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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Facing Limitations

I got to Lukla on 05 Oct 09 and met my guide/porter, Dil.  Dil means 'heart' in hindi.  He seemed very eager to please and shouldered my camera bag, weighing about 15KG while I carried his, much lighter, day sack.  The first night stop was at a place four hours away.  It was a simple lodge with shared rooms.  My clothes were soaked with sweat when I arrived and I had no spare outer clothing as I needed to keep my pack as light as possible, knowing that a porter or guide would be carrying it because of my reduced capabilities at high altitude.

We met two canadians and a brit at the place who were all very friendly and we sat around drying our clothes as our host had kindly lit the fire for us.  I taught the others how to play pontoon and we shared some local whisky which we diluted into some nescafe that the hotel owner had lying around.

The next morning we set off at about 07:30 and hit the trail.  It was the hardet walk that I have ever had and I used up all of my reserves to reach Namche Bazaar.  I didn't stop for lunch as I knew that I wouldn't be able to start again if I stopped and just kept going in 'drongo' mode - count to 4, time your breaths and just watch your feet instead of the grueling terrain.  By the time we reached the outskirts of Namche,  my guide suggested we stop at a tea house on the outskirts, where I had 2 cups of tea, a twix and a snickers.

Again, my clothes were completely soaked with sweat and our host at the the new place wouldn't light the fire in the evening to help dry them.  The only was to partially dry them was to use a spare t-shirt and then drape the wet tops over my thighs and hope that the heat being generated would be enough to do the job.  As it happens, it did on the first day but not the others.  The result was having to sleep in a damp room wearing damp clothes.

To make things worse worse, the weather had closed in and we now had very little visibility of the surrounding area and a lot of rain.  We were trapped there for 3 days in theis way.  On the evening of the 4th day I saw the mountain over looking Namche Bazaar and took a couple of night shots.  The indications were good, weather wise, so after a conflab with Dil, we decided that we'd check the weather ourselves from 4am onwards.

4am, cloudy.  5am, cloudy.  6am...CLEAR! 'Lets go!'  We headed up to Shyangboche.  I forgot to say that  by the time I reached Namche I was experiencing some symptoms of altitude sickness.  By the time we reached the first Everest view point, the situation had gottent a bit more serious as I was now having trouble walking even one step up hill.  I think that the exhaustion had pushed me over my limits.  I felt elation when I first viewed Everest and setup the kit to take some shots.  It was good to get my head into 'photo mode' and off my ailments.  we went on a bit further, watching clouds that were racing in from the East all the time.  I kept wondering if we'd beat them to the panaromic view location, as Nepal was experincing a late monsoon.  We got there though and I got all the shots of Everest and the surrounding peaks that I wanted.  We started heading back then and I took shots of some of the local fauna and flora.  The altitude sickness got worse and kept me in its clutches until I got back to Kathmandu. 

I arrived back in Delhi today and I am now in Jaipur, having met my driver from the Agra leg of the journey.  I've hired him to drive me around parts of Rajeshtan and he's doing great.  His name's Dunveer.  I photographed a stunning hotel tonight.  Tomorrow I photograph the Amber Fort. I need some sleep now.

Later

Wolf

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