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From the Hotel Thamel, Kathmandu

We are staying here for two nights in the hope of starting our trek to Kala Pattar tomorrow by means of an early morning flight to Lukla. This "mountain" is really a shoulder peak of the much higher Pumori, but it has the immense allure of sensational views without the need for technical climbing. At 5545m (18,190ft) it's only about 200m higher than Base Camp, but (unlike Base Camp) it gives (when clear) an amazing view of Everest's summit, as well as several other 8000+ mountains.

Our departure is far from certain because it’s too early in September to count on the weather and Lukla boasts the world’s shortest, steepest runway so there is no room for error even in good conditions. However, we are booked on the 0700 flight and will wait out the day at Kathmandu airport if need be. Let us hope that tomorrow’s date – 9.9.9 – proves auspicious.

The hotel is in central Thamel, the busiest part of the city centre. This morning we walked up the huge flight of steps (the eastern stairway) to the Buddhist temple at Swayambhunath (the monkey temple). Its hilltop position is impressive, although the thick smog over the city marred the view. Winter or early morning would be much clearer. Sadly the all-seeing eyes of the Buddha were missing because it’s undergoing restoration. But our guide Phurba was there today, and he’s coming on trek, so it was great to meet him. (Phurba means Friday, and like most Nepalis he is called after his birthday.)

We dined tonight at the famous Rum Doodle bar, which is just around the corner. I came back to find that despite the power cuts, my wi-fi still works from my hotel room, so I seized the chance to catch up with my blog. This entry was written after we’d been issued with kit bags and told to sort out kit for 4.45 am tomorrow. It’s after 10pm here (bizarrely, we are 4.75 hours ahead of BST). However in the pitch-dark bathroom, temperature control was tricky during the power cut, so now I’m waiting for the water to cool down enough to enjoy.

Anyway, the laptop isn’t coming on trek with me. Blogging and emailing get harder as you climb higher: it isn’t just the dicey power supplies, unreliable hardware, vagaries of satellite position and need to co-ordinate the trek itinerary with solar power, it’s also the fact that there never seems to be as much spare time or energy as you expect when you first see the itinerary. And being away from computers is, for me, part of the appeal of trekking.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 8, 2009 5:11 PM.

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