. As
you must know by now, I contracted pulmonary edema in Pheriche and had to be
airlifted off the mountain by helicopter to Kathmandu. This all started with
the virus that attacked me in Namche Bazaar. I feel great right now and am
back at the Yak & Yeti.
I plan to file a full report tomorrow, but now I am concentrating totally on
the safe return of my daughters, who are trekking today from Namche to Lukla.
I expect to see them later tonight or tomorrow. I am supremely confident of
their safe return as they have the two best sherpas in Nepal by their side.
They are also very strong and feeling quite well. Still, the separation makes
my heart ache. How ironic: all my contingency plans were designed to insure
their safe return if something happened to them on the trek to and from
Everest Base Camp. Here I sit in the Yak & Yeti after a chopper ride down the
mountain while they trek down the mountain to catch up with me.
Thanks to Jeff Giger (my son-in-law) for tracking me down at the Clinic in
Kathmandu; Sharon, for her words of love and support; and Bud Allen for
calling Sharon to let her know my daughters safely arrived in Namche Bazaar
last evening. Thanks also to all of you for your prayers.
I may be down right now , but don't count me out for this year. More on that
April 12, 2008
Costa Mesa, CA
After some phone calls and e mails I have learned that Bill is resting, on
oxygen, at a clinic in Kathmandu. I talked with him this morning after Jeff
Giger, my son in law, researched on the internet and was able to find him.
Thank you Jeff! Bill sounded good, much better than when I talked with him in
He immediately began feeling better when he was taken to a lower altitude.
They want him to stay another 24 hours on oxygen.
The girls have made it down to Namche Bazaar and are fine. (Thanks to Bud
Allen for finding this out for me.)
I will let them fill you in on details. I want to thank everyone for your
prayers and concern.
God is good!
April 11, 2008
Costa Mesa, CA
I just got a phone call from Amy. They are in Pheriche. Bill has pulmonary
edema and they are waiting for a helicopter to take him to a hospital in
Kathmandu. He is now at the hospital in Pheriche. His oxygen sat level was at
He woke up this morning in Pheriche and told the girls that he was taking
himself to the hospital. They knew he was really sick when he said that. Amy
and Lori will start walking after Bill is picked up. She said it takes an hour
and a half for the helicopter to get there.
I wanted to talk more with Amy, but the phone went dead.
We thank you for your prayers.
Sharon and Family
April 11, 2008
I think I have fought off the virus and I am now dealing with the
after-effects--some congestion, a cough, fatigue and loss of appetite. But,
every day I feel better. This must be the year of the bug in the Khumbu
region. My personal sherpa and a porter are sick, so I gave them some of my
medicine. One of the other Asian Trekking climbers is also sick and is laid up
in Pangboche. Glad it is all happening here and not at Base Camp.
Lori and Amy are fine and are acting as the official expedition nurses. Lori
follows me around everywhere I go handing me baby wipes to keep my hands
We trekked from Namche (11,000) to Tengboche (12,500) yesterday, an elevation
gain of about 1,500 feet. The scenery is stunning in its beauty. We all got
our first view of Mt. Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. That was so special. The
experience of being in the Himalayan mountain range can only be described as
mystical. Lori and Amy really enjoyed the trek yesterday, their favorite part
of the trek so far. I enjoyed it too, of course, but I had to labor on the
steep sections because of my lack of energy. Even so, I enjoyed it so much,
and it is so special to be here with my daughters.
Lori and Amy are taking lots of photos, which is great because it frees me up
to use my high definition video camera.
Tengboche is a beautiful village at the top of the mountain. There is a
Buddhist Monastery here and a few shops and stores to pick up souvenirs. Our
accommodations last night were pretty nasty, and Lori and Amy will have a few
funny stories to share when they get home. Unfortunately, I can't repeat them
in this report.
Today, we head to Pheriche where we will catch up with the rest of the team.
Pheriche is one of my favorite villages. We may even take a rest day at
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
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
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
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
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
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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