YES, we're alive and rockin' hard!...now that we finally solved the communication system challenge we had with our Inmarast device since our arrival in Nepal.
Things got really crazy in the last two weeks…and we almost had (lived, experienced you named it ) them all.
You may not belive it but some days ago only we just entered year 2065 (Nepali calendar) and we have been even invited to a Trance Party.
The maoist won the elections in Nepal and the kingdom is about to become a communist country. People were filling the Katmandu's streets shouting pro communist slogans and Mao's name was on almost everybody's lips. As a matter of statistics (just google it), it seems Mao killed more people than Stalin, Hitler and any other dictator taken together). It's incredible how people can still vote in 2008 for "The Great Leader" , as they called him.
Seeing children in the streets among their seniors wearing the communist symbols only took us to think these people are either ignorant either not well informed about what communism is. In Romania people voted for the communists just one time, and it was for the next fifty years to come (even although those elections were faked). On the other hand, the south side of Everest is still closed to the climbers due to China pressure on Nepal ( and to the sudden influx of capital from the North to the South side of the Himalayas) fearing an Olympic boycott. Just go to the www.explorersweb.com and find the latest updates on what is happening in Tibet right now and also about other news that didn't got yet into the mainstream media. Why do I bother to write this instead of just climbing the mountain and seeking to keep you informed about our climb? I know I might piss off some of you but I think here it is not just about the mountains. Is is also about the people. And we owe it big time to the people of the Himalayas. Because they give us so much. Much more than we give them back. And we climbers that strive into the thin air, each of us for a thousand different reasons, a thousand personal different reasons, we can be a voice in the western world for these people. I think climbing mountains is incompatible with being a complice and with closing the eyes at your peers' tragedies. Even if this tragedies will not affect you directly. And even if speaking up your mind will expose you at least to potentially very unpleasant consequences.
Getting over the communist euphoria in Kathmandu we took the plane to Lukla, at 2400m high, the second busiest airport in Nepal, and the gate of the expeditions to Solu-Khumbu. Instead of flying to the Makalu Base Camp the very next day as promised we had to wait no less that 10 ( T E N) days till finally we had a lift. Almost each of these days we were given a different delay reason and a different taking off time. Just one of the "minor examples": first we were told we can have a 1500kg load on the heli, second, 1200, third, 1000kg, fourth time, 750kg, fifth time, just the evening before the flight, 350kg+ 3 persons and finally in the morning of April 23rd we took of with Mihnea, Kumar, our cook, myself and two of our expedition bags :)))))
But this was still nothing! On 19th the flight before ours crushed in Makalu BC but fortunately nobody was injured. And few days after our arrival in the BC the same heli we took we heard it crushed on the way to Annapurna BC. Phewwwwww!!!!!!
Meantime we had made an acclimatization trek to Namche Baazar, the famous Sherpa village, at 3400m from where we have had a tremendous sight of Everest and of the South face of Lhotse.
As seen from Base Camp at 4700m, Makalu was magnificent and HUGE but I had a very positive feeling upon my first visual contact with the mountain. We just stayed for two days for acclimatization in the BC and on April 25th we made the 7 hours trek up the Barun Glacier and established Advanced Base Camp at approx. 5700m. All our expedition staff weighted about 1200kg and only due to the excellent negotiation skills of our cook Kumar we could find 13 porters in the first day to send an initial cargo to the ABC. Of course the porters we were promised were not there and it's a kind of miracle we managed to get almost all the loads up in ABC in only three days (other teams having a similar problem). We still miss about 180kg of different gear but this will arrive tomorrow. Each porter carries thirty kg as established by the government of Nepal but we had few carrying over the glacier up to sixty kg in their wish to earn more money. As a curious remark, at lower altitude (e.g. 3000m) there are Sherpas (wich we have encountered in our trek) carrying up to 150 kg at a time!!!!
Our team here is very small but versatile and is completed by two really really great men that fast also became our friends: Kumar Rai as cook and Lakpa Dorje Sherpa as cook and base camp helper. Although we have had great challenges to get to the ABC so far, our support team in Kathmandu did their best. They are the stuff from Sherpa Adventure, especially Pasang Sherpa and Sonam Sherpa (the owners).
Today we also held the "Puja" ceremony and we even had invited a lama from a Buddhist monastery three days down the valley to perform it. The moment was quite impressive and we do hope the spirit of the mountain will allow us to safely climb to the top and back.
Tomorrow, April 29th , Mihnea and I plan to climb to 6200m and establish our Camp One. We intend to spend there one night for acclimatization and come down to ABC the next day.
We are keeping our fingers crossed for our friend Horia Colibasanu who is these days preparing for the summit push on Annapurna! Climb to the top and be safe, Horia!
Till the next time, I wish you the Sherpa (and Tibetan) , Tashi Delek!!!! (Happiness and Peace!)