Our fictional climbers have arrived in Kathmandu for their spring 2020 Everest attempt. In the real world, conditions at Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side are pretty good. The temperature is 28F with an occasional snow shower.
Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas is a joint project of Alan Arnette and several global guide companies. Our objective is to entertain Everest fans during the Coronavirus spring closure and raise money to help the Climbing Sherpas who are not working this spring. While there will be accurate historical references, this series is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of my imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Please join us by making a donation using the links below plus by adding your Everest experiences in the comment section.
Another Sherpa appeared along with several young men who grabbed their luggage carts, winding them around the airport parking lot towards a small van. The engine was running, and the air conditioner was blasting away. “Follow me to the car,” Dawa said to the group. This was the first time She had heard a Sherpa speak. His accent had a musical tone to it. She liked it.
Dutch, boyfriend, and girlfriend followed her as the “boys” started to pack the bags into the tiny space in the back of the van. They piled into the two rows behind the driver, Dawa got in the passenger seat. Everyone was quiet, absorbed in the moment. Leaving the airport, they passed the concrete arch marking the entrance and turned right onto one of Kathmandu’s main roads, the Ring Road.
Traffic was heavy, cars weaving in and out, but a mass of scooters occupied most of the pavement. Shops filled with colorful merchandise, food, language schools, tour agencies lined the streets. All of a sudden, the van moved to the right lane, dodging a huge cow, chewing on her cud. She turned her head to verify what She had just seen. Yes, a cow seemingly at peace, just sitting in the middle of a congested road chewing her cud. She looked at the girlfriend, and they both let out a giggle. Dutch was busy texting on his phone.
The driver turned left onto a narrow dirt road. She couldn’t tell if the buildings were stores or homes. Many had tall walls blocking the view. A few minutes later, he turned back onto a paved road. “Shortcut,” Dawa said, glancing over his shoulder, revealing what they would come to call his Everest Smile. More twists and turns and then down another narrow road, past a money changer shop, the exchange rate written in chalk; “1 USD – 129.1 NR” along with 14 other currencies.
The van eased up to the door of the Hotel Kathmandu. The hotel was off the main streets in a quieter part of Kathmandu well away from the often noisy and crowded tourist areas of Thamel. A man in a uniform greeted them “Welcome.” he said with a sincerity in his voice. “Please come in. We will take care of your luggage.” They moved as a small cloud into the hotel lobby.
A walkway divided two sitting areas, both with comfortable couches and stuffed chairs surrounded by fresh plants. The check-in desk, a mahogany covered two-sided structure held another man dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and dark suit coat. He instantly smiled as Dawa approached him. “Namaste, and welcome back, Mr. Dawa.” The gentleman offered. “Namaste. This is the first of our Mount Everest Guide’s group to arrive. The rest later today.” She handed over her passport, unclear on the process. “Here are your keys, let’s meet for lunch at noon,” Dawa said as he handed out the keys. She had a single. The couple shared another and Dutch, still holding onto his climbing boots, would share a room with another team member once he arrived.
The bags had all disappeared, carried up by a small army of hotel porters. She admired the Tibetan rugs on the floor, the painting of the Portola Palace in Lhasa hanging on the wall, and a portrait of the His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Looking at her key as She started climbing the stairs, She was in room 404. Kathmandu is at 4,593-feet. She lived at 453 feet back home. After two flights, She noticed her heart beating faster, a bit out of breath. “Oh my, really?” She began to tease herself.
Turning the corner on her floor, She noticed a poster hanging on the wall. Something about it captured her eye, the signatures at the bottom. Stopping in the middle of the hallway, She studied them carefully and then read out loud, “Rob Hall, Ed Viesturs, Oskar Kihlborg, Micke Reutersward, Carlos Carsolio”
An avid aficionado of climbing history, She had the book, Hall & Ball: Kiwi Mountaineers from Mount Cook to Everest, the history of Adventure Consultant’s founders Rob Hall and Gary Ball. Pioneers of commercial mountain guiding, both died in the mountains. Ball died on K2 in 1992 and Hall on Everest in 1996. Of course, Viesturs was an American mountaineering legend becoming the first and still the only American to have summited all fourteen of the 8,000-meters peaks without using supplemental oxygen. Kihlborg and Reutersward were the first Sweeds to summit Everest back in 1990. And Carsolio set a Lhotse speed record in 1994 with a climb of 23 hours and 50 minutes from base camp to the summit.
Opening the door to room 404, She found her two yellow duffle bags on the floor next to a small desk. Two twin size beds were neatly made up hugged the wall to her right. Simple curtains blocked the sunlight. She walked over and pulled back the curtains and sat on the bed. “Rob Hall, Ed Viesturs,” her voice trailed off.
She thought about all the history, all the legends of climbers before her. That She was going to attempt Everest, the world’s highest peak, get to climb with Climbing Sherpas. Share in the camaraderie and teamwork of an 8000-meter expedition. Of the 4,346 different foreigners who had summited Everest, only 630 women were on the list. She wanted to join them. She wanted to be the first from her hometown. She wanted to make her mother even more proud of her. Tired from her travels, She flopped over on the bed and closed her eyes.
“Hello, hello? Time for lunch!”
Climbing Sherpa Support
Who, how much, and how often you donate is a personal decision. Maybe you climbed with one of the guides, or plan to one day. Perhaps you have followed them for years and want to support their Climbing Sherpa team, or maybe you support by geography – Nepali, American, Austrian, British, New Zealand. It’s up to you and will be much appreciated.
My sincere appreciation to those companies who accepted my invitation to join Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas:
- Alpine Ascents International: Click to Donate to Alpine Ascents’ Climbing Sherpas
- Adventure Consultants: Click to Donate to Adventure Consultant’s Climbing Sherpas
- Alpenglow Expeditions: Click to Donate to Alpenglow Expedition’s Climbing Sherpas
- Climbing the Seven Summits: Click to Donate to CTTS’s Climbing Sherpas
- Furtenbach Adventures: Click to Donate to Furtenbach Adventure’s Climbing Sherpas
- International Mountain Guides: Click to Donate to IMG’s Climbing Sherpas
- Jagged Globe: Click to Donate to Jagged Globe’s Climbing Sherpas
- Madison Mountaineering: Click to Donate to Madison Mountaineering’s Climbing Sherpas
- Mountain Professionals: Click to Donate to Mountain Professional’s Climbing Sherpas
For an overview of the Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas, please visit this post.
Memories are Everything
Previous Virtual Everest 2020 posts:
- Virtual Everest 2020 – Support the Climbing Sherpas
- Virtual Everest 2020: Leaving Home
- Virtual Everest 2020: Flying at the Summit of Everest
- Virtual Everest 2020: Weekend Video Update April 5
- Virtual Everest 2020: Hello Kathmandu!
Please consider having a “general” donation button, where the proceeds would be equally split between all the groups. I would be happy to contribute to a general fund, but I don’t have any personal connection to any of these groups, to want to single out a donation for 1 of them above the others.
Thanks, Thinker for your suggestion. This campaign focuses on Everest Sherpas out of work, facilitated by the guide companies who choose to join. Pooling would be very complicated and I want to keep this simple and effective. More general NGOs that are broader include the dZi Foundation https://dzi.org and the Juniper Fund http://www.thejuniperfund.org . Both do excellent work in Nepal.