Day 15 – Thame – Namche Bazar

I told you in the Day 14 entry about the little kid. So let’s start with him. Cute as a button but all BOSS!! at a gentle 5 years old.

There he is Capt’n Cool, sporting extra dark shades as he stares down the Incense burner. The he proceeded to demonstrate “Nepalese Big Boy Hygiene” He was a little shy, but eventually I won hm over and we started rough-housing, where I would lift him up and throw him in the air – what ensued was a teeter-totter of high-pitched, innocent, but definitely insane laughter (the kind of laughter where panic and pleasure wrestle inside a person’s head – similar to the first time you rode a roller-coaster)  and begging for more, when ever I wanted/needed to recover.

Eventually we left and were on our way.Halfway in between Thame and Namche. We ran into a group from Germany that traveled with their own buddhist monk. They were ascending to spend a week together in a retreat. But these people were not looking “new-agey”. You know tie-dye shirts and surrounded by a sweet smell of the art teachers break room. They were my parents age and as it turned out, they had been doing this for years. As we strolled down – really that’s what we did – we walked past many prayer rocks. They usually all say the same:”Ohm Mani Padme Hum” one of those basic mantras.With about one hours to go, we crossed a bridge and stopped to admire the wall paintings.We kept walking and all of a sudden we literally came around the bend and Namche was laid out before us.Due to a certain lack of space, there are Yaks all over Namche, feeding and wondering what to do in this weird time, when they neither walk, not do they have loads to carry. Namche is the main trading post in the Solokhumbu region and thus the major village in the area.Some people are a little richer than the neighbors and so the old “Keeping up with the Joneses” applies here, too. Above is the entry door of the Joneses from Namche. And because of that front-door statement the Anderson’s – they are a bit “uppety” – well they had to keep up and surpass the Joneses and went all out on the carpentry and paintings of their new post-earthquake front gate.

And with that little “story “From The Book” we will close the chapter on Day 15.

Stay sharp and keep it real.

Cheers Markus \m/

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Day 13 – Tokyo – Renjo La Pass – Lungden

We are moving on, after we have had two pretty easy and relaxing days. Trekking to Gokyo was great, especially finally seeing Cho Oyu. And then walking up to Gokyo Ri was great, too – the view was absolutely unforgettable, breathtaking, pun intended. Renjo La Pass is one of the few high altitude passes that yaks can pass, too. Yesterday, as we lounged in the local cafe with a hot chocolate and a “high-altitude-locally-baked” chocolate croissant, we watched a herd of yaks ascend up to the path. They had left around 13:00 and they had reached the pass two hours later. That set the “benchmark” for us for our crossing the pass – ambition is  bitch.

Day13 - GokyoLakePanoMountans

As we ascended, we looked back over Gokyo, this place is absolutely gorgeous. Day13 - MtEverestRangeMakaluI really loved staying there. It is quiet and very beautiful and thus very relaxing. What was very remarkable this time, was that the helicopters were flying almost constantly. Due to the great location we dwelled at for a while, I felt compelled to take this picture.Day13 - HeliOverMtEverest

Yes this is Mt. Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse and due to the power of optical illusion, it looks as if this helicopter is “flying waaaay” above these +8000m mountains. We pushed on, because we wanted to cross the pass before the sun beat down too much and made the descent too difficult. The difficulty arose because the backside had a lot of ice and snow in stand was pretty steep and rocky. A spill could have put a major damper on the trip. So we moseyed on to the pass.Day13 - Portrait-RenjoLa

Eventually we reached the pass, we ate, drank and enjoyed the hell out of the view.Day13 - RenjoLaPass-View-East2

By now you should recognize tag mountains in his picture…c’mon, you can do it!Day13 - RenjoLaPass-View-East1

Day13 - MtEverestRangePrayerFlags

We descended surprisingly quickly and found ourselves in an even quainter valley tan the Tokyo valley.Day13 - TowardsLungden

We followed the path to the horizon and reached Lungden, where we enjoyed a shower and a hot Seabuckthornberry juice and then a fantastic nap.

More soon and stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/

 

 

The Ol’ Oracle

My dad, the old football oracle was once again right (an believe you me, this admission is hard for a son). Two an a half weeks ago we were talking in the car about the prospects of Germany defending its World Cup title. Yours truly, Mr-Walking-On-The-Sunny-Side-Of-The-Street, Mr-The-Glass-Is-Half-Full (even though there is only condensation on the glass), well, me a person with a generally optimistic outlook on life, I said:”We will punish Mexico 4:0, we will send Sweden back to the lockers with a valuable 3:0 lesson…and South Korea…well South Korea, I don’t count practice games.” My dad, the ol’ football oracle chuckled and dryly replied, “They will not make it! They should be happy if they make it into the knockout round.” I laughed in the face of such dire pessimism. He expanded with just one sentence:”They are not hungry…..the gentlemen millionaires.”

If you have followed the World Cup, then you know, that I had to eat my words and that my dad, was succinctly to the point. I will not throw in my 10 Baht and explain what happened and why. Fact is that the German team from 3006, 2010 and 2014 would have schooled the 2018 team with double-digits to zero victories. In all three group stage games, it was as if they had forgotten the beautiful and entertaining “Hooray Football” that made them fan darlings in 2006, 2010 and ultimately won them the World Cup in 2014.

And so to finish the eating of words I say to my dad:”I bow my head in deep humility and with great admiration. May you be correct many more decades. But, I would like to express with the utmost confidence, that our hockey team, the Mannheim Adler (Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé, immer wieder MERC) will definitely grab the national championship in the 2018/19 season – NO DOUBT!! Mark my words.”

And that’s that. Onwards and upwards.

Stay sharp and remember Optimists have a lot more to lose, but they are also much better prepared for success !-)

Cheers Markus \m/

Wind Power

Yesterday a buddy of mine and I went on a bike ride through the neighborhood. The first leg of our loop led us up to the windmills our community has. And let me tell you, they are pretty manly in size, when you stand right below.

This one here is one of the smaller ones with a hub height of 70m and a rotor diameter of 58m, producing 1MW. The rotor was rotating at about 30rpm, yet there was no sound – beautiful. We rode on through the surrounding forests and arrived at one of the bigger wind turbines. This one has a hub height of 149m with a rotor diameter of 115.7m and a nominal output of 3MW. And here, too, no noise, the rotor just turns quietly. Pretty amazing!

Stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/

Day4 – Namche (3400m) – Deboche (3700m)

On the fourth day we left Namche for Deboche. The first half of the day is beautiful. We trekked out of Namche going up for maybe 30 minutes. Then the path proceeds more or less flat at a steady altitude for about 2 hours before it drops off pretty steeply through the forest again towards the Khumbu river. We crossed the river over a hanging bridge and sat down in the sunshine for lunch.For us lunch is usually a mater of getting fluids in. So a noodle soup and lots of hot ginger-lemon-water. Above 4000m, if a trekker is lucky, there is hot or warm Seabuckthornberry juice available. That stuff is super potent and very nutritious. I also love the taste. It also does not require anybody to schlepp it up the hill. The women collect the berries locally and then process them, by mashing and boiling them into a syrup. For consumption, the syrup is diluted with water. Really good, highly recommended. After lunch we entered the pretty long and steep ascent to the Tyengboche monastery. We saw many porters with incredibly large and heavy loads on their backs.

This porter was carrying tea-house supplies, such as tea, eggs, meat, pasta, garlic, onions, etc. The porters get paid by the weight of their load and the distance they carry it. Building materials, if they aren’t urgent are also carried on the backs of men.A single propane gas bottle weights 30 kilos. Porters carry them, too. The strongest porters in their prime years can carry up to 75 kilos (165lbs).As we kept ascending, I heard pretty bad coughing ahead of me. I looked up and saw a small porter with his back to me and a pretty heavy load. When I approached I realized that the small porter was a small boy. Yuba, our guide joined and translated. The kid was sick, coughing and feeling dizzy. I gave him some food and drink. He was 13 years old and was carrying 40 kilos from Namche to Görakshep – likely a 4+1 day trip for him. He was not having a good day at all. In moments like this you realize how unjust the world is. At 13, I was still enjoying my careless and worry free childhood and suffering from the agony of school. This kid, MUST work to support his family and cannot attend school. With 6 year education, his “career” is very limited. He can hope, to stay healthy, so that his earning power increases as he get stronger. Then we will “enjoy his peak carrying power” for maybe 10 years before his body will demand a price be paid for the years of abuse through heavy loads. It was heart-breaking.

Anywhere on the trail, trekkers share the path with yak and donkey caravans. They move at incredible speed. Sure they look slow, but they move steadily. And they have a clear advantage to humans – four-hoof-drive. We eventually topped out at Tyengboche and spent some time around the monastery. Unlike last time we were there, it did not start to snow immediately after our arrival.

It wouldn’t take long before a Yak caravan we had passed on the way up had caught up with us. Tyengboche was not our destination this day. We still ha 20more minutes to walk to Deboche, where we stayed for the night. The walk from Tyengboche to Deboche is a descent through a “magical forest” that leads past Rivendell.Rivendell, from what I have heard sounds a lot more promising than it actually can deliver. The girls from WHOA travel spent a night there and complained about moldy and wet rooms. In our years trekking in the Himalayas we have never had any complaints like these. The rooms are basic and clean and they provide shelter.

We are getting closer to ascending beyond the 4000m threshold. This will happen tomorrow when we go to Dingboche.

Until then stay sharp

Cheers Markus \m/

P.S.: Due to other commitments, the next entry will follow Saturday the latest.

 

Day 3 – Acclimatization Day Around Namche

Day three, we have gained some substantial altitude and it is time to allow the body to adjust. We went up to the Japanese built Mount Everest View Hotel to enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains, which include, you guessed it: Mount Everest. But we can also see Lhotse, Amadablam, Kongde (behind us towards the south), Thamserku, Cholatse, Tabuche, Lhotse Shar and of course Nuptse. Althoygh Nuptse is about 1000m lower than Mt Everest “and not even an 8000m peak”,it is technically more difficult and because of tht a lot less frequented.The view from the deck of the Mount Everest View Hotel. It is a pretty posh place built by a Japense mountaineer. Frankly, I am not sure what the person was thinking and what the politicians that approved this project were thinking – maybe neither of them were thinking, since it is so much easier, not stressing the old noggin’. Anyway, for “easy and convenient access” to this hotel there is a helipad with is high-heel walking distance, because the “hoity-toities” need to be choppered in to enjoy the view and suck Oysters. Worse, yet, this is just a “halfway point” for the wealthy losers who chopper into base camp for a cup of coffee. I am sorry, but if you don’t walk all the way, you are missing out on so much. And now I get off of my high horse. The view from above Namche is really spectacular. Take a look at Mount Everest and Lhotse… …Ama Dablam……Ama Dablam, Mt Everest, Lhotse (in the clouds)… …Kongde, shrouded in afternoon clouds……Kongde during a break in the afternoon clouds……and finally, “here’s looking at you, Namche” with Kongde in the clouds. Just writing this entry feels like a mini vacation again.

Stay sharp my lovelies.

Cheers Markus \m/

Day 2 – Phakding (2600m) To Namche (3400m)

Man, I had slept like a well fed baby in Phakding. I always sleep well in the mountains. The fresh, unpolluted air, the quiet, the occasional whiff of yak dung, I can’t explain it, but I just sleep very well in the mountains. Maybe it is the fresh supply of endorphins of the day’s prospects.

A little bit about the daily trekking routine. We get up around 5:30 to 6:00 lie in bed go oer what the day might bring, then get ready for the trek and go to breakfast. After breakfast we pack and we get on the move. Which we will do now.

We walk up the Khumby valley towards Thamserku. Some time the river is to our right, sometimes to our left. We progress deeper up the valley by crossing the river many times over these beautiful rope bridges. These bridges get really interesting when a loaded Yak train comes the opposite way. The Yaks just move without any regards of what’s in their way. In the lower altitudes, they also use donkey trains for transportation of goods. Trekkers in the Khumbu region will always encounter men carrying big and heavy loads up into the Khumbu valley and its side valleys.The independent porters are getting paid by Kilo. For example, from Namche to Görakshep – the last tea house on the Everest Basecamp trek, a porter get paid 100NPR per Kilo. It will take a porter about 2-3 days to go up and one day to descend. The porters in their prime can carry up to 70kg (155lbs), which yields 7000NPR gross. Deduct from that cost for food and accommodation and a 4 day trip yields 5500NPR, about US$55. That is a tough life! And you can imagine for how long a person will be able to perform at this peak level – a few years, then income is declining.As we keep climbing we walk through these little villages with their prayer stones prominently displayed everywhere. But we also find agriculture and even small gardens with flowers.We keep walking up the Khumbu valley and crossing over the river until we finally cross over a very high rope bridge, draped in prayer flags. After this bridge the final ascent to Namche starts. Along the way is a resting point from where the eager trekker gets a first glimpse of Mount Everest, at 8848m the world’s highest mountain.From this point on it is maybe 30 to 40 minutes to the permit checkpoint and then another 15 minutes to entering Namche.Namche is the biggest and busiest village in the Khumbu valley. On Saturdays there is a big market – the bazar; hence the name Namche Bazar. From Namche the trekkers and the supply caravans split up to go into the different valleys, although the majority moves up the main valley.Here a family built a little incense burner between two houses. The gap between the houses serves an additional purpose – stacking dry firewood. At lower altitudes there is still firewood available. It gets scarcer with increasing altitude – the treeline is at bout 4000m. Dried Yak dung replaces wood for as a material for burning at altitude. Kongde, Namche’s “house mountain” on the afternoon of we day we arrived. In Namche, in our tea house we ran into a large group of women who were so much fun to have around. They were traveling with a group called WHOA Travel – Women High On Adventure (www.whoatravel.com), based in New York City. We would run into them a few more times – great company on the trek. Big Shout-Out To Amanda! BROOKLYN In Da House. In a bar brawl, I would like to have Amanda on my side, because there would be no fight. Amanda’s sheer presence takes care of business – what an energy pack.

Good, and this finishes our second day of trekking the Three-Passes Trek.

Cheers and stay sharp

Markus \m/