Go the Wallabies

Dear Family & Friends,

Our last night in Kathmandu was celebrated in appropriate style with a superb steak at the K-too restaurant in Thamel – washed down with an ice-cold bottle of Carlsberg (probably the best beer in the world).

Graeme, John and Louis are already back home and Claudia left a couple of days ago on a photographic assignment in Ladakh, India. Tommo, Neddy, Warren and myself will be departing on Thai later today and should arrive in Australia on Tuesday…

Thank you to all of you for following our blog and our adventure to the Turquiose Goddess. Until next time….

Go the Wallabies!

Soren

 

The end of the Universe

Dear Family & Friends,

Who would have thought that it would take roughly 60 minutes from Kathmandu to reach ‘The end of the Universe’? At 2200m the view from this place in Nagarkot isn’t half bad and the mountains of Langtang dominate the skyline to the north and Everest is visible further to the east.

Careful…, big danger!” said the waiter at a local restaurant last night as he placed the bottle of beer and opener on our table before retreating a couple of steps. When Tommo opened it and the thing erupted the waiter simply shrugged; “Told you so….” and left..! They reckon at least ½ of the population of Kathmandu left town to celebrate Dassain and the situation is similar here in Nagarkot – the B crew is in charge. When we arrived at our guesthouse yesterday, we were greeted by a guy who immediately began telling us in a very tired voice; ‘how exhausted he was, how he was totally alone and by himself and how he just couldn’t cope…’ – “The kitchen is closed, no food….” he said shaking his head.  “How about a cup of tea then?” we wondered. “Oh, gosh, hmmm I guess perhaps maybe yes I could boil some water…” Well, only if it’s not too much trouble.

This human wet blanket is more than offset by the location and guesthouse itself, which consists of a series of houses/bungalows, scattered amongst the trees on top of the hill. We picked a house with 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms + a common area.

More staff appeared on the scene this morning and we were able to order breakfast.

The plan for today is to do nothing.

Soren

 

The end of the Turquoise Fellowship…

Dear Family & Friends,

So what happens when all you eat for 1 month are sunflower seeds, almonds and the occasional potato? The obvious answer is correct but the amazing thing is that when Louis turns sideways he disappears almost entirely.

Claudia on the other hand managed to pack on the kilobytes and we’re all looking forward to seeing her bloated body of portraits published soon…

Graeme’s commitment to the cause was questioned – mainly by himself – but when ordered to “Man the …. up!” he did just that – pulled up his thermals real tight and never looked back.

The only way to recognise Warren is by his purple fleece top. That thing has been with Wazza on every trip (and possibly more) to the Himalaya and is worn less like a garment and more like a second skin. “Just because it’s threadbare doesn’t mean it can’t be useful…” he repeatedly states.

Tommo and Neddy both experienced the usual wear and tear associated with big expeditions although although their lifestyle change is a little unexpected….

 

 

 

John Boy’s spiritual advisor went a little overboard when she suggested; “The journey means nothing – the summit is everything…!” Luckily John zapped himself a few extra times with his incense stick and broke the spell.

Angel seemed distracted for most of the expedition but then again the news of his impending fatherhood was a shock to all of us.  The famous goatee might be gone but his facial follicles are determined little buggers and the sideburns have gone quite feral….

The TurquoiseFellowship is officially disbanded with the departure today of Graeme who managed to secure a wing seat on a flight to Melbourne – Tracy called with the news while we were down at Durbar Square checking out the Dassain festivities this morning.

  

The rest of us will probably leave tomorrow for the village of Nagarkot – on the edge of the Kathmandu valley and about 1 hours drive away – to chill out (while saving a few $) for 3 nights or so. Before this happens we have a party to attend this evening with our sherpas and the staff from Himalayan Ascent. The beers are being chilled and the curries assembled as we speak….

Happy Dasssain!

Soren

 

Descent into Nepal…!

Dear Family & Friends,

Even our driver was muttering a continuous stream of prayers as we raced down the steep narrow gorge between Nyalam and Zangmu.

The smell of overheating brake pads was strong – no matter, just stop and pour water on the brakes, watch the steam rise and then onwards with the journey….

We arrived in time for breakfast and were immediately surrounded by young Tibetan/Chinese women wanting to; “Change money, Money change…?”

Border formalities didn’t take long on the Tibet side and soon we were back in Nepal. Nepalese citizens are now required to pay duty on items purchased in Tibet/China.  You’d think customs officers could spot a scam when 7 foreigners carry 25 mattresses across the Friendship Bridge into Nepal…?

The drive from Kodari back to Kathmandu seemed to take forever – the roads were jammed with locals returning home for the festival of Dassain (equivalent of Christmas).

We’re all trying to change our flights out of Nepal but it’s proving difficult and we’ve yet to decide on a Plan B – not a major problem as we’re quite busy eating our way through all the restaurants of Kathmandu.

Soren

 

2nd summit attempt and other stuff……

Dear Family & Friends,

We finished the expedition the way we started it – with technical dramas…! – so I’m beaming up this blog from downtown Nyalam as we’re well and truly on our way back home.

As you’re probably already aware we did not summit Cho Oyu, but below is the account + photos of our second attempt. Thank you Louis for your minute-by-minute dispatches during this 3-day period…

It’s fair to say the weather forecasts this season have been inconsistent and unreliable, but on September 28th the various weather models agreed that summit conditions for the 30th were perfect with very high winds expected for October 1st and 2nd. Given the uncertainty for medium to long-term forecasts I held a meeting with our sherpas and members and recommended we push for the 30th as our summit day. This was despite not knowing the snow conditions above C3 and whether the fixed lines above were still intact or indeed how much had actually been fixed by the Korean team who summited last week. It was an ambitious – but definitely possible – plan and Graeme, Tommo, Warren, Ang Kaji, Lakpa T, Lakpa S, Angel and myself left for C1 after lunch on the 28th and arrived early afternoon on the 29th in C2.

    

    

The approach to C1, the scree slope below C1 and life in C1…

  

    

1st & 2nd Icewall and C2.

The remainder of that day was spent rehydrating, snacking and resting – on oxygen after 6pm – until midnight when we started getting ready for our summit attempt. We left camp at 1.35am on September 30th wearing full down suits and oxygen flow at 1ltr a minute. (Well everyone except Colin who seemed content to go without O’s). The team was strong and progressed well and in fact we arrived at a main feature named the ‘Rock band’ above C3 @ 7600m in less than 3 hours. Things were definitely looking promising.

Well that unfortunately was as high as we got..!

Ang Kaji along with 3 sherpas from other expedition teams had gone ahead to prepare the fixed lines through the Rock band, but despite searching for 1.5 hour they were unable to find the way through – and no sign of fixed lines – and so in the early hours on September 30th I decided to turn the team back.

    

The view from below the Rock band toward C2, ABC and Shishapangma.

I’m really proud of the team for giving it everything and terribly disappointed we were unable to reach the summit.

  

After resting for a couple of hours in C2 we began the process of clearing our camps on Cho Oyu – this involved carrying monster loads down to C1 – and by early evening we were back at ABC with all our bits and pieces. We organised for 8 Tibetan porters to pick up some loads from C1 back to ABC. When adding up the total back in camp an extra 20kgs had mysteriously appeared out of nowhere and the price per kg suddenly increased from $1.50 to $2.00.  That’s Tibet for you – resistance is futile!

The yaks arrived at ABC on the 1st and we departed for CBC and Nyalam today October 2nd. Packing up ABC was quite the circus but somehow everything was loaded on to the yaks and carried down to Intermediate camp and a waiting truck.

  

Packing up ABC

I expect us to arrive back in Kathmandu tomorrow – that is of course unless we end up spending some quality R&R time in beautiful Kodari…..!

Soren