By Doug Pierson on March 30, 2008 6:26 PM | Comments (0)
Uncertainty because rumors continue to persist in the Nepal climbing permit category, although our trip leader Willie Benegas is so well known and has summited so many times that we actually received a phone call yesterday from the person in the Nepalese Government who does the issuing. He's supposed to follow up on that today and learn more, although the word on the street is that we will be able to proceed in some fashion.
Aggressive strategy because the Nepalese Government is now being inundated with permit requests from teams that initially were going to go via China, received the Heisman thanks to the Torch Relay, and are now scrambling to try and go via Nepal. One team magically appeared yesterday even though I know their initial plan was to route via Tibet. All of these teams are running a huge crapshoot because of Base Camp and route capacity among the chances that Nepal may just not issue them a permit after all. Our team is well ahead in the queue for permits given our original plan and Willie's contacts. "I know a guy..."
All things moving ahead, we will still be flying to Lukla soon to place ourselves a few days ahead of the other teams getting up to Everest Base. From what I hear, no one has yet started laying fixed lines through the Khumbu Icefall so we agreed that if it comes down to it, our team will begin to do that in order to get as high as possible before the blackout window of May 1-10 hits.
Gear check today along with any last minute gear purchases in Thamel District of Kathmandu, an area where you can pick up just about anything (like, oh, say, the two bottles of sun block that security in Bangkok snagged from you at the metal detector) and is loaded heavy with mountaineering stores. I walked right by North Face and Mountain Hardwear stores too -- looked to be brand new too.
Though I learned last night at dinner from Willie and another teammate (Joe) who has been to base camp twice and made it up to Camp One about three years ago that the trail to Base Camp (in storied and mythical places like Namche Bazaar) is loaded with stores where you can pick up oodles of gear. Seriously! So much for that that image I had in my head of a bunch of Sherpas with their yaks in tow meandering through two or three buildings and an occasional temple nestled among remote windswept plains. Huh. In some ways I was surprised to hear that sort of thing and in others I can't wait for this trip to get going more than I did before.