On the road, again!
After a week in Kathmandu
things have finally started moving here. With a smile on my face I’m on
my way to the mountains.
It all changed last Friday after a few days of grumpy me. I was close to
exploding of anger believing that the airline had lost my skis and climbing
gear. I had started working on plan B: finding gear in Kathmandu, so
that this wouldn’t be the end of the trip. Most of the climbing gear and
clothing was possible to gather from friends and shops. Skis were more
difficult, at least there was nothing from the 21st Century to be found.
I asked myself, is it safe to go to Dhaulagiri with the gear that I’ve
found here? I didn’t have to answer that question. Friday morning I went on
one of our routine trips to the airport to look for the ski bag. The man
at the lost baggage desk, that I was sure couldn‘t say anything else than “Bag
not found”, said something different this time. Bag is here! I didn’t
believe him first until I saw a man dragging my ski bag towards us. All my
gear was right in front of me after a weeks detour. In a second I was a
changed man, all the anger was gone and I couldn’t stop smiling.
Having sorted out the gear problem I got on the bus for the six hours
ride to Pokhara where I was met by a massive rain. I guess the monsoon
is not quite over yet. Walking back to my hotel from a restaurant in the
evening was like walking in a shallow creek. It was water all over the place.
I had one day of sightseeing in Pokhara and went on a boat ride on the
Fewa lake, visited the Peace Stupa and the Devi’s waterfall.
Sunday morning I got up early and went to the airport to catch the
flight to Jomsom. Ghorka Air took me along for a mind blowing experience.
As the small propeller plane rose through the clouds we were in the
middle of an anfi-theatre of beautiful peaks. The Machhapuchhare, also
called the fish tail mountain, the four Annapurna’s and Nilgiri to
mention a few. Last but not least I got the first glimpse of Dhaulagiri.
That was a great feeling.
In Jomsom Budhi, that will be my cook in base camp, and his brother was
waiting for me. They’ve been trekking in three days from a town
called Beni with the food, gas canisters and all the rest of the gear that
couldn’t be taken on the plane. As soon as I got my bags we left Jomsom
and walked the one and half hours down the valley to a town called
Marpha and the Snow Leopard Lodge were we were going to spend the night.
Monday the trek towards base camp will start. It’s a serious trek
going over two passes (Dhampus and French pass) that are higher than 5000
meters. If everything goes as planned we will reach Dhaulagiri base camp
(4700m) on Wednesday.
Captions: 8658 – First view of Dhaulagiri through the window of the plane.
Photos: Fredrik Ericsson
2007-09-04: Missed flight and
a lost bag!
Finally the trip has started. I’m on my way to Dhaulagiri, the 8167 meter high
mountain in Nepal to climb and ski. I must admit that the trip could have
started better. I left Chamonix last Wednesday and flew from Geneva in
Switzerland to Doha in Qatar. That part went smoothly. I was in time, the
flight was on time and I didn’t have to pay for any excess weight for my big
and heavy ski bag with all my ski and climbing gear.
In Qatar my luck changed. I had three hours until my flight for Kathmandu was
leaving. That was plenty of time I thought so I strolled around the airport,
checked the internet and listened to a book on my mp3 player. Not at all
thinking of the one hour time difference between Europe and Qatar I arrived at
the gate when the plane had already left. Fortunately for me they let me
rebook on the next flight without charge. Not so fortunate, the next flight to
Kathmandu was 24 hours later. By now I know the Doha airport quite well. I do
not recommend the restaurants.
Friday morning I arrived in Kathmandu and after a bit of queuing to get visa I
walked over to the baggage belt to pick up my bags. My duffel bag was there,
but my ski bag was nowhere to be found. In that bag I have my skis, poles,
crampons, ice axes and down clothing: the gear that I need to be able to go up
in the mountains. Without it I might as well take a flight to a beach resort
and go swimming.
After filing a report for my lost bag and checking in at the hotel my Nepalese
friend Loben took me sightseeing in Kathmandu. We visited the touristy
shopping quarters of Thamel, Bouddhanath, the sacred Buddhist stupa and the
Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. Kathmandu is a big city with millions of people
and it seems that everyone has a car or a motorcycle. It also seems that they
have a competition where the one that honks the horn the most wins. Even
though the city is a bit too stressful for me, it offers a lot to see and if
you get out of the tourist traps the people are very friendly.
I first met Loben in 2004 when I was in Tibet to climb and ski my first
8000-meter peak, Shisha Pangma. Loben runs a company called Loben Expeditions
that is organizing anything from short treks to big
expeditions all over the Himalayas. If you’re interested in a great experience
in the mountains of Nepal, Tibet or India you should talk to Loben. On my
Shisha Pangma Expedition as well as my ongoing Dhaulagiri Expedition Loben has
made all the arrangements with climbing and trekking permits, base camp staff
and all logistics in Nepal.
Hanging out with Loben and
his friends I’ve found out that a Nepalese guy is competing in the TV show
“India’s Idol”. He’s one of only three remaining so it’s getting big here in
Nepal. What can be better evening entertainment than watching India’s Idol? I
guess if I could understand what they are saying.
I take full credit for missing the flight, but the lost bag; I must give
that to Qatar Airways. They have put in a great effort to lose a big ski bag.
Now it has been four days since I arrived in Nepal and still no news about my
ski bag. Until I get my gear I’m stuck here in Kathmandu and I can only hope
that the bag arrives soon. Fredrik
Photos: Fredrik Ericsson
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