Everest 2015: Life in Kathmandu

Kathmandu TrafficKathmandu TrafficArriving in Kathmandu always brings a wave of emotions. This is my 10th visit here since 1997 and every time, illness I’m struck by the contradiction of poverty and smiles.

My flight from the U.S. went well except for a six hour delay in Istanbul. But at least I was able to spend it in one of the lounges I’ve seen, and I have seen many. It was large, with comfortable seating and amazing food. The only bad part was when Turkish Airlines delayed my flight from Kathmandu from 8:30PM to 1:30AM but overall, I’m not complaining.

Nepal recently introduced a computer system where you can register for your visa online. Well I did and still spent almost two hours trying to enter the country. The lines were long, the process slow, manual and cumbersome. But I met some of my teammates in line, and enjoyed watching the diversity of incoming tourists from diplomats to trekkers to climbers.

Changes in Thamel

As I walked the streets of Thamel, the district of Kathmandu where many climbers stay, I am always struck by the nature of the businesses and how they have changed over the years. Now there is a The North Face, Marmott and Mountain Hardwear stores next to the “Khumbu Climbing Gear” local store. You can all your medicine here, at very low prices. You can get all the gear you need at good quality, if you are careful not to the Chinese rip-offs, and the selection is not bad. You can get a logo made for your jackets or pack in a day, or a custom shirt. Basically anything you want is available.

One of the first tasks on everyone list these days is to get their phone set up with the Nepal operator NCELL. You can make a call from Nepal to the US for $0.025 per minute! Using your own satellite phone costs $1.00 per minute and your guide’s, maybe $3.00 per minute. They also offer 3G service for your smartphone so you can post Facebook selfies from Kathmandu to the summit. 🙂

But the problem is that as you go into the Khumbu, there are fewer antennas and with every, and I mean every, Sherpa, porter, monk, Lama and yak having a phone and a Facebook account, the bandwidth gets clogged thus slowing everything down to a crawl!  I guess this is what many would call a 1st world problem in a 3rd world country!

For the first time, I’m staying at the Yak and Yeti hotel, just outside of Thamel. It is a “proper” hotel with full service. This is where Madison Mountaineering stays, nice digs! They have a wall of banners welcoming other teams here. The Internet is fast but there is a premium charge for it as compared to the very slow but free access in Thamel. But I miss the friendly faces of Michelle and Pujan at the Hotel Courtyard where I have stayed the past few times.

Everest: Business as Usual

Teams are still streaming into Kathmandu and there is a steady flow out to Lukla or Lhasa. The permitting process seems to going smoothly with no reports of delays. All in all, it is business as usual for the Everest Industrial Complex 🙂 There are some big names here that are keeping a low profile. Not sure what they are up to.

It is reported that more than 40 team permits will be issued for 2015 compared to 31 in 2014. Be assured this will be spun by the media that Everest continues to be overcrowded, and nothing was learned from last year’s disaster. Meanwhile Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism will spin it that their efforts to “make Everest safer” through offering rescues squads, weather forecasting and a “new” safe route has resulted in making Everest more attractive than ever.

But the truth is that permits are not representative of the number of climbers. This year, a permit can be issued to a team of two: foreigner and a Sherpa Guide. In the past it took seven people to make up one permit, thus you can now have seven permits instead of one to account for the same number of climbers.

Wait for the final count of climbers permitted for the real story. I expect we will see over 300 foreigners with permits for 2015. Adding in an equal number of mountain workers, I am predicting 2015 will come close to 2013 where over 600 people summited Everest that spring.

Yes, the highest mountain in the world, continues to be very popular.

The Trek Goes On

Expect the first teams to arrive at Everest Base Camp (EBC) this weekend but the main activity will not begin until around April 10th as it takes seven to nine days to make the trek, allowing the body to adjust to the higher altitude. Most everyone starts in Lukla at 9400 feet and moves to 17,500 feet at EBC. We leave on Saturday, weather allowing, for Lukla.

I hope you enjoy this short video I took today doing a little shopping and traffic hopping!

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

Please consider joining ??Alzheimer?’s Prevention Registry. Joining does not obligate you, just provides you the opportunity. Many trails are questions and surveys. Open to anyone over 18 worldwide. 80% of all al trails fail due to lack of volunteers http://bit.ly/1HONXgl

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15 thoughts on “Everest 2015: Life in Kathmandu

  1. Great video. I look forward to your coverage every year. Signing up for the registry right now!

  2. hey alan im back AGAIN cant wait for your coverage this year

    really impressed with your K2 experience – it sounds like the trip down was a difficult one but wow so impressed that you can do this

    Theres apparently a Canadian from Calgary? i think trying a new route with 2 German climbers no sherpas without oxygen?

  3. I have read every blog post for years now. But my favorites are the videos that you have posted on your last few expeditions. It makes it so real for me, I really appreciate that you do this. Safe climbs, can’t wait to see pics from Lhotse!

  4. Alan Thanks for the pics spent 10 weeks in Nepal in the fall of 2014 and it was good to see the pics Be safe in your climb and Peace to us all

  5. Fond memories of the color and chaos that is Kathmandu and the great pizza at fire and ice. Keep sending the great photos and video! Stay well.

  6. Love, love, love arriving in Kathmandu. Two more weeks for me to be there!. Alan, thank you for writing and sharing your experiences–makes me so excited to get there. Climb safe.

  7. That was fun!
    Thanks for sharing your trip with this arm chair traveler.
    I will keep you, and everyone who ventures into the high places, in my prayers!
    Namaste Alan,
    From Idaho with love!

  8. LOVE the video. Enjoy the pizza now, I see MREs in your future. On another note, I tried to sign up to do a survey for the registry and they already had all the people they needed for that one. I’ll find another, but there must be a lot of people who have joined (maybe because of you) and a lot of the research is getting done.

    Be safe!

  9. Love it! Just like being there, but without the worry of avoiding that car/bike/scooter with four people on it, etc. that’s heading right for you!

    Have a great flight into Lukla, the most ‘interesting’ airport in the world :o)

  10. You’re looking well rested Alan. Enjoy the pizza and the beer before the battle on the mountain. Stay Safe.

  11. Happy to read the cheery reports again. Enjoy it to the fullest, Alan, and safe travels.

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