Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Makalu 2011 Lukla with Air Zermatt Pilots

We arrived to Lukla, luckily it was a bit overcast and not so hot today on the way down from Namche. We arrived to the lodge and a few of the Air Zermatt crew were here, jokingly we asked them to fly us to Makalu tomorrow and they said they heard about our flight and wanted to do it. Fingers crossed they will be able to. The pilot, Danny, who is here was the psycho that got the Spanish off of Annapurna at 7000 meters last spring, totally crazy. These guys really know what they are doing, today they took a casual ride over to Manaslu ABC from Kathmandu with a couple of Koreans, and headed up to Lukla. It would be awesome if they flew us in!!!!!!!
More to come........

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Makalu 2011 Acclimatization in Khumbu photos

We finished our acclimatization in the Khumbu very successfully. We climbed Island Peak with our friend Justin and had a fun time all around. Luckily we got to spend an evening with another friend Brian who is headed to Everest, and met a few other very nice people. The most interesting group has been a school group from New Zealand, visiting nurseries and schools all part of the Hillary Trust - some of which like the Khumjung School celebrates its 50th anniversary this May. Impressive. The kids are all between the ages of 15 and 19 and seem to be very amazed by the huge differences between their home lives and that of rural Nepal (however rich the Khumbu is by comparison to the rest of the country).

All lodge owners and perhaps the guy who has the most accurate finger on the pulse of the number of tourists in the Khumbu, Santosh from Namche Cyber Cafe is reporting the number of tourist is very low. It begs the question that when Nepal launches a Year of Tourism again does it scare tourists due to expected big crowds, or better yet, what is the incentive for coming? Do peak fees drop? Will they wave the visa fee for return visitors? There should be something, not just saying it is the year to visit Nepal - which kinda happens every couple of years. We will start posting from Makalu very soon. Oh yeah, happy Easter!

Here are a few photos from the trip so far: Photo at top is of a monk at Pangboche monastery.
Even the horses are hungry at the bottom of the hill in Phunky Tenga.

The Pre Island Peak Beer Justin bought, thanks!

Mani Stones line the path to Everest.

Kinga and Justin nearing the top of the face on Island Peak. It is steeper than most expect.

Me at the Kukuczka Memorial Chorten halfway between Dingboche and Chuckung, Kinga is a representative of his Foundation, we filmed there for a bit.

Yak bells, Made in Premana? No, few know that CAMP has for over 100 years produced the cow bells heard across the Alps.

Rice and other ceremonial items at the Pangboche Monastery.

Yaks in Dingboche during an afternoon snow storm.

Santosh, the Man at Namche Cyber Cafe.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Makalu 2011: Puja

Kinga and I had our Makalu Puja in Khumjung, it was great, 15 monks playing horns, drums and chanting. If you have never been to a puja in a historic monastery then you are missing out. It is honestly a very grounding experience. The whole puja lasted about half an hour, but it does serve as a great way to focus on the task at hand, regardless of your religious beliefs.

Makalu 2011: Very quick entry to Khumbu

Amazingly everything went to plan with the Citroen group, we managed to fly into Lukla and transfer immediately to a Pilates Porter to fly to Syangboche. Even with 50 of us it worked out flawlessly. all of the shuttling of people went without a hitch. Even more amazingly everybody felt great and we managed to walk to the Everest View Hotel, check in and then take a tour of Khumjung, and the Hillary school where we made a donation with all of the school kids watching. they were excited.
The weather is perfect right now, the Khumbu seems very quiet, everybody I speak to says the same.
We are very sad to see the group go, they were great fun!!
More to follow.....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Makalu 2011: Not my usual Kathmandu - but way better!

As the title of the blog goes, this is not my usual start to an expedition. After 2 nights without much legroom, an the usual fun of getting a visa on arrival here, thanks to Citroen Motors Kinga Baranowska - my climbing parnter for Makalu ( www.kingabaranowska.com) and I stayed at the Dwarika - the best hotel in town, with all antique woodwork collected over 50 years from derelict buildings, it has so much charm. We have been busy running around getting all of our cargo for Makalu packed up and Cho Oyu Trekking has done an amazing job helping us with everything! We had a presentation for the president of both Citroen Motors and the president of Citroen Bank - along with a few of the best dealers. They are here to fly into the Khumbu with us and spend a night, then continue on to the Maldives for a bit of relaxation. What a contrast to us. What would I rather be doing, sitting on a beautiful beach letting the water lap onto my feet as I run sand through my fingers or don a pair of heavy boots and walk up hill? It is close, but the boots win every time.
I will be phone casting very regularly from the Makalu expedition, please follow along here!

Dwarika's 8 course welcome dinner, we ate with Sangita who is the owner, and her son and really enjoyed ourselves. We traded stories of one very famous mountaineer who regularly stays here for a good portion of the night.

The usual fun of getting your visa on arrival in Kathmandu airpoprt.

Our presentation at the Garden of Dreams, a little oasis in Thamel. A beautiful dinner for 50 was organized, amazing food and some fun as well.

I went to see Miss Hawley, she asked me to come back to work and help her with the rounding up of climbers at the end of the season again, I helped her out last October and really enjoyed it. Miss Hawley was as sharp as ever, I love to sit in her office and listen to stories from the golden age of Himalayan climbing.

Handing over our life savings, in my case this is not a joke.

The Reception area of the Dwarika in Kathmandu.

Statue in the Dwarika Garden.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Makalu 2011 Expedition: Flying:here we come: first flip flop ascent?

It should all be easy once you have checked in, kick back, relax, read, watch a few movies and sleep your way around the world. But sometimes it is not so easy, nobody is sure why, but I cannot check my bags all the way through to Kathmandu, if I get to Singapore and have to pay excess baggage charges again then I will be leaving most of the bags in Singapore and will be making the first ascent of Makalu in a pair of Scarpa Blitz, jeans, Vars Hoody and a Centaur 38 liter pack. Light is right? Well I don't want to be that light.

The past few days have been hectic, I spent alot of time with the Crew at Ripstop adjusting some stuff for filming, Jesse and Glen at CAMP/Cassin figuring out ways to lighten up my bags or hardware - which we did very successfully! - Chris spent some time with me molding boot liners at SCARPA in the 65 degree heat in Boulder on Friday, the Fed Ex man and I got to know each other quite well as he repeatedly showed up with the latest and greatest from Andy at Marmot. Both locations (Estes and Boulder) of the House for Wayward climbers were as good to me as usual as my bags repeatedly exploded for repacking sessions late into the night.

Spring skiing is amazing in Colorado right now, I was very sad to say goodbye to my new fat skis, luckily the snow will be around for a long time and again next season.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Chamonix - Zermatt, new record, think you are fit?

Think you are fit? I thought I was as well, then I started hanging out with Rando Race People. RRP are the most amazing endurance athletes on the planet hands down. So these three French guys thought that gaining 8350 meters and skiing 7750 meters - yes those were meters - over 110 km in just under 19 hours was a good day of fun while skiing the Haute route from Chamonix to Zermatt. For those out for a cruise it usually takes a week.

I learned so much from RRP this past winter regarding breathing, pacing, and pushing hard. I wonder how much faster this will go? Skimo or Rando is without a doubt the best endurance training, races are popping up all around North America, check some out here: http://www.ussma.org/cosmic/

For more on the story check out:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Makalu: the return, how time flies

It seems like such a short time ago when last year at this time I was packing up for a trip to Makalu - not much passed in the last year just trips to Broad Peak, K2, Cho Oyu, Island Peak, Ama Dablam, Poland, UK, Germany, ISPO, Italy, Austria and a ton of skiing in RMNP (slightly sarcastic that not much happened) and again I am leaving.
I am actually looking forward to the cold and the big loads again, I will post more Makalu details soon, but found some images of last year that are going to be all to real for me soon enough.

That time of year again: Final adjustments for Makalu (Ripstop shout out)

Jim and the shop

It is that time of year again, I have packed everything up - and I mean everything this time, Marmot Lair 8 person tents, enough solar to charge for a big film project, over 25 kilos of camera equipment, a few heavy bags of the lightest climbing hardware available, and some modified gear. I am going to be spending alot of time filming this year and I needed a couple of special features put into my suit, Ripstop Repairs have always done an amazing job for me. I show up with crazy ideas for new products, ways to modify stuff for one off projects - they laugh at me sometimes, but they always do a great job! Bring beer and wine for speedy service - coffee is also appreciated! While you are there stop in and say high to the guys next door at Rock and Resole! Check them out at: http://www.ripstoprepairs.com/

Tools of the trade

Kyle "enjoying" working on a product with 900 fill.